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Washington State University Homeschool Curriculum Part One: Teaching Debunked “Transitional Forms”

Washington State University (WSU), using funding from the National Science Foundation, has produced an evolutionary biology curriculum targeted at homeschool families. The curriculum, called Lessons in Evolutionary Biology, is available for free online and includes lessons and activities for pre-school through twelfth grade.

I’m writing these reviews as a warning to homeschooling families—the material in this curriculum not only teaches false evolutionary beliefs (including beliefs that many secularists have thrown out!), but it also attacks biblical creation directly. And the curriculum utilizes activities and even a colorful board game to teach the idea of evolution—capturing the attention and minds of children without ever questioning the assumptions these ideas operate on. Even if you are not a homeschooling family, it is important to know how to refute outdated evolutionary ideas as detailed in this blog post.

WSU’s curriculum examines “Fossils and Extinction” in grades 1–3. Students are shown pictures to compare and contrast—for example, an Archaeopteryx fossil and a chicken, or a dinosaur fossil and a lizard. They are then asked to compare how these fossils are similar to the live creature in the other picture. In a middle school lesson, Archaeopteryx (alongside Tiktaalik) is even identified as an alleged “transitional form.”

Archaeopteryx is claimed by some evolutionists to be evidence that supports the belief that dinosaurs evolved into birds. They reason that since it has teeth, digits (i.e., “fingers”) on its wings, and a long tail, it is a “winged dinosaur.” But fossil evidence that appeared in a National Geographic article this year says otherwise. According to an examination of the fossilized feathers, Archaeopteryx feathers were no different from modern bird feathers, meaning that, in an evolutionary model, Archaeopteryx would have evolved much earlier than it should have! But these results are exactly what biblical creationists expect—God created birds to reproduce after their kinds. He did not create dinosaurs that evolved into birds. (For more on Archaeopteryx feathers, read Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell’s News to Note column from earlier this year .)

The curriculum claims in the lesson “Fossil Evidence for Evolution – Part 2” that Tiktaalik is an “intermediate form” and “an example of an ancient type of ‘fish’ that developed adaptations to the oxygen-poor shallow-water habitats of its time.” What was that adaptation, according to evolutionists? Tiktaalik supposedly learned to “walk” on land on its fins, thus “proving” that fish eventually grew legs and began walking.

Dr. David Menton, a speaker at Answers in Genesis with a PhD in biology from Brown U., notes that there are indeed fish that can breathe air and “slither” on their bellies on land (see Tiktaalik and the Fishy Story of Walking Fish). But they are not walking! And in 2010, Tiktaalik as a supposed “transitional form” was debunked when evolutionists discovered fossilized footprints that they dated 9 million years older than Tiktaalik. Dr. Menton concludes, “Whatever else we might say about Tiktaalik, it is a fish.”

WSU’s curriculum has an entire lesson (geared for grades 6–8) devoted to the idea of “horse evolution”—which has basically been thrown out, even by many secularists. (I blogged about the horse evolution series a few months ago; you can read more about it here.) In 1979, Dr. David Raup, then Curator of Geology at the Field Museum of Chicago, admitted that supposed “evidences” of evolutionary ideas, such as the “horse evolution” series, are no longer viable:

Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin, and knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. . . . Ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information—what appeared to be a nice simple progression when relatively few data were available now appears to be much more complex and much less gradualistic. (“Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology,” Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin 50, no. 1 : 25.)

And yet, science curricula are still teaching this debunked idea. The WSU curriculum presents a series of pictures of each of the alleged “transitional forms” of the horse, claiming that each form is millions of years old.

What’s more, the curriculum writers then attack biblical creationists who dispute horse evolution, as though there are no evolutionists who disagree:

Creationism utterly fails to explain the sequence of known horse fossils from the last 50 million years. That is, without invoking the “God Created Everything To Look Just Like Evolution Happened” Theory. . . . Creationists are thus forced into illogical, unjustified attacks of fossil dating methods, or irrelevant and usually flat-out wrong proclamations about a supposed "lack" of "transitional forms". (chem.tufts.edu/science/evolution/HorseEvolution.htm)

But as biblical creationists, we do not have to operate on evolutionary assumptions for all these fossils to make sense. There are no “transitional forms” because God created animals to reproduce after their kinds. The many varieties of horses, fish, and birds all speak to the creativity and glory of the Creator God, not to the idea that the dinosaur kind transitioned into the bird kind. As parents, we must be aware of what we are teaching our children, and we must examine thoroughly any teaching materials we are using to ensure that the next generation is being grounded in the authority of God’s Word and not in man’s fallible ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

(Thanks to AiG researcher Steve Golden for gathering the information for this blog post.)

Continue reading part two.

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