L’enseignement du créationisme dans les écoles américaines

Une nouvelle loi de l’état du Tennessee aux USA va permettre aux instituteurs de discuter du créationisme en parallèle à d’autres théories de l’évolution, écrit Casey Selwyn.

Exposition des faits

Le 11 avril 2012, l’état du Tennessee a voté une loi qui protégera les instituteurs qui choisissent d’explorer les mérites du créationisme en parallèle aux théories de l’évolution en classe de sciences dans les écoles publiques. Le gouverneur Bill Haslam a déclaré que cette législation n’altérerait pas les standards scientifiques dans les écoles et a refusé de signé la loi. Néanmoins, il a refusé d’y apposer son droit de veto, et la proposition de loi entrera donc en vigueur. Le Tennessee est ainsi devenu le deuxième état américain à passer ce type de législation après la loi sur la «liberté académique» de Louisiane en 2008. Elle vise à soutenir les enseignants qui souhaitent «aider les étudiants à comprendre, analyser, critiquer et à passer en revue d’une manière objective les forces et faiblesses scientifiques associées aux différentes théories de l’évolution.»

L’étendue de cette loi ne se limite pas à l’évolution; en effet le changement climatique et les clones humains sont aussi ouverts à la critique. Ces trois théories sont largement acceptées en terme de mérite scientifique. Les critiques ont appelé les propositions de nouvelle législation des «Lois de Chimpanzés» qui font suite au «procès des chimpanzés de Scopes» de 1925 au cours duquel John Scopes avait été reconnu coupable d’avoir enseigné l’évolution avant d’être blanchit en appel. La loi a attiré de vives  critiques et nombreux sont ceux qui pensent que la loi va encourager d’autres états à passer des lois similaires, en plus de faire office de retour en arrière dans le combat pour l’amélioration de l’éducation scientifique et mathématique aux USA. D’autres clament que cette loi viole le principe de la séparation de l’église et de l’état et que «la pensée critique et l’analyse engagent la bonne science.»

L'avis de l'auteur

Alors que les principes de liberté académique et de pensée critique sont vitales dans la propagation d’une ‘bonne’ science dans les politiques d’éducation, je ne pense pas que cette loi du Tennessee encourage ces principes. Premièrement, le Tennessee met en péril sa propre crédibilité quand à la liberté d’expression dans l’éducation lorsque le comité pour l’éducation passe la loi «Don’t Say Gay» (Ne dites Pas Gay) le 18 avril 2012, qui interdit aux instituteurs de discuter d’homosexualité. Deuxièmement, malgré que cette loi stipule qu’elle ne «promeut aucune doctrine, religieuse ou autre», cela laisse clairement un espace pour un agenda créationiste.

Si les principes scientifiques louent la liberté d’expression au plus haut standards dans la pratique de théories rigoureuses et dans le questionnement des fait non-prouvés, créer de l’espace dans le curriculum éducationnel pour la promotion de théories discréditées alors qu’elles ne sont pas sujettes à une analyse scientifique rigoureuse donne aux enfants une vision déformée des faits par rapport à la fiction. Si l’analyse critique va dans le sens de la science dite ‘bonne’ et est nécessaire pour protéger les principes de liberté d’expression, il semble qu’une ‘alternative’, une défense du créationisme qu’on ne pourrait pas mettre en question, cache la promotion d’une idéologie par opposition à la science – même sous le couvert de liberté d’expression qui doit être protégée. Si les parents veulent enseigner à leurs enfants le créationisme, ou ce que fait l’église, cela est tout à fait acceptable, mais ce qui est problématique est de promouvoir le créationisme comme une science dans l’école publique laïque. Il semble que cela viole aussi le principe de liberté de culte du premier amendement à la constitution comme démontré par le jugement de la cour suprême en 1987 qui jugea inconstitutionnel l’enseignement du créationisme en parallèle aux théories de l’évolution en cours de science.

