Evolution and Creationism in Schools

The pressure to downplay evolution or emphasize nonscientific alternatives in public schools compromises science education.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence for creationist positions, some advocates continue to demand that various forms of creationism be taught together with or in place of evolution in science classes. Many teachers are under considerable pressure from policy makers, school administrators, parents, and students to downplay or eliminate the teaching of evolution. As a result, many U.S. students lack access to information and ideas that are both integral to modern science and essential for making informed, evidence-based decisions about their own lives and our collective future.

Regardless of the careers that they ultimately select, to succeed in today's scientifically and technologically sophisticated world, all students need a sound education in science. Many of today's fast-growing and high-paying jobs require a familiarity with the core concepts, applications, and implications of science. To make informed decisions about public policies, people need to know how scientific evidence supports those policies and whether that evidence was gathered using well-established scientific practice and principles. Learning about evolution is an excellent way to help students understand the nature, processes, and limits of science in addition to concepts about this fundamentally important contribution to scientific knowledge.

Given the importance of science in all aspects of modern life, the science curriculum should not be undermined with nonscientific material. Teaching creationist ideas in science classes confuses what constitutes science and what does not. It compromises the objectives of public education and the goal of a high-quality science education.

From Science, Evolution, and Creationism, National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine. © 2008 National Academy of Sciences