Homeschooling and evolution

April 27, 2009 • 10:00 am

One of the best things about having written WEIT is that I hear from various people with whom I’d normally not have any contact.  I’m not referring to creationists, but to thoughtful people who write with their concerns about evolution.  One of them emailed me about her difficulties teaching evolution to a homeschooled child:

Dear Dr. Coyne,

I am writing in light of your recent book, “Why Evolution is True” which my daughter and I are preparing to read. I have homeschooled my very science oriented daughter, who is now xxxx, since she was very young because the schools could not deal with or understand her dual exceptionality of profound giftedness and dyslexia.  The greatest challenges we have faced in homeschooling is that all of the truly parent friendly materials for teaching science for homeschoolers take a Creationist stance. I thought you should be made aware of a growing problem in homeschooling, if you are not already.

There is a serious problem in homeschooling right now in that most homeschooling families find themselves using the Apologia series for teaching science because it is so parent friendly. However, this series was written with one purpose in mind and that was to debunk evolution in favor of Intelligent Design.  While our family is religious, we are not Creationists and I have serious problems with the Apologia series. I find it dangerous because so many homeschoolers are using it. The author and owner of the company, Jay Wile, is so convincing he is turning many homeschooling families away from the real science of evolutionary biology to the pseudo science of Creationism even if they started out as evolutionists.  These parents are turning to Apologia in good faith because there is nothing else out there that is parent friendly. We even used it ourselves at one point, but supplemented it with evolution videos and materials, but I refuse to contribute money to the company. Sadly, I have seen people that I know are intelligent and well educated fall victim to Dr. Wile’s very convincing arguments. I almost did myself, but was saved by more extensive research and my daughter’s level head.

I have written to various publishers of good scientific textbooks, urging them to come up with a homeschooling package that would be as parent friendly as the Apologia series. No one to whom I have spoken seems to think there is a viable market. This saddens me because Apologia continues to grow in popularity just as homeschooling continues to grow in popularity.

We have found various solutions because my daughter has had the opportunity to audit college classes and to work with mentors in science.  However, most homeschooling families do not have that option.

I intend to promote your book within our local homeschooling circle, once we have finished reading it. However,  I was wondering if you had any other ideas about how my daughter and I can fight what we see as a major problem within the homeschooling community. This seems to me to be a cause that might interest you.

I have looked over the Apologia website, and I am absolutely appalled.  First of all, the organization’s formal name is  “Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.”, with the motto “Live, Learn, and Defend the Faith.”  Of course that sets off alarm bells.  The alarms get louder when you look at what they offer.

First, check out the store, with its suggested science curriculum.  Here are the “supplementary readings” for “science oriented students”. Note that they are all about either evolution or Christianity:

These OPTIONAL supplemental readings for science-oriented students do not replace the main courses listed. They merely give your student additional science material to learn if your student is interested. Here are some suggestions:
Supplement I

  • Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!, Dr. Duane T. Gish, Master Books paperback ISBN 0890511128
  • Reasonable Faith: The Scientific Case for Christianity, Dr. Jay L. Wile, Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc., Paperback ISBN 0965629406

Supplement II

  • What is Creation Science, Dr. Henry M. Morris and Dr. Gary E. Parker, Master Books, Paperback ISBN 0890510814

Supplement III

  • Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, Michael Denton, Adler & Adler, Paperback ISBN 091756152X
  • Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe, Touchstone Books, Hardcover ISBN 0684827549, Paperback ISBN 0684834936
  • Environmental Overkill: Whatever Happened to Common Sense? Dixy Lee Ray, Regnery Gateway, Hardcover ISBN 0895265125, Paperback ISBN 0060975
  • The table of contents of the “Evolution Module” tells you that the kids are not in for good instruction in evolutionary biology:

    MODULE #9: Evolution: Part Scientific Theory, Part Unconfirmed Hypothesis …. 261
    Introduction …………………………………….261
    Charles Darwin……………………………………262
    Darwin’s Theory ………………………….264
    Microevolution and Macroevolution……………………………..267
    Inconclusive Evidence: The Geological Column……………………………………270
    The Details of the Fossil Record: Evidence Against Macroevolution……..273
    The Cambrian Explosion………………………………….280
    Structural Homology: Formerly Evidence for Macroevolution, Now Evidence against It..282
    Molecular Biology: The Nail in Macroevolution’s Coffin……..285
    Macroevolution Today …………………………………….289
    Why Do So Many Scientists Believe in Macroevolution?……..293

    This could easily have been taken straight out of Jon Well’s attacks on evolution.  Finally, if you look at some sample pages of their book, you see them reverting to the insane pastime of baraminology, in which creationists desperately (and fruitlessly) try to figure out which animals and plants correpond to the created “kinds” of Genesis.  At least they recognize that this “field” is going nowhere:

    As you will learn when we study the hypothesis of evolution in depth, there is precious little evidence for such an idea and quite a bit of evidence against it. As a result, it does not make sense to us to base a classification system on such a tenuous hypothesis. Instead, it makes more sense to base our classification system on the observable similarities among organisms. This is the essence of what Carrolus Linnaeus developed in the 1700s, and it has served biology well since that time. Since we have touched on a classification system that has been inspired by the hypothesis of evolution, we should at least mention a classification system that has been proposed by those who believe that the earth and the life on it were specially created out of nothing by God. This classification system, usually called baraminology (bear’ uh min ol’ uh jee), attempts to determine the kinds of creatures that God specifically created on earth. Indeed, the word “baraminology” comes from two Hebrew words used in Genesis: bara, which means “create,” and min, which means “kind.” Thus, baraminology is the study of created kinds.

