Last week's school board primaries in Kansas have generated much news-and much confusion-about the teaching of “creationism” in Kansas schools and AiG's stance on the matter.1 Although the popular press has gone to great lengths to show that the recent election pitted pro-evolution, pro-“science” candidates against those who backed the mandated instruction of creation in public schools, the election was nothing of the sort. Furthermore, it's not the first time the media has intentionally misrepresented the issues surrounding the teaching of evolution in public schools (see Confusion in Kansas—Evolution not Outlawed!).
The election centered on the Kansas State Board of Education curriculum, which was widely misrepresented as “anti-evolution,”2 though it was nothing of the sort. The curriculum did not promote the teaching of intelligent design or biblical creation; it only required that students, during their review of the principles of evolution, hear a small sampling of the numerous problems with evolution.
Evolutionists, however, consider any criticism to evolutionary theory identical to teaching creation, so even the slightest mention of problems with evolution is interpreted as violating the First Amendment. More absurd, however, is the current trend that even mentioning that there is a controversy (that is, that some scientists question evolutionary theory) is ruled to constitute creationist teaching. So what has happened in the public school science classroom? The prohibition against teaching “creationism” spread to teaching any kind of design, then to any discussion of the problems with evolutionary theory, and has now spread to any mention that a controversy exists!
Many evolutionists are treating the results of the school board primaries as the triumph of evolutionary instruction; however, the same situation occurred in Kansas in 2001, when the school board re-emphasized evolution after it had been mildly de-emphasized in standards approved in 1999. Evolution was again mildly de-emphasized in standards passed in late 2005, which led to the media attention on last week's primary election. Since the Kansas science standards have already been changed three times (and will presumably be changed a fourth time when the next board takes power), it will not come as a surprise if the Kansas school board continues to sway back and forth on the issue for years to come.
A common mistake made by media and secular organizations is to lump together all groups that oppose the theory of naturalistic evolution, blurring two major distinctions that divide these groups. First, reporters and commentators unfamiliar with the full scope of the debate and, in particular, AiG's message will ignore the fact that intelligent design (ID) and biblical creation are far from identical. Although AiG wholeheartedly agrees with the many potent criticisms of Darwinism those in the ID movement have produced, we believe intelligent design can leave out the crucial message of who the intelligent [D]esigner is.
The second line that is often blurred-as recently as last week, in an editorial in The Cincinnati Post1-is the nature of AiG's “strategy.” Whereas many groups seek to “inject” the teaching of intelligent design in classrooms via legal action, political lobbying and civic petitioning, AiG is a grassroots organization that seeks primarily to revitalize the Christian church and Christian families with the message of the authority of God's Word. We believe in changing our culture not by changing what's taught in public schools, but by changing hearts and minds for Jesus Christ.
This is certainly not to say that AiG opposes any efforts to encourage open discussion of the problems with evolution in public schools; it is important that science teachers are reminded of their academic freedom to discuss problems with evolutionary theory, even if this discussion is not mandated by curricula. Furthermore, as more and more people learn about the scientific problems and religious underpinnings of Darwinism, it is inevitable that those with children or grandchildren in public schools will want to encourage fairer treatment of evolutionary theory.
What surprises many people, however, is that AiG actually opposes mandating that students be taught intelligent design or biblical creation in the classroom. We believe it would be just as counterproductive to force atheist, Darwinist science teachers to teach creation in the classroom as it would be to force Ken Ham to to give lectures praising Darwinism! Additionally, even if the instruction of biblical creation was mandated in curricula, it is doubtful science teachers would receive the needed training to understand how to properly teach the biblical worldview. Even worse, some parents may become lax in educating their children to “think biblically” if they have the false idea that creation is being taught in schools.
To recap, AiG is a distinctly different organization than those that lobby for changes in the teaching of evolution in public schools, because AiG aims for a grassroots overturning of Darwinism and a re-empowerment of the church, and because AiG believes forcing schoolteachers to present creation would result in more problems. AiG also believes that spiritual education is the role of a child's parents, so even if full-fledged biblical creation were taught in public schools (or even if your child goes to a private Christian school), this would not supplant continuing parental spiritual leadership and education.
Our prayer is that throughout all these conflicts over the teaching of evolution in public schools, people will respond by asking questions such as “What is wrong with evolution?” and “Why does it even matter?” Answers in Genesis exists to help people answer these questions in their own lives, and to arm Christians with answers to help bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
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