Creationism is being taught in Abbotsford schools


I started this thread when learning that the Abbotsford school board has a policy of teaching creationism in science class, as if it were an alternative to science...

There have been accesses to these pages!

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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creationism in Canada                                                                               
Date: 03/21/95

This is reprinted from an editorial in the Vancouver Sun, March 18/95:

(background: Abbotsford is a bedroom community near Vancouver, in the Fraser
 Valley, an area known as British Columbia's "Bible Belt")

School balancing act defies science

   "Ignorance is strength," the thought police declared in George Orwell's
political satire "1984", and if there was any truth in such oxymoronic 
double-think, Abbotsford's schools would be turning out a mighty generation
of deep thinkers.
   The Abbotsford school board, guided by an evangelical Christian philosophy,
requires teachers to "balance" the theory of evolution by also teaching 
creationism, using materials from fundamentalist sources. Many teachers, 
Vancouver Sun reporter Douglas Todd has found, avoid teaching creationism
by not teaching evolution either.
   So the schools produce students who have been taught nothing about the
origins of life. They have not been told that most scientists - and most 
Christian churches - accept that evolution provides the best explanation
available to fit the known facts and that the theory changes as more facts
come to light.
   Nor have they been told that some Christians believe God literally 
created the universe in seven days; that many Christian churches accept the Bible's 
creation story as metaphoric truth, reflecting the state of science at the
time it was written; and that all the world's religions have their own
creation myths, full of startling and delightful parallels, contraditions
and insights.
   Board chair John Sutherland says schools should teach ideas that reflect 
their communities, and Abbotsford has a large evangelical Christian population.
The board will review the way its policy is implemented, but it won't change
the policy itself.
   It must be disheartening to be a member of a minority group in a 
community that won't tolerate anything outside the orthodox of the majority. But 
publicly funded schools should not be contributing to such an atmosphere.
The Abbotsford board should scrap its policy. Evolution should be taught as
a part of mainstream science. If the board wants creationism taught, it 
should provide courses in comparative religion. Parents who want more religious
content for their children can teach them at home, or send them to church
or enrol them in private schools.
   If the board won't change, the education ministry should force it to. If
the ministry won't act, teachers and parents should seek help from the courts,
or human rights agencies. No religious group should have the right to dictate
what is taught in our public schools.

***************************************************************************

Some more background about the Fraser Valley:

A few months ago in Surrey, another Fraser Valley community, a "back-to-
basics" public school was opened. One of the first acts of its council of parents
(led by a well-known local fundie) was to turf several books out of the 
school library, on the basis that they were blasphemous, or mentioned witches, or 
promoted "other religions" such as native spirituality. These were books 
that are found in all BC school libraries as a matter of course.

More recently the Fraser Valley public library board banned the distribution 
of all free community newspapers in libraries, including Christian ones, 
because one of them, a gay-lesbian paper, was deemed to be inappropriate 
for libraries, and the board knew they couldn't get away with banning just
that one.

***************************************************************************

I have some comments:

First of all, I am not attempting to open a debate on whether creationism
is correct or not. That subject has been pretty much closed for over a 
hundred years, despite the vigourous attempts of a few fundamentalist so-called 
"scientists" to prove it as literal truth. They have failed miserably, 
and anyone with half a brain and an unclogged mind knows it. Besides, there
are newsgroups where this debate already rages on, apparently to continue as
long as there are fundies around who can type.

Second, I was very surprised to learn that this was going on at all,
even in Abbotsford. I guess I assumed that it is no longer allowed to teach
known lies to children in public schools.

The school board chair says "schools should teach ideas that reflect
their communities". While I have no doubt that many in that particular
community believe in literal creationism, do they all? How strongly should
a community believe something that is clearly untrue before those untruths
should become part of the public school curriculum. It seems to me that,
at a minimum, a VAST majority, if not every last person, should believe in 
that untruth before teaching it in public schools. Even then I would 
probably still argue against it.

There are probably communities in BC where many residents
believe one or more of the following:
 - that white-skinned people are superior, in various ways, to dark-
skinned people
 - that homosexuality is morally very, very wrong if not evil
 - that Japanese cars suck

I could think of plenty more, but why bother? Should any of these be taught 
in their local public schools?


***************************************************************************

Maybe someone can help answer these questions:

Are they publicly praying in Abbotsford or any other public BC schools?

Does the BC education ministry have a clear policy on school prayer or
teaching creationism? How about the BC Teachers' Federation?