    Those who work with baraminology think that God created specific kinds of creatures and that He created them with the ability to adapt to their changing environment. As time went on, then, these created kinds did change within strict limits that we will discuss later on in the course. This led to a greater diversity of life on the planet than what existed right after creation. As a result, baraminologists think that all organisms we see on the planet today came from one of the many kinds of creatures that God created during the creation period discussed in the first chapter of Genesis. Baraminologists, then, try to define groupings called “baramins.” Any organisms that exist within a baramin came from the same originally-created organism. For example, some baraminologists place domesticated dogs, wild dogs, and wolves into the same baramin because they believe that God created a basic kind of creature called a “dog,” and the various forms of dogs and wolves that we see today are simply the result of that basic kind of creature adapting to a changing environment. Although we think that there is a lot of evidence in favor of this new classification scheme, we still do not think that it should be used in this course. It is still relatively new and not fully developed. We doubt that it will be fully developed for many, many years to come. As a result, we think that the five-kingdom system still provides the best overall means by which to classify the organisms of God’s creation, and we will limit ourselves to that system. Nevertheless, we will mention the other systems (the three-domain system and baraminology) from time to time, so it is important that you understand the basics of each.

    It is ineffably sad that children, eager to learn, are having this nonsense stuffed down their throats, and that there seem to be few viable alternatives if you want to homeschool your child.  I’ve given my correspondent some hints about what materials might be useful, but if any of you know of other ways to do this, or have experience homeschooling your children in genuine evolutionary biology, let me know.

    56 thoughts on “Homeschooling and evolution

    1. Also, just a thought: scientists and people with an interest in the field are generally really into online collaboration. So since there isn’t interest from actual publishers, what do you say about we set up a collaborative wiki targeted at “parent-friendly” science education? There are youtubers putting up entire series of really engaging videos of scientific knowledge, I think we have people for that.

    2. I thought that most states in the US require either state approval or local school approval of curriculum. How does this obvious horseshit get past that? Is it only a few places who require real subjects?

      1. They don’t, that’s a minority of states. Most places don’t approve curricula, just achievement tests to check the child’s progress.

    3. At least Apologia is honest about it. The name of their science book series is “Exploring Creation”.

    4. I went through the same problems last year when circumstances forced me to homeschool my (then) sixth grader. I had to make up my own curriculum centered mainly on Kingfisher’s Science Encyclopedia, with extensive supplementation from various websites. The author of the letter is correct. There is really nothing out there for parents who wish to teach real science.

      One publisher who is trying to correct this is Pandia Press, who are publishing R.E.A.L. Science. Their website can be found here: Unfortunately, because they are still in the midst of producing their curriculum, not all grades are covered.

      Because I was working with an older child, I was able to use the Astronomy Self Teaching Guide for that portion of our science studies.

      I am fortunate this year. Because we are overseas, the DoD schools allow us to pick and choose classes as we wish, so I’m having them teach him science this year, while I focus on Language Arts, History, and Critical Thinking.

    5. The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably untrue – H.L. Mencken

      Until, of course, you find a way to pawn your folly off on someone else in return for a profit. Are sales figures available anywhere for any of the above supplemental titles?

    6. I was homeschooled K-12 (really 11 because I graduated early), and we used Apologia. Now I’m a college graduate, and atheist, and an evolutionist, and I plan on ordering your book but I don’t know if I can afford it. Stupid economy. Anyway, I count being homeschooled as a very positive experience, but I regret that I wasn’t taught better about biology and some other things. My parents saw evolution as incompatible with religion; I agree, and when I decided the evidence did not support a 6-day creation, I stopped believing in God. In a way, I’m still honoring my upbringing, but probably not the way they envisioned.

      Apologia is well-written but ridiculous. In the physical science book, it has an explanation of why CFCs shouldn’t have been banned, global warming isn’t happening (the earth is getting warmer but it doesn’t count!), environmentalism is bad, and the Big Bang and age of the universe is just somebody’s opinion, dude. I know enough about physics and astronomy to take a different view, but I really don’t know anything about biology.

      Apparently I’m extremely intelligent, or that’s what the tests say, but I never had a real interest in biology. Now I’m trying to unteach myself what I learned …

      1. Same here: homeschooled K-12 and now an atheist. I also was taught that evolution and Christianity are logically incompatible (and continue believing that to this day) and ended up rejecting God when I discovered that the evidence for evolution was simply overwhelming.

        Apologia IS ridiculous. I wasn’t taught bio with it (A Beka instead), but I saw it at some friends’ house and leafed through their bio textbook. The part about comparing DNA sequences and how since bacteria is equally (dis)similar to yeast, fish, reptiles, monkeys, and us didn’t accord with evolution’s Great Chain of Being (wait…) somehow disproved evolution was just… stupid. The patterns of evolutionary descent were so obvious I was just like, “You’re not doing it wrong!!”

        But anyway, when I finally did accept evolution I realized the depths of my ignorance. I was horrified that I knew literally nothing about the time scales, etc. involved with evolution. I promptly educated myself. Though I must admit it was refreshing finding myself completely unenlightened about something so simple (but also complex) as the history of our planet so that I could learn about it.

