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Lacking a Middle-Ground, the Swiss Devolve into Evolutionary Dogmatism

bern.jpgThis past summer I backpacked with some friends through Switzerland, and spent a few days in the beautiful Swiss capital city of Bern. Bern is a city of extremes: extreme beauty (see a photo I took on a bridge over the River Aare at left), extreme night-club partying, and extremely empty museum-like churches. I had a great time in Bern–my favorite event was crashing a party with a Bluegrass band playing at a corporate party along the Aare. But Bern could use some moderation, especially when it comes to the teaching of evolution.

According to an article in Swiss Info, Bern school officials are facing a choice between teaching evolution dogmatically or including young earth creationism in the curriculum. Since young earth creationism is so controversial, the article reports that “[t]he school authorities in canton Bern quickly revised the brochure included in the textbook” and removed the young earth creationist materials, leaving students to be told that “evolution has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt.” Bernese officials should not have to choose between young earth creationism or absolute evolutionary dogmatism. If they were to adopt Discovery Institute’s approach, they could avoid both extremes:

Discovery Institute’s recommended approach to the teaching about evolution, which the Dover school board rejected, is:

1. Make sure the evidence schools present for Darwin’s theory is scientifically accurate.

2. Teach the scientific evidence for and against the key claims of Darwin’s theory, but don’t mandate the study of alternative theories such as intelligent design.
»» This is a common ground approach that focuses on science, and that all reasonable people should be able to accept.
»» This approach focuses on debates over Darwin’s theory that are already well-represented in the standard scientific literature (such as questions about the creative power of natural selection, the ability of random mutations to generate useful biological changes, and the origination of animal body plans during the “Cambrian Explosion”). If scientists can read about these debates in their science journals, why can’t students hear about them in biology class?

(The Theory of Intelligent Design: A Briefing Packet for Educators)

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.