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Sunday, March 7, 2010

No Apologia: Home School Curricula Rich with Anti-Science Crap

Some folks express concern that our plan to home school our daughter will hurt her social development. In other words, they think home-school kids are weird.

We're actually trying to engineer a nerd (again, consider the parents), so weird is o.k. But if it's the kind of weird peddled by the anti-science brainwashing of the predominant home-school culture, then public school, here we come:

Two of the best-selling biology textbooks stack the deck against evolution, said some science educators who reviewed sections of the books at the request of The Associated Press.

"I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids," said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.

The textbook publishers defend their books as well-rounded lessons on evolution and its shortcomings. One of the books doesn't attempt to mask disdain for Darwin and evolutionary science.

"Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling," says the introduction to "Biology: Third Edition" from Bob Jones University Press. "This book was not written for them."

The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its "History of Life" chapter that a "Christian worldview ... is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is" [Dylan Lovan, "Top Home-School Texts Dismiss Darwin, Evolution," AP via Yahoo News, 2010.03.06].

At the point where a textbook presumes to tell my daughter that her answers on a science test determine her eternal salvation, my bad theology alarm goes off, and we seek intelligent instruction elsewhere.

Professor Coyne and Dr. Duncan Porter gave F's to biology texts from Apologia and Bob Jones University. Apologia founder Jay Wile, whom Coyne has previously critiqued for peddling substandard science materials, just shouts back that Coyne is a liar.

Professor Coyne's blog features some of the less than Christian responses he's received over his statements above, insults ranging from childish to vicious. I hate to say it, but the venomous "wackaloonery" aimed at Professor Coyne suggests a lot of home-schoolers—or at least their fundagelical advocates—have a severe deficiency of social skills... not to mention a commitment to willful deception.

I guess I'm just spoiled. I have an intelligent wife who has complete confidence in her ability (and our daughter's... once she learns to read and tie shoes) to believe in both a universe governed by scientific laws and a God who created that universe. Neither of the Lutherans in my household needs delusions of scientific persecution, threats of eternal damnation, or fairy-tale biology books to believe in the Bible and do God's work.


  1. I am not a Darwinian, but neither am I vicious (too vicious anyway, can one be just a little vicious? sorry, i am digressing).
    But I do want to comment on the idea that in order to be socially adept, one must learn to be part of a herd. Not true! Are there homeschool kids who are socially backward or misfits? Absolutely. But guess what? There are some of those in the school system too, and life for them is not good. They don't often learn to be socially adept, they just are miserable, and survive by being bottom feeders in the school pond.
    The bulk of homeschool students learn to deal with people of all ages, look them in the face and carry on an intelligent conversation. They also learn to think for themselves, they are not put in a situation where they feel they must hurriedly look around to see if the other kids are raising their hands before they raise theirs.
    One of the kids who works for us did a report on homeschooling, and of course, the socialization question came up. I named two of the other kids who work at the theatre and I asked her if she felt they were social outcasts. Immediately, she readjusted her thinking regarding the tired myth about the homeschooled not fitting in.
    Have you seen the movie Ben Stein's Expelled? It is an eye opener.
    We played it at the Mill Theatre a couple of years ago.

  2. I think home schooling in general is kind of bad for our society. For many of us, public school is one of the few places and times in our life where we share are lot with people that are possibly not like us.

    But what I find unhealthy about home schooling is that it deprives your local school (and its families that really need you) of the parents and students that may contribute most to the enterprise, and make more options available to everyone.

    So Cory, I hope you seriously consider a hybrid approach -- so you can both give your daughter extra academic help (and thank your favorite Greater Power that you have the economic ability to do so) and yet participate the opportunity that public education provides to Americans.

    If you're not involved, just think about who gets to run things unchallenged for those that don't have the wonderful choices you have for your family. You know, folks like Rep Kopp.

  3. Curtis, I appreciate the idea that we need some community/social glue. But when it comes to educational opportunities, I feel like I'm short on options. The home school world is filled with fundamentalists whose eyes are on the wrong prize. The public school system is offering fewer opportunities for challenging academic activity (e.g., dying MHS debate program). What's a guy to do?

    Sorry, Joelie -- no showing of Expelled here yet. That's exactly the foolishness we're trying to keep out of our daughter's head.

