Children and Public Schools

Title: Children and Public Schools

Text: Luke 17:1-3

Time: April 14th, 2010

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper in which I stated the following: “If evolution is a fact, why not permit criticism of it? A well-known atheist evolutionist has written a recent book that is supposed to lay out the evidence for evolution, but the curious thing is that every page or so he repeats in mantra-like fashion, “Evolution is a fact, not a theory.” I didn’t take the time to actually count how many times he repeats the phrase “Evolution is a fact” because he says it so often that it becomes annoying. One quickly feels as if one is in the presence of mere propaganda. Now my question is, if evolution is such an established fact of science, why does this leading voice of evolution need to repeat the fact over and over again? Why doesn’t he simply let the “facts” speak for themselves? But this author’s behavior is symptomatic of the whole evolutionary establishment in public schools. If evolution is so clearly true – or in the words of many like the author above, if evolution is a “fact” – then why not expose it to criticism and permit Intelligent Design arguments against it to be heard? If evolution is so obviously true, then these other arguments against it will be shown petty, hollow and empty – thus confirming the theory as a result. However, that is not the approach taken by the education establishment here in the United States. Instead, the approach taken in most school districts is propaganda. The present approach is to allow for no alternative theory and no criticism of evolution is schools. Why not expose students to the very best criticisms of the theory of evolution and let them work their way through these arguments with class discussion? Why not take these opposing criticisms seriously? For example, if all living things have come about through small, gradual changes from one kind of living thing to another due to changes in the environment and favorable mutations, why doesn’t the actual fossil record show this process? Darwin thought the absence of an abundance of fossils showing the blending of one thing into another thing was the strongest argument against his theory, but do most students who learn biology know this? Probably not; what a shame. An educated student is one who knows how to explain the theory of evolution and knows the strongest arguments for and against it – and most importantly, makes up his or her own mind about it.” They published the article and it generated a lot of replies, nearly 50 in all. Why did I address this topic? Because I’m greatly concerned what they are teaching our children in the public schools today. I’m concerned that parents’ attempts at raising their children in the Christian faith are being countered by teachers in the public schools; and that’s wrong. To teach a child in such a way so that he or she loses faith is a crime, a grave sin. Listen to what Jesus says about it: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves,” Luke 17:1-3. But it’s just not one thing that is stealing the simple faith of Christian children in schools; it’s a number of things. Let me explain.

First, there’s sex education that is teaching sexual immorality. Luke 17:1, “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.” If I were a teacher in a public school I’d think seriously about the words of Jesus in this verse, because whatever I teach to children, I’ll be held accountable by God. I would particularly be concerned if I were a Sex Ed teacher. I’ve actually talked to different Sex Ed teachers – or Health Officers, as they are sometimes called. Generally speaking, they take a very casual attitude about things they should be very concerned about. For example, in most school districts these teachers give instruction in the use of condoms and birth control. They see it as simply informing children about all the options available in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and avoiding pregnancy. They figure that since kids are going to experiment with sex anyway, they may as well be informed and educated in the proper way of avoiding diseases and pregnancy. But what they don’t take seriously enough is the message they are sending to kids that it’s ok to have premarital sex. They respond, “We aren’t telling kids to have sex, we are just informing them that if they do choose to engage in sex, here are ways to prevent the spread of STDs and avoiding pregnancy.” But that argument doesn’t make sense because everyone knows that when a teacher gives instructions in how to do something, from the students point of view, it must not be too bad or else it wouldn’t even be taught. For example, if some radical teacher were to teach children how to shoot up heroin in a classroom, parents would be rightly outraged. It wouldn’t make things any better if the teacher were to argue, “I’m not telling them to shoot heroin into their veins, I’m just showing them that if they choose to shoot heroin, here’s how to do it without getting infected.” No. That kind of argument wouldn’t suffice – and neither does the Sex Ed teacher’s argument that he’s not promoting promiscuity or abstinence, he’s not teaching morality or immorality, he’s only educating students in health issues and then letting them make their own decisions. By showing kids how to avoid all the negative consequences of sexual immorality he is in affect promoting immorality – and he will be held accountable for it by God. We must not be taken in by arguments that Sex Ed can be taught from a “values-neutral” angle; it can’t. We must not let Sex Educators teach our children how to avoid the negative consequences of sinful activities. These actions have negative consequences for a purpose – to naturally discourage people from engaging in them. Let’s not circumvent God’s own natural mechanism for discouraging premarital sex by permitting schools to teach children how to cleverly avoid the wages of sin. Instead, let’s oppose all sex education in schools except for abstinence-based instruction.

