Part of the problem for this widespread ignorance lies with the politics of local education, as became clear the first year I taught "Science and Faith" at Berea College.
After we had looked at evolution, I asked the twenty students in the seminar if they had learned about evolution in any of their high school science classes. One by one, most of the students who attended public high schools stated, "The teacher skipped that chapter." After the fifth time, I said, "I know why the teacher skipped that chapter.
I've chosen this title for the essay on biological evolution because it has become clear to me that most Christians know little about the scientific details of evolution, either about the enormous amount of evidence already gathered to support evolution or the dominant theory that explains how it happens, natural selection.
This is true both of Christians who accept evolution and support teaching it in the public schools of the United States and those who reject it and oppose its teaching.
One student told one of my science colleagues that when he was exposed to evolution in a previous course, he became physically ill.
I hope and trust that such a reaction is rare, but it does point up the difficulty I and others face in trying to help students armed and armored against evolution by religious authority figures to let down their defenses and listen to another point of view--to understand evolution in a different and positive light.
The materialists argue that their philosophy necessarily follows from the science, and therefore evolution removes any need for God.
The creationists, strangely, buy this faulty argument, and agreeing that one cannot separate the science from the philosophy reject both.
Yet, the topic made some of them uncomfortable, and others may have hesitated to speak up in class out of a concern that their point of view might cause conflict with other students.
Attempts to draw them into discussion following presentations that dealt with evolution by their fellow students or myself were more often than not met with silence.