Not just in Kansas, Anymore....

Eric Dunbar erdunbar at YAHOO.COM
Sat Jul 28 15:23:46 CDT 2001


At the risk of wading into a heavily debated argument...

Last year in my first year biology lab students (18 or 19 years old)
researched contemporary ethical topics in biology and presented their
findings pro and con the issues (BTW an excellent exercise for science
students), one of which happened to be: "Should Creationism be taught in
school?". Why it was included I am not entirely sure as, here in Canada,
there is virtually no debate as to not teaching creationism (perhaps where
you've got a few Mennonites or something like that but they are far and few
between & only in small, rural towns).

Some background and context: University of Toronto (60,000), Toronto (4
million, 1/7th Canada's population), Ontario, Canada. Half of the students
in my classes were Canadian born, 1/2 of foreign birth, probably 2/3-3/4 of
total with some form of religious belief, mostly Catholic/high Anglican or
low Anglican (or some other protestant group), some Muslims and one Buddhist
[I think] (probably same % breakdown as every other first year biology class
in the world). The first year biology course is a tad unique in that it
focuses on ecology and evolution as opposed to the typical a bit of botany,
zoology, genetics, physiology, taxonomy, etc.

A handful of students (out of a total of 60... two classes) admitted to
having belief in creationism. And, quite encouragingly, those that
'believed' and had taken on the task of researching, and arguing either the
pros or cons of teaching creationism in school admitted and/or commented in
the Q&A after their presentations that they were quite shocked [and ashamed]
by the bizarre and ill-informed claims of a creationist (to quote one of the
students).

The *unanimous* consensus (no one argued otherwise & the students weren't
shy) in both of the classes was that the only place for creationist
teachings was in a religious studies class, absolutely not in a science
class.

I guess we're a very different society in many respects here in Canada & it
seems the separation of church & state (+ education) is, in practice, much
stronger than down in the States. Thus, we're bound to have different
attitudes towards such things than in the US. Then again, even the Catholic
church + pope admit that evidence in support of evolution is strong and
aren't very fond of the literal 6000 year interpretation of creationism
(though, they too have some pretty amusing attempts to reconcile the
Biblical stories to the knowledge base we now have after 200+ years of
fairly rigorous scientific inquiry). Eeech. I really feel sorry for those of
you who are educators in the 'deep south' (never thought Hawaii would be
considered 'deep south' though ;). Good luck!

Eric Dunbar
Toronto, ON, Canada

> From: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
> Organization: TILS
> Reply-To: Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at TILS-TTR.ORG>
> Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 23:34:35 -0400
> To: TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG
> Subject: Re: Not just in Kansas, Anymore....
>
> Back to the public's schools. The question to be asked is - Who is going to
> teach these "creation" classes and what will be the standard by which their
> credentials are to be established and accepted?  Our children need to be
> exposed to various intellectual positions - they need to be protected from
> religious zealots.




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