The great educational experiment

by

Published: 8 February 2018 (GMT+10)
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In Australia (and the principles herein apply to other countries also) politicians and educators are dealing with our most precious commodities—our children and young people. To do it, they are spending a lot. The nation plans to commit a total of $A250 billion on education in the next 10 years—commencing at $17.5 billion in 2017 and increasing to $31 billion in 2027. Why do I refer to it as an educational experiment, albeit a lavish one for such a small population (22 million)?

To understand this, note first that the underlying ideology of Australian public (government) education is secularism. As far back as 1872 the Victorian Secular Education Act was passed (Victoria is one of the states of Australian federation). This was designed to provide “Free, Compulsory and Secular” education to all students. The results are becoming increasingly evident today; education is both compulsory and ‘free’, but parents of students in government schools may seriously question the intended benefits and results of its ‘secular’ nature. The secularization of education was a stated attempt at unity and fairness to all students of all religious persuasions. The word ‘secular’ is defined as relating to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred. So, education was to be without religious input.

Immediately a conundrum became evident. Since a percentage of the students and their families are ‘religious’ and believe in God, albeit from different perspectives, and have a worldview as part of their faith—how can a secular non-religious, no-God education be fair to them? Doesn’t this secular position actually discriminate against those who have a faith?

Students in government schools are said to be free to have their own views or the views of their families on spiritual matters; they can follow any religion and worship any god without discrimination. Of course, this presents problems. How can so many differing views be accommodated? How can so many different faiths be allowed, without discrimination?

The answer that forces opposed to religion—Christianity in particular—seem to have gleefully adopted within schools is to progressively shut religion down entirely.

Until recently, students of each religion were free to be addressed for a lesson each week in the tenets of that religion by a volunteer religious teacher. The situation now is exemplified by the School Education Act 1999 (The Act), sections 66–71, which states that the curriculum and teaching in Western Australian public schools is not to promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect. Religious instruction will be scrapped from the curriculum of schools in the Australian state of Victoria from next year and replaced with teaching about building “respectful relationships”. Victoria announced earlier this year it would remove Scripture teaching from the curriculum during school times.

Australia’s National School Chaplaincy Program1, though valued by many, including many non-Christians, is also fighting for its existence against great opposition.

In general, the feeling throughout secular education is that religious instruction in all Australian state public schools should be removed and replaced by classes in ethics, morals, values, life skills and general education about religion. This would be taught by a class teacher, aiming to promote ‘diversity’ and ‘respect’ for diverse faiths. Coupled with the effect of evolutionary teaching in science classes, the overall message seems to be: All faiths (which, with their competing claims, cannot be equally true) need to be equally respected, since they are all equally false—simply cultural ‘comfort myths’.

All this presents a huge shift in ideological orientation, and the question, ‘How will this affect our students?’ must be asked. After spending a deal of time researching this question and recording results, I have come to some relatively contentious conclusions.

Firstly, the very words ‘secular education’ are exclusive and divisive. Rather than being generous and accepting to all, they refer to an attitude or worldview of non-religion; ‘no God’. This immediately favours an in-group, a group who are happy to be educated without any leanings toward a faith, or who are atheists.

Bowing the knee to secular religion

All school books and materials must fulfil this goal. Every curriculum and every school lesson must lean in this direction. Every history lesson must trace man’s past as a purposeless progression without any spiritual involvement or plan. Literature must be read from a godless humanistic perspective. Biology is taught as if all living things are merely the random result of chance possibilities. Science is seen as the study of matter without reason, and of laws without a Lawgiver. Creation is seen as myth and all scientific evidence for it is ignored.

Secondly, what role is there for a Christian teacher? That teacher is requested to muzzle any religious views. What role is there for a Christian student? That student will not be provided with godly answers to big spiritual questions that arise in the context of real-world issues. What role is there for a Christian family? They must watch while their children are taught lifestyles within such ethics curricula as Victoria’s notorious and highly controversial ‘Safe Schools’ program (supposedly about bullying, but heavily focused on issues of homosexuality and transgenderism), which are clearly opposed to the morality and principles in the Bible.

No basis for living

Thirdly, secularism provides no foundation upon which students may build their lives. What intrinsic worth can a student ‘take home’ from teaching that claims that he/she is the result of pure chance, a lucky break in a blind, pitiless, indifferent universe? What ultimate purpose for a life does this present? How can ethics have validity or justification when there is no absolute standard undergirding morality? What actual result does such teaching about ‘ethical freedom’ have on the individual lives of students?

These questions and many more may seem fuzzy and far removed from day-to-day living; but where does a student go who has no reason for morality, no reason for their existence, and no assurance of personal worth, value, and purpose? Many such students see no purpose in studying and pursuing educational goals, fitting in with school and family structures, or having plans for the future. Why would they strain and suffer to achieve?