Have the Canadian courts ever made a decision on this topic?



Sometimes I wonder about Canada, what with creationism and book-banning
in schools, bbs/internet operators being shut down for material you can 
buy at the corner store, drastic court-ordered media bans ...
I can't wait till the CRTC starts regulating the Internet (for our own 
good, of course) ...



--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James

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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creationism in Canada                                                                               
Date: 03/22/95

In article <67322-795836947@mindlink.bc.ca>, Terry Morrissey wrote:

> RE; Creationism in Abbotsford schools:
> On Evolution...We must ALWAYS REMEMBER that evolution is STILL just a
> theory.

Yes it is, along with other theories such as Newton's laws of motion, 
Einstein's theory of relativity, and many many others which can be shown to 
be the most accurate descriptions of the workings of the universe currently 
available.


> And one man's theory is as valid as the next.

Um, no, sorry, not really. A theory's value is determined by the supporting 
evidence, not by the fact that at least one man, or even many men, believe 
it. 


> I personally see nothing wrong with teaching evolution because it is a
> widely held thought and you are right, it would be as sticking one's head
> in the sand to pretend it doesn't exist (the premise that is).

Well that's good, because not only is evolution generally a widely held 
thought in the population at large, it is accepted by virtually the entire 
scientific community.  And with the possible exceptions of fundie backwaters 
like Abbotsford, not a lot of the Christian community accepts creationism as 
fact either.

Teaching that creationism is a widely held belief is one thing; however it 
should be taught in Sociology/Psychology/Social Studies/Comparative 
Religion, not in a science class, and definitely NOT as if it were valid 
science.


>Much archaeology has been discovered that irrefutably agrees with the bible
>and with each dig more evidence comes to light.

Well, agreeing with the possibility of the existance of certain towns or 
cultures or even individuals mentioned in the bible is one thing, however 
there isn't much archeological evidence to support genesis chapter one or 
other world shaking events such as the flood.


>So all in all why not teach
>creationism along with Evolution. But being HONEST enough to call evolution
>what it is and that is, evolution is only a theory with Next to zero
>evidence that would link it to fact.

It would be honest to call evolution a theory. It would be honest to call 
creationism a theory.  It would be extremely dishonest to call evolution a 
theory with next to 0 supporting evidence, and it would be dishonest to call 
creationism a theory with anything like the supporting evidence that 
evolution has.  I'm afraid there are an awful lot of scientists and 
otherwise informed individuals who would disagree with the proposition that 
there is next to zero evidence for evolution.

While there is enough evidence FOR evolution to make it the most accurate 
theory available at the current time, there is enough evidence AGAINST 
creationism to blow it out of the water. This is an important distinction.


>Now I won't enter into a long drawn out dialogue on evolution VS
>creationism as that would be fruitless. Once someone is convinced beyond a
>shadow of a doubt (whether they be right or wrong) that their stand is the
>right one then carrying on an argument generally does not change the mind
>of one or the other.

How true. I could quote reams and reams of evidence which supports the 
evolution model and/or disproves the creationist theory, but I know it would 
do no good.


>God Bless,

Have a nice day,


> "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your
> right to say it."

Me too.


--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James

********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creationism in Canada                                                                               
Date: 03/28/95

If you want to know what real live scientists (who spend their careers 
researching this stuff) think, point your browser at
    http://rumba.ics.uci.edu:8080/
then select "Navigate the FAQ Archive", then click on "Must Read FAQs". 
There is a smorgasbord of scientific thought here, along with scholarly 
refutations of creationism, and we can all save ourselves some effort in 
what is often a war of the meaning of words.

It is clear that the scientific community is of one mind concerning 
creationism (that it's bunk), is convinced that evolution is an observed 
fact (although they quibble about the details), and are still speculating 
on the actual origin of the first life ("abiogenesis", life from non-live 
matter, which could still have been created by god, no clear evidence to 
rule that out, but it sure happened long before the creationists say).

How can virtually the entire scientific community be wrong on this? The 
only possible explanation (which some believe) is that God planted the 
scientific evidence the way we now find it, for His own inscrutable 
purposes. 

Sorry, but that sort of explanation is simply not science. (Why would God 
mislead us like that? Test of faith?)

Frankly, the evolution/creationism debate has been settled as far as science 
is concerned. I'm not particularly interested in debating it myself, and for 
anyone who still wants to extol the merits of creationism, I'd suggest you 
take it up with the scientists (and others) on talk.origins and watch your 
"theories" go down in flames.