        1. In my opinion, Christianity has nothing to do with evolution or creationism. The core of Christianity has to do with Jesus’ teachings…(not Paul’s!). There are plenty of Christians who believe in an old earth and evolution. I’m one of them. We’re using Apologia for homeschool science, but we view it with an intensely critical eye. Anything that strikes me as questionable, I do some research. I think that becomming aware of the different viewpoints of science is highly enlightening in itself, but sometimes can become overwhelming in that I’ve spent several days trying to wrap my head around certain views of creationism and then get exasperated! Then I berate myself for “wasting” time on the research. Alas, there is no Holy Grail of homeschool science curriculum that doesn’t smack of fundamental Christianity.

          1. Aplogia is completely wrong about evolution; I would not use it for that AT ALL. Are you sure you know everything that is “questionable” science?

            I reviewed the evolution section and it’s wrong, deceptive, and full of lies. Don’t use it if you have an interest in teaching your kids the truth.

            1. You know, the more I read about the stuff in the Apologia books, the more I realize that I DON’T know what’s questionable! I’ve read about carbon dating in the Physical Science book, and it seemed convincing, but I thought to myself, “If this were so obvious, why do they continue to use carbon dating…something is missing!”

              My son is visually impaired, so he does better if I read to him, or the book is an audio book. Apologia has each book on MP3, Full Course on CD ROM, DVD courses, you name it, they’ve covered it all. They have supplemental CD’s that give the students video’s on each module. They can really hook you in. I’m not hooked, but I am struggling with finding rational, accessible science curriculum!

      2. Rebecca, I too was home-schooled from K-12 and used Apologia during high school. After high school, I majored in math, physics, and geology (in secular colleges/universities) and I am nearly finished with a second bachelor’s degree. Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Chemistry” was good preparation for my coursework in science at the college level. I was and am now still a Christian theist and a young-earth creationist.

        You say that the Apologia books state that “the Big Bang and age of the universe is just somebody’s opinion.” I am curious as to which of the Apologia’s books say this. On what page specifically can this statement be found?

    7. I can’t help but think that especially in the current social climate of the US there should be some pro science organization producing home schooling science criteria for free.

    8. If you are interested “Why Evolution Is True,” you may also be interested in reading “Dominance & Delusion” written by M.A. Curtis. For me I was never a big believer in evolution, and I didn’t like some of the arguments offered in this book, but after thinking about it for a while, it changed my mind.

    9. I don’t understand what she means by “parent friendly”. She uses the term three times, but does not explain it.

      Is there anything that prevents her from using ordinary textbooks? Failing that, there are plenty of popular science works that are appropriate for different ages. I remember learning about horse evolution from a picture book when I was five or so.

      The public library is usually a good resource, and perhaps even the public schools would be willing to provide materials. (The main reason most homeschooler parents wouldn’t even try to use these resources is their religious objection to the content, which is apparently not the issue here.)

      1. Hi! I’m the mom who wrote the letter.

        For the person who asked about my daughter’s age, she is now 15, a high school Junior, and planning to take classes at the local community college in the Fall. She has audited university classes and worked with a variety of mentors in arachnology and marine invertebrate zoology. Dr. Coyne was simply being respectful and trying as much as possible to protect our anonymity. But, I am far more worried about spreading the word about this serious problem in homeschooling than I am about remaining anonymous.

        Having a masters degree in Education, I do not have a problem using regular text books. (We used Campbells for Biology, supplemented by Berkley’s open courses) Unfortunately, most parents do not have the science background to use a traditional textbook. Our family has had wonderful resources, including college professors who have mentored my daughter since she was about six years old.

        By “parent friendly” I meant that Apologia is (1) easy to understand, (2) has everything you need to teach the course including easy to read texts, CD-roms, teaching notes and answers, and telephone and online support. Any parent with no science knowledge can pick up the materials and teach the course and just about any high school student with reasonable intelligence can teach themselves. It’s very ease of use is what makes it so dangerous.

        My guess is that if a company, like Prentice Hall for example (because I tend to like their stuff) created the kinds of supplemental materials to go with their text that is offered by Apologia it would give homeschooling families a viable alternative to Apologia. I think that whatever company decided to do this would have a valuable product once word got around that there was a real alternative for families without science backgrounds.

        1. I like Prentice Hall too! I have almost all of their Timeless Literature student texts and Teacher’s Editions.

          I’m sure there would be a way for a group to write to this company and petition them to create homeschooling material for science. I’m also sure it would take a long time for them to agree and actually come up with material! However, I’m certain that most publishers aren’t aware of the problem because most evolutionists aren’t as vocal or visual as the creationists, since creationists also have a commitment to “spread the word”. I guess this is the reason why there is so much creationist homeschool material out there and not much evolutionist, or “old-earth” homeschool material.

          We just need accessible texts, including teacher’s texts, study guides, and other supplemental material. They already have the material, but the prices are exorbitant IF you can find all of those materials and IF you don’t have to be a registered school.

    10. I completely agree with this mother’s sentiments. I was also homeschooled K-12 and used Apologia. Thanks to Apologia I knew absolutely nothing about evolution until I got to college. Up until college I had pretty much been indoctrinated with Apologia’s whole “Evolution is stupid and untrue, but Creationism is fact!”

      But biology has always fascinated me and being taught that evolution was stupid wasn’t going to stop me from studying it. Once I got to college I found that, contrary to my education, evolution is an incredible theory (fact) with mountains of evidence and research backing it. It didn’t take much thought for me to realize that Apologia was wrong.

      Unlike many homeschoolers, I was not taken out of school for religious reasons, but much of my school ended up being Christian curriculum just because that is all that’s available for homeschoolers.

      There are college textbooks available, but most of them are far too advanced for a ninth grade biology course. The appeal of homeschool curriculum over college textbooks is that they are full programs designed for parents with little to no expertise in the field. Unfortunately, most of them (at least the science ones), teach poor versions of their science.

