I recently read a letter in the Emery County Progress entilted "Evolution wins, Utah loses" (Sept. 13, 2005).
As I read the article I thought about my own beliefs, the fact that I am a science teacher, the fact that I taught science at Emery High School for 18 years, that fact that I believe in God, that fact that I answered this question many times as a teacher and never felt that it was a science vs. God issue.
I will start by saying the same thing I said when I taught my students and these types of subjects came up.
Science is about order, religion is about purpose. They are two different ways to look at almost every situation.
Science is about being able to test a question and finding out if the question can stand up to the test. If the test does not make the question false, then the question can now undergo more tests. Science operates through this process. As better methods for testing come into existence, the questions are re-tested and science self corrects over time.
If you look at the topic of evolution, it is always being tested by scientists and always will be. Remember scientists are trying to find out the order of this whole process. The strength of science is the testing process that makes every scientific theory reviewable at any or all times. To be called "theory" in science, a question must have been tested over and over and over and still remains true to the question.
Now if you examine religion, it is the question of the purpose of life. Religion is a touchy subject because its test is different. We are told that we must live by faith, and faith is a belief or something we cannot know (see) but is true. I think you can see why we cannot teach religion in the science classroom as science. In the science classroom you are looking for the order of everything, not the purpose.
I hope those who know me understand that I look at the physical world with awesome wonder. The world and the order that it is created with just increases my faith. I see the repetition, the order, the divine hand in the beauty of it all.
At the same time I see the change that takes place as time marches on. I see pests that are now immune to pesticides that used to kill them. I see viruses that as of now man cannot cure. I see the thought process of religion being molded from, scientific discovery and enlightenment. (Talk about evolution, aren't we glad that the religions of the world don't throw us in prison, for such thoughts as the earth is round, and the earth is not the center of the solar system. Thank goodness for good scientific minds.)
I have talked about teaching science as science in the schools as it makes everyone win. I believe that religion wins because it is taught in the homes and release time programs where how I feel in my heart is supposed to be taught. I believe religion wins because you as parents don't have to worry about what I may teach your child about God in my classroom. I found it challenging enough to teach very structured math and science subjects in school that were steeped in order and solution. Would we want or expect science teachers from all different walks of life, religious and non-religious views to teach our children about God and faith in schools?
My perspective was that sometimes parents didn't think I did the greatest job teaching their children about the very structured and testable topics of math and science. What would they expect of me teaching something as personal as faith to their children?
I believe everyone wins when we teach science in the schools and teach religion at home and church. Remember the difference; science is scientist using testable means to order how it has all happened, and religion is about our purpose in life.
Who knows? Someday perhaps both methods will come together and we may all know how this old world really was put together.