--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James

********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creationism in Canada                                                                               
Date: 03/28/95

Well, I wasn't trying to start a debate on the validity of evolution vs 
creationism. The reason being that creationism just isn't supportable
as a scientific theory/hypothesis/whatever. Now before I get jumped on 
for having a closed mind (how very unscientific that would be) let me 
say that I am familiar with the concepts of both creationism and evolution, 
and have read the arguments put forward by both sides, on this forum and
others. Sorry, but creationism just doesn't cut it. You haven't convinced
me, and you haven't convinced any real live scientists either.

My big concern was not that creationism is correct or not, because it isn't,
but that creationism is apparently being taught in public schools in 
Abbotsford, even as we sit here typing.

I am still not clear on what "kind" of creationism is being taught in the 
public schools in Abbotsford. There is more than one.

It's possible that some, or a lot, of Christians these days think of 
creationism as "of course God created everything, but it wasn't necessarily 
as the bible literally and temporically describes it, the bible can be 
pretty metaphorical at times, sure evolution is possible in the 
millions/billions of years since God created it all".

The Vancouver Sun editorial which I quoted from originally said that the 
Abbotsford creationist curriculum was taken from Christian fundamentalist 
sources. The most prominent of the few creationist research groups is the 
Creation Research Institute. It requires its members to adhere to the 
following statement of belief:

        Statement of Belief:  Members of the Creation Research
        Society, which include research scientists representing
        various fields of successful scientific accomplishment,
        are committed to full belief in the Biblical record of
        creation and early history, and thus to a concept of
        dynamic special creation (as opposed to evolution), both
        of the universe and the earth with its complexity of
        living forms.
           We propose to re-evaluate science from this viewpoint,
        and since 1964 have published a quarterly of research
        articles in this field.  In 1970 the Society published a
        textbook, _Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity_,
        through Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan
        49506.  Subsequently a Teachers' Guide and both Teachers'
        and Students' Laboratory Manuals have been published by
        Zondervan Publishing House.  All members of the Society
        subscribe to the following statement of belief:
           1. The Bible is the written Word of God, and because it
        is inspired throughout, all its assertions are historically
        and scientifically true in all the original autographs.  To
        the student of nature this means that the account of origins
        in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical
        truths.
           2. All basic types of living things, including man, were
        made by direct creative acts of God during the Creation Week
        described in Genesis.  Whatever biological changes have
        occurred since Creation Week have accomplished only changes
        within the original created kinds.
           3. The great Flood described in Genesis, commonly referred
        to as the Noachian Flood, was an historic event worldwide in
        its extent and effect.
           4. We are an organization of Christian men of science who
        accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.  The account of
        the special creation of Adam and Eve as one man and woman and
        their subsequent fall into sin is the basis for our belief in
        the necessity of a Saviour for all mankind.  Therefore, salv-
        ation can only come through accepting Jesus Christ as our
        Saviour.

Read it yourself at http://rumba.ics.uci.edu:8080/faqs/crs-creed. 

No new-age metaphorical Christianity here. This says: Genesis Chapter 1, 
read it and weep. That's it. End of story. Incidentally this is the 
ONLY so-called scientific research organization that requires such a 
"satement of belief" of its members. Now why is that?

To those of you who have been defending creationism: do you think Genesis
Chapter 1 is literally true, and if so, should it be taught in science class
as if it were established scientific fact?

I have put a few hot-links on this topic into my homepage, check it out...



--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James

********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creationism in Canada                                                                               
Date: 03/28/95

Re my initial concern, which was that creationism is being taught in public
schools as if it were fact.

I was advised via email that there is in fact an education ministry policy 
on teaching creationism, and that it could be found at:
    gopher://gopher.etc.bc.ca/11/cln/can/gov/government

Well, there's lots of government stuff there, so I poked around in the 
gopher menus for a while but couldn't find any official policy on anything. 
Lots of beureaucratese for those willing and able to plow through it. There 
is a vague description of curriculum at:
    gopher://gopher.etc.bc.ca:70/00/cln/can/gov/government/...
        moe/communicate/moe/gradprog/pt3/prov
which I quote from here:

  "Science:
   Students are taught to develop scientific literacy and 
   develop scientific attitudes and understandings about the 
   world. Students meet the science requirement by taking 
   theoretical or applied science courses, such as chemistry or 
   biology, and technology or computer studies."

