Must Evolution Education that Aims at Belief Be Indoctrinating?

  • Mike U. Smith
  • Harvey SiegelEmail author


Can a teacher aim for students to believe evolution without indoctrinating them? Recent discussions of indoctrination in evolution education suggest that such teaching must inevitably indoctrinate but is “warranted” in some cases; while science educators concerned about teaching for belief argue that such teaching is indoctrinating and is thus to be avoided. In this paper, we consider the argument for the inevitability of indoctrination and for “warranted indoctrination,” argue that the main cost of the latter is the abandonment of the commonly understood negative connotation of “indoctrination,” and offer an account that honors the strengths of that argument but avoids that cost. Assuming that aiming for belief change in students is valuable at least in part because it is more likely than understanding alone to lead to action, we then offer and defend a model of such evolution teaching that is non-indoctrinating and contrast it with two others that are problematically indoctrinating.


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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community MedicineMercer University School of MedicineMaconUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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