The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC), run by religious-right activist Tim Lambert, is promoting arch-creationist Ken Ham‘s speech at the group’s convention in The Woodlands near Houston next month. An email to the group’s supporters today includes a link to a revealing essay on Ham’s Answers in Genesis website: “Should Homeschoolers Let Children Decide on Evolution?”
It’s revealing because it demonstrates the lengths to which anti-science extremists will go in undermining the education of children and handicapping their ability to succeed in the 21st century. That’s important to keep in mind as the State Board of Education prepares to adopt new science textbooks this year for Texas public schools. What those textbooks teach about evolution will be at the center of the adoption debate.
The author of the essay THSC is promoting, Elizabeth Mitchell, doesn’t argue that home-schooled students should learn about creationism as an alternative to evolution. She goes much further, arguing that students should simply be taught to reject evolution altogether and accept creationism:
“It is particularly important for science textbooks to acknowledge that God’s Word is trustworthy. Observable, scientific facts will never violate God’s Word when properly understood but rather affirm it. In fact, the history of creation and the global Flood are not only consistent with scientific observations, but they also can help explain what we observe in the world.”
In addition, she argues, teaching that evolution and faith need not be in conflict actually endangers children:
“When Christian parents compromise on scriptural truth by twisting it to make it fit with the claims of evolution regarding abiogenesis, the rise of biological complexity, and the age of the earth and universe, they risk causing irreparable, faith-damaging harm to their own children.”
Students should learn what scientists say about evolution, Mitchell writes, but only so that those students can pass the tests needed to get into college:
“Children should also not be sheltered from evolutionary claims but rather taught discernment. Genuine scientific truth will never violate biblical truth when properly understood. Parents need to teach their children what evolutionists claim. Standard tests such as the Advanced Placement exams and the Medical College Admissions Test do not test what students believe about evolution but only their knowledge of evolutionary assertions. They can be equipped to answer these questions without embracing them as truth.”
None of this is terribly surprising. But it’s distressing to see Mitchell deny that her approach will handicap the future success of those children. She writes:
“(W)ill children fail in life if they aren’t taught to accept the claims of mainstream scientists? Bill Nye ‘the Science Guy’ says so. The popular mantra claiming that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ though easily refuted, is practically proverbial among evolutionary educators. Will our kids be unfit as the leaders of tomorrow if they don’t accept evolutionary dogma?
To illustrate how unnecessary it is for a student to actually believe evolution in order to be successful, one need look no farther than the local doctor’s office. For decades, evolutionists have attempted to get medical schools to implement evolutionary courses for medical students. They have made some inroads, and the 2015 version of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) will include more questions about evolution. Nevertheless, most medical doctors and most medical schools continue to consider evolution to be fairly irrelevant and useless to their practice. The objective facts of biology make perfect sense without any evolutionary overlay.”
This is nonsense, of course. For example, how is resistance to medications understood other than through the science of evolution? Does she not realize that understanding evolution is also important in cancer research? (See here and here.) There are many similar examples, but Mitchell promotes a strategy of defiant ignorance.
People who don’t understand or accept evolution aren’t necessarily stupid or can’t succeed in careers that have little to do with science. But scientific ignorance certainly limits their options, and it can’t be good for a society. Teaching children to reject science means that there will be fewer people to support the research and discoveries that help society progress.
At next month’s Texas Home School Coalition convention, parents will be encouraged to promote ignorance. We are working to make sure that similar efforts don’t succeed when the State Board of Education decides this fall which science textbooks millions of students should use in their public school classrooms in Texas. Stay tuned for how you can help.