To meet this mandate of compulsory secularism, the content of lessons must be aligned to strenuously avoid faith foundations, and guided strongly so that huge chunks of history, biology, science, and literature are excluded. We only need look at the question of beginnings. A secular education refuses to condone the concept of creation or a Creator; any arguments from a Christian source would be labelled ‘myth’, while only those from a secular source would be acknowledged as ‘science’.

Students are left with a vague notion of ‘secular morality’, in which codes of acceptable behaviour can vary considerably between populations. In secular schools, freedom of choice is presented as a ‘major value’; can students in such a school possibly be fairly presented with the Christian positions on morality and sexual issues without innuendos and suggestions of these being ‘old-fashioned’ or even bigoted? In practise, the only choices that will be celebrated are those that are not Christian.

Can a curriculum founded on humanistic relativism tolerate or even comprehend a proper Christian worldview based on foundational biblical parameters?

Overall, then, can such a secular educational position ever be fair to any students and families who are not atheistic? Can such educational programs do anything but ignore huge chunks of wonderfully established science, history, and literature that show a Christian bias or foundation?

Whatever the answers to these questions are (and they seem obvious to me and I suspect many readers) our Australian governments, like so many others, have increasingly committed government schools to a pathway of rank secularism (that is, atheism). In this educational experiment, our children are the subjects (guinea pigs), whether they or we wish it or not. Our society will increasingly reflect the atheistic answers to the questions posed. Indeed, social surveys in Australia show that about half of year 10 students already identify as atheist, compared with almost none 50 years ago.

What can I do?

Dr Don Batten, CEO of CMI-Australia, writes:

When I first read this, I thought that any Christian parent reading this, in whatever country, would be yearning for some way to do something about this situation. One way is to prayerfully ‘immunise’ our own children. Bring them up soaked in creation information. Get quality resources like Creation magazine, and creation books and DVDs, and articles and videos from creation.com, and actively share these with them from an early age. Don’t shield them from evolution, but rather make sure they understand it ‘warts and all’, and can distinguish the ‘facts’ from the ‘spin’. Be ready and equipped to regularly discuss with them the facts and discoveries of the real world, how these are not a threat to biblical creation but make more sense in its light.

Also, help them face head-on the things they are learning at school and being bombarded with from the media. This made a huge difference to my own offspring, who are now adult believers with high qualifications, including in science areas. And for the sake of equipping others to do the same with their own children, do whatever you can to spread the truth of the message that God is Creator, and the Bible is reliable, and true science only helps confirm that. You can lovingly help others in your church to know how relevant and crucial Genesis history is to the integrity of the Gospel message—and that the Bible’s ‘big picture’ that makes it all hang together is acknowledged and proclaimed as factual and reliable. That means a real creation of a once-perfect world, followed by a real Fall into sin of a real Adam and Eve, with a real corruption of creation. Which is why Jesus came to die, so that believers (and the creation itself) will really be redeemed for eternity.

There are also the options of home-schooling and Christian schooling in many countries. With the latter, you still need to be strongly involved with educating your children. Creation.com has lots of resources to help with home-schooling, and there are Christian home-schooling organisations that can help.

Thank you also for getting behind our efforts, wherever you are in the world, to help us provide you with the needed resources, helping you get the word out!

References and notes

  1. National School Chaplaincy Programme, education.gov.au, accessed January 2018. Return to text.

Reader’s comments

Stuart and Jennifer A.
Why is Almighty God kept out of our Schools? Long ago they used the Bible to teach, why not now?
Look at the Problems the USA has because they have thrown God out of the classroom.
Don Batten
The Australian states of Victoria and South Australia have removed all Christian instruction from a regular class time. Other states relegate all such instruction to optional 'religious instruction' classes. This has the same effect as in the USA.
Andrew S.
A fair summary of education in Australia today, but it forgets an important point. Dr. Stephen Chavura, political theorist and intellectual historian at Macquarie Uni says the word secular had a different meaning a century ago. In a talk at the 2016 ACL Conference titled 'Australia's deep Christian roots' (avail on youtube), he demonstrated that the word secular meant 'Christian without deference to any denomination'. I.e. 'non-denominational'. This means that the original vision was actually Christian.

I have heard another State teacher argue that it should never be compulsory. Compulsory education stifles a child's desire to learn. This is clearly evident by the keen Asian students who move to Australia to learn.

According to ‘Australian Education in the 20th Century’, between 1890 and 1930, prominent Australian educators were studying at German Universities. We all know what these philosophies produced in Germany and they are the same seeds sown in our own society.

I was alarmed to learn that the Australian Council for Educational Research was the largest single benefactor of the Carnegie Corporation who established it. Over a 30-year period from the late 1920s it made grants to institutions in the order of $2M. ACER was replaced by the Commonwealth Office Of Education (1945) and ongoing grants were made by the Federal Gov’t.

By taking all teacher training under the umbrella of the universities, psychologists and educators have transformed the nation. The review in the Journal of Creation of Kevin Swanson's book Apostate, is instructive. Apostate leaves out many important people, but it shows the transition from apostle Paul to Darwin. The only thing novel about the Australian story is that they were among the first to put many of the new ideas into practice.
Don Batten
Re secularism: Yes, 'secular' once had the meaning of 'non-sectarian' or not favouring one Christian denomination over another. However, the shift to meaning 'non religious' began a long time ago; please see Secularism is atheism.
Dianne W.
Last summer, I was researching the humanist agenda. From their website, I learned that the Humanist Society of Victoria had designed a humanist RE curriculum to be taught in state schools which was initially given qualified approval, but later denied. They were then currently using legal means to fight the decision. At the same time, they were developing other strategies, if they lost the case, to either work around it to get their curriculum in or, failing that, to get religious instruction eliminated altogether. I cannot tell from the dates mentioned in this article whether there has been any change and have not yet checked their site for updated information, but according to other details given in the article, it sounds as though the HSV has succeeded in their stated goal of having the State RE curriculum replaced with their own.
Thomas C.
Is there anywhere a logical connection put forth between evolution and morality of being nice or helping less fortunate, or even taking care of anybody who is competition of any form. No. The only "morality" from survival of the fittest, is selfish me first, and Ill destroy you to get yours.
Ann S.
When we sent our kids to a Christian school it was an extreme financial sacrifice and totally worth it. Home Schooling was unheard of. My take on the public school system is that NO child of God should be sent there. Even "less than perfect" home schooling is way better than the public system here in Ontario.
Dan M.
The logical question to ask is, whos, ethics, morals and values? The evolutionary atheists morals and values? Atheists themselves can't even agree on morality and ethics because we are accountable to a much higher standard from the God of the bible.
Atheists are solely responsible for the bloodiest century ever in the history of the world, the twentieth and it was people who loved freedom who stopped them, even giving their lives. People can't even get out of the womb before they are murdered nowadays, (eugenics)! The fact is, they are still teaching religion, just not yours. one must believe evolution and atheism by faith because it cannot be observed and therefore is NOT science. Only the most honest atheists will admit this.
Bud B.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the fathers of the United States said (and a deist - not a Christian), "We must watch out for this monster called government lest it try to take over the feeding of the poor and the educating of our children".
In every country, it seems governments have done both. Since every religion claims that every other religion is false, how can a school system paid for by the tax dollars of every religious person teach anything but "no religion is right"?
I do take exception to one word in your article: You wrote that every teacher "is requested to muzzle any religious views". Is "requested" the right word in Australia? Here in Canada, "required" would be the correct word.
Guy W.
This is where your ministry should excel and may God prosper you in it! If the want to present secular education then they cannot in any sense present any belief system which cannot be demonstrated. The three 'R's clear the fence easily as do many other subjects but they CANNOT present Darwin's Theory of Evolution because it has NEVER been proved and is therefore a matter of faith and not of science. Any hypothesis is unsubstantiated and therefore should not pass the mark for teaching. However, if the State of Victoria should ammend the act to allow teaching of scientific hypothesis, religion and belief systems with the appropriate labels then they should stay broadly on the path. This is a long cry however from being able to sing hymns in assembly and read a Bible verse too. Perhaps prayer and intercession should be made by Christians and you folk at CMI should press for an open debate on Aussie TV - I am convinced that the television set is the window on the world for most of the English-Speaking peoples and I would pray that God gives you favour to achieve this. Go fight the good fight of faith.
Don Batten
There is no chance of such a TV debate. Things are too far gone for that. We need every Christian activated, not just CMI workers.
Steve C.
In New Zealand we are a little further down the spiral into outright atheism. It is still legal for 'religious' teaching to be carried out but the school must be officially 'closed' at the time. The fruits of decades of atheistic dogma are starting to ripen with even this Christian Religious Education (CRE) work carried out by volunteers coming under attack. Fortunately the attackers are generally so obnoxious boards and principals can't get rid of them fast enough.

As a parent trustee of a primary school I have noticed the following. Alongside government pressure to make humanistic atheism the filter our children see the world through, paradoxically, there is a push to enforce the pagan quasi-spiritual rituals of the Tangata Whenua Maori sect. This is done under the guise of 'inclusiveness' which in reality is excluding as much Christian based religious culture as the community will stand for.

I accept that in New Zealand corrupt racist separatist politics are at play as a driving force for this move. Strangely, however, the people trying to prevent CRE give it tacit support!

My conclusion is that atheism, in making us all gods is the ultimate expression of paganism, so paganism is no threat.
Terry D P.
How is it possible for there to be a secular non-religious, no-God education?
When an atheist teacher teaches his students that God did not create the universe with man (male and female) on the earth, but that his conceptual non-existent and therefore mindless god/idol of Big Bang and Evolution did instead, the atheist is in reality teaching his own religious opinion/belief regarding the existence of God Almighty.
Thus the prophet of Atheism preaches his mindless religion while asserting that he is not.
Kevin M.
Satan is the ruler of this world, for now!

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