The world of Christian homeschooling is undergoing a shift.
More and more, parents are seeking material that will “teach the controversy” on evolution. Although we tend to see that as a method to discredit evolution when used in public schools, you might think this is actually a step up in the world of Creationism-or-bust homeschooling textbooks — they’re finally teaching evolution, too — but there’s a little more to the story than that:
Christian homeschool science textbooks have long taught young earth creationism (YEC) almost exclusively. But observers say a growing number of parents want texts that also teach evolution.
“The YEC position is strong and ingrained in the homeschool movement,” said Sonlight president Sarita Holzmann, who homeschools her children and believes in a young earth. “That might be to our detriment.” She says students need to be able to evaluate different positions.
In the airtight world of religiously-motivated homeschooling dominated by evangelical Christians, being open-minded and exposing their children to different viewpoints means allowing them to know that other ideas exist besides Creationism:
Some publishers are quick to note that they already explain alternatives to Creationism:
BJU Press, one of the largest providers of Christian homeschooling resources, said demand for its YEC curriculum remains strong—and it already includes other viewpoints. “We don’t hedge on [YEC] at all,” said Brad Batdorf, who supervises authors of 7th to 12th grade curriculum. “We talk about other views… [and] even go so far as to give some scriptures they use. But then we present what we feel is the strongest, most supportable position.”
So here we get to the bottom of this apparent new openness to actual science: It’s not to give kids the chance to evaluate both positions fairly, it’s opposition research:
“It’s important for Christian young people to know what they’re going to be exposed to in college and universities,” said Batdorf. “They’ll need to defend their faith and give an answer.”
They don’t want kids to learn about evolution in order to give them an alternative to their religious mythology. They are simply afraid of what will happen when their children, utterly cocooned in the echo-chamber of the evangelical community their entire lives, suddenly confront actual science. They want these kids to have snappy talking points that will hopefully prevent any further questioning that could lead them to stray from their fundamentalist beliefs. They’re not learning about evolution because there might be some truth to it; they’re learning about evolution so they can pretend to find problems with it that simply aren’t there.
You have to feel sorry for these children. They are purposefully being denied a chance at a quality science education. What will happen when they take their first university level biology class? When they offer their professor the feeble Creationist talking points in response to over 150 years of developing science?
Worse still, many will never bother. Why concern yourself with biology, when you already know that “God did it” and that those scientists are all atheists who “hate God” anyway? These are children robbed of an education, and a whole society robbed of the potential contributions of bright minds, dimmed by the cloud of superstition.