Talking more about evolution

This controversy will persist, but education-policy decisions should happen locally.

Where did we come from? Were human beings created by a higher power, or did we evolve over time? Or did a higher power, guide our evolution? Or (insert your own personal belief here)?

There are many controversial ideas in science: string theory, quantum mechanics and dark matter, for example. None, however, gets anywhere near the popular attention the theory of evolution does.

The Minnesota Daily published a poll last week on the subject, finding 83 percent of respondents believe “man has evolved, either with or without God’s guidance.” The other 17 percent answered, “God created man in his present form and man has not evolved.” The poll had 3.6 percent margin of error.

Before we move on, we’re not polling experts, but we think a better poll would have included more options. The two questions effectively set Christians who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible on one side and lumped everyone else on the other. More options also would have better represented the current debate. There are several different commonly held beliefs in relation to God’s intervention in humanity’s creation and development; investigating how many students’ beliefs align with each of them would have been interesting.

The poll would still be controversial, but that’s not all bad. This is such a hot topic because the “truth” of both evolution and creation underpins many people’s entire spiritual worldview. Add to this the question of what we teach school children and we arrive at the situation we currently have.

Looking back to the famous Scopes trial, society has been arguing this question for almost a century. There are multiple U.S. Supreme Court cases dealing with state government attempts to regulate which of either evolution or creationism is taught in public schools.

An ongoing discussion on the subject is a good thing. But the current political powder keg we live through is not optimal. State and federal governments must butt out of this. Issues like this are better solved at the local level, fought out in school board meetings by concerned parents and community members.

The purpose of primary and secondary education is providing young people with basic knowledge and analytical skills, as well as instilling a desire to learn. Indoctrination in either of these schools of thought is not helpful.