      So I whole-heartedly express this mother’s sentiment too. I loved homeschooling. It was a wonderful experience that helped me love learning, but it is sorely lacking in the science area.

      (Also, as to the comment about why not ask the public schools for curriculum or materials…. homeschoolers and public schools generally have a decidedly unfriendly relationship. Some might be willing to help, but many would not.)

      1. This is great! Thanks! It’s not a complete curriculum but certainly may help some homeschooling families I know!

        1. Great. Glad you find it useful. I just came across this other company that may or may not be useful to you. Have you investigated Simbiotic Software? I cannot vouch for their product, but they do seem to have a lot of labs available online. It seems to be geared mainly towards institutions, but if you have a network of home-schooled kids, they may be able to band together to purchase the software. Just a thought.

    11. This is interesting to me being a homeschooling mom of six with a degree in Molecular Biology,ten years research experience and several published papers in the area of genetics and biochemistry in general. I want to ask have you even laid out the entire theory of evolution by its biological event, meaning every detail of the theory of evolution, and simultaneously calculated the probability of it being accurate. It is a bit of a complicated process but it does become increasingly evident that accepting it as fact also requires much faith.

      I teach my children the Theory of Evolution as a theory because that is what it is in fact, theory. I find it very poor science to teach theory as fact. It saddens me that colleges and public school do this daily with no conscience. Science to me is about thinking and testing what looks good or even obvious unbiased with good science designed to find truth one way or the other. I agree Creation would be a hard one to prove scientifically as well but statistically it actually requires no more faith.

      If you have calculated the statistical probability of evolution being fact of know of that work in its entirety I would be very interested in seeing that work. I would love to go over it with my children alongside what we use for science.

      I mean no disrespect in this post just thinking that science looks at both sides without bias. I am sure that is what you are after as a scientist as well.

    12. Not much extra to add except that I agree 100% with the issue. Secular homeschoolers would LOVE to find a secular, comprehensive, but parent friendly version of a high school science program. My kids are only little yet, but I’m not looking forward to having to pull together a good biology program that contains natural selection in a few years time. Hopefully the scientific publishing world will see the gap and fill it before we get there!

      I think part of the problem is that the science community has blinders on when it comes to homeschoolers. We get mentally lumped together as extremely religious, young earthers and little thought is given to how diverse we really all. Sure, there are those who fit that label, but there are many secular homeschoolers (those who may or may not be personally religious, but do not homeschool for religious reasons and do not want their teaching materials to contain religion) and even a few atheist homeschoolers (not religious at all)

      P.S. “Parent-friendly” means not only that that a non-scientist could teach it, but that it’s complete out of the box and contains all materials (print and DVD), experimental materials if necessary or only requires materials that can easily be found in the home. Baring that (a complete curric in a box), we’d even be happy as a starting point to find a webpage with a complete list of resources that would cover all the important stuff, even if we had to collect them ourselves.

    13. Coming a little late to the party, but also a secular homeschooling mom desperately looking for science-based high school level biology work. There are a lot of us out here, I belong to a Yahoogroup, evolvedhomeschoolers, and that group’s main purpose is to share good resources for teaching evolution to homeschoolers. Unfortunately, it’s a quiet group, there doesn’t seem to be much material out there.

      I also like the Pandia Press offerings mentioned by another commenter, but as of now they only go up through early grade school – their more recent science offering is Chemistry Level I, which is SUPER but it’s designed for 2nd to 5th graders. They are supposed to be coming out with Life Science for 5th to 8th graders ‘soon’ and while I am eagerly awaiting that, I know people still need something for high school level.

      Joy Hakim, who wrote the wonderful The History of US series, also has done 3 books in a planned 6 book series called The History of Science. The first three books dealt with chemistry & physics, the last three will deal with life sciences. I am awaiting these very eagerly, as I know she will teach science. But as these are a reading course only, we will still need to supplement with labs.

      And really, labs are the reason many homeschool parents turn to things like Apologia. I can go down to my local used bookstore and pick up a copy of the exact same biology text that my local public school uses – but without lab equipment it’s not going to do me much good. I CAN come up with my own ‘home lab’ for many things, but for most homeschool parents, the thought of putting together, on our own, a high school-level lab for biology, chemistry, and physics is intimidating at best! 🙂 So parents look for a program that has all the labs included – hence Apologia is so popular…

    14. Ack! ‘most recent’, not ‘more recent’! Sorry, it’s 6:30AM here, coffee hasn’t kicked in yet…

    15. Good (but somewhat discouraging) discussion. I am a Christian who accepts evolution (someone else’s nice blog: with a couple homeschooled kids. They’re using Apologia astronomy right now which works but when it comes time for biology I believe that subject is basically incoherent without an evolutionary foundation. Count me in as another vote for something that’s as parent-friendly as Apologia but with better science!

    16. out of curiosity, why the horror at someone, christian or not, writing an attack on evolution and a defense of Christianity as a curriculum for home-schooled students? why is it frightening that its popular? i mean, i understand if you disagree, that’s to be expected on any topic, but the other side has the right for argument too. and why get so upset that apologia says evolution is false and creationism is a fact. isnt that what the majority of all arguments and beliefs say? i mean, when you yourselves when you say apologia is indoctrination are essentially saying that creationism is false and evolution is a fact. To the mother who wrote the letter, what arguments did your daughter make that convinced you that apologia was wrong and evolution was true? just curious 🙂

    17. sry, to clarify when i said ‘isnt that the majority of all beliefs and opinions say’ i meant that the majority of all beliefs and opinions assume that they are correct and conflicting opinions are wrong. so, if a person is arguing for creationism, they are naturally going to believe evolution to be false.

