For several years the Mount Vernon (Ohio) local school board has been dealing with a case involving an eighth grade science teacher, Mr. John Freshwater. Mr. Freshwater has been accused of many things, but most of the accusations focus on his Christianity and desire to teach students alternatives to evolution such as Intelligent Design. When I was a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, I can remember the case starting, and I spoke on behalf of Mr. Freshwater at a school board meeting. Since that time the case has grown to epic proportions, and although I have not been directly involved, I have kept current on the litigation (see here, here, here and here for more information).
The case finally came to a sad close last week with the Mount Vernon school board firing Mr. Freshwater. I read with interest the resolutions put forth by the school board for firing Mr. Freshwater. One resolution stated the following:
Mr. Freshwater taught his eighth grade students that homosexuality is a sin, so anyone who chooses to be a homosexual is a sinner. Mr. Freshwater also taught his students that science and scientists can be wrong when they declare that there is a genetic predisposition to homosexuality;While I agree that homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture (Romans 1:24–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Revelation 21:8), I want to focus on the second half of this resolution. Basically, it states that students should not be taught that science and scientists can be wrong regarding the “genetics” of homosexuality. I know for a fact that the school board cannot present evidence from the primary scientific literature showing a definitive link between genetics and homosexuality because I have researched the topic myself and know that such evidence is lacking. No definitive conclusions have ever been made linking particular genes or alterations of genes to homosexuality. Either the school board did not do the appropriate research or they desire to be politically correct more than scientifically correct.
Another resolution stated this:
Mr. Freshwater not only injected his subjective, biased, Christian religion based, non-scientific opinion into the instruction of eighth grade science students but also gave those students reason to doubt the accuracy and or veracity of scientists, science textbooks, and/or science in general;But many science teachers all over the U.S. inject their subjective, biased, humanist-religion-based, non-scientific opinion into the classroom all the time—and instead of being fired, they keep their jobs and even get promoted! According to the school board’s resolution, students shouldn’t doubt the accuracy and veracity of scientists, science textbooks, and science. Do we really want our children to walk away from their science classrooms thinking that it is wrong to question the scientific establishment and just accept whatever the scientific experts say? Absolutely not!
Good observational/operational science is based on the principles of questioning and attempting to falsify scientific findings. Where would we be today in our understanding and treatment of disease if we had just accepted from the scientists of the past that disease was caused by bad air or “vapors”? We needed scientists like Louis Pasteur to question and falsify these ideas. Pasteur used the technology of his day to understand that some diseases are caused by bacteria and developed ways to prevent diseases through vaccination.
Good historical science is based on correct knowledge of the past. The Bible provides this knowledge as it is the history book of the universe; any ideas about the past apart from the Bible are simply based on the opinion of man who was not there.
It should not surprise us that the math and science scores of students in the U.S. are miserably low if this is what the public school system is teaching in regard to science. Parents, no matter what choice you make in regards to the education of your children—home, Christian, or public school—you have a responsibility to teach them the truth about science beginning with God’s Word. I also encourage Sunday school teachers and youth pastors to make sure that you are teaching the truth on these issues in the church. Be sure to check out some of our great resources.
I teach Sunday school for first through third grade, and over the next few weeks we’ll be discussing dinosaurs, radiometric dating methods, natural selection, and mutations. I teach them that what they learn in public school in regard to historical science concerning these ideas is not the truth. I teach them how to defend their faith and give answers from a young age starting with the Bible. One of the second-grade girls in my class told me that one of her classmates said he didn’t believe in God and that she didn’t know what to say in response. Hopefully, our lessons together will equip her with the answers.
I encourage you to pray for Mr. Freshwater and others like him who truly are missionaries in our public school system.