As most of you know, the citizens of the United Kingdom do not obsess over the separation of church and state and they do not use their constitution to keep creationism out of their schools. That's why the question posed by Michael Reiss in New Statesman is a valid one in that country, "Should creationism be taught in British classrooms?". The answer might surprise many people in other countries.
I agree with this point of view. I think the main arguments for creationism, and against evolution, should be discussed in science class. It's an excellent way of showing what real science is and how it should be practiced.
Why schools and universities should encourage debate on evolution -- and how this could benefit science.
.... When teaching evolution, there is much to be said for allowing students to raise any doubts they have in order to shape and provoke a genuine discussion. The word "genuine" doesn't mean that creationism and intelligent design deserve equal time with evolution. They don't. However, in certain classes, depending on the teacher's comfort with talking about such issues, his or her ability to deal with them, and the make-up of the student body, it can and should be appropriate to address them.
Having said that, I don't pretend to think that this kind of teaching is easy. Some students become very heated; others remain silent even if they disagree profoundly with what is said. But I believe in taking seriously the concerns of students who do not accept the theory of evolution while still introducing them to it. Although it is unlikely that this will help them resolve any conflict they experience between science and their beliefs, good teaching can help students to manage it - and to learn more science.
My hope is simply to enable students to understand the scientific perspective with respect to our origins, but not necessarily to accept it. We can help students to find their science lessons interesting and intellectually challenging without their being a threat. Effective teaching in this area can help students not only learn about the theory of evolution, but also better appreciate the way science is done, the procedures by which scientific knowledge accumulates, the limitations of science and the ways in which scientific knowledge differs from other forms of knowledge.
The problem with ignoring the main criticisms of evolution is that students are going to hear about them from other sources and they won't know what to think about those points of view unless we teach them how to reason. The goal of science education is to teach students how to think, not just fill them with facts. It's our responsibility as teachers to teach critical thinking. One of the best ways to do that is to give them some popular examples to discuss and debate.
[Hat Tip: RichardDawkins.net]