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CEE's Education Newsline

Taken from the Summer 1998 issue of Education Newsline.

The Entangled Roots of Evolutionary Theory and U.S. Public Education By Dr. Steve Deckard [Dr. Steve Deckard is a Professor of Science Education at the Institute for Creation Research, P.O. Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021.]

Why do American public schools seem fated to perpetuate the false philosophy of evolution? From it's earliest development, an evolutionary bias has directed the course of public education and continues to do so today.

This direction was implemented into the public educational system, to a great extent, by two educators--Horace Mann and John Dewey. Man held to the unbiblical view that mankind is inherently good. He believed that the process of education would lead to a perfect society (a form of social evolution). He strongly advocated a state-compelled system of schooling which would enable a child to reach his or her highest potential.1

Not only is the view of inherent goodness unbiblical, it is also unrealistic. The Bible and the evidence support the opposite view. Scripture tells us, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). From the Biblical standpoint, there is no perfect society outside of Christ. In fact, many scriptures indicate that society is deteriorating (Romans 8:20-22, Hebrews 12:27, Job 14:1-2, Psalms 103:15-16, Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).

The evidence in modern educational circles certainly does not support Mann's thesis. A look at many college campuses today shows, if anything, the opposite of a "perfect society." There is more cheating, less adherence to moral values, violence, unrest, crime and a "me-first" attitude that is growing worse with each generation.

University of Chicago professor John Dewey sought vigorously to apply the principles of an evolutionary worldview to the content and method of education. His strongly held beliefs in the evolution of man and the state's right to train children was responsible for the Progressive Education Movement in the 1930's and much of modern-day secular humanism. Dewey was driven by his new faith in the science of empiricism.

It was Dewey's belief that scientific investigation of man in the laboratory would allow educators to produce curriculum and schools which would cause the upward movement of man (a form of social evolution).2

It is no wonder that the theory of evolution and its "logical," man-centered outworking--secular humanism--has intentionally become the predominate philosophy of the public educational system of this country. The "founding fathers" as they carefully laid the foundation and framework of public education, were committed to an evolutionary worldview. Clearly public education never had a chance of being truly objective on the question of origins. This historical background agrees with Joseph Baldacchino's assertion regarding the roots of today's educational plight. In his publication "Educating for Virtue," he contends that our present plight in education was not some kind of accident for which no one is liable. Nor is it impersonal forces or structures that created our present day educational disaster.3

According to Eric Buehrer, educators do not seem to recognize this bias:

"Educators typically claim they are guarding schools from radical minority dogma being imposed on schoolchildren. However, regarding evolution the education establishment's opinion is a strikingly minority one. The vast majority of Americans hold either a strict creationist view or a centrist view. According to a Gallup Poll reported in U.S. News and World Report, 47 percent of all Americans believe, "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." Another 40 percent believe that "man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided the process, including man's creation." Only 9 percent of Americans hold to the view that "man has developed over millions of years from less developed forms of life. God had no part in this process.

"It is not for lack of education that Americans believe that God was involved in man's origin. The survey also found that 16.5 percent of college graduates held to a naturalist view, while 54 percent held a centrist position and 25 percent were strict creationists. That is, 79 percent of college graduates believe that God was the intelligent designer behind man's origin. Hardly a minority viewpoint!"4

More importantly, the evolutionary hypothesis is not only a faulty basis for an educational theory, it does not lend itself to good science. The previously discussed philosophical position allows man to reject the existence of a personal Creator. A commitment to this philosophy has provided most scientists and educators (as well as judges, lawyers and politicians) with the impetus to run their train of secular humanism through the American culture, reshaping its values and policies while destroying nearly every vestige of the foundational principles of Judeo-Christian heritage.

Historians agree the discipline of science began only a few hundred years ago and was associated with the acceptance of Christianity. In support of this view, Robert G. Frank, Jr., wrote:

"Generations of historians of science have been intrigued by the possibility of a relationship between two pivotal sets of events in the history of early modern Europe: the transformations that go under the names of the "Protestant Reformation" and the "Scientific Revolution" . . . . Was the one's succeeding the other merely a chronological accident? Or was there a causal relationship between the two? . . . [the author's] general argument: the predominant forms of scientific activity during England's Puritan decades can be shown to be a direct outgrowth of a Puritan ideology. The argument is a stunningly convincing one."5

