Should Homeschoolers Let Children Decide on Evolution?

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on May 10, 2013

A recent article from Christianity Today suggests that science materials that present “all viewpoints” about origins are becoming more popular.

How should Christian homeschooling parents approach topics like biological evolution, big bang cosmology, and the age of the earth? Christianity Today’s recent article “A New Creation Story: Why do more homeschoolers want evolution in their textbooks?”1 suggests that science materials that present “all viewpoints” about origins are becoming more popular.

Do modern homeschooling parents need to adopt “a new creation story” to ensure their children’s success? Do twenty-first-century children need to be taught to accept evolution to succeed academically? Will teaching them to accept evolution hurt their relationship with God? Or would accepting evolution, as some suggest, somehow make them better Christians by merging old ideas with new? Or to express the fear of many parents, “If I don’t teach them to accept evolution, will they grow up stupid and fail in life?”

Homeschoolers are a diverse group. Nevertheless, a 2007 U.S. Department of Education survey reported that 83 percent of parents who home educate consider passing on religious or moral instruction to be one of their goals, and 36 percent considered this to be the top reason they homeschool.2

Because many homeschooling parents are Christians concerned about bringing up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), they prefer curricula that help them build strong foundations both academically and spiritually. Historically, once homeschooling became well established in the United States, textbook companies wishing to tap into that market developed materials that would help parents achieve these goals. The need for curricula with a Christian focus did not originate with the homeschool movement. Christian schools had the same needs. But materials better adapted to take advantage of individual learning styles and to encourage independent thinking became quite popular.

Should Homeschool Curricula Put All Views on Origins on an Equal Footing?

Some people suggest that children should be presented with a smorgasbord of evidence and encouraged to choose the position they find makes the best case, preferably blending mainstream science with whichever parts of faith can be made to fit. A number of those quoted in Christianity Today’s article3 are of this opinion. Organizations such as BioLogos promote theistic evolution and support its promulgation with their dollars. Those dollars are being used to develop curricula geared to this smorgasbord model, adding to the existing materials already built on that philosophy. Theistic evolution supposedly reconciles mainstream science with the Bible, but in reality it dangerously alters scriptural truth by reinterpreting it according to man’s fallible ideas.

Christianity Today’s article is heavily slanted in favor of teaching all perspectives and presenting the mainstream scientific consensus as authoritative. That approach, however, typically fails to distinguish between the actual, observable facts of science and the worldview-based interpretations imposed on those facts by evolutionists. Children (and adults) need to understand the difference and to be equipped with “biblical glasses.”

It is particularly important for science textbooks to acknowledge that God’s Word is trustworthy. Observable, scientific facts will never violate God’s Word when properly understood but rather affirm it. In fact, the history of creation and the global Flood are not only consistent with scientific observations, but they also can help explain what we observe in the world.

Evidence about origins, because conclusions rely on assumptions about conditions and events that existed in the unobservable past, must be interpreted in accordance with a person’s worldview. And that worldview is either one that accepts the history contained in God’s Word as true or rejects it. In general, children are even more susceptible than adults to influence (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:11; Mark 10:15; Ephesians 4:14). They should not be left to simply examine various points of view and encouraged to choose their own like dessert at a buffet (cf. Proverbs 22:6). This approach not only risks a disastrously wrong choice but in effect tells them that the parents do not consider God’s Word reliable or even relevant to real life in the real world. The eternal consequences—the risk of wrecking the biblical foundation for a child’s developing faith—are just too great!

The Harmful Consequences of Compromise

After Darwin’s work in the nineteenth century popularized biological evolution as an alternative to biblical creation, science became the battleground in the war for people’s souls. Many theologians—intimidated by evolution’s promoters—failed to discern the distinction between testable, experimental science and evolutionary conjecture. Many of those theologians compromised scriptural truth by trying to integrate it with the claims of evolution.

