On the heels of the evolution controversy in Kansas, the Kentucky State Education Department (as reported in the Kentucky Enquirer on January 18) has removed the word “evolution” from its science guidelines.
The official curriculum document gives guidance on what public school students in Kentucky should know and be tested on. One of the drafts had the word evolution mentioned six times, but at the last minute, this was replaced with the phrase “change over time.” Education officials argued that the terms meant the same thing. This wording change was opposed by the Kentucky Science Teachers Association (and even by Answers in Genesis—see below.) On the other hand, questions about evolution will be seen on state examinations.
It appears that the change was not the result of any creationist sympathies, but rather was done to avoid controversy and not offend anyone—i.e., a “politically correct” move. There is apparently a list of “testing sensitivity guidelines” which are meant to prevent children from taking positions on “uncomfortable subjects.” This list includes death, divorce, animal rights, and now also evolution.
The change to the Kentucky science guidelines is different to the Kansas episode last August in two major respects: 1) The science standards approved by Kansas did not delete the word “evolution” (which is contrary to the claims of almost all the mainstream media, which misreported that the word had been expunged) and 2) Kentucky’s top education official, Commissioner Wilmer Cody, stated (in the Courier-Journal, Louisville, October 6) that the new wording will not weaken the teaching of evolution, whereas the intent of some of the Kansas board members was to de-emphasize the teaching of evolution.
Despite the fact that the change does nothing to prevent the teaching of evolution or even encourage creation to be taught, it has upset many evolutionist teachers and officials in Kentucky.
Our response: Answers in Genesis is in partial agreement with some of the critics, actually. We do not believe that “papering over the cracks” is an appropriate response to this vital issue of origins.
Children should face these important matters squarely. Rather than taking a “politically correct” approach which tries to sweep the controversy under the carpet, school officials should stress that students understand evolution, but understand it “warts and all.” (more)
We would like to see a situation in which students do not just get the current one-sided indoctrination, but learn of evidence both for and against evolution. In other words, we would like to see evolution be stripped of its de facto immunity from the critical discussion most other theories are subjected to.
A mere watering down of terms can actually operate against the cause of Biblical truth by not exposing evolution for what it really is. Students need to understand, for example, that far from being just a matter of “change over time,” evolutionary belief is a complete explanation of where everything came from, and thus ultimately what everything is all about—i.e., it is a philosophical/religious belief system just as much as it is a scientific concept. It involves its own hideous “creation story” of billions of years of death, disease, cruel struggle with pitiless domination of the strong over the weak, pointless suffering, and bloodshed. Note that the subtitle of Darwin’s The Origin of Species was: The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.
Furthermore, this word substitution may make it harder for students to distinguish between mere “change over time” and evolution, which are not at all the same thing. Creationists believe in change over time—their difference with evolutionists is over the type of change. Creationists believe that overall, living things are, since the Fall, deteriorating from an original perfection. Observed mutations, adaptation, natural selection, even speciation, all these are facts with which a Genesis understanding of creation is very comfortable. But all these processes of changes in living things are, overall, information-losing (“downhill”). “Frog-to-prince” evolution, on the other hand, requires a huge net gain of information. Our new book Refuting Evolution covers this key distinction.
Conclusion: Instructors in Kentucky who want to keep on teaching evolution should not be affected in the slightest by this “re-definition.” So the uproar by evolutionists is an indication of the extreme emotional defensiveness engendered by even the slightest perceived threat to the dominant evolutionary belief system, which underpins the secular humanism of our permissive age.
As far as Christian teachers in Kentucky’s public schools who believe Genesis are concerned, we don’t think the wording will make it either easier or harder for them. According to Kentucky law (Section 158.177 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes), public school instructors have the academic freedom to “teach the theory of creation as presented in the Bible.” Nevertheless, Christian parents should be aware of the fact that public school teaching in our culture is currently slanted heavily in favor of anti-Biblical worldviews about our origins, regardless of whether the “e-word” is mentioned in print or not. Sadly, many Christian schools have, in practice, adopted similar frameworks.