This is a letter that I wrote to the Kalamazoo Gazette in response to a call for such in regards to the question of
teaching evolution and/or creationism in science classes. Published in part in August 2000.
 

Dear Ms. Mieras,

This is a letter in regards to your questions about the teaching of evolution and creationism
in the schools.

I have difficulty understanding why this is up for debate at all. Perhaps it depends upon how
you ask the question. "Should we teach creationism alongside or instead of evolution?"
"Should science textbooks be supplemented with Biblical verses to teach students about the
origin of the Earth?" The answer to both of these questions is CLEARLY "no." Creationism
is not science; it arises from a story based upon human spiritual faith alone. Whether we are
discussing the Judeo-Christian Bible creation story or one from any other religion or faith,
these are not science and should not be taught as such. Science is a process by which
explanations of how nature works are pitted against the observable universe. Scientists seek
to discover and understand nature's laws. Now, does that mean that creation stories should
be  excluded from our children's education? Absolutely not...as long as these are taught
within  the context of literature, anthropology, sociology, comparative religion, etc., but not
as science.

A scientific theory is not a guess, or just a good idea. It is a well-tested structure of interlinked
ideas that unifies and explains observational facts. Scientific theories must make testable
predictions, must be falsifiable, and must be open to revision and rejection. As such, the
theory of evolution is an excellent and presently the only explanation for an enormous array
of observational evidence. Modern biology/microbiology, DNA/genetic research,
medical/pharmaceutical research, the agri-sciences ALL make progress because of what
the present-day evolutionary theory tells us about life. That is not to say that it has all the
answers to questions concerning life and its history. However, creation stories and Christian
creationism are none of these things and do not belong in a science class. There is a time and
place for everything.

Science never demands an oath of allegiance, and whether one "believes" in the findings of
science or not is irrelevant. Nature is what it is regardless of belief, and it is the goal of science
to understand how it works. During the Stalinist era and up until the 1960s, Russian geneticists
were not allowed to use the results from, pursue research in, or read about the new science of
genetics because it did not mesh with the "dialectical materialism" of the soviet socialist
philosophy. The replacement soviet-brand genetic "science" made promises of two wheat
harvests and many others that never came to pass because nature follows its own laws. In the
end, the Soviet government realized that to feed its people, they had to throw away the
Stalinist junk "science" and allow their scientists to relearn the science of genetics and catch
up to the progress made in the West.

If the physical/natural world is "unbelievable" to some, they are free to "believe" what their
faith tells them and free to teach their ideas in church. But this does not mean that such
ideas should be taught as or alongside science. Barring a desire to return to the Dark Ages,
everyone should have the opportunity to learn what science has to tell us about the natural
world and how, whether one wants to "accept" this knowledge or not. History demonstrates
that when we ignore nature's laws, usually out of ignorance or arrogance, we do so at our own
peril.

While some on both sides may disagree, I believe it possible to find common ground between
the natural and spiritual pursuits of "truth," while acknowledging the differences in what
knowledge may be obtained from each.
 
 

Kirk T. Korista
Associate Professor of Astronomy
Department of Physics
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5252
email: korista@wmich.edu
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