In 1925, teacher John Scopes was put on trial in Tennessee for teaching the theory of evolution in his classroom. At the time, Darwin’s theory violated a law that was only annulled in 1967.
Recently, we were informed that the chief scientist at the Education Ministry, Dr. Gabi Avital – a religious man who is an aeronautical and space engineering expert – presented a position that rejects the broad agreement on the role of humans in global warming. On the same occasion, he presented the need to teach different views on the creation of life at schools in addition to Darwin’s evolution theory – for example, creationism.
Creationism, for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the term, is an approach that accepts the Biblical description of the world’s creation in the Book of Genesis as a realistic explanation for the creation of the universe, earth, life, and man.
So what is the problem here? In the post-modern era, where the notion of truth is so battered and where every opinion can be accepted and is of equal value to any other opinion, why shouldn’t we present blunt questions in the face of solid scientific conventions? This is also where my attitude to the chief scientist stems from: The confusion he creates.
Our students (and not only they) are living in a confusing era in various aspects: Morals, behavior, academics, and personal issues. The boundaries between real and virtual are being blurred. The distinction between good and bad and between what is permitted and what is forbidden is becoming more complicated. The tension between psychological childhood and technical-technological adolescence is growing. Question marks about school grow too.
And now, this is complemented by scientific uncertainty.
If the Education Ministry’s chief scientist takes the liberty to say things that completely contradict the textbooks, what would prevent students from declaring to their teachers: This is wrong! You don’t know anything! After all, the chief scientist said so!
And how would the teachers respond? The students are indeed right: This is what the chief scientist told us. Should we, the teachers, openly challenge his position? Tomorrow we’ll be called to order if we do it. And here we have more confusion.
We can only hope that the Education Ministry will issue another official statement that will back the teachers and the curriculum (Darwin and the theory of evolution do not need any backing – they are doing very well as it is) and tell the chief scientist to focus on his duties or go home. Alternately, the Ministry should add the first two chapters in the Book of Genesis to the life sciences curriculum.