Evolution Still Undertaught

The NYT summarizes a new report in Science that finds a majority of high school biology teachers skimp on their teaching of evolution to avoid controversy and a sizable percentage explicitly teach creationism.  One of the study’s authors believes the answer is more and better science education for teachers.

“Students are being cheated out of a rich science education,” said Dr. [Eric] Plutzer, a professor of political science at Penn State University. “We think the ‘cautious 60 percent’ represent a group of educators who, if they were better trained in science in general and in evolution in particular, would be more confident in their ability to explain controversial topics to their students, to parents, and to school board members.”

Perhaps, especially if this education helps teachers explain that a belief in evolution does not require rejecting religious understandings of the world, let alone atheism. Creationism and “intelligent design” aren’t science, and it’s wrong to present them as such. But evolutionary theory is not a comprehensive explanation of human existence and doesn’t disprove the existence of God. Science educators would have an easier time teaching evolution if some of evolution’s advocates were not so strident in suggesting that belief in evolution disproves a belief in God. A frontal assault on someone’s worldview is not the best way to get them to listen.