  4. Cory, et al: Yikes!

    Slightly off-topic:

    I wrote this; but, I didn't know where to give it a home, so here:

    Mitochrondrial Eve Swam to Sapience.

    What characteristics assured the successes of one hominid to survive and reproduce amidst a savage, predator-infested environment?

    Researchers are focused on ancient river deltas, where the evidence of the earliest humans foraged for mollusks and the eggs of seabirds.
    No longer reliant on knuckle-walking, the buoyancy of water enabled upright wading. Usually, she wades just deep enough to hide from or repel marauding hyenas and just shallow enough to leap away from crocodilians while an infant clings to her, fingers entwined in ample head and body hair

    Shellfish-crushing molars have evolved to replace the canine teeth, now sometimes disappearing in modern humans because she ultimately learned to soften food, especially meat, with fire.

    Wading and diving into deeper water would lead to the development of voluntary breath control, a trait absent in other primates and the core requirement for the evolution of language.

    Some have dubbed her "Mitichondrial Eve,"

    Richard Dawkins says her 2.5 million-year riparian life http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ancestor%27s_Tale#Synopsis
    continues to this day; humans' genetic relationship to water as "Home away from home," runs deep

  5. The deck of scientific facts are stacked against evolution. And in direct contradiction to the assertions in this article, the idea that evolution is some kind of proven "fact" is the lie being peddled to public school children.

    Evolution theory is the epitome of "anti-science" crap, whining on one side of the mouth that anything not observable cannot exist and out of the other side of the mouth making claims that are patently and by definition unscientific. For the theory of evolution and the associated doctrines of materialism and naturalism to even be possible, they must violate the laws of science multiple times in multiple ways.

    With the kind of poison you peddle (that supposedly represents any thing remotely like authentic Christian doctrin), you're really one to talk about a "bad theology alarm." Were you to have an actual "bad theology alarm," it would go off every time you said anything about theology.

    Given that evolution dogma has been peddled in every corner of society for decades, and given that the church has done a pathetic job of educating their people, it's little wonder that many people are gravely ignorant about this subject. I was one such person myself until about 12 years ago; I believed in evolution...simply because I had no idea how flimsy the evidence for it is. I also had not taken the time to seriously study the assertions of both evolution and Christian doctrine, and because of that had no idea that the two are contradictory; both cannot be true.

    Thankfully I now know that the theory of evolution is built almost entirely on conjecture, with some imaginative (if illogical) facts woven together with those assumptions to create a house of cards that can only stand because those who adhere to this religion will tolerate no questioning of its assertions.

    And I also know that despite thousands of years of attempts to discredit the Bible, not a single one of its truth claims have been disproved.

    It's sad that, in this day and age of tremendous availability of information, the minds of so many are so closed to objectivity and intellectual inquiry. This closed-mindedness is the institutional policy of our public education system.

  6. Not to worry CAH. The majority of a person's academic potential is determined during ages 0-5. Learning is essentially a weeding out of the neural net. If one becomes good at weeding out the neural net, one can learn most anything because learning becomes easy.

    Becoming good at weeding the neural net is determined early. So long as you challenge your daughter consistently during the early years she will be capable of and proficient at learning anything she needs. K-12 is essentially filling the dictionary. If she does it at home or in a school system will make little difference.

  7. Curtis, unfortunately the sad moral state to which our society has descended is exactly why many parents have decided to expend the extra time and expense of educating their children themselves. They know that if they send their children to public schools, their children will be taught that their faith is irrelevant in the "real world," that it has no place in the "real world" and is something of which they should be ashamed. They will also be taught that there is no truth, that morality is relative, and that they are nothing but highly evolved animals. And many of their public school peers, having been brought up in morally bankrupt homes, will pass on poisonous behaviors and ideas to them on the playground. Both in the classroom and out, at public school our children are exposed to destructive, poisonous lies.

    And since you brought up Rep. Kopp and his efforts to balance the global warming nonsense children are being exposed to in public schools, that is yet another of those lies to which our children should not be exposed. Children are being fed socialist bunk, taught to hate the great achievements of our country and our civilization--all on the premise of a flimsy hypothesis that quite possibly has even less science at its foundation than does the theory of evolution.

