In the eighteenth proposition of John H. Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One he argues that the classroom of public schools should remain neutral regarding “purpose.”
If Genesis 1 is about functional origins and not materials origins then there should be no problems with teaching whatever modern science proposes regarding the material development of the universe. For Walton those who propose Creationism or Intelligent Design should be taught in the classroom make the same mistake a metaphysical naturalist who teach dysteleology (that there is no purpose or goal to the universe). Walton proposes a plain and simple solution: avoid metaphysics and teleology in the classroom (pp. 151-157).
Walton argues that the following constitutes empirical science:
“1. It is based on material ontology and premised on methodological naturalism (this eliminates Genesis from the classroom).
“2. It is focused on scientifically valid descriptive mechanisms with their strengths and weaknesses acknowledged. So it should include critiques of Neo-Darwinism as well as other origins theories that are trying to offer better explanations of current observations.
“3. It must be teleologically neutral (this rules out Genesis, metaphysical naturalism and design).” (p. 158)
So the science classroom can speak of “how” things came to be, but not “why,” and not about the metaphysical possibilities involved. Maybe there is a deity involved, but that is not something science can affirm or deny. That is a philosophical/theological question. Science teachers should neither promote creationism, intelligent design, or metaphysical naturalism.
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