The way I read this is that since there are no reputable scientists backing 
creationism, and that the scientific community is virtually 100% dead 
against it, then there is no reason to teach creationism in science class.
Well Duh.  

(Completely separate issue: I wonder how much we pay the 
 bureaucrats to come up with this stuff...)



--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James

********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Teaching Creationism in Schools                                                                     
Date: 03/31/95

Re: What Science Says About Creationism and Evolution

If you want to know what real live scientists (who spend their careers 
researching this stuff) think, point your browser at
    http://rumba.ics.uci.edu:8080/
then select "Navigate the FAQ Archive", then click on "Must Read FAQs". 
There is a smorgasbord of scientific thought here, along with scholarly 
refutations of creationism, and we can all save ourselves some effort in 
what is often a war of the meaning of words.

It is clear that the scientific community is of one mind concerning 
creationism (that it's bunk), is convinced that evolution is an observed 
fact (although they quibble about the details), and are still speculating 
on the actual origin of the first life ("abiogenesis", life from non-live 
matter, which could still have been created by god, no clear evidence to 
rule that out, but it sure happened long before the creationists say).

How can virtually the entire scientific community be wrong on this? The 
only possible explanation (which some believe) is that God planted the 
scientific evidence the way we now find it, for His own inscrutable 
purposes. Sorry, but that sort of explanation is simply not science. (Why 
would God mislead us like that? Test of faith?)

Frankly, the evolution/creationism debate has been settled as far as science 
is concerned. I'm not particularly interested in debating it myself, and for 
anyone who still wants to extol the merits of creationism, I'd suggest you 
take it up with the scientists (and others) on talk.origins and watch your 
"theories" go down in flames.

I have put a few hot-links on this topic into my homepage, check it out...



--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James

********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Teaching Creationism in Schools                                                                     
Date: 04/01/95

In article <3lirei$65u@freenet.vancouver.bc.ca>, Keith Richmond wrote:
> With regard to creationism, Ed Seedhouse (yyj00174@cyberstore.ca) wrote:
> 
> : Even that may be so, but what it can't be taught as is science, 
> : because it isn't.
> 
> True. Neither is evolution.


Kieth, do yourself a favour and point your browser at
    http://rumba.ics.uci.edu:8080/
and poke around a bit.

What you are saying shows that you are currently ignorant on this topic, and 
quite possibly on what science is in general.

You may have religious reasons to deny evolution in favour of creationism, 
but saying evolution isn't science just won't cut it, because real live 
scientists all agree that it is.



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Teaching Creationism in Schools                                                                     
Date: 04/01/95

In article <3lijpa$abo@fun.Direct.CA>, Dixon Zalit wrote:

> Randall, you display such zeal in your crusade against teaching
> creationism in schools that I wonder if part of your motivation is 
> ideological.

Actually, I'm one of the least ideological people I know. My only ideology 
is that I don't have a religion at all, and I don't want the government 
supporting a particular one. Historically that has been bad news for those 
with other faiths, and those, like myself, with none at all.

Although I guess I should feel complemented by your use of the word "zeal". 
As you have realized, it is a subject that I feel strongly about.

What I object to is public funds being used to teach children in public 
schools the myths of one particular religion AS IF IT WERE SCIENCE. That's 
it. Comparative religion, fine. Of course, then kids would also get to hear 
about the Hindu creation myths too, with the world sitting on the back of an 
elephant standing on top of an infinite stack of turtles, or whatever...

Would you have a problem with other religions' creation myths receiving 
equal time?



> Your fundamentalism against mine?

I expect yours would win hands down. I have nothing but facts & science on 
my side. You have God, denial & unreason, the hallmarks of fundamentalism.



> You've directed your 
> attacks at the most narrow minded and fundamentalist creationists 
> that you could find, presumably because they're easy targets.

What I am attacking is so-called "Scientific Creationism". Presumably you 
have read my previous posts, which indicated that fundamentalist sources are 
being use by the Abbotsford school board for teaching material.

And yes, they are easy targets.



> For a 
> realistic discussion of how creationism could be taught, you would 
> have to look a little wider and consider that creationism can be taught
> without teaching biblical dogma.

Apparently, that is not what is happening. And how could creationism be 
taught without biblical dogma anyway? Without the bible, who would have 
dreamed it up in the first place?

Or are you one of those Christians who doesn't believe the bible is 
literally true? The "Scientific Creationists" sure do.


--
randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James