    18. I’m totally cool with the concept of evolution. I even have the recent anniversary edition of On The Origin Of Species and will be sharing it with my daughter (she’s five now) someday. That said, I am really REALLY tired of progressive types jumping all over Christian families for, *gasp*, actually wanting to adhere to their beliefs and pass those beliefs on to their children.

      Once upon a time it was the Christians who were “rational” and “progressive” and they rationaled and progressived Native American kids into boarding schools and have completely wrecked indigenous cultures the world over because they didn’t want to see “superstition” and “ignorance” continuing to hold sway.

      What do you know, the indigenous actualy knew a few things about life. (In many cases–where they have not become too much like us–they still do, go figure.) And I predict that someday it will come out that Christians were right about quite a few things as well. If nothing else, the anti-evolution types try to be a bulwark against the worst excesses of those who hold to evolutionary theory, such as social Darwinists and eugenicists. The irony being, of course, that neither of the latter groups seems to genuinely understand what evolutionary theory is about in the first place.

      It’s a big world with lots of people in it and while I love science, can be a big old geek about certain disciplines… I don’t think science has all the answers to human prosperity and happiness. We keep saying it does, then we screw things up worse. Then we try to solve the problems we created with science with… more science. It never seems to occur to anyone to back up a step and evaluate where we went wrong before we go even wronger. The current global warming mess is one result of that. Haven’t we had enough yet?

      So… if this trend among Christians to screw up their children’s science education is one way to turn the tide, then so be it. There are well more than six billion people on this planet and many of us are getting valid science educations. It is no skin off my nose if a few hundred million of us choose to remain ignorant. The ones who are not ignorant will more than make up for them, IF a lack of ignorance about natural selection is really something to be concerned about. So far, I’m not seeing where that knowledge has really done anything to make the world better. Every “improvement” you could cite to me that science and reason and technology have wrought, has been a corrective to other problems s/r/t have *caused*… and not a very good corrective at that. For example, antibiotics have certainly saved lives, but they are also seriously endangering us at this point as a species because of bacterial drug resistance.

      So I say don’t even worry about it. Let them do what they are going to do. In the end I doubt it will matter very much.

      Another couple of angles on this:

      1. I don’t appreciate the notion being perpetuated, not necessarily here but at other progressive/science-minded sites, that only Christian whackjobs homeschool their kids.

      1. Or, another variation, that a homeschool education is necessarily an inferior one. Have you *been* to public school? Do you *remember* your experience? I have, and I do. I’m not even sure where I learned about evolution but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the classroom. Most of my school “career” was spent in the southeastern United States. Say no more, right?

      School DOES often produce an inferior education–this is proven fact. School IS also often used as an agent of state control of the family. This is also proven fact. And it can just as easily be used to control progressive families as conservative ones. Government is like fire, a good servant but a terrible master. We should be very cautious about which role we assign to it. That includes its role in the education of the young.

      And if any progressive needs to be told what “apologia” means, you probably should think twice about homeschooling, at least without a massive amount of self-education beforehand to make up the gaps in YOUR schooling, because you’ve got plenty.

    19. Failure to think critically within the parameters of the discipline studied leads to all sorts of erroneous conclusions. This is just as true of the God denying “Evolutionist” as it is of the Bible- thumping “Creationist”. Lining up on one apparent side of an argument to cast stones of judgment about the other side rarely enlightens anyone except, perhaps, about the folly of such behavior.

      I was trained as an evolutionary biologist, taught HS science, am currenly a homeschooling parent, and am a Evangelical Christian. From my perspective, both Creationism and Evolution, by definition, require substantial affirmations of faith. We were not eye witnesses and can only deduce and infer from what relatively limited evidence we have. Both can account for much of the actual evidence and both have substantial weaknesses. It is important to recognize Biblical Theology and Science are seperate disciplines with different languages, procedures, and methods of verification. Assessing one on the basis of the other does injustice to both.

      I must agree with many of the comments regarding the relative lack of good science curricula for homeschoolers. And I’ve found none that is willing to even-handedly educate the student about differing world-view perspectives about the origins of the cosmos and life (both strengths and weaknesses).

      For those of you who are not Bible believing (and even for those of you who are), I can recommend one curriculum that is not “religious” but is well developed and comprehensive. It is an on-line curriculum K-6 that thoroughly covers all major categories of the sciences and prepares the student well for middle school and subsequent science instruction. It is not, unfortunately, inexpensive. I have used it with my three kids. It is designed for the homeschooling parent using basic household supplies plus science kits that are sent to your home. All teaching materials, assessments, and record keeping is provided. The curriculum is updated in real-time as facts change (i.e., when Pluto was demoted from a planet status.) It is also very interactive. I do find the need to supplement the labs somewhat but I think that is a matter of preference.

      The website is

      1. We were not eye witnesses and can only deduce and infer from what relatively limited evidence we have.

        This is pure nonsense. There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence for evolution over a dozen disciplines.

        There were absolutely no eyewitnesses for Genesis or any other old testament event and no eyewitnesses for any new testament event and nothing was written down until 60 to 200 years after the fictitious Jesus.

        Both can account for much of the actual evidence and both have substantial weaknesses.

        No, again nonsense. Creationism has absolutely zero evidence and 100% weaknesses. Evolution is one of the strongest theories in science, if not the strongest. It has few weaknesses.