Second, there’s science education that is teaching evolution-only origins. “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin,” Luke 17:2. As it stands today in almost all public school science classes, Darwinian evolution is the only theory of origins taught. Most parent’s console themselves with the naïve idea that while their children are taught that all human life evolved ultimately from bacteria into fish into amphibians into reptiles into mammals into man, at least their children are not taught that God is unnecessary. But in fact, that’s exactly what they are taught! The current scientific theory of evolution is defined as the purely natural, unguided, undirected process whereby all living things evolve from simpler living things into more complex living things through natural selection and survival of the fittest based on random mutations and environmental changes. God is not taught alongside the teaching of evolution because there is no need to bring him into the theory or explanation. According to the theory of evolution, only natural causes are needed to explain all of life in all of its complexities, including man. It doesn’t take a straight-A student to figure out that if God isn’t needed to explain life on planet Earth, then God is unnecessary. That’s the basic message our children are getting from their science education in the public schools today. All attempts to bring God into the conversation, to bring Intelligent Design into the science curriculum, are met with opposition by most teachers and school administrators. According to the law today, it is illegal for public schools to offer any explanation that includes God in science education. The bottom line is that students in the public schools today are being taught outright either atheism, agnosticism or skepticism. Is it any wonder why Christian youth often walk away from the faith during their teenage years? They are taught atheism, agnosticism and skepticism in their school classroom. According to the Bible, these teachers and school administrators who are responsible for stealing the faith of children through the teaching of godless evolution will be held accountable by God. Be that as it may, we should work as hard as we can to see to it that our schools teach a balanced treatment in science classes. I mean, we should advocate that both evolution and some form of creationism be taught alongside each other to insure that students are exposed to all the best knowledge available on origins. Arguments for and against evolution should be taught, as well as arguments for and against Intelligent Design. Unless some kind of balanced treatment can be implemented in public science curriculum, I’d be afraid to send my kid there where he’ll learn only the atheistic worldview. That’s not education, that’s indoctrination.

Third, there’s liberal secular humanism that is taught in general. Luke 17:1-3, “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.” This last dangerous and harmful influence is more general than the two specific problems mentioned before. It’s a general atmosphere and attitude that permeates public education in general. What is secular humanism? It’s a worldview that assumes that “man is the measure of all things,” as one philosopher stated it. It’s the philosophy that presupposes that mankind is the highest authority, not God. The worldview of secular humanism assumes that human reason, science and rational thought are more reliable for gaining accurate knowledge of all things, even over and above the Bible. The way the public school system is set up today, the Bible is banned from any practical influence. At the same time, atheistic authors and educators are welcome in schools. For example, scientists such as atheist Richard Dawkins are permitted to influence students through textbooks and films. I remember buying a used science book by an atheist author at a second-hand shop here in town; the book was stamped inside with the local high school imprint. But would a Christian author or educator advocating the Christian worldview be permitted to influence public school children today? Probably not. The atmosphere is often hostile to biblical Christianity in public schools today, while at the same time it’s very accommodating to atheist and skeptical ideas. Self-actualization psychology is found everywhere in public education today. The idea that each student should strive for “high self-esteem” and should glory in their own unique individuality is promoted heavily. Homosexuality and alternative lifestyles are also advanced, along with a large list of liberal, progressive political causes. It makes no difference that many children are raised in traditional conservative Christian homes, when they set foot into the public schools they are under heavy pressure to conform to the secular, liberal and humanistic worldview. I could go on and on about how public education today is really public indoctrination in the secular humanist worldview, but I don’t have time today. The point is that children are being brainwashed in public schools. Educators, teachers and administrators will be held accountable by God for every child they lead astray, but that’s not comforting to parents whose child is led astray. We must work to make sure our children don’t go astray through an indoctrination process that is anti-Christian.