    It's both funny and pathetic at the same time that you so begrudge even a few young people escaping the bilge that passes for "knowledge" these days. Perhaps that is because you know that the average homeschooled student can think and perform rings around the average public school student, and if there is anything left at all of our civilization in a few years, these homeschooled people will be in the best position to begin the moral and intellectual rebuilding of our society--the average public school student's ability to think rationally will be so anemic that they will be incapable of genuine leadership.

    I guess you should enjoy the transient day of dominance for your bankrupt ideas. After all, you are sowing the seeds of demise for your own philosophy, for it is self-defeating at its core.

  8. CAH:

    Bob's trolling here is truly epic. He plays the stereotype just right.

  9. Tony, I just try to apply a little rationality and intellectual food for thought here. I know that the publisher isn't likely to realize the bankruptcy of his liberal fantasies any time soon, nor are most of his disciples like yourself.

    But for the casual reader who might wander by and run the risk of being sucked into the liberal dreamworld, the anti-intellectualism and anti-science propaganda so often peddled here, I believe it's important that I provide a lifeline to reality.

  10. Bob Ellis: Food for thought? You provide a long list of accusations without any meat at all. Your food is meager enough to be Vegan. You state not one bit of the bible has ever been shown to be false but never mention what parts have been challenged, let alone how it has been proven correct. I would welcome the inclusion of some of the jumps in logic taken in the teaching of evolution. It is neither simple or complete and discussion of the problems can only encourage more scientific inquiry and discoveries. It sounds like Bob isn't after more knowledge though, he is after the destruction of the knowledge we currently have in favor of something without any scientific support at all, like full-blown creation from nothing in 7 days.

    That being said I still fully support homeschooling, even by Bob, as better than public schooling. There are far worse things than being a misfit or socially clumsy and the christian fundamentalism is better for society than the environmentalist religiosity and social justice that we get foisted on students in public schools. The benefits great children might offer public schools is wiped out be the damage public schools might inflict on those children (evolution would say let the weak wither so the best can procreate...so let the public school model die already)

  11. I certainly would not recommend Expelled for someone in elemntary school Cory. My point was there is plenty of illogical thought, lack of openess and viciousness on the other side. It is a movie for high school age and up.

  12. Only on Planet Bob could Cory Heidelberger be called anti-intellectual and anti-science.

    Bob, have you deliberately adopted a strategy of simply taking anything I say about you and your failed worldview and responding with "I know you are but what am I?" Next you'll be calling me an over-eating devoté of male headship and selective Biblical literalism.

  13. Yes, if your definition of "science" is the mountain of assumptions that comprises nearly all of evolution theory, or the host of "fudged" computer models and wild conjecture that forms what little basis there is for the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming, then no, I'm not a very "scientific" person.

    But if one's definition of science means the things that are verifiable, logical and rational, then you're obviously miles off the farm because none of the nonsense ideas you champion have more than a few crumbs of real science in them.

    I realize you're probably a product of shallow Leftist indoctrination, but you're a grownup now. Start taking responsibility for your own education. Stop leaning on the pap you've been fed and start learning for yourself. Challenge the world of assumptions in which you live with some real facts.

    You have a lot of energy and drive, and that's a good thing. It would be so much better if you used it to advance our culture and make it a better place, instead of working against freedom, self-reliance, independence and a firm foundation of information.

    I know you can rise to the challenge if you only set your mind to it.

  14. Cory:

    Ignore the mullahs and blog on. You rock!

  15. "The deck of scientific facts are stacked against evolution."

    Hi Bob,

    I used to say the same kind of things. I own all the major ID books from Philip Johnson, Michael Behe, William Dembski, etc.

    But after a few years, for the sake of fairness, I decided to read books from the "other side"... and found the evidence quite overwhelming. Have you read any of the following?

    Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

    The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution

    Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (getting a bit old, but does a good job explaining evolutionary concepts... like how "species" is really an arbitrary term)

    Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA

    Also, I haven't read, but heard good things about Francis Collins's (as in the Francis Collins) book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. He's a fundamentalist Christian and refused to take part in Expelled.

    If I could impart one scholastic principle to the world it would be: "Read the other side"

    Note, I didn't say "read both sides"... because I think it is a waste of time to read the side you're already on. When you read the other side either (a) you'll find out that it's full of nonsense (as I have in reading about organic food and Mormon theology) or (b) it will correct your worldview and make it closer to the truth (as it did for me with evolution).

