Evolution and the Public School System

In my government class today, we were discussing court cases having to do with the Bill of Rights, particularly the freedom of religion. Two cases that caught my attention were Epperson v Arkansas (1968) and Edwards v Aguillard (1987), both of which had to do with the teaching of evolution in schools. For those of you who don’t know about these court cases, Epperson v Arkansas was over a law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools, while Edwads v Aguillard dealt with a law stating that if a school teaches evolution, then they also need to teach creation science. In both cases, the laws in question were ruled as unconstitutional. (For more information on these cases click here and here)

This got me interested in learning more about the stance public schools are taking with teaching evolution. In my research, I learned that thanks to Epperson v Arkansas, a state cannot ban the teaching of evolution. They also cannot require that creation science be taught for an equal amount of time that evolution has been taught. The judge in a 1982 district court case known as McLean v Arkansas wrote that creation science “…cannot properly describe the methodology used as scientific, if they start with a conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation.” This statement points out an important fact: they started with a conclusion, not a hypothesis, and despite many scientific discoveries resulting in eveidence disproving that we are here because a supreme being put us here.

According to a study done in 2014 by Pew Research Center, “roughly six-in-ten US adults say that humans have evolved over time… but only a little more than half of them (33% of all Americans) express the belief that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural process.” It goes on to say “a quarter of US adults say evolution was guided buy a supreme being.” And although there’s no prove to say that it was, who’s to say that it wasn’t? After all, there’s no evidence to say that it wasn’t.

If I had to be completely honest, I’d have to say I have no idea what I believe when it comes to evolution. Why? Because I was never really taught much about it. My school barely touched on the subject. I have to do a lot more research before I can establish an opinion, but I can tell you now that I believe that evolution should be taught in public schools. In 2002, a study showed that 83% of Americans also believe this. A study done by Live Science showed that “only 28 percent of high school biology teachers followed the National Research Council and National Academy of Science recommendations on teaching evolution.”

Should schools be teaching students more about evolution and allowing them to decide where they stand on the matter, or are we doing just fine as it is? I’d love to hear what you think.