        1. Bob, if you mean by Creationism, the teachings of a radical literalism, 6 calendar days and all that stuff, I would agree to say evidence does not support it…and the Bible provides enough evidence in itself without science to refute that teaching. But, if you mean there is not any evidence to support a belief there is a Creator, an Author of incalcuably meticulous design and overwhelming beauty behind the cosmos, one needs only to look and see. We are surrounded by it. But what we “see” is as much the product of our apriori assumptions as it is of the material facts we are looking at. You and I may look at the increasing complexity of life forms in the geologic record and agree there is a “progression”. That is the material evidence. But you are no more able to prove that the progressive complexity is the result of random molecular interactions over vast spans of time than I am of proving a Creator is behind it. It is the “evidential proof” that is missing…we can not repeat the experiment under controlled conditions to demonstrate the process…that is what I mean, we are not witnesses nor can we be. We must infer and deduce.

          While the Bible is not intended primarily as a scientific document, it is primarily a historical and theological one. Any serious student of biblical history can demonstrate, contrary to your sweeping statement “there were absolutely no eyewitnesses…”, that it testifies to numerous historical facts.

          All this aside, my point is, the “two sides” of the debate ought to be more circumspect, humble and respectful of each other.

          1. We are surrounded by it.

            Sorry, but all that is perfectly explained by natural processes and the bible explains absolutely none of it.

            You might as well proclaim that Shakespeare explains it all.

            There is no history in the bible. Most of the stories have been disproved by biblical scholars.

            As far as the bible being a theological one – so what? That just means they are good at mental masturbation and self delusion.

            There is no second side to the debate.

            1. I am not sure which stores in the Bible you are referring to that have been disproven. It is one thing to doubt that something occurred in the past, but it is another thing to actually disprove something occurred in the distant past. Exactly which stories recorded in the Bible have been disproved and who disproved them? How were they disproved? Were these stores disproved by archeology or by other historical documents? It is very difficult to disprove something unless all the facts are known. It is one thing to make idle claims, as anyone can make claims. It is something else to back up those claims with facts. I would appreciate it if some reliable resources were cited. Comparing God and the Bible with Shakespeare leaves something to be desired. Have you ever read the Bible with an open mind? Regarding origins, there are two sides to the debate between evolution and creation. In the book I recently published (2011) called “Evolution or Creation? A Comparison of the Arguments,” I compare the various scientific arguments both for and against each view rather than just providing arguments that supports one particular view. If you have an open mind, I suggest you read my book. I strongly believe that if evolutionists understand the many difficulties of the theory of Evolution (Darwinism) they will re-think what they believe. I believe one problem is that if one is an atheist and rejects evolution, what is there left to believe in?

              1. For instance, the exodus from Egypt. 1. There are no Egyptian records of it. 2. If that many people spent 40 years living in that desert, there would be traces and artifacts and satellite photos would show it now. That is just one example if hundreds of disproofs. Don’t give me that bullshit of reading the bible with an open mind. Professional believing scholars disproved the bible and lost their beliefs.

                1. Thank you for your reply NewEnglandBob. I was sure you would use the “there is no record of Moses ever having been in Egypt” example for your response. I read somewhere that if a particular incident occurred that made a particular king look bad, then the record was removed from the archives. Just because no records exist regarding a person or event does not necessarily indicate that it did not occur. It only means that no record exists for a particular event. I admit that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to prove something occurred without any record of it having occurred. Could you provide some other examples besides the “there is no record of Moses ever being an official in Egypt” or “there is no record of a Hebrew exodus out of Egypt” response? You appear to rely on the “professional believing scholars” but may not have done very much research on your own. I do not know. I know nothing about you other than what you post. Have you read any other authors who believe that archaeology supports the stories recorded in the Bible? There are multiple examples of many of the accounts recorded in the Bible. I do not want to give you any specifics here because you will most likely only reject them without even considering them. Rather than having a heated debate regarding the validity of the Bible, I believe it would be better to exchange research material to read. What type of evidence do you need for proof that something occurred? What type of evidence do you believe should exist to prove an event occurred? If you would like some books to read that defends many of the stories recorded in the Bible, I could recommend some for you to read.

                  If you have not have done a thorough research from all reliable resources, then I would say that your mind is made up even before doing any research and you do not wish to even consider any other view. I would hope that you would calm down with your replies and refrain from using profanity. It does little to help your cause. If you are sure of yourself, you should not need to use such language in your responses. I may not agree with your views but I still respect them. I am interested in what others have to say about the Bible and origins, especially why people believe as they do. I am interested in an exchange of ideas. I am not interested in arguing, is it does not result in anything beneficial.

                2. No, sorry, but I have read extensively and went from a theistic believer to a doubter to a skeptic to now seeing that there is absolutely no evidence of any deity other than books of fantasies written 2000-3500 years ago. There is plenty of stuff that could have been evidence but none of it is there.

                  Jerusalem and the area around it was quite advanced 2000 years ago and they documented just about everything, EXCEPT there is no evidence of Jesus or any of the NT fantasies.

                  So, either you put up some evidence or shut up. I will no longer respond to your apologetics and excuses and worminess until you do, so farewell Albert DeBenedictis, the biblical scholars say you are are noise and no evidence.

