Catholic schools can provide forum for evolution, creation debate - Catholic Courier

Catholic schools can provide forum for evolution, creation debate

By Joanne Fox
Catholic News Service

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — Blogs, Facebook and Twitter were all a buzz before, during and after a debate earlier this year at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., between Bill Nye, the science guy, and Ken Nam, founder of Answers in Genesis on the topic of evolution vs. creation.

However, unlike social media — which can accelerate an agenda because of its participants — Catholic schools provide an opportunity to thoughtfully analyze the science of creation that also puts God at the center of the universe.

Rich Kallsen, an instructor of physical science and biology for 10 years — five of them at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City — was not surprised the debate continues to be volatile.

"Any argument (or) debate is (or) can be center stage because of social media, no matter how long the debate has actually been around," he said. "For so long, atheist and anti-religion groups have been completely shutting the door on any debate about the beginnings of the earth and its inhabitants. I think there are just enough creationists who wanted to hear the debate, and once again, social media has brought them together to make it happen."

In his Heelan classes, Kallsen responds to students’ questions about the disconnect between the creation story in the Bible and science’s interpretation of the creation of the cosmos.

"We discuss the scientific explanation for the creation of the universe — the Big Bang — and all the evidence that points in that direction," he said. "We discuss radiocarbon dating, which is a generally accepted scientific means of calculating the age of any given sample. We also discuss the evidence of change over time in the fossil records. We acknowledge the theories suggesting there has been slow change in the earth and in life over many years."

Like Albert Einstein, who stated, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." Kallsen discusses the Catholic teachings that put God at the center of all creation, evolution, change and science.

"We have a unique opportunity in a Catholic school to stress the importance of understanding the possible means God chose to create us and to be open to the fact that while we may not understand completely how we came to be where, what we are today, it is all at the doing and direction of God," he said.

It is that approach that empowers Kallsen to incorporate his own faith beliefs into the classroom.

"Every class period starts with prayer and petitions," he told The Catholic Globe, newspaper of the Sioux City Diocese. "When we talk about issues in the world related to science, we try to bring God into the discussion."

Kallsen will often discuss with students what responsibilities we have to remain at all times true to God’s teachings and his will.

"Sometimes we can get caught up in trying to pinpoint exactly what happened when, or exactly what path brought us to where we are today, and that is good," he said. "It is also important, however, to remember that it is not possible to explain all things we experience. To do so might be trying to pin God down. I’m not so sure that is a good way to expend our effort. Maybe we need to be better at saying, ‘I may not know, but I know I believe.’"

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Fox is managing editor of The Catholic Globe, newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City.

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