So what can be done? For many Christian parents raising children of school age the dangers of public education are so great they insist on either home schooling their children, or sending them to a private Christian school. Why have both the home school movement and Christian schools grown so dramatically in the last few decades? Isn’t it because the public schools have so declined? The theory behind public education started out good. At one time “religious neutrality” could work in public schools because there was near universal consensus that God, religion, the Bible, church, for example, were good things. But over the last two or three decades the move has been to remove all trace of God and religion from schools in an effort to achieve a total secular environment. This goal has almost been fulfilled, but with tragic consequences. Now the atmosphere in public schools is often anti-Christian, not just neutral. Atheism, agnosticism and skepticism fit very comfortably within the present secular public school environment. That’s why more and more parents have pulled their kids out of public education into home schooling or Christian schooling. But what is left for parents who for many reasons can’t home school or afford to send their children to a Christian school? With the teaching of Sex Ed in health education classes, with the teaching of evolution-only in science classes, with the general and pervasive atmosphere of liberal secular humanism, it’s a problem. There is no easy answer. One alternative is to shop around for the “best” public or charter school in the area – one that is less anti-Christian than others. This is often hard to determine. Usually, smaller schools are better than larger schools; but that’s not always the case. There really is no good educational alternative. If parents send their children to public schools, they can count on their kids learning about condoms and birth control in health classes and learning evolution-only science and secular humanism in general. The only hope or solution, if children must attend public schools, is for them to be a part of a good, solid Christian church in the area. But there’s no way a church can influence the way a school can – an hour or two every Sunday versus five or six hours every day isn’t even close. That’s why parents of children who attend public schools must take the time to talk and train their children on their own in the home. Parents still have great influence on children, even school kids. But it will take parents caring enough to talk and train their children in the truths and values of Christianity, so that when their kids run into anti-Christian teachings and values in the public schools they are prepared. This process is exactly what the Bible outlines parents are to do. “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them our your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth,” Deuteronomy 11:18-21.

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8 Responses to “Children and Public Schools”

  1. Human Ape Says:

    “If evolution is so clearly true – or in the words of many like the author above, if evolution is a ‘fact’ – then why not expose it to criticism and permit Intelligent Design arguments against it to be heard?”

    What you are suggesting is called “dumbing down science education”.

    You are asking biology teachers to imply there is some doubt about the truth of evolution in the scientific community. That’s not true and virtually all biology teachers would refuse to do this. For example, in Dover Pennsylvania, a creationist school board demanded that biology teachers read a statement about intelligent design (which is a childish anti-science religious belief). Every single teacher refused to read it. One biology teacher was so angry he quit his job. There was a federal trial. The creationists lost, and angry voters threw out the creationists after they got stuck with a one million dollar legal bill.

    Biologists repeatedly say evolution is a fact because it is a fact. Evolution-deniers don’t know what they’re talking about, and for some strange reason, evolution-deniers refuse to study the evidence.

    You’re probably too god-soaked to understand science, but I would recommend to other people that they buy and read “Why Evolution is True” by Jerry Coyne.

    • jeffshort Says:

