UAB professor's book promises solution for teaching evolution without conflict

September 30, 2009

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Associate Professor Lee Meadows, Ph.D., is author of a new book that claims it's possible to teach evolution without offending students who have strong religious convictions against the theory.

In his book, The Missing Link: An Inquiry Approach for Teaching All About , Meadows, a Christian and science educator, writes: "For too long evolution has been denied its place in science curriculum. School policies driven by misunderstanding and fear regularly displace widely recognized principles of science. But without understanding evolution, students — no matter what their religious beliefs — will never achieve the level of scientific literacy they need to make sense of even everyday practicalities such as how human viruses work."

School districts, politicians and church leaders have debated for decades as to whether Charles Darwin's theory of evolution should be taught in schools. Educators who have taught evolution often have come under attack by students, parents and local religious leaders. As a result, many teachers today have resorted to one of two extremes to avoid arguments over the validity of evolution, says Meadows, who teaches in the UAB School of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
UAB Associate Professor of Education Lee Meadows discusses his new book "The Missing Link." Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham

"They either tell students 'check your religion at the door,' or they don't teach evolution at all," Meadows says. "This book attempts to take a middle-of-the road approach."

Rather than trying to convince students of the legitimacy of evolution, Meadows says, teachers should encourage students to examine the scientific evidence for evolution for themselves and guide them in exploring the scientific explanations for that evidence. This can include visits to science Web sites such as the Tree of Life Web Project and reading articles about past and recent scientific discoveries that offer evidence of evolution. Explaining to students the process by which scientists arrive at certain conclusions also should be a part of the science curriculum, Meadows says.

"Children have to understand evolution," he says, "but they don't have to believe it, and that is the key distinction that I have laid out in the book. So if a child asks if God made the whale, it's really an opportunity to talk about natural and supernatural explanations. You are not saying that one is better than the other, only that science is limited to natural explanations."

The book contains overviews of the theory of evolution and inquiry-based science teaching, lesson plans and a list of various Internet resources that educators can use in the classroom.

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham (news : web)

Explore further: Utah House rejects evolution measure

Related Stories

Utah House rejects evolution measure

February 28, 2006

Utah state representatives have rejected legislation that would have regulated how the theory of evolution is taught in public schools.

Teaching Biology Means Teaching Evolution

December 11, 2006

Evolution is a complex topic for any science teacher, given the misconceptions that some students bring to the classroom and the gaps that can occur in teacher preparation. In Investigating Evolutionary Biology in the Laboratory, ...

Book: Evolution, religion are compatible

January 5, 2008

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has published a new book arguing that acceptance of the theory of evolution does not require giving up a belief in God.

Recommended for you

Four pre-Inca tombs found in Peru's Lima

November 27, 2015

Archaeologists in Peru have found four tombs that are more than 1,000 years old in a pyramid-shaped cemetery that now sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Lima, experts said.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2009
Darwin was a Christian minister all his life! He never wavered from his knowledge or belief in God as creator. He simply wanted to understand the process! I agree! I work on the electron theory in the same sense. What's the problem?
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2009
I do not really see anything novel in the approach he describes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.