Stephen Jay Gould once described evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (1904–2005, pictured
below) as ‘The world’s greatest living evolutionary biologist.’1 At 100 years of age, Mayr reflected
on his 80 years of studying evolutionary biology:2
‘Curiously, I cannot pinpoint the age at which I became an evolutionist. I
received all of my education in Germany, where evolution was not really controversial.
In the gymnasium (equivalent to a US high school), my biology teacher took evolution
for granted. So, I am quite certain, did my parents—who, to interest their three
teenage sons, subscribed to a popular natural history journal that accepted evolution
as a fact. Indeed, in Germany at that time there was no Protestant fundamentalism.
And after I had entered university, no one raised any questions about evolution,
either in my medical curriculum or in my preparations for the Ph.D.’
Mayr grew up in an environment where evolution was the ruling paradigm. It was taken
for granted, a popular natural history journal accepted evolution as a fact, and
no teachers ever raised questions about evolution. It is no wonder that such an
environment would produce staunch evolutionists. Unfortunately, the widespread acceptance
of Darwinism and the lack of ‘Protestant fundamentalism’ (i.e., belief
in the Bible) in Germany during the early 1900s paved the way for the disastrous
Proverbs 18:17 says, ‘The first to present his case
seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.’ Students taught
only evolution may assume that it is correct and might not even know how to question
it. Today, fortunately, resources that question evolution, such as those on the
internet, and in Creation magazine, books and videos, are becoming more
and more widely available. And it is making a difference.
Steve Deckard and I have conducted research on the creation worldviews of Christian
college students and the changes resulting from a required course on creation.4-7Among the results we have obtained
from this ongoing study at Liberty University:
Attending a creation course, seminar or presentation results in a stronger creation
Students at Liberty University who attended Christian high schools or were home
schooled had a much stronger creation worldview than those with public school backgrounds.
Following the creation course, students have a much stronger and more logically
consistent creationist worldview.
Interestingly, while virtually all of the incoming students believe in a Creator,
many have inconsistent beliefs, especially in regards to the age of the earth and
six day creation. As this is a particular focus of the course, we see significant
shifts toward stronger belief in young-earth creation by the end of the class.
Such research, along with personal testimonies and anecdotes, demonstrates that
creationist teaching and materials do have a significant impact on the beliefs of
Perhaps if someone had helped Ernst Mayr to question evolution in school, he might
have been described as ‘the greatest living creationist biologist’.
Posted on homepage: 23 April 2007
References and notes
Flyleaf, Mayr, E., What Evolution IS, Basic Books,
New York, USA, 2001. Mayr died February 2005. Return to text.
Mayr, E., 80 years of watching the evolutionary scenery,
Science 305(5680):46–47, 2004. Return to text.
Deckard, S., DeWitt, D.A. and Cargo, S., Effects of a YEC
apologetics class on student worldview, 5th Int. Conf. Creationism, Creation
Science Fellowship Inc., Pennsylvania, USA, pp. 529–537, 2003. Return to text.
Deckard, S. Berndt, C., Filakourdis, M., Iverson, T. and DeWitt,
D.A., Role of educational factors on college students’ creation worldview,
Joournal of Creation 17(1):70–72, 2003. Return to text.
Henderson, T., Deckard, S. and DeWitt, D.A., Impact of a YEC
apologetics course on student creation worldview, Joournal of Creation 17(1):111–116, 2003. Return to text.
Deckard, S.W. and DeWitt, D.A., Worldview studies book
1: Developing a Creator centered worldview, Vision Publishing, Ramona, California,
USA, 2003. Return to text.
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