Many of the early scientists approached the study of nature with great reverence, enthusiasm and confidence. They expected to find evidence of design, order, and God's laws governing creation. They were not discouraged or disssuaded. However, a change in the worldview of many of the scientists allowed a shift toward belief in empiricism (thus a move toward naturalism and away from supernaturalism). Purves and Orians trace this change:

"Biology (and all other major disciplines of Western thought) began a major change in paradigm a little over a century ago with the general acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The change over has taken a long time because it required abandoning many components of a different worldview. The pre-Darwininan world was thought to be a young one in which living organisms had been created in essentially their current forms. The Darwinian world view is viewed as an ancient one . . . in which we would not recognize former living organisms of the future if we were tranported forward in time, nor organisms of the past if we were transported back in time. Acceptance of this paradigm involves not only acceptance of the process of natural selection, but it also involves accepting the view that the living world is constantly evolving, but without future "goals."6

Coupled with the philosophical changes and a general decline in religious faith was the making of a new form of scientific inquiry based on naturalism and rationalism. Governed by these factors, a scientist loses objectivity and openness. He examines the facts using preconceived ideas and has limited reasoning ability, thus effectively shutting out the Creator who calls for us to reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:18).

Creationists can be accused of the same thing, but they have an acceptable response. This is because creationists do not need to "prove" anything, but can simply observe the creative design in God's world (Romans 1:20). Second, humans are not random collections of complex reactions between atoms (as evolutionary theory claims), and are thus able to reflect about in truth about a real world.7

Charles Darwin, the "Father of Modern Evolutionary Theory," recognized the flaw of forsaking objective reality. He said, " . . . if natural selection enables man to survive, then his thought processes are also selected for the survival values alone and not for whether they are really true or not."8 Based on a Darwinian worldview, objective truth is neither possible nor important.

Clearly educators and scientists trying to explain the world in terms of evolutionary naturalism and uniformitarian philosophies have an insufficient base for their worldview having strayed into the realm of religious beliefs. However, they are not willing to tolerate the alternative. For example, Lipson states:

"In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to `bend' their observation to fit in with it."9

Or in the words of L.H. Matthews, "The theory of evolution forms a satisfactory faith on which to base our interpretation of nature."10

The discussion above establishes the fact that the conflict concerning origins is philosophical in nature. Because of this base both the creationists and evolutionists interpret data with preconceptions. If the American public educational and scientific communities acknowledged this issue, an avenue for constructive dialogue could be established. However, the evolutionist has much more at stake than forsaking a theory. He must deal with the inner nature of rebellion. This is rebellion against the Creator. Because of this undealt with rebellion, the evolutionary biased mind cannot be honest or objective in practicing science.

Regrettably, the U.S. educational system continues to follow the false evolutionary worldview. With few exceptions, this godless, humanistic view continues to steer young men and women into a "religious faith" and a lifestyle that supports an empty, inferior basis of existence. With man at the center of the universe and oneself as the only reason for existence, one becomes one's own "host"--feeding upon oneself until nothing is left.

The present situation in American public education provides firsthand evidence of the bankrupt nature of an evolutionary worldview. The rising rate of drug use, suicide, illiteracy, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, materialism, apathy, and gang violence illustrate clearly the bitter results of a worldview that refuses to acknowledge God. Dr. Francis Schaeffer puts the consequences and results of these two opposing worldviews into perspective by stating:

"These two worldviews (evolutionsim v. creation) stand as total in complete antithesis to each other in content and also in their natural results . . . . It is not that these two worldviews are different only in how they understand the nature of reality and existence. They also inevitably produce totally different results. The operative word here is inevitably. It is not that they happen to bring forth different results, but it is absolutely inevitable that they will bring forth different results."11

I must concur with Dr. Schaeffer and conclude that the prevailing worldview plague upon American education will most likely not be reversed in the near future. The roots of evolutionary theory and secular humanism are far too deeply rooted to be extracted in a short period of time. Apart from an intervention by Almighty God, the public schools and universities (along with some "Christian" instututions) seem doomed to harvest the evil fruit of the evolutionary worldview well into the 21st century.