                3. Hi NewEnglandBob. Thank you for your reply. It is true that Jerusalem was inhabited and well advanced 2000 years ago. I realize that you do not want to discuss anything about the Bible, but, Biblically, many of the cities in and around Israel were inhabited long before the Exodus from Egypt. As you know, during the time of Abraham (who was not technically a Hebrew) the area around Jerusalem was inhabited by other peoples. Also, when Moses existed, the land of Israel was already inhabited by other peoples. Therefore there is no dispute that Jerusalem was inhabited more than 3500 years ago. Where I disagree with you is your claim there is no historical evidence that the actual person of Jesus mentioned in the New Testament ever existed. I believe that you just do not accept the evidence, even by critics of the Bible. Just because you do not accept the evidence presented, does not mean it does not exist. It only means that you do not accept it as evidence for the events recorded in the Bible. For example, Josephus mentions Jesus in his writings. I am sure you will object and claim that Josephus’ writings were tampered with by Christians. There are others who lived during or near the time that Jesus is claimed to have lived, but I do not remember the names of the historians at the moment. I could get this information for you, but from the tone of your last memo, you are not interested, as your mind is already made up and you specifically stated that you will not respond to any further comments I make.
                  It is commendable that you did research rather than just rely on heresy. You mentioned that you have done extensive research regarding events recorded in the Bible, but did not state what or who your resources were or where you obtained your information from. If you would perhaps share some of your research materials (names of books, documents, web sites, etc.) perhaps I could learn something from them. I do not want to take your word for it, as I do not trust any individual’s comments (nothing personal). I also have to check out any books that I read to determine if the author is anywhere credible or not. I usually read materials from various perspectives and try to determine which is the most reliable or if an author is only trying to prove a point, based on a personal bias. To claim that my views are “all noise and no evidence” implies that you would not accept any evidence that I might offer. If you agree with the scholars you are referring to, you obviously refuse to have any dialog with anyone who believes there is a God.
                  I could say the same about you (that you do not have sufficient evidence to back up your claims), but I believe that any evidence needs to be reviewed, otherwise, how is anyone to make an accurate decision? There is evidence that supports the Bible, it is just that you refuse to accept it because it contradicts what you believe. I would guess that the only historical material you read was against religion and specifically, the Bible. You did not state in your reply whether you read materials from both sides of the issue before coming to any conclusion. If you only read materials that oppose religion and the Bible, how could you be objective during your research? Was your mind made up before you even began your research? If you were a theist at one point, something must have caused you to doubt there is a God. What was it?

                4. Hi NewEnglandBob. Before responding to your last post I would like to say a few words. First, I was previously a skeptic, possibly somewhat like were when you began to doubt there is a God and that the Bible is the Word of God. I read many books on the subject to determine whether there is a God and also whether the Bible is true or not. My search began by determining whether there is a God or not. I felt that if evolution is true (that the universe and life originated on its own) then I would conclude there is no Creator, that is, a God. That is what eventually led me to write the book I mentioned previously, “Evolution or Creation? A Comparison of the Arguments.” It is a compilation of some of the various arguments I accumulated during my research. I do not necessarily believe that the Earth has only existed less than 10,000 years or that every creature in existence was a separate creation, but I concluded that the universe could not have originated on its own nor could life have originated on its own. Once I established that there is a Creator (God) I began to determine whether any religious books, including the Bible, the Quran, etc. were divinely inspired. After reading multiple books, I concluded that the Bible is what it claims to be. I believe that if a book is inspired, it must be 100% accurate or it cannot be trusted. In response to your comment “either you put up some evidence or shut up. I will no longer respond to your apologetics and excuses and worminess until you do…” I realize that what one will accept as evidence, someone else will not accept. I believe that one must be realistic in what type of evidence one expects to exist. For example, one may claim that an actual person by the name George Washington existed. But how can one prove this? What evidence would you accept that proves George Washington actually existed? I will list some of the resources I used during my research to determine whether there is a God and whether the Bible is God’s word or not:
                  Skeptics Answered
                  D. James Kennedy (1997)
                  Mulotnomah Books, Sisters, Oregon
                  The Answer to the Atheist Handbook
                  Richard Wurmbrand (2002)
                  Living Sacrifice Book Company, Bartlesville, OK
                  The Stones Cry Out – What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible
                  Randel Price (1997)
                  Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon
                  An Introduction to Bible Archaeology
                  Howard F. Vos (1983)
                  Moody Press, Chicago
                  Is the Bible True”
                  Allen Bowman (1968)
                  Good News Publishers, Westchester,Ill
                  The Proof of the Bible
                  Herbert W. Armstrong (1958)
                  Ambassador Press, Pasadena, CA
                  The Bible – Can I Believe It? (Booklet)
                  Richard W. DeHaan
                  Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan
                  Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible
                  Edwin W. Lutzer (1998)
                  Moody Press, Chicago
                  He Walked Among Us – Evidence for the Historical Jesus
                  Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson (1988)
                  Here’s Life Publishers, Inc. San Bernardino, CA
                  Evidence That Demands a Verdict – Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith, Volume 1
                  Josh McDowell (1986)
                  Here’s Life Publishers, Inc. San Bernardino, CA
                  More Evidence That Demands a Verdict – Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith
                  Josh McDowell (1991)
                  Here’s Life Publishers, Inc. San Bernardino, CA

                  I honestly do not expect you to purchase any of these books that I listed above. At first I felt that it would be a waist of time responding to your comment, however, I thought that I should provide some of the materials I read during my research. I am hoping that at least you will reciprocate by providing some references that convinced you that there is no God and that the Bible is not what it is claimed to be. But since I am generally a skeptic, I doubt if you will purchase any of the books I listed or provide any references on your own that proves there is no God and that the Bible is not true. At least I am pleased that you read my post. Thanks.