- Casey Selwyn

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Commentaires (14)

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  1. With Karl Popper, I think that theories must be debated in the light of possible alternatives. Which in case of evolutionism means: in the light of creationism resp. intelligent design.
    That implies that the most interesting aspects are the tentative refutations of Darwinism, its flaws and open questions.
    Understood in this way, the Tennessean law is quite reasonable – not as a teaching of two theories independent of each other.
    Above all, I don’t think that the children are really endangered by creationism. In fact, evolutionism is rather unimportant for great parts of modern science, and there are a lot of chemists, physicians etc. who support kinds of creationism without any damage to their professional efficiency.

  2. this is great but it must be in the fashion that the teacher is not pushing this idea to be truth but merly to inform. This is a thinking of our world and it should not be shunned. This is way of thinking and just just as physics is or that we evolved from monkey or didn’t. All a just a way of thinking and should be explored.

  3. integrare un istruzione di base religiosa, in particolare in una nazione come gli USA che si dichiara atea di principio, e’ un forte controsenso e per quanto mi riguarda un errore perché sopratutto se viene integrato il creazionismo cattolico si dovrebbe insegnare l’equivalente di tutte le altre religioni se si intende insegnarlo con il pretesto di aumentare la basa di conoscenze

  4. I don’t see what the « Don’t Say Gay » legislation has to do with this issue, except to demonstrate that the Tennessee legislature is pursuing a Conservative social agenda, and interfering with school curricula to do so. It seems to me obvious that teachers in Tennessee schools should be free to teach about homosexuality and about creationism, that children in Tennessee schools need information and discussion on these subjects. The discussion, of course, should be truly open. That is what needs to be guaranteed.

  5. Also, thank you for such thought-provoking responses!

  6. Here is another interesting view on the topic:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-moshman/should-creationist-teache_b_1496480.html

    The author brings up the point that the academic freedom laws should be applied to all subjects, to ensure that students understand that what they are taught in history or literature is open to debate. How do you think all of these arguments apply to an issue like Holocaust denial? Are they comparable, or is there something about ‘hard science’ that separates it from all else?

  7. Whoa. I don’t think this has to do with the quality of teachers so much as the religious views of the state (so much for separation of church and state there.) If someone wants to teach Creationism, I believe they should be able to do so, but within the context of the religion that proclaims it. Comparing it to Evolution is not inherently evil either. When it is set up as scientific truth though, is when I find fault with the law and the education system.

  8. I completely agree with that . It is a good point to be comented in schools , and it opens many  »doors » for teach about another things involving creationism .

  9. Sure, creationism should technically be allowed to be taught in a science class under free speech, but any teacher who would even think about doing it should not be hired in the first place. It would be like teaching biology in a history class; it just doesn’t make sense.

    Teaching creationism in a science class shouldn’t be forbid, but any credible science teacher wouldn’t teach it to begin with. If anything this is more an issue with the quality of High School science teachers than with the curriculum itself.

  10. I agree

  11. I want to manifest my great indignation with these news. I cannot believe that in a 21st century USA, we find such an important flaw in education.
    I completely agree with Casey Selwyn when he or she talks says that this is a complete defense of the Creationist agenda, even if the defenders are trying to argue that it is better for the critical analysis skills of children and to teach them freedom of speech. If we wanted to see this situation turned around, we would be spending half of a mass as usual, and the other we would be dedicating it to speaking about evolution and how everything that has just been said is a lie and false. That does not sound like a good way of making the believers think that what they are being told in massI want to manifest my great indignation with these news. I cannot believe that in a 21st century USA, we find such an important flaw in education.
    I completely agree with Casey Selwyn when he or she talks says that this is a complete defense of the Creationist agenda, even if the defenders are trying to argue that it is better for the critical analysis skills of children and to teach them freedom of speech. If we wanted to see this situation turned around, we would be spending half of a mass as usual, and the other we would be dedicating it to speaking about evolution and how everything that has just been said is a lie and false.
    Not only this, but these teachings of Creationism are purely Christian, and with the enormous cultural variety in the United States, it is even insulting for other religions and also atheists, that this is being taught in schools.
    The church is the house of religion, and schools and universities are the houses of science. One cannot break in into the other’s house through institutional orders. Like Selwyn says, the US is supposedly a country with freedom of religion, and these kind of changes degrade this freedom.
    School and science are here to teach specific facts which are scientifically tested and proven. The theory of evolution falling into that category and Creationism obviously not, this situation is for me is medieval and a step backwards in USA culture and even human evolution.

