The home-schoolers respond

March 7, 2010 • 7:59 am

The home-schoolers have responded, leading to the longest thread in the brief history of this website.

I realize, of course, that not all parents who home-school their kids are doing so for religious reasons.  I have had some contact, for instance, with Susan Mule, who, as Dylan Lovan noted in his piece, is simply trying to teach her precocious daughter the best science on offer.  And I’ve dealt with other parents who are looking for good material on evolution to give to their children. Sadly, there’s not much that is useful if you don’t want to force creationism down your kid’s throat.

But, as Lovan noted in his piece, “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.'”

I weep for those children.  For many of them are simply being brainwashed by their parents.  Yes, that’s what it is—brainwashing.  For a parent to ignore 150 years of solid science, feeding their children lies based on theology, is to deprive those children of the wonder of the universe—a wonder based on truth rather than medieval superstition.  It kills off the part of a child that most needs nurturing: her sense of wonder, and all the possibilities of life that are opened up by that wonder.  How many budding biologists have been stifled by their parents’ willful ignorance of science, and on their insistence that the Bible is the real source of biological information?  Generation after generation of ignorance and religious dogmatism, all perpetuated by religously based home-schooling.

Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, reportedly said, “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” That’s brainwashing.

On another note, I’ve been bombarded with private emails suggesting—and not in delicate words—that I am deeply ignorant of evolution, will go to Hell, and that I’m ugly, too.   One or two of them are amusing:

Then again, by your photo your arms are so hairy perhaps you’re the missing link, and then I will have been wrong.  Perhaps indeed your hairology recapitulates simianology.

But several of them (and some of the comments I have not allowed to go through the website) use the most vicious invective.  Here’s one truncated specimen (warning: NSFW):

Hey Jerry Coyne fuck you. You evolution faggot. Darwinism and evolution are the biggest pile of shit lies ever made on the face of GODS green earth. People in the 1800’s thought Darwin was a dumb ass fucking lunatic. Home school books are lying to children? On no you son of a bitch you and all these liberal piece of shit scum bag evolutionists are lying to children and every public school in the world. . . So go fuck your self or an ape and evolve some grotesque ape kids you loser fuck. I beat the shit out of people like you, you cock smoking douche nozzle.

Ah, there’s nothing so vile as a Christian insulted!  To those who are constantly whining about the “incivility” of atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, I suggest that you might first have a look at the behavior of some Christians.

266 thoughts on “The home-schoolers respond

  1. I’ve concluded that those people that repress an adequate science education are in fact abusing children, not merely indoctrinating them.

    This set includes public schools as well. I grew up in a community where evolution was not taught in the public schools I attended. Fundie churches dictated societal mores; that included pastors on the school board that suppressed science education while the churches stridently promoted creationism. In addition children were pressured by their parents and churches to avoid secular universities or even liberal Christian colleges since that was a sure road to Hell.

    Consider how many bright capable students avoided and still avoid a career in science since it risks being ostracized by their friends, family, and community. Their educational and career opportunities were severely limited. This was my experience growing up. I call that abuse.

    1. To all of you out there listening to this “religion” of evolution, wake up!
      I’m not going to throw insults at you, but I will simply state that evolution is a THEORY. not proven in any way. creation is considered a religion, and most accept this idea that it is. I however see it as fact. no harm there. I teach my children this. If you don’t like it, oh well. teach your kids what you want. but don’t force feed it to mine.why is it acceptable to teach the “religion” of evolution, but not the argument of creation to level the playing field ? you are trying to keep the truth in the dark. how can anyone make a decition that way? they can’t, and that is your goal. this is not just a matter of belief, this is a matter of getting both sides to a debate heard. why be so afraid to let them hear the truth ? I had to listen to evolutionist all of my life in school. all it did was confuse me…until I learned the truth. see, no matter how much you push your religion on us, God will find a way to show us the real truth. stop fighting our rights as U.S. citicens. why not give kids both sides of the argument at the very least ? then see what they choose.

      1. You, madam or sir, are deeply ignorant.
        Read up what the term “THEORY” means. Until then, all your further argumentation is bound to fall on deaf ears.
        Seriously, get an education.

