Although this item specifically targets public schools in the United States, the principles can be applied to any school system in any country.
There have been a number of recent, highly controversial instances involving school boards discussing the topic of creation/evolution in the government-run school classroom, in science textbook disclaimers, and so on.
On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see the increasing interest from citizens to put pressure on school boards deciding what is taught in the classrooms. The humanist elites are livid that this is even a topic for discussion. They want a monopoly on the teaching of molecules-to-man evolution in the public school science classrooms. On the other hand, if creation were taught in the science classrooms, would it be taught accurately and respectfully by a qualified individual?
Public school teachers know that they can critically discuss different theories in regard to just about every issue—but not evolution. Even if a school board simply wants evolution to be critically analyzed (a good teaching technique, after all) without even mentioning creation or the Bible, the American Civil Liberties Union and other humanists are immediately up in arms. There are the usual accusations of trying to get “religion” into schools and that it’s a front for what they label as “fundamentalist Christianity.”
By the way, when the public school system threw out prayer, Bible readings, creation, and the Ten Commandments, they didn’t throw out religion. They replaced the Christian worldview influence with an atheistic one. The public schools, by and large, now teach that everything a student learns about science, history, etc., has nothing to do with God it can all be explained without any supernatural reference. This is a religious view—an anti-Christian view with which students are being indoctrinated. Humanists know that naturalistic evolution is foundational to their religion—their worldview that everything can be explained without God. That is why they are so emotional when it comes to the topic of creation/evolution.
We are certainly encouraged at Answers in Genesis that there are moves in different places to stop the censorship of the anti-Christian propagandists in the public schools and allow students to, at the very minimum, question evolution. We are sure this is in part due to the influence of the creation ministries in society and the plethora of creationist and anti-evolutionist materials now available to parents and students. On the other hand, Christians have to understand that fighting the evolution issue in public schools is actually the same battle as fighting abortion, homosexual behavior, pornography, etc.
In other words, just as these issues are symptoms of the foundational change in our culture (i.e., from believing that God’s Word is the absolute authority to that of man’s opinions being the authority), so the evolution issue is also a symptom of this same foundational change.
Evolutionism as a Religion
If you were to ask the average person if evolution is a religion, he would probably say no. However, evolution is actually one of the cornerstones of the religion of humanism. (Now keep in mind that evolutionists do use real observational science such as natural selection, speciation, genetic studies, etc., as part of their overall argument. However, evolutionism in the sense of the belief aspects of evolution [life arising by natural processes, etc.] is a belief system—a religion.) Despite the vigorous objections of many humanists, humanism is a religion. Even a cursory reading of the “Humanist Manifesto I” penned in 1933 reveals that it is a religious document:
FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
SEVENTH: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation—all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer be maintained.1
Many other points in the document point to humanism as a religion that is to replace “the old attitudes” of traditional religions. John Dewey, considered the father of the modern American public school systems, was a signatory on the document. His application of his religious ideals to the education system cannot be denied. As a result, the public school system in America, and much of the world, is dominated by humanist philosophies.
Later versions of the manifesto also include the idea that humans have evolved as part of nature with no supernatural intervention at all.2 Also presented are the beliefs that we can only know about the world around us by observation and experimentation—no biblical revelation is accepted—and that man is the measure of all things. All of these ideas are solidly anti-Christian in their sentiments.
Notable signatories of the “Humanist Manifesto III” include Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, and Richard Dawkins. Both of these individuals work hard to have their religious views presented to the students in classrooms across the world. Ultimately, we should think of their efforts to promote evolutionary teaching in schools as support for their respective religious organizations.
Many humanists would call themselves secular humanists in order to avoid the connection to the word “religion.” They have adopted a similar manifesto founded on the same basic principles but avoiding the religious phrasing.