      H.A., thanks for your comments on my message concerning problems in the public school system, in particular, my comments on evolution-only education. I’ve read two recent books in the last few months on evolution — Richard Dawkins book “The Greatest Show on Earth” and Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True.” These two books probably give the best popular arguments for evolution I’ve read. Both writers are atheists, but Coyne tries to be more scientific, balanced and objective, while Dawkins — well, Dawkins is Dawkins. I find it funny that both of these authors either ignore or get defensive when forced to deal with the chief objections to Darwinian evolution. For example, in opening up his chapter on the fossil evidence, Dawkins begins by dismissing the need to justify evolution with reference to any fossil evidence. He says basically, “We really don’t need any fossil evidence to prove evolution is true, so even if fossil evidence were weak evolution would still be true based on other evidence.” Now why give this warning before laying out the fossil evidence? Because it is just the fossil evidence that Darwin feared as the weakest argument for his theory — and which is still the weakest line of evidence for evolution. Why? Why did Darwin lament the fossil record and why does Dawkins try to dismiss the need to put weight on the fossil record today? Because, for example, to give just one problem, the so-called Cambrian Explosion of 530 million years ago shows the relatively rapid appearance of most groups of complex animals, in contrast to what Darwinian Evolution would predict — the slow, gradual appearance of simple to complex animals in the fossil record. This problem needs to be explored further, arguments for and against it must be heard by anyone trying to decide whether evolution is true or not. I’m arguing that public school children should be taught about problems with the theory of evolution, such as the Cambrian Explosion. Exploring such questions can help a person learn to think critically, instead of simply following the party-line of the education establishment that has decided that evolution will be taught dogmatically.

  2. Human Ape Says:

    “For many Christian parents raising children of school age the dangers of public education are so great they insist on either home schooling their children, or sending them to a private Christian school.”

    The only danger is those students will find out their parents are uneducated morons.

  3. Human Ape Says:

    “With the teaching of Sex Ed in health education classes, with the teaching of evolution-only in science classes, with the general and pervasive atmosphere of liberal secular humanism, it’s a problem.”

    I noticed that only magical creation is taught in Sunday School. So what’s the problem with teaching only science in science classrooms?

    People like you shouldn’t be allowed near children.

  4. Lee Bowman Says:

    Natural theology is a belief that nature displays evidence of a deity. I would say that Darwinism, or the hypothesis of natural selection of random mutations producing novelty, implies evidence to back natural theology. It’s subject to interpretation, however. Most who hold to Darwinism in its present form (NDE) would deny any theological implication. Both tenets are improvable.

    I see evidence of intervention in the evolutionary processes, by (an) intelligent agency(ies), but leave causation as an open question. My reasoning for hypothesizing intelligence is that random mutations are not capable of building complexity, where the stepwise alterations produce no survival enhancement, and thus a ‘reproductive advantage’. Vast time has been postulated as overcoming that obstacle, but is insufficient.

    Delving deeply into synergistic bio-systems, and a critical evaluation of morphological features, including aesthetic qualities, display evidences of design. The claim that aesthetics is totally subjective, and thus invalid as a qualifier, is only true to a degree. Example: A male seeing beauty in a female face or body, or a hippopotamus seeing alluring qualities in a female hippo is subjective. Granted.

    But bio-patterns that display not only ‘subjective attractiveness’, but practical and organizational features that tidy up a bio-form, and therefore would have not necessarily appeared naturalistically (no survival advantage), can be evidence of design. Cleaning up a design ‘aesthetically’, (or functionally), implies a deterministic agency, rather than mere happenstance. Multi-use organs are also evidence of design (economical design), unless they can be shown to have evolved in some way. Fish to tetrapod respiratory organs are one possibility. Naturalistic evolution of scales to feathers is implausible, however.

    Irreducible complexity (IC) of complex organs can be verified by falsification of a random (source) / selected (immediate enhancement) mechanism as being causative. This may involve computer simulations and other means not as yet implemented (or even devised). Aesthetic arguments generally fall on deaf ears, but may at some point be verifiable.

    Call it ‘tentative science’ if you like, but valid hypothetical science nonetheless.

  5. Lee Bowman Says:

    Now to address the article. Judging from the content, Jeff Short is religious, citing scripture and filing it under ‘apologetics’. But is it his intent to inject religion, specifically Christianity into the science curriculum? I do not detect that. Stating that evolutionary theory as taught dismisses the possibility of a god, and is thusly demeaning to a religious faith, is correct. There is no hard scientific evidence to refute an intelligent intervening creative force, and thus should remain an open question, although one not to be addressed directly in the classroom. The term ‘intelligent designer(s)’ could be used however, since that would not require oversight and allegiance as requisites, which are religious tenets.