      2. Brian,
        Why don’t we teach astrology along side astronomy or alchemy with chemistry.
        Have you ever heard of the theory of gravity,theory of flight,germ disease theory.
        Creationism is not science,evolution is science. Why won’t your church teach evolution in its Sunday school classes? Teach the controversy Brian.

      3. Brian,

        In your second sentence, you show that you don’t have the foggiest idea of what the word “theory” means in science. No one who is serious needs to read beyond that point to know that your opinions are not going to contribute anything interesting.

      4. You seem to be treating evolution and creationism as having equal weight in the field of science.
        This is similar to saying the existence of the moon and of santa have equal merit.

        Until creationism comes up with some actual science it can do, it won’t even be a science. I’m afraid this is unlikely to happen until just after the heat death of the universe. So you know…be patience.

      5. Brian,

        You said, “I however see it [creationism] as fact. no harm there. I teach my children this.” What you believe becomes very harmful when it leads you to indoctrinate your children with lies.

        1. Indeed. If someone thought that it was a fact that some children (your children, Brian?) were demon possessed… would you want them to teach this? Are you happy that fundamentalist Muslims also think that creationism is a fact– in fact, they think it’s just as factual as “the fact” that Christians will go to hell for worshiping a prophet as a god. Their fact book (Quo’ran) tells them so!

          (Reality doesn’t care what Brian thinks is a fact. Really really believing that god poofed people into existence “as is” cannot make it a fact any more than believing the earth is flat can make it so. It can, however, make you really resistant to understanding actual facts!)

          (This is addressed to the bozo-Brian.)

      6. To all Creatards,

        Evolutionary mechanisms (natural selection,genetic drift and random mutation)are theories in the sense that atoms, gravity, special and general relativity, electromagnetism and germs are theories. In fact, evolution has more evidence as collected facts than most other well established theories.

      7. Unfortunately, what we see in Brian is typical of the “true believers.” His post begins and ends with long-debunked arguments that non-mythologists are aware of, but that Brian is unlikely to have heard in his church or any of the other insular, tribal sources of information that he is likely to respect. He is not interested in finding the truth. He is of the “team vs. team” mentality that values loyalty to the team above all else – including truth, ethical behavior, intellectual honesty, the common good of the community, the future of his children, protecting the innocent from child molesters …

      8. I think you should re-evaluate the so-called “truths” of your Creationism. Every argument put forth in favor of creationism applying to reality relies on “evidence” that is either altered or cut/pasted out of context from contradictory evidence or just plain made up. There is nothing truthful about trying to promote creationism as a fact when every piece of supporting evidence is literally a lie. When you choose to follow this way of thinking and teach your kids to do the same, you aren’t following God’s teachings. Jesus tells us that the truth will set us free. What you’ve been doing is serving the father of lies.

      9. Brian, you are a well meaning fool. How sad for your children that dear old dad is such a mental dud.

        Thank you for not wasting tax payer money in the education of your children.

        Perhaps you will succeed in preventing your spawn from learning truly valuable lessons from all those who came before us, you know, in order to succeed in life and deal with such a beautifully and diversely populated planet… oh well. You had your chance and you blew it.

      10. If when you really want to insult a concept you call it a “religion” – you might be a fundy.

        You can’t make this stuff up!

    2. Fortunatley my children have never been sent to our “GOD hating” schools. They’ve never learned the lies of evolution, math, medicine and history. We’ve home-schooled them so they’ve learned the truth about how the earth is flat and using numbers is the devil’s work. They will be happier and healthier then most children as long as we keep them locked away from the (flat) world and its long list of lies.

      1. “I’m opposed to all numbers above and below 9! They’s all blasphemers!” — Early Cuyler, a true American Renaissance squid

    3. I was lucky enough to grow up in a community where I was given the option, in public school, what to believe. Our Biology teacher was a great man, who presented students (at the 7th grade level) with the pros and cons of both sides of the arguement, creationism and evolution. That, to me, is the best way to give it to a student. It’s then up to the student to decide what he will, or to go home and ask his parents what they think, and so on.

      With that teaching, I’ve come to a combination answer that I personally believe in. What I believe is that, while a divine power (God, Allah, Buddah, etc) did develop certain aspects, evolution and science also played a huge role in what we have today. I don’t think that *everything* was an accident, but I believe some of it was.

      Just my 5 cents. Give the kids the choice. Present them both views, and let them make up their mind.

      1. The problem is that there is no two sides. