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Discriminatory state education policy seeks to censor science teaching

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In 2013, the Department of Education, Training and Employment in Queensland, Australia, issued a Fact Sheet on the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in Queensland government schools. This fact sheet is ambiguous, confusing, discriminatory, scientifically flawed, and should be removed. While this article deals with the Queensland policy, the issue is a global one, and the same principles apply (e.g. see Further restrictive legislation to keep Creation out of UK state-funded schools). The Queensland policy reads:

Fact sheet: Creationism and intelligent design
Education Queensland schools are required to implement the F–10 Australian Curriculum: Science and in Years 11 and 12 can select from the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA) senior science syllabuses.
The Australian Curriculum: Science and the QSA Biology syllabus require students to study the theory of evolution by natural selection. This theory explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence. Topics related to this theory include: the processes involved in natural selection; describing biodiversity as a function of evolution; explaining changes caused by natural selection; relating genetic characteristics to survival and reproduction rates; and evaluating and interpreting evidence for evolution including fossil record, chemical and anatomical similarities, and geographical distribution of species.
The Australian Curriculum: Science and the Queensland Studies Authority Biology syllabus do not recognise the following as scientific theory: creationism, intelligent design, or any other metaphysical explanations of changes over time to living things; and do not identify these as part of any science curriculum.
In Education Queensland schools, creationism and intelligent design are not recognised as scientific theory and are not included in the school science curriculum or in the teaching, learning and assessment associated with school science programs. Creationism or intelligent design is not to be compared with or evaluated against scientific theory.
School principals ensure school programs implement the curriculum as specified in the P–12 curriculum, assessment and reporting framework

The Policy is Ambiguous and Confusing

The policy is confusing because it does not distinguish between evidence that can be observed and tested in the present (which is what science is all about) and speculative stories about the past (which is what the evolutionary worldview is). None of the events described in the evolutionary worldview was observed over those supposed hundreds of millions of years in the past. All such hypothetical inventions depend on the story teller’s imagination—fuelled by his metaphysical assumptions and belief system. It is these speculative stories that are controversial, which is why the policy was issued.

Evolution is the name given to a biological process, and it is also the name used for a worldview about the origin of the universe, the earth, and all its living systems.

The policy displays the same confusion on its use of the word ‘evolution’. Evolution is the name used for a biological process, and it is also the name used for a worldview about the origin of the universe, the earth, and all its living systems. In other words, evolution can relate to “changes caused by natural selection”, “genetic characteristics”, and “survival and reproduction rates”, all of which can be tested by observation and experiment. There is no problem with this aspect of the curriculum. We could call this process ‘natural selection’ or ‘adaptation’ in order to differentiate it from the worldview meaning of ‘evolution’.

As a worldview, evolution is used to explain the whole world over billions of years, including “the diversity of living things”. In this usage, evolution is a metaphysical thought pattern, not a scientific observation. (See Natural Selection is not evolution.) To teach evolution, the metaphysical worldview, in schools as established scientific fact is highly controversial. That is demonstrated by the fact that there is an alternative worldview that explains the origin and condition of the world including the diversity of living things. It is this alternative worldview—that everything was created, not ‘evolved’—that this policy is seeking to silence. To teach the evolutionary worldview as fact is wrong, because it is not fact but a pattern of thought held by a minority segment of the population.

The Policy is Unconstitutional

The Australian Constitutional says the Commonwealth is not to legislate with respect of religion.

116. Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

Mandating the teaching of evolution the worldview as part of a national curriculum goes against the spirit of the Constitution because the idea that everything on earth originated by evolution over billions of years is a religious belief. Sir Julian Huxley, first Director General of UNESCO described evolution in his address to Darwin’s Centennial Convocation this way:

“In the evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created; it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul, as well as brain and body. So did religion.”1

Note that Huxley describes evolution as a “pattern of thought”. It’s not a scientific observation but a metaphysical belief. Note that evolution makes clear pronouncements about God, the creation, the nature of man, our minds and our souls, none of which have been established empirically by scientific observation. These are the doctrines of the evolutionary worldview. Evolution thus is not an objective, scientific fact but a metaphysical, religious belief system. That is why evolution is such a controversial issue, and why the Fact Sheet is totally inappropriate.