    Rather than to promote religion directly, Jeff’s intent is that science remain truly objective, a basic principle of scientific inquiry. And his (implied) assertion that although our scientific understanding of the Universe is subject to physical laws, intelligence within (or without) its boundaries cannot be summarily dismissed. Religious though might follow, but that would remain a personal choice, outside of the classroom.

    Is that intelligence God? Since the answer to that question relies on a religious belief, and its source is Biblical or other canonized scripture, it could not, and certainly would not be raised as a scientific question. Intelligent design, although characterized by an unscientifically schooled judge (Dover v Kitzmiller) as religion in disguise, is by definition not so.

    (Correction: Judge Jones received his brief scientific schooling from Kenneth Miller, witness for the plaintiff).

    Discovery Institute’s definition of ID: “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” I suggest that within biological sciences, that definition be narrowed to “certain features of living things”. While there is evidence of intervention in both (bioforms and the Cosmos), the (tentative) interventionary processes could be unrelated.

    The question of common ancestry, based on molecular homologies (ERVs et al), and on morphological similarities, is strongly evident. Biblical literalistic views may deny this, but common ancestry has much to support it. Thus, evolutionary theory is not undermined by allowing teleology in as an alternate hypothesis to natural selection. Both evolution and intelligent intervention could coexist as cofactors in phylogenetic progressions.

    In sum, teleology, or intelligent design in biologic systems is in no way harmful to science, does not rule out natural selection or common ancestry by its inclusion, and is thus a viable alternate hypothesis.

  6. Lee Bowman Says:

    @ Human Ape 12:00 pm

    “What you are suggesting is called “dumbing down science education”.”

    “You are asking biology teachers to imply there is some doubt about the truth of evolution in the scientific community.”

    Since when is questioning a theory ‘dumbing down science’? To accept carte blanche NDE as currently formulated, which like all theories is subject to verification and/or falsification, as true beyond doubt, might constitute an endorsement of Jerry Coyne’s latest tome, but nothing more. Evolution is true, but not necessarily as stated. There are predictions that have not been empirically verified, ergo novelty and complexity via natural causation.

    “That’s not true and virtually all biology teachers would refuse to do this.”

    First, ID does not state that evolution is “not true”, but questions its naturalistic paradigm, which has not been empirically demonstrated to produce ‘true’ speciation, rather than allopatric, sympatric, parapatric, or hybridization.

    Secondly, and yes, refusing to do this might hinge upon keeping their job.

    “For example, in Dover Pennsylvania, a creationist school board …. ”

    An isolated example concerning a school board that may indeed have had religious motives. William Buckingham even admitted not even being familiar with ID as a concept, as did Judge Jones in a later interview where he stated, ” … although I consider myself reasonably well-read, I could not remember hearing about ID before, so I really didn’t know what it was.” Speaks volumes. For the interview, go here:

    http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000297

    The Dover Kitzmiller case is not even relevant to this discussion, since its participants were not ID informed.

    “Biologists repeatedly say evolution is a fact because it is a fact.”

    But they stop short of discussing the merits/ flaws of natural selection to produce novelty (radical [macro] evolution), complexity (IC), synergistic codependent systems that could not evolve and function independently, and aesthetics.

    “Evolution-deniers don’t know what they’re talking about, and for some strange reason, evolution-deniers refuse to study the evidence.”

    Design theorists don’t fit that mold.

  7. jeffshort Says:

    L.B., you are 100% correct. my hope is that public schools might allow for the questioning of Darwinian Evolution in science classes, not just questioning minor controversies within the evolutionary science camp but questions about major problems about the grand theory itself. Darwin’s theory is the most ambitious scientific theory ever offered. It attempts to argue that the pinnacle of life — conscious, rational humankind — came about through a slow, gradual, purposeless, non-directed process involving random mutations over millions of years. matter to man theory, all without any guidance or direction from a higher rational power. this is what is taught in public schools. at the very least, this grand theory, this ambitious explanation should get careful questioning, and in fairness to rational thought, students should be allowed to actually argue against it and reject it using contrasting scientific reasoning.

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