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Is teaching creation the solution to violent crime?

Published: 26 September 2009(GMT+10)
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Correspondent Richard M., of the USA, who has previously challenged us on a range of topics such as Mercury’s magnetic message, non-permineralized dinosaur remains and new genetic information, wrote in response to our article on the Finland high school shooting:

Dear CMI –

Your reprinted article, “Inside the mind of a killer ”, by David Catchpoole, leaves me to wonder just what it is that you are proposing as a solution. While I agree that the tragedies that you cite were carried out by young people who used what they had mis-learned about evolution as justification for their evil deeds, I don’t see that ceasing to teach the central ideas of biology (and geology and astronomy) is likely to have the effect that you desire.
You say in the article “Thus by teaching evolutionary theory at schools and universities, society is basically giving a student all the ‘programming’ he needs to justify, in his own mind, ‘helping evolution along’—i.e. removing certain individuals from the gene pool.” There is here the clear implication that evolution should not be taught in schools and universities (and that students are not to be trusted with this information). You would be in effect be saying to students that although scientists the world over agree that the evidence that is overwhelming that descent with modification is the best explanation for the diversity of the biological world that we see around us, we will not tell you this, because you might misunderstand and misuse this knowledge. We will not let you know that the vast bulk of the evidence shows that the world is billions of years old, and that the universe is much older still, because you might use this knowledge to justify irresponsible actions. (Please spare me the tired “just because all but a fraction of the practitioners of science accept the above doesn’t mean that it is true, etc.” rejoinder.)

Having thus gutted the teaching of science (even in universities, if I understand you correctly), you then propose that “the only way to de-fuse the evolutionary ‘walking time-bombs’ in our societies is to teach the true account of our origins … ” Do you thereby propose that teachers in our educational institutions should be required to teach your version of the “true account of our origins … ?” You would be requiring the vast majority of science teachers to deliver your message with a straight face and swallow their professional ethics while doing so. Would you have them work under one paradigm in their professional work and then come into the classroom and teach the opposite of the knowledge that guides their work? Or would you set up a parallel educational system for the children of the elect (as you do now) but extend it to all students?
And what would you do (and whom would you blame) when your “reformed” educational system still produced the occasional psychopath or sociopath? What would you say to students who graduate and try to gain employment in the sciences and suddenly discover that they have been seriously misled (to use a mild term) about the content and conduct of science?
I suppose that it is somehow comforting to propose a solution that has no chance of being implemented and feel that you have discharged your obligation in that regard. Politicians appease their constituents this way all of the time. Maybe it works for your followers as well.

CMI’s Dr David Catchpoole responds:

Dear CMI –

Hello Richard, nice to hear from you again.

Your reprinted article, “Inside the mind of a killer … ”, by David Catchpoole, leaves me to wonder just what it is that you are proposing as a solution. While I agree that the tragedies that you cite were carried out by young people who used what they had mis-learned about evolution as justification for their evil deeds,

There are theistic evolutionists whose moral code is drawn from the Bible, yet by denying the Bible’s clear claims about history, they have no consistent basis for defending those morals

It’s very gracious of you to acknowledge the point about justification (although I would question the term “mis-learn”—evolution truly is “nature red in tooth and claw”, as it has been described). And it’s good that we are in agreement that their deeds are indeed evil. But by what standard are you determining “evil”? It’s worth noting here that many atheists borrow a moral code from outside their belief system, since atheism can’t provide any. Similarly, there are theistic evolutionists whose moral code is drawn from the Bible, yet by denying the Bible’s clear claims about history, they have no consistent basis for defending those morals.

I don’t see that ceasing to teach the central ideas of biology (and geology and astronomy) is likely to have the effect that you desire.
You say in the article “Thus by teaching evolutionary theory at schools and universities, society is basically giving a student all the ‘programming’ he needs to justify, in his own mind, ‘helping evolution along’—i.e. removing certain individuals from the gene pool.” There is here the clear implication that evolution should not be taught in schools and universities (and that students are not to be trusted with this information).

Actually, CMI advises no such thing. In fact, we say that schools should teach more evolution than they normally do; they should teach evolution warts and all! That way more students would become aware of its scientific problems and its philosophical/religious presuppositions.

