It is unclear why Armando Simón (2013) thinks that science teachers should debunk creationism in their classrooms. At times, he suggests that it would be a fitting reprisal against creationists who seek to undermine the teaching of evolution, which is silly.

Simón also suggests that it would improve the students’ understanding of evolution and of the nature of science in general, which at least is not absurd on its face. But it’s one thing to assert that debunking creationism will improve students’ understanding of evolution, and it’s another to demonstrate that it will. Simón fails to cite any relevant empirical studies, even though there is a body of literature on the topic (e.g., Verhey, 2005), albeit generally derived from the undergraduate rather than the K–12 biology classroom.

It is yet another thing to demonstrate that it is the best way. Simón utterly ignores the obstacles to following his advice. Do teachers know the voluminous literature expounding and debunking creationism? With only 14 hours devoted to evolution in the average high school biology class, is there time to debunk creationism, too? Will teachers who want to debunk creationism have the support of their administration and their communities? Will students with creationist leanings find it easier to understand evolution when taught by a teacher who makes a point of debunking creationism? Is attacking religious views in the manner proposed clearly a constitutional practice?

None of this is to deny that for the right teacher, class, and community, debunking creationism in the course of teaching evolution may be pedagogically useful. Still less is it to deny what I have repeatedly argued for (e.g., Alters & Alters, 2001): that instructors teaching evolution should be aware of their students’ scientific misconceptions about evolution – including those involving creationism – in order to teach the subject effectively.


Alters, B.J. & Alters, S.M. (2001). Defending Evolution in the Classroom. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Simón, A. (2013). Yes! Absolutely! Let’s teach creationism in science classes! American Biology Teacher, 75, 83–84.
Verhey, S.D. (2005). The effect of engaging prior learning on student attitudes toward creationism and evolution. BioScience, 55, 996–1003.