Creationists are not critical thinkers

Posted by at 9:49AM

Though this doesn’t quite surprise me, President Emeritus of Stanford, Donald Kennedy, found that students taught Creationism in high school are not critical thinkers. Creationism is based upon faith, which rewards lack of thought and evidence – two qualities that are absolutely necessary for scientific reasoning. You can read more about the finding here.
It baffles me how many of my fellow Americans subscribe to this type of faith. As the Washington Times stated in a June 9, 2006 article: “A Gallup Poll reveals that 46 percent think God created man in his present form sometime in the past 10,000 years, while 36 percent say man developed over millions of years from lesser life forms, but God guided the process.” This is just frightening. Why are so many people such lazy thinkers? To me, that’s exactly what faith entails. It’s easy to blindly accept something as true – reasoning it out is a whole different story.

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4 Responses to “Creationists are not critical thinkers”

  1. Megan Miller says:

    When you say “This is just frightening,” are you also referring to the 36 % that feel we did evolve, but that God guided the process? Because I think these two different perspectives (the 46% and the 36%) are two very different things.
    Faith may in some cases be a “lazy” way to think — though if you engage in a discussion with a Christian who has put a lot of thought into his or her faith, you may find that it is not such a lazy thing at all.
    I’m not condoning a blind acceptance of creationism or anything of the sort, just pointing out that a broad accusation of all faith-based thinkers as “lazy” may not accurately be taking into account the complexity of emotion, thought, and contemplation that goes into faith.
    For that matter, “reasoning it out” may not always be the “right” way for someone to come to a conclusion, though, since we are given a faculty for reason, we should feel obligated, as conscious beings, to use it.
    That said, the 46% is a little scary…

  2. Glen Davis says:

    Interesting post. I was intrigued enough to visit the news article about Kennedy’s perspective.
    I expected to find empirical research (i.e., we did a survey of x students and there was a statistically significant difference in critical thinking skills as measured by assessment y depending on whether or not the students were taught creationism), but was surprised that Kennedy had simply made an assertion.
    In his speech… Kennedy argued that teaching creationism discourages students from applying the scientific method, which emphasizes conducting experiments with reproducible results and drawing logical conclusions from observable, measurable evidence. “What the creationist alternative does to students is to intercept and deaden curiosity,” he said. “If relationships or correlations can be simply allocated to the cleverness of a designer, there’s very little incentive to think up an experiment or undertake an analysis.”
    Perhaps the news article is misleading – Kennedy could be relying on reams of research – but it seems that he’s simply making a plausible argument.
    And so I’m not convinced. In fact, I doubt that there is a significant difference in critical thinking skills between the two groups.
    In talking with people about these issues I find that there’s very little critical thinking on either side of the debate. The question of origins has become a proxy for a larger set of philosophical questions and for the most part people pick their perspective on origins without really examining the data themselves. People, whether atheists or theists, are generally herd thinkers.

  3. Tony says:

    http://stanford.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=2337179774&ref=mf
    “Secularism Far More Intolerant and Vicious Than Organized Religion” is the title of the post of the above person.
    Hmmm…

  4. Galen says:

    I don’t think Kennedy is saying that people who believe in Creationism aren’t critical thinkers, just that when you’re taught creationism *instead* of evolution, you are not learning anything based on the scientific method, which is essentially critical thinking. My AP Bio teacher in high school was a creationist but taught us evolution just fine. Evolution was science, but Creationism was “just what [he] believe[d].”
    That said, over 75% of the scientists in the National Academy of Sciences are atheists (more if you include agnostics), which should tell you something about what happens when you really do put faith and critical thinking together. See:
    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/113

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