    • Oh is it? Please list the inaccuracies and state why exactly my comments are in any way irrelevant. Religion has, and will for the centuries to come deter mankind’s goal of achieving a better society. Each year thousands are cornered and discriminated against simply for having different religious views. In fact I can go all day listing reasons why religion is ultimately one of the greatest tragedies that ever happened to mankind, however as bashing religion is not the sole purpose of comments I will try to justify my point from a different point of view.

      To start with, it seems that your view is very idealistic. A human is not a retinal creature who will weigh his/her own alternatives unbiasedly and see which one makes more sense. Many succumb to peer pressure and brainwashing easier than you would expect. You say that one should ridicule but not outlaw the teaching of religion in schools, but how exactly does that help? It is clear that there is a wide support in the Southern States to promote religion. Ridiculing them wouldn’t help as the residents of such states are mainly right-wing conservatives, many of who do not just consider creationism as a plausible alternative to theory of evolution, but in their sheer arrogance consider it to be the only true course of events. Therefore their attempts are nothing more but to influence and brainwash the kids in their formative years into buying this evangelical propaganda. Of course, they are still a long way to go to have creationism taught as the main « theory » in the classrooms, but that does not mean that « we » should let them further their agenda until it gets to the critical level. I therefore consider that necessary that actions must be taken now as the repercussions of this kind of passivity might one day affect our own children in a rather negative way.

    • I couldn’t agree with you any more. Thousands of different religions have existed througout the history of mankind each one slowing the scientific and social progress of the people. This is not only insulting to atheists and to peoples of other religions but anyone with common sense.
      Religion (of any kind) is one of the greatest obstacles mankind has ever faced in its goal of achieving a better world. Had Darwin never questioned the origin of species and blindly accepted as a fact that every species in this world was created by a Christian God in first week of the creation of universe, much of the modern medicine would never exist. Had Copernicus never questioned the Earth’s position in the Universe, there would be no revolution in science and astrology, ultimately leading to many great scientific discoveries. Same goes for other scientists who have over and over questioned the religious writings to bring mankind prosperity. Imagine now, how much more advanced the human species would be had there never been such thing as a religion?
      This leaves me with one question: How hypocritical are those Conservative Republican politicians to question the Theory of Evolution while enjoying all the benifits (medicine, technology etc.) which arose from questioning what they try preach at schools?
      Another thing which I would like to add is the confusion that arises around the term « Theory » in « Theory of Evolution ». Many consider the word « Theory » to mean « a proposition » or « a hypothesis », while that is utterly not true. There is a very clear distinction between the terms, and in order to avoid the confusion, the word « Theory » should be understood as a word « fact ». All the evidence compiled from the beginning of Darwin’s « theory » 150 years ago support evolution and there is yet to be any disprovable theory to be put forth to even start questioning the « Theory of Evolution »

      • Your diatribe against religion is both rife with inaccuracies and irrelevant to the case at hand. However:

        Teaching creationism in school shouldn’t be outlawed or prohibited, but it should be ridiculed. To me this question speaks of more serious underlying issues than a simple question of free speech. Public primary schools, for all their significance in the development of a nation’s future, must be held to a high standard of education, and to imply that substituting mythology for accepted scientific thought is useful as a means of enhancing critical thought is ludicrous.

        The underlying agenda is evident, and the fact that there are even attempts at a legal justification for it speak of a worrying fusion of church and state still present within some parts of the States.

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Le Débat Sur La Liberté d'Expression est un projet de recherche du Programme Dahrendorf pour l'étude de la liberté au Collège St Anthony, Université d'Oxford.

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