    The most troubling aspect of 21st century communication is that people are increasingly gravitating toward echo chambers. Whether it's news networks that spin the truth (in either direction) for ratings, or blogs that suck like-minded people in. It's a lot easier to get information without the intellectual challenge/debate required for education.

    I mean, consider Cory saying that he won't show Expelled to his daughter. Even if intelligent design rests on partial evidence (as I believe it does), it would provide Katarzyna with an educational opportunity to learn what the other side is and discover the reasons why it's bunk.

    We need a world where Cory reads the best case for intelligent design and Bob reads the best case for evolution. Censoring ourselves from opinions we initially don't like leads only to widespread ignorance.

    A reasonable person, by definition, conforms his worldview to reason. Find the book that is the most diametrically opposed to your beliefs and read that. Right now, I'm reading Challenging Nature because the author doesn't believe in souls or natural law (or Mother Nature, natural medicines, and any other Christian or hippie froo-froo). It's refining my beliefs with evidence I can't ignore.

    Kind regards,

  16. David, if we fit the ID debate into the curriculum, we'll probably have our young 'un read Behe and Kitzmiller v. Dover instead of watching Stein. Only so much time in the curriculum....

    But just to make sure I'm reading you correctly (and I ask with no intent to gloat): are you saying you've moved away from your I.D. position?

  17. Hi Cory,

    I guess we haven't talked much about this lately... but yeah I don't have a problem saying that natural selection gets us from the first bacterium to human beings.

    I read the books mentioned above and started leaning this direction, but it was a trip to the UNL museum in the summer of 08 where the evidence was really thrust upon me. In my creationist glory days, the existence of the whale was always the capstone of my rant against the ridiculousness of evolution. How do you get from a bear to a whale? Imagine a bear who's hind legs are fusing together, his nose moves to the top of his head, and he trades in carnivorous teeth for a phytoplankton-catching mouth-tentacles! All the while being more "fit" than a regular bear.

    Well, I had heard about the whale fossil discoveries (which had been uncovered subsequent to the days I had written oratories and college papers on the subject) but didn't quite believe it... until... I accidentally stumbled upon casts of the 3 intermediary fossils in the UNL museum. Right before my eyes there was concrete, humbling, evidence in three dimensions.

    If the whale wasn't safe from evolution, what could be? Well, nothing. Your Inner Fish describes how Shubin and his colleagues said to themselves, "Evolution suggests that fish started breathing on land about 375 million years ago, but no one has found those transition fossils. Well, which geological layer would those fossils be in? (The Devonian) Ok, so where is the Devonian layer exposed to the surface? (Pennsylvania, Greenland, and Ellesmere Island) Greenland is covered over with glaciers, Pennsylvania is covered over with civilization, so let's try Ellesmere Island." Four expeditions later... they have Tiktaalik.

    That's textbook scientific method. Hypothesis, gather evidence, confirm.

    There's still an open question as to where the first self-replicating bacterium comes from. Self-replication is quite astounding. And I'd be ok with saying it originated naturally once the evidence actually supports that. But so far, things haven't progressed much from Miller-Urey.

    Also, I'm parsing through brain science to see if human brains are different in kind or merely degree from animal brains. Intuitively, there seems to be a pretty wide chasm... but again, that's what I thought with the whale.

    I can't help thinking that, if all abstract thinking (including qualia and logic) is reducible to non-sentient brain chemistry, we have a problem. If all human action is reducible to the immutable laws of brain chemistry, we have a problem. If all emotion is reducible to quirks or misfirings of brain chemistry, we have a problem. If all morality is reducible to emotion...

    That's what strict materialism boils down to, and I'm not there. In a Pascalian sense, I may never get there, because I would rather wager that free will, purpose, logic, morality and meaning exists than accept (even if it be true) nihilism.

    But I will only read the other side, because I never want anyone to think that my worldview is unreasonable. (Ironically, materialists ultimately argue against reason... so in a sense, if I embraced the other side, it would make my worldview... unreasonable.)

    And reading the other side means that the last book I've read on evolution (since "converting") was a 6-day creationist book.

    Kind regards,

    PS I still maintain that Judge Jones was soundly refuted here. And I think it's nonsense that the federal government should tell teachers in Sioux Falls that they can't teach something all the parents of Sioux Falls believe. (Same reasoning applies to No Child Left Behind.)


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