                5. All of it apologetics and made up fantasies. Established evidence can be well define. You try to weasel out of it, but that doesn’t fly. Just the fact that you “know” the bible is 100% factual tells me you are a kook or a lunatic. I will now unsubscribe from this thread so I no longer get notified of your lunacy. Bye.

                6. Hi NewEnglandBob. I suppose my response was too much for you to handle. You wrote: “You try to weasel out of it, but that doesn’t fly. Just the fact that you “know” the bible is 100% factual tells me you are a kook or a lunatic.” Your response was pretty much what I suspected. Actually, I was not trying to “weasel” out of anything. I was trying to respond to your comments and share with you why I believe as I do. Why ask for evidence if you reject it before even considering it? Do you think that you have read every apologetic argument that there is a God and that the Bible is true? You are free to believe whatever you wish. It really doesn’t matter to me what you believe. I deliberately read material that I know disagrees with what I believe. It either helps me to re-enforce what I believe or cause me to re-think my position. I first try to understand what the author is saying and then I attempt to determine whether there is any possibility that it could be true. If I determine that it might be true, I will do further research. I am not so sure you would even consider reading anything that goes against your views. It appears that your mind is made up without even considering opposing points of view. How is there to be any meeting of the minds unless both sides cooperate and share ideas in a constructive manner without name calling and belittling? You are apparently so bitter towards anyone who dares to believe there is a Creator that you have difficulty responding to anyone who does. Rather than providing evidence that there is no God, you resort to calling me names and attempting to belittle me. You have not yet defended any of your views one bit. You only attack me. You most likely believe that I am ignorant and lack intelligence; however, Ignorance means that one is not familiar with the facts. If you believe this, why don’t you enlighten me? Since you have yet to share any of your evidence, my only conclusion is that you have very little or none to share. You may think that it is a waste of time corresponding with me. If this is true, why are you even on this blog? I would have hoped that you would have provided a more intelligent response rather than just ridicule me. Also, you did not answer my question: “What evidence would you accept that proves George Washington actually lived?” I realize that you no longer wish to converse with me, but the fact is you did not to share with me any of the evidence that convinced you that there is no God. Why bother being part of this forum? I thought that this forum was supposed to be a sharing of information and ideas, not one attacks on anyone who opposes your views. Have you cut yourself off from me because you are not able to defend your position? What else am I left to believe?

    20. Thinkwell dot com has a high school biology course that looks perfect for homeschoolers. It has video lessons, chapter notes, and interactive exercises. My son did their prealgebra course, so we are fairly familiar with them. Unit 1 is Evolution. It looks like they treat it as the foundation of the course. Here is the outline from Unit 1:
      – Evolution

      1.1 Unity and Diversity of Life on Earth

      1.1.1 Properties of Life

      1.2 Early Perspectives in Science

      1.2.1 An Introduction to Biology

      1.2.2 The Nature of Science: The Story of Darwin

      1.2.3 Early Scientific Thought

      1.2.4 The Emerging Science of Geology

      1.3 An Introduction to Evolution

      1.3.1 Linnaeus, Buffon, and Lamarck

      1.3.2 Darwin: The Voyage Continues

      1.3.3 Darwin: More Observations

      1.4 Evolution: The Theory of Natural Selection

      1.4.1 Darwin: The Theory of Natural Selection

      1.4.2 The Theory of Natural Selection

      1.4.3 Contrasting Lamarck and Darwin

      1.4.4 Contrasting Lamarck and Darwin, Part II

      1.5 Fossils and Evolution

      1.5.1 Fossil Formation, Dating, and Indexing

      1.5.2 The Fossil Record

      1.5.3 Some Fossil Surprises

      1.5.4 The Coevolution of Horses and Plants

      1.5.5 Mass Extinctions: An Asteroid Can Ruin Your Day

      1.6 Human Evolution

      1.6.1 Human Evolution: What Is a Primate?

      1.6.2 Human Evolution: The Family Tree

      1.6.3 Human Evolution: The Fossil Record

      1.7 Evidence for Evolution

      1.7.1 Evidence for Evolution: Biochemical Similarities

      1.7.2 Evidence for Evolution: Vestigial Structures

      1.7.3 Homologous Structures

      1.8 Species Concepts

      1.8.1 Species Concepts

      1.8.2 Speciation

      1.8.3 Prezygotic Reproductive Isolation

      1.8.4 Postzygotic Reproductive Isolation

      1.9 Examples of Artificial and Natural Selection

      1.9.1 Artificial Selection in Action

      1.9.2 Natural Selection in Action

      1.10 The Origin of Life

      1.10.1 History of Life: The Heterotroph Hypothesis: An Overview

      1.10.2 The Heterotroph Hypothesis: An Introduction

      1.10.3 The Origin of Life: Life from Nonlife

      1.10.4 The Heterotroph Hypothesis: Protobionts

      1.10.5 The Heterotroph Hypothesis: The First Genetic Material

      1.10.6 The Origin of Life: The Rest of the Story

      1.11 Classifying Life

      1.11.1 The Linnaean System

      1.11.2 The Linnaean System: Still Changing

      I’d love to hear feedback from others. I’m exhausted looking for a non-religious course for my ninth grader. Does this look good to the science teachers out there?

      1. Sandra,

        As a science Ph.D. I’d say the outline you copied here looks to be pretty solid in covering introductory biology. I look forward to tracking down the text for a better look!

      2. I am starting the TW series next week. I am supplementing with Dr. Ken Millers and Dr Coynes books. Anyone have any tips on Thinkwell bio ?

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