Why teach evolution? Let me answer this question, first, as an educator, and, second, as a Christian theologian interested in the relationship of science to religion. As an educator I believe students need to understand the story of life on our planet accurately. By ignoring evolution, schools and teachers would be leaving out the vital links that tie us and other living species to natural history. Failing to comprehend these links leads to a shallow understanding of ourselves as well as the universe that gave birth to us.
Evolution is the good luck of theology
John F. Haught, professor of theology and author of numerous books, writes that by ignoring evolution, "schools and teachers would be leaving out the vital links that tie us and other living species to natural history."
By ignoring evolution, schools and teachers would be leaving out the vital links that tie us and other living species to natural history
As a theologian I must add that ignoring evolution leads also to a shallow understanding of God. I am aware, of course, that Darwin’s story of life is hard for many religious people, especially Christians and Muslims, to swallow—at least at first. The U. S. Constitution (rightly) rules out attempts by public school teachers to reconcile evolution with faith, and in my opinion it also rules out attempts by teachers to identify evolution with materialism and other atheistic world-views.
So where can students of biology turn for help if they suspect that what they are learning in the classroom is contrary to their most precious religious beliefs? This predicament complicates the whole process of science education, but there is no need to despair. Ministers and other religious educators, and not just students, need to become informed about evolutionary biology. Furthermore, there are many theological resources now available that can help students—outside of the classroom—integrate their religious beliefs with a sound scientific understanding of Darwin’s revolution. I have made several such attempts myself, including Making Sense of Evolution (Westminster/John Knox, 2010) and Science and Faith: A New Introduction (New York: Paulist Press, 2001).