You would be in effect be saying to students that although scientists the world over agree that the evidence that is overwhelming that descent with modification is the best explanation for the diversity of the biological world that we see around us,

Actually, for some years now even diehard evolutionists have conceded major problems with that view. See, e.g., Is the evolutionary tree changing into a creationist orchard? And, notwithstanding your use of the phrase “descent with modification”, we’d best not forget the origin-of-life issue in the equation—a fundamental weakness in evolutionary theory (see for example Argument: Evolution of sex, ch. 11 of Refuting Evolution 2). As we have pointed out many times, only creation, not evolution, can explain the staggering complexity of living things—and as biological studies uncover yet more and more complexity, the more difficult it becomes for evolutionists.

we will not tell you this, because you might misunderstand and misuse this knowledge.

In describing evolution as “knowledge” this presupposes that evolution is true, which of course begs the question, and is not where we are coming from, of course. Incidentally, it seems the French atheist Voltaire (1694–1778), though preceding Darwin and therefore lacking the intellectual justification for his atheism, sought to conceal atheistic ideas from his servants for exactly the reason you propose. It is said that when he had atheist friends over for dinner they spoke openly, while being served, of their atheism. However, Voltaire told them to shut up, that he didn’t want such godless talk in front of the hired help because if they believed this they might murder him in his sleep and rob him. (See the earlier article Rape and Evolution.)

We will not let you know that the vast bulk of the evidence shows that the world is billions of years old, and that the universe is much older still, because you might use this knowledge to justify irresponsible actions. (Please spare me the tired “just because all but a fraction of the practitioners of science accept the above doesn’t mean that it is true, etc.” rejoinder.)

Just where might be this “vast bulk of evidence” you refer to? Have you considered 101 evidences for a young age of the cosmos? (Tellingly, it’s been more than three months since that article was published, and still no-one (not even you Richard!) has submitted feedback challenging any of those evidences.) This comment by CMI scientist Dr Russell Humphreys1 in a recent CMI newsletter article sums up the situation very well:

“There is a little-known irony in the controversy between creationists and evolutionists about the age of the world. The majority of scientists—the evolutionists—rely on a minority of the relevant data. Yet a minority of scientists—the creationists—use the majority of the relevant data. Adding to the irony is the public’s wrong impression that it is the other way around. Therefore, many ask: ‘If the evidence is so strongly for a young earth, why do most scientists believe otherwise?’ The answer is simple: Most scientists believe the earth is old because they believe most other scientists believe the earth is old!”

There is no mileage in accepting what the majority of scientists say unless they are correct. The “101 evidences” clearly show that long-age notions are wrong.

Having thus gutted the teaching of science (even in universities, if I understand you correctly), you then propose that “the only way to de-fuse the evolutionary ‘walking time-bombs’ in our societies is to teach the true account of our origins … ” Do you thereby propose that teachers in our educational institutions should be required to teach your version of the “true account of our origins … ?” You would be requiring the vast majority of science teachers to deliver your message with a straight face and swallow their professional ethics while doing so. Would you have them work under one paradigm in their professional work and then come into the classroom and teach the opposite of the knowledge that guides their work? Or would you set up a parallel educational system for the children of the elect (as you do now) but extend it to all students?
classroom

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A statement of CMI’s position on the teaching of creation in schools includes this extract:

We would actually be opposed to any legislation to make the teaching of creation compulsory in public schools. (How could an atheist teacher fairly teach anything which so soundly opposed the foundations of his own worldview?)
While we do not lobby for it, we think it would be fair and appropriate if individual teachers who wished to do so were free (not compelled) to present the evidence which is contrary to the evolution viewpoint, and not merely be compelled to teach only that which favours it. In other words, teachers who wished to present a balanced approach to this particular hypothesis should be free to do so, giving pro and con arguments, without misrepresentation, which among other things would encourage critical thinking skills. However, this is not very likely in view of the philosophical stranglehold which evolutionary materialism/naturalism has on the Western mind in our age.

For some useful tips on teaching creation, see Teaching College Students About Creation.