William Provine, professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University, an atheist, said, “Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.”2

Atheist Richard Dawkins also recognized the anti-God nature of evolution. He said, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”3

Albert Mohler, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also made the point that evolution operates in the West as a rival religion to the Christian faith:

“… naturalistic evolution is the great intellectual rival to Christianity in the Western world. It is the creation myth of the secular elites and their intellectual weapon of choice in public debate.”4

Atheist professor of philosophy Michael Ruse said the same thing, that evolution is a religion, “a full-fledged alternative to Christianity”.

The Australian Constitution clearly prohibits the Commonwealth government from promoting one religion or suppressing another. That this Fact Sheet should promote the evolutionary worldview and prohibit other competing worldviews thus goes against the spirit of the Constitution.

The Policy is Discriminatory

It is discriminatory to permit only one viewpoint to be presented in the market of ideas and to exclude all competing ideas. This policy discriminates against those in the community who hold different views and who desire to raise their children from a different perspective. It is discriminatory to prevent their viewpoint from being respected and heard.

Recent polling in the USA indicates that “forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”5 And even in Australia, a large proportion of the population would reject godless ‘textbook evolution’, saying instead that man was created by God. So the size of the discrimination is massive.

We do not want this bigotry in Australian schools.

The 2008 documentary film hosted by Ben Stein called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed documents an alarming degree of discrimination within education circles in the West against the idea of design in nature. This documentary shows that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired for the crime of suggesting that life is not just the result of accidental, random chance. We do not want this bigotry in Australian schools.

Jerry Bergman in The Slaughter of the Dissidents gives a detailed report on the educational establishment’s efforts to insulate evolutionary theory and philosophical naturalism from critical assessment. (See If you can’t beat them, ban them.) He describes the suppression of critical views, and the victimisation of dissenting teachers and pupils in schools, and students and faculty in universities. We do not want the Australian educational system to be taken over by this scourge. The removal of Education Queensland’s Fact Sheet on creationism and intelligent design would be a step in the right direction.

The Education Queensland policy that singles out creationism and intelligent design for prohibition is a policy that discriminates against a significant proportion of the people of the state and it should be removed.

The Policy is Scientifically Flawed

The Education Queensland policy was issued to establish the evolutionary worldview, that life on earth evolved naturalistically over millions of years as the only worldview to be considered in Queensland schools. The policy was issued to ban rival viewpoints on origins such as creationism and intelligent design.

Initially, the policy seeks to justify its position by use of two logical fallacies. The first is an appeal to authority. The policy reads, “The Australian Curriculum: Science and the Queensland Studies Authority Biology syllabus do not recognise the following as scientific theory: creationism, intelligent design, or any other metaphysical explanations.” Education Queensland does not need to give any reasons for this because they simply ‘appeal to authority’, which is a logical fallacy. The proper way to establish these issues (as set out in the aims of the Australian Curriculum to be discussed later) is by evidence, argument and debate, especially by ensuring both sides are heard.

The second fallacy is to label the competing views as unscientific and thus silence debate. The policy says, “Creationism or intelligent design is not to be compared with or evaluated against scientific theory.” The fact is that creationism and intelligent design are scientific theories. They are just as scientific as the concept of naturalistic evolution over millions of years.

The policy overlooks the fact that naturalistic evolution, the worldview, needs constantly to appeal to ‘miracles’ to make the story work, but they don’t call them miracles. In other words, they have to appeal to events that are so improbable that they are miraculous. And they have to propose events that defy known scientific observations and established scientific laws.