With all of this in mind we must remember that many Christian teachers, students, administrators and board members are present in the public schools.12 This being the case we must continue to do spiritual warfare on all fronts in regards to public education. We must continue to pray and support efforts to open doors for presenting an informed creationist apologetic in the public school arena and continue to call for the presentation of good science. We must continue to praise the God of Creation and let the people of the public schools of America hear His voice. We must not buy into the status quo idea that things do not change; all we need to do is look toward Russia where the people and much of the government are calling for change. Many of the Russian people have come to realize the bankrupt nature of their previous atheistic evolutionary based society and are now crying for creationist based curricular materials. For example, according to Dr. Duane T. Gish, Dr. Alexander Asmolov, Russian Deputy Minister of Education; Dr. Alexei Brudnow, Head of the Department of Extracurrilar and Alternative Education; and Dr. Olga Polykovskaya, Chief Specialist of the Ministry of Education are supportive of alternatives to the Russian dogmatism of the last 70 years. These alternatives include true freedom of expression and encouragement of alternative views, including creationism and Christianity. These men desire that these alternatives become part of the Russian educational system.13

What an irony, the "land of the free and the home of the brave" will not allow the creationist in the doors of the public schools, yet one of the most Godless societies of recent history is taking an opposite stand. In summary, each Christian must continue to make a stand whenever possible for Biblical Creationism, with the young earth message and a global worldwide flood as foundational Biblical principles, and for the Gospel of the soon returning Creator and King Jesus Christ.

  1. Henry Morris, Education for the Real World, Master Books, 1977, p. 23.
  2. Samuel L. Blumenfeld, NEA Trojan Horse in American Education, The Paradigm Company, Boise, ID, 1984, p. 43.
  3. Donald H. Nash, The Closing of the American Heart: What's Really Wrong with American Schools, Word Publishing, Dallas, TX, p. 20.
  4. Eric Buehrer, The Public Orphanage, Word Publishing, Dallas, TX, 1995, p. 68.
  5. Malcom Bowden, The Rise of Evolution Fraud, Creation Life Publishers, 1982, pp. 144-151.
  6. William K. Purves, and Gordon H. Orians, Life: The Science of Biology, Sunderland Massachusetts, Sinauer Associates, Inc. 1987, p. 19.
  7. Morris, p. 152.
  8. Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, Vol. I, Murray, 1887, p. 313, cited in Bowden, p. 152.
  9. H.S. Lipson, "A Physicist Looks at Evolution," Physics Bulletin, Vol. 31, 1980.
  10. L. Harrison Matthews, "Introduction to Origin of Species," J.M. Dent, London, 1977, p. 12.
  11. Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, Crossway Books, Westchester, IL, 1984, p. 32.
  12. For example, during the 1994 election over 2,000 of the 16,000 public school boards elected conservative majorities. All conservatives are not necessarily Christians but it is safe to say a large number of them are. It is also apparent that many of these conservative school board members are interested in getting the message of creation science into the public school arena. This is based on numberous telephone calls from school board members received by ICR.
  13. Acts & Facts, Vol. 24, No. 12, December, 1995, p. 1.

Science Teachers Urged to Stress Evolution

A booklet just released by the National Academy of Sciences asserts that science teachers in public schools should confidently present evolution as the "most important concept in modern biology. Instructing teachers that "theory" means the highest level of agreement in science (i.e. "almost" a fact), the colorful, 140-page booklet urges teachers to exclude creationism from classroom instruction yet impossibly still be sensitive to the religious beliefs of students.

"Many teachers feel that `intelligent design' or creationism should be taught out of fairness and that, to me, suggests a poor grounding in terms of what science is," says Gerald Skoog, a former president of the National Science Teachers Association. Falsely claiming that creation science has no scientific evidence (there is MUCH, to the contrary), Skoog says "You don't teach ideas which don't have scientific grounding out of a sense of fairness."

While assertively addressing and criticizing the creationism debate, the booklet, Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, doesn't even attempt to refute the excellent arguments made by creation scientist to defend the biblical account and refute evolution. Rodger Bybee, the executive director of the National Research Council's Center for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education (an affiliate of the academy), said, "It's about teaching biology effectively, not how to argue with creationists effectively." Creationists would say that's because there really is no effective argument against God!

The $300,000 one-stop-shopping primer on evolution was designed to mesh with and bolster the national science standards and to practically show teachers how to teach science and evolution, because, as the booklet admits, opponents of evoluation have been successful in convincing administrators and teachers, fairly, "to present ideas that conflict with evolution or t teach evolution as a `theory, not fact." It is our great success in this war against evolution that has prompted the creation of this new engaging tool to pressure teachers--even Christian science and elementary teachers--to stress evolution as a central scientific concept, if not fact. (To obtain the booklet visit www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/evolution98.)


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