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How to Teach Evolution to Religious Students

IN A STUDY CONDUCTED AT A PUBLIC COLLEGE IN THE United States, only 50 percent of the students said that they believe in evolution. More broadly, a Gallup poll found that only 44 percent of adult Americans said that they believe humans were created by God and that evolution had no part in the process.1 According to a Pew Research Centre survey, 60 percent of Americans believe that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while one-third of them reject evolution and believe “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” About a quarter of the adult American population (24 percent) also thinks that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”2

Apart from climate change, evolution is curently the most charged and debated topic in the public sphere. This is mainly because many students and adults feel that there is a conflict between their religious beliefs and acceptance of evolution. Unless efforts are taken by scientists and educators to change the way we communicate about evolution, this resistence to accepting evolution will persist and may even increase.

CREATIONISM CONTINUUM

1. FLAT EARTH CREATIONISM Young Earth—less than 10,000 years old
2. GEOCENTRIC CREATIONISM Young Earth—less than 10,000 years old
Illustrations by Simone Rein
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About Skeptic

WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Health Freedom, Right to Try, and Informed Consent, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Do You Have Traits or Are You a Type? by Carol Tavris • SPECIAL SECTION ON TACTICS FOR DISCUSSING CONTENTIOUS ISSUES Personhood and Abortion Rights: How Science Might Inform this Contentious Issue, by Gary Whittenberger • How to Teach Evolution to Religious Students, by Surat Parvatam • The Arguments for Creationism and the Arguments for Evolution: A Study in Contrasts, by Ralph M. Barnes • Meeting Our “Enemies” Where They Are: The Advantage of Understanding Your Adversary’s Arguments, by Andrew Cooper-Sansone ARTICLES The Grandest of Questions Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing? by Michael Shermer • Reports of Mysterious Attacks on U.S. Diplomats Continue: Separating Fact from Fiction by Robert E. Bartholomew • The God Damners: The Now Not-so-New Atheism by Michael Cohen • Quackery in America: An Inglorious and Ongoing History, by Morton Tavel, M.D. • What Is It like to Be a Human? by Colin McGinn REVIEWS Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress • The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution • The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will • SCAM: So-Called Alternative Medicine • Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life • The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are JUNIOR SKEPTIC Secrets of the Ouija Board, by Daniel Loxton