Here are a few examples. 1. The big bang: there was nothing and then it exploded and produced everything. 2. The origin of life: non-living chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into a self-replicating living cell with all its interdependent machinery and non-material software. 3. The origin of multi-celled organisms: single celled organisms clumped together and each modified their design in synchronism with all the other cells such that they specialised their function to work cooperatively as a single interdependent, differentiated, multi-celled organism. 4. Genetic information: random mutations, rather than destroying the genetic information on the DNA, produced encyclopaedias worth of new design information that could code for novel, innovative body components. (See 15 Questions for Evolutionists for more.)

The policy further attempts to justify its position scientifically when it says of evolution, “This theory explains the diversity of living things and is supported by a range of scientific evidence.” This statement is wrong because the theory of evolution over millions of years has so many fatal problems that it should be considered as falsified. But, because evolution is a worldview and not a scientific hypothesis, it continually morphs itself such that the worldview is non-falsifiable.

Textbooks that present the theory for schools systematically hide these problems from the students. They present incorrect information, recycle evidences that have been long abandoned, use fraudulent evidence, publish iconic images that even evolutionists say are wrong, suggest only one conclusion to explain evidence when the evidence could support a variety of conclusions, omit hypothesis from a competing worldview, use disingenuous wording, and give the impression that all problems have been solved when they have not. See the article They are teaching lies to our kids which lists some of the many scientific problems with the evidence and claims for evolution presented in textbooks used in Queensland schools. See also Biology exam fraud for an example of how frauds are used to support the evolutionary worldview in Australian schools. See also the brochure 15 questions for Evolutionists which highlights some of the fundamental scientific flaws with evolutionary theory for which there are no satisfactory answers, a situation even admitted by evolutionists themselves. These issues should be included in the curriculum and presented in the science classroom so that students are properly informed and can make educated decisions.

In attempting to provide scientific justification for the policy, the Fact Sheet mentions the “fossil record” but this is actually a problem for evolution. Living fossils are one feature of the fossil record that show evolution has not occurred. Other problems are the sudden appearance of new body plans without evidence of ancestors and the absence of transitional forms. There are other ways of interpreting the fossils, and students should be aware of these.

The Fact Sheet mentions “chemical and anatomical similarities”, but these do not prove evolution. There are all manner of similarities, even down to the gene level that evolutionists acknowledge are not due to common ancestry. The patterns of similarity speak of common design and there are many examples that actually thwart the notion of common ancestry.

It also mentions the “geographical distribution of species”, but again, this presents many problems for evolutionary explanations and there are other ways of interpreting the evidence. See: No evidence of evolution and ‘deep time’.

The scientific justification provided in the Fact Sheet for its policy to exclude competing ideas is flawed, and the Fact Sheet should be withdrawn.

sxc.hu/gokoroko 7950-student-class

The Policy is Educationally faulty

This Fact Sheet policy actually contradicts the stated educational aims of the Australian Curriculum: Science. Consider the following aims:

To ensure that students develop an interest in science as a means of expanding their curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions about and speculate on the changing world in which they live

But according to this Fact Sheet ‘curiosity’, ‘exploration’, ‘questions’, and ‘speculation’ are only permitted with clearly delineated bounds defined by the policy. This is in clear violation of the aims of the curriculum.

To ensure that students develop an understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and the ability to use a range of scientific inquiry methods, including questioning; planning and conducting experiments and investigations …

This requires an understanding of the difference between facts and interpretation, between observation and speculation. But according to the policy only naturalistic speculations are a valid field of inquiry for origins questions.

To ensure that students develop an ability to communicate scientific understanding and findings to a range of audiences, to justify ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims

Education Queensland needs to consider this goal and put it into practice. It is time that they encouraged this scientific question to be justified on the basis of evidence, debate, and scientific arguments rather than trying to squash competing ideas by government legislation. It is time that the flawed Fact Sheet policy is withdrawn.

To ensure that students develop an ability to solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account ethical and social implications of decisions

Students are not in a position to make informed decisions when information is withheld from them. Students are not able to evaluate the social implications of decisions if they are not allowed to explore those implications and consider alternatives.