And what would you do (and whom would you blame) when your “reformed” educational system still produced the occasional psychopath or sociopath?

If direct warning from God didn’t stop Cain, then neither would a creation-based education system stop such an individual intent on doing evil.

We have never said that evil in the world today can be ascribed to the teaching of evolution. Even in cultures with widespread biblical knowledge and teaching—the knowledge of God—there have always been people prepared to do evil things, irrespective of whether they might think of trying to justify their actions. Evil behavior has been all-too-evident since Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6). I was recently struck by the parallels between a modern-day crime figure who famously invited a partner out into a field then killed him without the slightest compassion or remorse,2 and Adam’s own first-born son who did the same thing to his brother (Genesis 4:1–9). Even with God giving Cain fair warning by personally speaking to him beforehand (verses 6–7), Cain nevertheless went ahead with the murder. If direct warning from God didn’t stop Cain, then neither would a creation-based education system stop such an individual intent on doing evil. But, as you conceded in your opening paragraph, an education system that presented clear evidence that evolution is not true, and pointing to the truth of creation, would remove the murderer’s justification for his actions. It’s no surprise to me then, that when the Bible’s Gospel message has been proclaimed as truth, and accepted as such, a diminution of societal violence and hatred has often followed. In the 1950s, before our society had been so thoroughly “evolutionized”, even non-Christian parents often sent their children to Sunday School and there was a generally shared respect in the culture for the absolutes of the Bible, even if not always clearly defined. Thus, when a famous overseas evangelist visited, over a quarter of Australia’s population turned out to hear him. Not only was the crime rate per capita generally lower then than today, but it dropped dramatically (and so did reports of alcohol-fuelled violence and the like) in the period after that national campaign, in which over 150,000 Australians professed a first-time faith in and desire to follow Jesus Christ. Clearly, a dispassionate and fair-minded atheist would have to concede that normative beliefs in a culture have the capacity to greatly influence behaviour—hardly a startling revelation. (The same evangelist came back some 20 years later, after the educational curricula had been saturated with evolution for well over a decade, and the response was dramatically different—and so were indicators of crime, youth suicide, and the like.)

What would you say to students who graduate and try to gain employment in the sciences and suddenly discover that they have been seriously misled (to use a mild term) about the content and conduct of science?
I suppose that it is somehow comforting to propose a solution that has no chance of being implemented and feel that you have discharged your obligation in that regard. Politicians appease their constituents this way all of the time. Maybe it works for your followers as well.

Richard, what “works” is truth. Ultimately everyone—you, me, “constituents” and their elected representatives—will be called to account for what they’ve said or written (Matthew 12:36). It would be an unwise person indeed who knowingly propagates falsehood.

Regards

David Catchpoole


We conclude with a brief submission about the same article from another correspondent from the United States, Amber D.:

This article is so right on. No one commits a horrible act unless they think about it first. And no-one even thinks about it unless it is an idea that agrees with their previously decided upon system of beliefs. Very true, ideas do have consequences, and yes … the idea of the fittest surviving and evolving then to a higher level—the consequence for that thought in someone’s mind will eventually come out with violence of some kind. Either extreme physical violence, or hostility that is acceptable in society like manipulating people at work—deception, bullying, etc.

[Ed. Note: Indeed. We are of course not saying that people just dispassionately go out and decide to do wrong, there are very deep and complex factors involved. However, the belief system that we are just randomly evolved animals means there is no absolute right and wrong, and certainly no eternal consequences for (unrepented/unforgiven) evil. So it can act as not only a justification, but also a “removal of restraint”, something that can tip the balance in favour of acting on an evil impulse. Similarly, while suicide is the result of many complex factors, including depression, a belief system without God or hope of eternity can also “tip the balance” in favour of acting out a suicidal impulse.]

Recommended Resources


References

  1. Humphreys, D.R. Evidence for a young world, ICR Impact 384, June 2005. Return to text.
  2. Mentioned in the narrative of the TV documentary series Beyond the Darklands—the episode about NZ drug syndicate leader Terry Clark, aka “Mr Asia”, broadcast in Australia on Channel 7 on 14 September 2009, http://www.throng.com.au/beyond-darklands. Return to text.

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