Education Article

Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 163-169

First online:

Should Students Be Able to Opt Out of Evolution? Some Philosophical Considerations

  • Robert T. PennockAffiliated withLyman Briggs College and Depts. of Philosophy & Computer Science, E-30 Holmes Hall, Michigan State University Email author 


One new development in the ongoing creationism/evolution controversy has been the proposal to institute opt-out policies that would allow creationist parents to exempt their children from any instruction involving evolution. By way of an explanation of some of the philosophical issues at play in the debate over evolution and the nature of science, this article shows the educational folly of such policies. If evolution is taught properly, it should not be possible to opt out of it without opting out of biology. Moreover, if Intelligent Design creationist criticisms of evolution and scientific naturalism were taken as the basis for opting out, then the effect would be even more radical and would require opting out of science entirely.


Evolution education Intelligent design creationism Nature of science Opt-out policies