One of Education Queensland’s stated goals is:

To ensure that students develop an understanding of historical and cultural contributions to science

This is a good aim. Students need to be aware of the intellectual and cultural conditions that led to the rise of science in the first place. They should know that the pioneers of science were creationists who described the evidence they saw for intelligent design. Students should be informed of such scientists as: Nicholas Steno, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Louis Pasteur, James Maxwell, etc. It was the biblical worldview that provided the intellectual and cultural preconditions for the rise of modern science: See Biblical roots of modern science and The Fall and the inspiration for science.

The policy of Education Queensland is educationally faulty. It runs absolutely counter to the attitudes displayed by the founders of modern science, and it actually undermines the sort of thinking necessary for scientific innovation to flourish. It should be withdrawn.

Evolution has bad outcomes

The evolutionary worldview has bad outcomes at the personal, community and national level because of its harmful doctrines on the nature of God, the origin of the universe, and the nature of man.

Peter Atkins, professor of chemistry at Oxford and an atheist, said that man is ‘just a bit of slime on the planet’. That’s the logical consequence of the evolutionary worldview. That’s not the stuff to inspire students with purpose and sacrifice.

Atheist and evolution promoter Richard Dawkins in his book River out of Eden (ch. 4) said that we live in a universe that has “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” Again, he is simply expressing the logical consequences of the naturalistic evolutionary worldview.

Students should not have this evolutionary worldview pushed on them by government policy as if it is the only option they have. This worldview is held by only a small segment of society but they have been influential in getting the state and the media to fund the promotion of their ideas. There are other options that make better sense scientifically and have better outcomes for students and their families. At the very least students should be encouraged to discuss and debate the issue.

That the evolutionary worldview has such bad consequences is not surprising because a person’s understanding of where they have come from impacts the way they feel about themselves and how they should live. Here is one example, but there are many others.

On 20 April 1999 students Eric Harris (18) and Dylan Klebold (17) went on a shooting spree at the Columbine High School, Colorado, USA, killing their fellow students. 15 students died that day, including Harris and Klebold, the worst school shooting in US history. On the day Harris wore a T-shirt with the words “Natural Selection”. Their goal was to bring death to more than 500. Harris wrote on his website, “YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE??? Natural SELECTION! It’s the best thing that ever happened to the Earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms.”

Rachel Scott was one of the young students shot in the rampage. Her father, Darrell Scott, said, “If children are taught that they came from slime, that they evolved from a lower form of life, and that there’s no future after death, then their views of life are affected by that … life really doesn’t have the meaning that it does to children who believe they are created in God’s image and that they have not only this life but a future life as well.”

Tragic examples like this can be multiplied (See for example: Inside the mind of a killer, The Darwinian Roots of the Nazi tree, and Darwin’s impact—the bloodstained legacy of evolution).

The Fact Sheet policy of Education Queensland is charting a direction that will lead to bad outcomes for students, their families, school communities, and the state. It should be withdrawn.

Conclusion

The Fact Sheet: Creationism and intelligent design issued by Education Queensland for government schools is ambiguous and confusing. It flies in the face of the Australian constitution, discriminates against a significant proportion of the population, is scientifically flawed, educationally faulty, and leads to bad outcomes for students. The policy should be removed.6

Published: 11 October 2013

References and notes

  1. Huxley, J., Darwinian Centennial Convocation, University of Chicago, 1959. Return to text.
  2. Provine, W.B., “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life.” Slide from his 1998 “Darwin Day” address, Darwin Day website, University of Tennessee Knoxville TN, 1998. Return to text.
  3. Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, Penguin Books, London, England, p. 6, 1991. Return to text.
  4. Albert Mohler, A., Creation vs. Evolution—The New Shape of the Debate, 1 February 2011, http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/02/01/creation-vs-evolution-the-new-shape-of-the-debate/. Return to text.
  5. In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins: Highly religious Americans most likely to believe in creationism, 1 June 2012. http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/Hold-Creationist-View-Human-Origins.aspx. Return to text.
  6. Contact details of government ministers in Queensland can be obtained from the Queensland Parliament website http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list. Return to text.

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