Last Wednesday, I attended and event hosted by the Hart House Debate Committee on the friction between science and religion. The format was good, and I might steal it for a future events I plan, but otherwise it was boring. One of the two speakers on the religious side, Yiftach Fehige, was possibly the most vacuous person I have ever heard speak. Seriously, he had about as much content as cotton candy (i.e. sugar and air, lots and lots of very warm air).
From what I understood, the event was not planned as a debate, but even as a discussion there was way to much backing down and nothing remotely provocative was said by the speakers. The audience was a bit more daring in regards to provocative questions. When to topic came to the curriculum and what should be taught in schools, everyone agreed that science should be taught in science classrooms. One audience member, however, suggested that maybe when it comes evolution the topic is to “complicated” to teach in schools and so we should just stick to easier topics in science.
Personally, I call bullshit. School and learning, in general, are not about what’s easiest. Yes, evolution is not the simplest topic, but that argument could be used for not teaching anything harder than arithmetics. In fact, I’ve seen it used to argue that calculus, amongst other topics in math and sciences, shouldn’t be taught in high school.
Furthermore, I don’t think the problem is that it’s too hard to teach the basics. In my experience, the problem is that many teachers are ill equipped to teach evolution. If you don’t understand it yourself you’re hardly in a position to teach it, right? But then the solution to this type of problem isn’t to take the subject away. Not teaching evolution in primary or secondary schools will just mean that the next batch of teachers will know jack shit about it too.