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Chemistry teacher resigns amid persecution

Report by Stacia Byers

Jefferson High School (in Indiana, USA) has a penchant for making the news.

In September 2000, JHS chemistry teacher, Dan Clark, invited AiG speaker Geoff Stevens to address his class on ‘The Nature of Science Regarding Origins,’ an appropriate topic for a chemistry class, as evolutionary chemists claim to have proof that life evolved from chemicals (see Q&A: Origin of Life for responses to this claim).

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Dr Jonathan Sarfati
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Without mentioning ‘religion,’ and covering with masking tape any mention of ‘God’ or ‘God’s Word’ on all of his overhead transparencies, Geoff demonstrated ‘operational’ science to the students by conducting an experiment on making hydrogen.  He also discussed the current findings of ‘information science,’ which show that coded information (such as is contained in our DNA) cannot arise from matter by itself.  Geoff also explained that natural selection, by definition, cannot generate new information, but only gets rid of existing information.  He concluded that, when it comes to origins, since no one can know for sure what happened in the past, one must accept either a purely naturalistic explanation, which is not substantiated by true science, or a supernatural explanation.

Later that month, the school superintendent, Ed Eiler, issued a formal letter of reprimand to the teacher of the class, Dan Clark, accusing him of introducing ‘religion’ to his classes.  In the letter, Eiler stated, ‘you invited a guest speaker into your classroom who addressed subjects not within the guidelines of the adopted curriculum’[1] and instructed him to ‘refrain from any and all attempts to promote your personal religious beliefs to students during the instructional day,’ as any distribution of materials pertaining to religion, creationism, or special creation is ‘clearly disruptive to the educational function of the school and as such constitutes just cause for serious disciplinary measures.’[2]

Because the remarks he made were ‘scientific rather than religious,’[3] Mr Clark requested that Dr Eiler remove the official reprimand from his personnel file—a request that the Lafayette School Corporation board denied on August 13, 2001.  Due to the denial, Mr Clark recently resigned from LSC and accepted a job at Frontier School Corporation. He said that Frontier was ‘seeking a quality, experienced teacher, and though they knew all about the issues between me and LSC, they wanted me.  It has become clear that LSC didn’t want me—not the real me anyway.’[4]  Dan is happy about taking the new job as it is a ‘relief to go from an atmosphere of hostility [at Jefferson] to one of friendliness.’[5]  We wish Dan the best as he teaches his new students the nature of true science.

Additionally, Jefferson High School will be featured in the What about God? episode of the upcoming PBS series, Evolution.  The show will highlight a petition brought before the school board by students requesting that ‘special creation’ be included in the science curriculum.  We will be posting responses by Dr Jonathan Sarfati to Evolution September 25–27 [Ed. note: now available—see Response to PBS Evolution series].

References and notes

  1. Naomi Reese, Reprimanded Jeff teacher resigns, accepts position at Frontier, August 16, 2001, http://www.lafayettejc.com/news20010816/200108160local_news997975298.shtml.
  2. Naomi Reese, LSC board may discuss creationism, August 13, 2001, http://www.lafayettejc.com/news20010812/200108130local_news997711351.shtml.
  3. Naomi Reese, Jeff Chemistry teacher quits, takes another job, August 17, 2001, http://www.lafayettejc.com/news20010817/200108171local_news998057987.shtml.
  4. Ref. 1.
  5. Ref. 3.

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