CHILDREN'S EXPRESS: NY--The Kansas State School Board recently shocked the nation when it voted to eliminate evolution as an explanation for human origins from the state science curriculum. We spoke to Dr. Steve Abrams, one of the key board members who rewrote the science standards which list the subjects that students will have to know for state assessment tests. The board voted against including evolution as an explanation for the origin of humans and animals, in those standards.
"I believe there is sufficient evidence and analysis to lend credibility to the fact that the current model of evolution may in fact be in error. And consequently, I did not want it taught as fact," Dr. Abrams told us.
For Abrams, and for many other who agree with him, the key word is "theory." Because evolution's explanation for man's origins cannot be proved, he insists teachers should make clear this explanation is only a possibility.
Originally Abrams suggested the standards include a description of the two basic theories of species origin: evolution, the scientific theory of the origin of humans and animals and creationism, which says a divine being is the creator.
The final draft includes neither description but Abrams is clear on the subject. He says he does not advocate that creationism be taught in public school, since it is a faith-based theory. And he does not recommend evolution be cut from Kansas student lessons. But teaching evolution as theory, and not as fact, says Abrams, is essential.
The Debate In NYC Schools
After we spoke to Dr. Abrams, we discussed the subject. As science students ourselves, we learn both evolution and creationism in our varying schools. We discovered quickly our religious beliefs sharply divide us on whether we think evolution or creationism should be taught as facts or theories, or whether either explanation should be taught at all. We defined our religious beliefs and let our conversation go from there.
Terence: I'm kind of an atheist and kind of in the middle. I'm not really sure where I am yet. I think about it a lot.
Sean: I'm an atheist, so I'm not religious.
Michael: I'm Jewish, I'd say I have a lot of faith in God. I go by standards set by the Torah.
Terence: We should be including evolution in school. It provides a doorway to our past. The reason people believed in God so fiercely when the bible first came out - I can't say "came out" but you know what I mean -- was because there weren't scientists back then. No one knew about atoms, about the stars, no one knew about the earth, no one knew that there were people before them - who were furrier but were in a way related to them. Evolution should be taught in schools because it's the most likely theory that has to do with our origins.
Michael: I don't believe that either should be presented at all. Especially in a public school. Private school is one thing. But public school, people from all different races come. Parents don't necessarily want their children to be exposed to those kinds of things at young ages, such as, "We were once gorillas," if they're religious Jews.
Terence: I believe that the bible is taken way too seriously. People take it as the end all-be all. Who wrote the bible? I'm not much into religious philosophy but it seems to me it was most likely a person. I'm not downing on it, It's great stuff, some of it might be true. I think some people need to relax with their beliefs.
Michael: Maybe a person did write it. But how was this world created? There's a lot of questions about that. You think that it just happened by the Big Bang or something? Nothing higher than us was involved in it? Just chemicals coming together?
Terence: I believe that you can't expect the Big Bang to come out of nowhere. The way the world works, there has to be something up there. There's probably some God, I wouldn't say God Himself, that used evolution. People take it too for granted. They don't let ideas from the world, outside religion and outside the Bible maybe make a little sense there.
Michael: Why is it so hard to believe that the person who created this world, wanted to make a set of rules for us to live by. If He could do something that amazing, why is it so hard to believe that he actually just made a book?
Terence: Because if he made us to follow his rules, we wouldn't' be like this. We are creatures of emotion. It's easy for us to let our emotions control us. Even the most logical people among us, they want to have sex, they want to hurt that person who bumped into them. If God was up there, he would have created us in a different way.
Michael: Why do you think we are put on this earth?
Terence: That's a question that won't be found out for a while, unless some people are right and God's gonna come down and judge us all for our sins or something. We don't use much of our brains, only five or 10 percent. It seems we've got a lot of things to do, room to move. Maybe later, sometime far in the future, we'll figure why we're on this world. Some people say we're just here to reproduce. We're no better than two dogs. No one knows.
Sean: I'm not religious, I don't believe the world was created by God. I will believe it if I have some evidence there is a God, but I don't have any evidence so I don't. Whether we believe in creationism or evolution, creationism can not be taught much in school because there is no concrete evidence either way. But you can teach about evolution and the scientific basis, whether you believe it or not.
Michael: You said the reason you don't believe in creationism is there is no solid fact.
Sean: I haven't seen any basis for it yet.
Michael: Today you believe in the Big Bang because science has shown us facts.
Sean: I don't know about the Big Bang, but a scientific theory, not a creator.
Michael: If you choose to accept that theory, then whatever. But what about the Bible? Isn't that the same thing? It's what people believe and it's what people believed 10,000 years ago. That's much closer to the time of creation, so shouldn't we be following what they said?
Sean: It is a book of what people believe, but it's not something you can prove or test. Religion is not supposed to be included in public schools. Can we prove evolution? No we cannot prove that in a lab but there is more scientific evidence to support it than creationism.