Teach creationism. Teach intelligent design. Teach the alternatives. Teach the controversy. These are some of the common claims that lead to massive lawsuits and headline stories. Creationists (as well as proponents of intelligent design, misguided parents, etc, etc) sometimes claim that to teach a “fair and balanced curriculum”, you have to teach alternatives to evolution in science class. Or to explain the massive controversy in the scientific community about the validity of evolution. But there are reasons that those decisions get overturned in court, and here are some of them:
First of all, more often than not, the alternatives people want taught are creationism or intelligent design. And those aren’t IN THE LEAST science. Sure, evolution is not, to say, perfectly flawless. Every scientific theory has stuff going against it, and that’s okay. But what’s NOT okay is when a theory that is supposedly scientific cannot keep an argument! Talkorigins alone has a massive index of creationist and intelligent design claims, all of which have scientific responses. Evolution may have mountains of evidence stated against it, but very few of those evidences can be considered valid. Now, if you wanted to do a comparative religion class of which multiple mythologies and their impact on the modern world were a part, that’s fine. In fact, I support that. But when you try to pass off creationism as science, and try to teach it in schools, that’s just wrong.
Now, on the subject of “teach the controversy”, there are two different meanings: state that there is immense debate in the scientific community about evolution’s validity, or teach the immense controversy about evolution vs creationism, intelligent design, etc. I love the concept of teaching the latter, but the former is wrong because the scientific community overwhelmingly accepts evolution. Societies like Creation Science Evangelism, the Institute for Creation Research, and the infamous ID think tank, the Discovery Institute, are not widely accepted members of the scientific community, despite repeated attempts to convince the public that creationism and intelligent design are scientific. While there are debates on HOW evolution happened, like the evolution of certain creatures, there are practically no arguments against them evolving.
Science, and how science should be taught, is a tricky subject. Obviously, evolution should be a part of every school curriculum, but there will occasionally be the inevitable fight to get religion in, too. And that only leads to trouble and costly lawsuits. Nobody wants to get into trouble with the law, so do what’s right: accept the science in a science class, and leave religion at home.