Charles Darwin’s 1859 “On the Origin of Species” speculated that species evolve through natural selection.
Some Texas legislators want “creationism,” the belief that species were created independently by a supernatural being, to be taught equally with evolution in public school science classes.
In honor of Darwin’s 205th birthday on Feb. 12, I asked local anthropologist David Kilby his thoughts.
“Why not allow creationism to be taught in science class? The foremost reason is that creationism is a religious belief,” he said. “It isn’t science and renaming it ‘intelligent design’ doesn’t change that.
“Another problem is there is no single creation story — there are hundreds. Should we teach them all?”
According to Kilby, the most successful scheme to get creationism into schools is claiming teachers should “teach the controversy” among scientists regarding evolution.
Most people have been convinced there is one, but more than 99 percent of life and earth scientists accept evolution, according to Kilby.
“I have never met a professional scientist who rejects evolution. In short, there is no scientific controversy about the validity of evolution,” Kilby said. “Claims that there is are simply dishonest.”
New Mexico is on firmer ground than Texas, where powerful lobbies are attempting to alter science textbooks. But, New Mexico science teachers still often skip chapters on evolution due to community pressure and to avoid conflict with those who see the reality of biological evolution as a threat, according to Kilby.
“As the unifying concept of all modern biology, evolution is fundamental to science education. Without evolution, a realistic understanding of genetics, medicine, agriculture, ecology and more is largely withheld from students,” Kilby said.
“Science is key to remaining globally competitive in economics, research and innovation. We currently rank 24th among developed nations in science education.
“We should aspire to be better than that, and it will not be accomplished by teaching religion instead of science in science classes.”
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