Separation of Church and State: Because of their commitment to freedom, secular humanists believe in the principle of the separation of church and state. The lessons of history are clear: wherever one religion or ideology is established and given a dominant position in the state, minority opinions are in jeopardy. A pluralistic, open democratic society allows all points of view to be heard. Any effort to impose an exclusive conception of Truth, Piety, Virtue, or Justice upon the whole of society is a violation of free inquiry.3
Then, in the section on evolution we read:
Today the theory of evolution is again under heavy attack by religious fundamentalists. Although the theory of evolution cannot be said to have reached its final formulation, or to be an infallible principle of science, it is nonetheless supported impressively by the findings of many sciences. There may be some significant differences among scientists concerning the mechanics of evolution; yet the evolution of the species is supported so strongly by the weight of evidence that it is difficult to reject it. Accordingly, we deplore the efforts by fundamentalists (especially in the United States) to invade the science classrooms, requiring that creationist theory be taught to students and requiring that it be included in biology textbooks. This is a serious threat both to academic freedom and to the integrity of the educational process. We believe that creationists surely should have the freedom to express their viewpoint in society. Moreover, we do not deny the value of examining theories of creation in educational courses on religion and the history of ideas; but it is a sham to mask an article of religious faith as a scientific truth and to inflict that doctrine on the scientific curriculum. If successful, creationists may seriously undermine the credibility of science itself.4
The secular humanists basically believe we should not “impose an exclusive conception of truth” unless it involves suppressing religious ideas (including creation)—it is mandatory that the truth of evolution can have exclusive reign in the science classrooms. What they fail to realize is that they are simply substituting one “article of religious faith” for another in an arbitrary way that fits their agenda; Christians could assert the opposite claim.
If the documents from the humanists are not enough to be convincing about whether humanism (with the belief in naturalistic evolution as its foundation) is a religion that attempts to explain the meaning of life, the U.S. Supreme Court has also recognized humanism as a religion. In the 1961 case Torcaso v. Watkins regarding the legality of requiring a religious test for public office, the rationale for the finding includes the view that “religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God, are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others.”5
Humanism, whether secular or religious, is a religion, albeit a non-theistic one for most of its adherents. One of humanism’s fundamental tenets—evolution by natural processes alone—is the sole view allowed to be taught in public school science classrooms. This demonstrates that the public school systems are indeed promoting one religious view over another in the science classrooms. Again, religion was not removed from schools; Christian views were simply replaced by humanistic views. There is indeed a state religion in the American government school system—secular humanism!6
Despite the assertion by humanists that evolution is an undeniable fact, is it really a scientific idea?
Science is generally limited to those things that are observable, testable, and repeatable. Language in the humanist documents mentioned above would affirm this notion. When we are discussing operational science, conducting experiments, and building technology based on those principles, creationists and humanists have no disagreement. It is only when we look to explain the past that the disagreements occur.
Everyone has the same evidence to examine, but we all look at the evidence in light of our pre-existing worldview. Evolutionists believe that life has evolved by natural processes, so they interpret the evidence in light of that belief. Creationists do the same, using God’s Word, the Bible, as the standard. Since events of the past cannot be observed, tested, or repeated, we cannot ultimately call our understanding of those events scientific.7 Christians should trust what God has revealed in Scripture and build their thinking, in every area, on that foundation.
What Are Christians Doing?
Some Christians who are teaching in the government schools sometimes find themselves in a situation where they can openly teach creation in the science classrooms. Teachers should understand what is allowed according to their state and local laws and statutes, and take advantage of those opportunities. However, there are often political implications to consider and a teacher who even legally teaches biblical creation may face other repercussions.
Some teachers choose to avoid teaching evolutionary ideas in the biology classroom. While on the surface this might sound like a wise idea, it may present some problems. Many standardized tests that students may have to take include information on evolution. Not teaching the basic concepts may lead to these students doing poorly on these exams. Also, if the curriculum requires the teaching of evolutionary ideas, teachers could be violating their contract by intentionally eliminating this subject. Avoiding the issue is not the best strategy, as it will likely lead to problems on many different levels.
What Should Christians Be Doing?
Whenever permissible, evolutionary ideas should be taught—but warts and all. There are many inconsistencies within the evolutionary framework and many disagreements about how to interpret the evidence. When appropriate, point out that many scientists, both creationists and evolutionists, do not believe that Darwinian evolution is adequate for explaining the existence of life on earth.
Also, many states have allowances for students to be released from school for special religious instruction. Consider supporting or starting a ministry that uses this time to teach students the true history of the earth from the Bible. Providing Christian students with this instruction will equip them to share this truth with teachers and other students. Additionally, these students should be equipped to share the gospel with their fellow students and teachers. Salvation is the ultimate goal for Christians in such a ministry, not just converting evolutionists into creationists.
