Magi Mike's Blog

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Inability to comprehend the age of the earth favours creationism

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From a voluntary survey of 400 students enrolled in a University of Minnesota introductory biology course for non-majors, Sehoya Cotner and Randy Moore, professors in College of Biological Sciences, and D Christopher Brooks, of the university’s Office of Information Technology, learned that:

  • 2 percent of students are taught creationism only
  • 22 percent are taught evolution and creationism
  • 14 are taught neither
  • 62 percent are taught evolution only.

About one in four high school biology teachers in the upper Midwest are giving students the impression that creationism is a viable explanation for the origins of life on Earth. That’s just not acceptable. The Constitution prohibits teaching creationism in schools.Prof Sehoya Cotner

They cite a 2009 Gallup poll coinciding with the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth which showed 16 percent of biology teachers believed God created humans in their present form in the last 10,000 years. Is it surprising that six in 10 Americans believe creationism?

But when a student’s religious and political views are liberal, they are more likely to believe that the Earth is billions, rather than thousands, of years old, and to know more about evolution. Students with conservative religious and political views more often think the Earth is 20,000 years or less, and to know less about evolution. Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the Biology Program said:

The role of the Earth’s age is a key variable that we can use to improve education about evolution, the unifying principle of biology.

Comprehending the Earth’s age is difficult—the timescale is so vast. Even Darwin found it challenging. And it is typically covered in physical science classes rather than in biology. So emphasis and evidence for the age of the earth could give educators a new strategy for teaching evolution. Once the vast timescale of evolution is realized, its consequences are easier to understand. Science is not meant to be easy—religion is!


Written by mikemagee

20 April, 2010 at 8:58 pm

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