Teach Darwin's theory of evolution, and others too

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 February, 2009, 12:00am

This year marks both the 200th anniversary - next Thursday - of the birth of Charles Darwin, and 150 years since the publication of his theory of evolution to explain the origin of all species of life on Earth over millions of years. That contradicted the view that God created all life and, to this day, stirs passionate argument. One issue that has bitterly divided America - what children should be taught in schools - has never really been a problem in Hong Kong, though many schools are run by religious organisations. Now, however, local scientists have voiced criticism of new guidelines for teaching evolution in senior secondary biology classes. As reported today in our Education section, they see the guidelines as promoting creationism - the belief that God created everything at the same time.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman says the guidelines stipulate that alternative explanations to Darwin's theory should be discussed ... 'pointing out the limitation of science to provide a complete answer'. Scientists argue this implies that creationism and 'intelligent design' - the idea that life must have had a supernatural designer - are alternative explanations.

Darwin's theory must certainly be taught in schools. But it remains unacceptable to a large proportion of people of conservative religious or ethical convictions. Secular education should make our children aware of other views, including creationism, and nurture an open, inquiring mind. The question which then arises is: in which class should views such as creationism be discussed, since it is not a matter of biology or science, but belief. There is a strong argument that it should be taught in a humanities class, such as ethics, in which the conflict and co-existence with science can be explored rationally.

Science and religion can co-exist for the good of mankind, as evidenced by scientific research sponsored by religious organisations, the scientists in awe of the wonder of life who have come to believe in 'intelligent design' and even in the life of Darwin, a non-believer whose funeral was held in London's Westminster Abbey to celebrate a life that made a difference to the world.