Their compromise infected the church and led countless people to disregard the reliability of the Bible. That compromise creates a major inconsistency in the connection between the origin of sin and the reason why Jesus Christ as the “Last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45) gave Himself to secure our salvation. And sadly, this compromise has left countless people confused about why there is suffering in the world and why we need to be saved.

An estimated two million children are currently homeschooled in the United States alone, and an estimated 500,000 to one million more are home educated worldwide.4 Homeschooled students have proven their capabilities in colleges and beyond. Despite this track record of success, some homeschooling parents—like the compromising theologians of the nineteenth century—feel intimidated by the insistent claims that evolution is proven fact and an essential foundation for future success, particularly for students who desire careers in the sciences. Should Christian homeschooling parents believe the intimidating rhetoric of vocal theistic evolutionists who vigorously seek to get Christians to compromise Scripture and adjust it to fit into evolutionary paradigms?

When Christian parents compromise on scriptural truth by twisting it to make it fit with the claims of evolution regarding abiogenesis, the rise of biological complexity, and the age of the earth and universe, they risk causing irreparable, faith-damaging harm to their own children. This sort of harm has afflicted the church since Christian leaders began compromising in like fashion. Compromising parents place their children in danger by clouding their understanding about the cause of suffering with evolutionary notions that death has always been part of the world. They create an inconsistency in children’s understanding of their need for salvation by removing a clear history of how sin and guilt entered the world through an actual, historical man named Adam. They show their children that they should pick and choose the parts of the Bible they like—or that seem to fit with the modern views of science—and to disregard the rest. They erode the Bible’s authority in their children’s lives, preparing the road to have their entire biblical foundation washed away.

Do Students Need to Believe Evolution to Succeed in Life?

But will children fail in life if they aren’t taught to accept the claims of mainstream scientists? Bill Nye “the Science Guy” says so. The popular mantra claiming that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” though easily refuted, is practically proverbial among evolutionary educators. Will our kids be unfit as the leaders of tomorrow if they don’t accept evolutionary dogma?

To illustrate how unnecessary it is for a student to actually believe evolution in order to be successful, one need look no farther than the local doctor’s office. For decades, evolutionists have attempted to get medical schools to implement evolutionary courses for medical students. They have made some inroads, and the 2015 version of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) will include more questions about evolution. Nevertheless, most medical doctors and most medical schools continue to consider evolution to be fairly irrelevant and useless to their practice.5 The objective facts of biology make perfect sense without any evolutionary overlay.

Children should also not be sheltered from evolutionary claims but rather taught discernment. Genuine scientific truth will never violate biblical truth when properly understood. Parents need to teach their children what evolutionists claim. Standard tests such as the Advanced Placement exams and the Medical College Admissions Test do not test what students believe about evolution but only their knowledge of evolutionary assertions. They can be equipped to answer these questions without embracing them as truth.

Furthermore, students preparing to enter the world need to know what arguments will be presented in favor of evolution and equipped to discern the difference between experimental, observational science and the worldview-based interpretations that constitute origins science. Similarly, a child who is taught to understand the worldview-based interpretations superimposed on radiometric dating methods will be able to see that millions of years of death did not reign on earth before man sinned.

Truth is not multiple choice. Christian parents hoping to equip their children for spiritual and academic success do not need to use materials that promote evolution. They do not need textbooks offering a selection of “YEC, evolutionary creationism, intelligent design, and atheistic evolution,” as one BioLogos-backed project is developing. They need to choose textbooks that measure all truth according to the yardstick of God’s Word. Only then will they help their children build the biblical worldview they need to face the onslaughts of a world that is increasingly hostile to God.

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  4. Based on a 2010 study by Dr. Brian Ray and estimates by the Home School Legal Defense Association. See News to Note, March 16, 2013.
  5. See “Evolution in medical school: Do we need more of it?” This topic will be discussed further in the May 11 News to Note and covered in greater detail in an upcoming web article.


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