If we teach children that the fossil record (and indeed evolution itself) is god's little joke on mankind, are we also teaching them to distrust and discount science and mathematics? (I'm reminded of the Bob Jones University Astronomy textbook that denies cosmological distances, black holes, quasars, et al - Like the fossil record, these are god's little joke on mankind.)
What are the implications for the individual child so taught? (Will anyone argue that Bob Jones turns out astronomers employable in the field of astronomy?) And what are the implications on a macro level? A whole generation of children brought up to distrust and discount science?
Mark: Teaching children that there are many theories about the creation of the Universe is doing nothing more than telling them the truth! If someone is teaching them that creation was only caused through an omnipotent being, that is wrong. That's is deception and brainwashing. However, to not teach them about the other theories is just as bad as sticking their heads in the sand so they don't learn about the real world we live in, and all the beliefs therein.
Mikoto, why shouldn't we teach the theory of creationism in schools? What difference does it make where theories originate? What if one day we learn there IS a God...and everything we know in existence originated because of him? I shouldn't have to tell you that MANY myths are based on factual information. The writers of the Bible undoubtedly know all the things they wrote happened for certain, but they used the stories that had been passed from generation to generation for eons and attempted to write it to the best of their limited abilities and with their limited knowledge. For instance...did a global flood as described in the Bible once happen? Scientists have discovered the Earth has flooded and had higher sea levels in the distant past. Scientists have also discovered that the story of Noah was undoubtedly an account of Gilgamesh, which had happened further back than Noah. Both stories have undeniable parallels, and scientists have listened to those stories, and began to study if a flood of the proportion described in those two stories was a real event. They're certain a flood happened that affected thousands of people, but we also know the Earth didn't flood completely all over, and it didn't rain for 40 days and 40 nights. All that was writer embellishment. Journalists have been using sensationalism for thousands of years!
...And Scott, why would the fossil record be god's little joke on mankind? To me, the fossil record lets us know that there is more knowledge out there than just what is learned from ONE source (like the Bible). Explaining a few of the main theories of our creation was the way I was taught as a child, and I didn't ever distrust or discount science. My teacher told me the leading scientific theories, and when someone in the class said, "I thought God created the Universe"...she simply said, "Yes, that is what a lot of people believe."
To me...the fossil record, evolution, and the science behind the Big Bang totally mesh with my other beliefs that originate from the account I learned in the Bible. The Bible didn't say HOW God created the Universe. I also never believed the Bible had it's account of the creation of the universe and life, completely correct down to the last little detail. The Bible was written by men...and as we know, men often have ulterior motives, and/or wrong information when they're writing a book.
I was taught to take all the theories, and believe what I chose to believe, because as I said earlier...NOBODY knows exactly how and why the Universe came to be, and how and why lifeforms were created. God could have created the Universe via the Big Bang, and made certain the seeds of life were planted and would evolve as planned. OR, we could ALL be wrong with every current theory (religiously-related or not).
Scientists are still figuring out when and how early mankind spread around the world. It was once taught that people left Africa traveling east, until they reached what is now the Bering Strait...then they crossed over the frozen sea into North America. HOWEVER, now scientists are rethinking that theory, as much evidence has come to light that man could have been in North America MUCH earlier than previously thought. We now know Christopher Columbus was not, and never was the discoverer of North America. The Vikings beat him by several hundred years, and again, new things are being examined that may indicate that mankind was here in some capacity even before the Vikings found "Vineland".
So, you believe that the Earth could be 6000 years old, there isn't enough empirical data to establish that the Earth is millions and millions of years old.
And we should teach that to children?