We need bold Christians who will become active in their communities, school boards, and other organizations who will be prompting these changes from the bottom up. In these settings, Christians can start asking challenging questions about the exclusion of Christianity from schools, the acceptance of the religion of humanism, the absence of critical thinking when it comes to teaching evolution, etc. Based on the U.S. Constitution, no single religion should be endorsed in a government-run school. If no one stands up to challenge these ideas, the schools will continue to indoctrinate students with the religious beliefs of humanists.
AiG’s True Position on Teaching Creation in Public Schools
We do not believe that creation should be mandated in public school science classrooms.
Answers in Genesis is often misrepresented as trying to get creationist teaching into the public schools.8 AiG does not lobby any government agencies to include the teaching of biblical creation in the public schools. As we have stated many times, we do not believe that creation should be mandated in public school science classrooms. If teaching creation were mandated, it would likely be taught poorly (and possibly mockingly) by a teacher who does not understand what the Bible teaches and who believes in evolution.
At the same time, it is not right that the tenets of secular humanism can be taught at the exclusion of Christian ideas. This type of exclusivity does not promote the critical thinking skills of students demanded by most science education standards. Teachers should be allowed, at the very least, the academic freedom to present various models of the history of life on earth and teach the strengths and weaknesses of those models. Recognizing that in the current political climate we can only expect to see evolution taught, it is only reasonable to include teaching the shortcomings of evolutionary ideas.
Advice to Christian Teachers and Administrators
Many Christians in the public school system view themselves as missionaries in a hostile environment. Their presence there is undoubtedly valuable and provides an opportunity to be salt and light in their communities. If you are a teacher or administrator in the public schools, we encourage you to be both wise and bold as you prayerfully consider your role in this controversial creation/evolution issue.
If your state or country does not even permit the questioning of evolution or discussing creation, there are other options that will help keep a teacher from getting fired. There are many strategies that take the responsibility for any creation teaching away from the school and its administration:
- Offer an optional course after school that is free for students (perhaps once or twice a month) to refute some of the evolution and long-age teachings. You or someone you know who enjoys teaching creation can use many of the great biblically based, creationist resources. Show the students that they are not getting all of the information from the textbooks. The books Evolution Exposed: Biology and Earth Science are designed to counter the unbiblical notions taught in the science textbooks. Get these books into the hands of the students so that they can understand both sides of the origins debate.
- Offer to be an adult sponsor for students who wish to start a Creation Club in the school. This student-led alternative can be very effective at getting outside speakers into the school to address the club and present information. Clubs can meet at lunch or after school, just like a Chess Club or any other.
- Have your local church youth group provide a short course to counter evolutionary claims. Students in the youth group can invite other students to attend and learn more about the issue. Use a DVD-based curriculum such as Demolishing Strongholds or The Answers Academy to communicate these ideas to students.
- As stated above, many states offer the option of “released time.” Support or start a ministry in your community that would provide biblical instruction for public school students.
- Support local ministries like the Gideons, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Young Life, and many others that seek to share the gospel and God’s Word with students in public schools. (Be discerning, as not all groups will have a literal view of Genesis and local chapters often hold varying views.)
- Understand the limits a teacher has to discuss ideas with students outside of the classroom. The political climate in your district should be taken into consideration, as well as recognizing that you may face persecution.
- Have a local church or group of churches offer to bring students to the Creation Museum where they can be presented with biblical truths about God as the Creator. Students can help pass the word around at public schools.
As much as we want to see students know that true science confirms the creation account in Genesis and that molecules-to-man evolution is a blind-faith belief that flies in the face of much scientific evidence, in the long run the school battle will not be successful unless society as a whole (and the Church) returns to the Bible as the authority. That’s why at AiG, we spend so much energy to equip the Church to restore biblical authority beginning with Genesis. Then, and only then, will the secular worldview of society be successfully challenged. More important, recognize that spreading the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate goal.
If you are not directly involved in public schools in any way, pray for those who are and support Christian teachers and administrators who are trying to make a difference. Support and pray for families and students in the public schools. Volunteer to be a mentor or to assist in the public schools or teach a Sunday school class to help the students understand the origins issue.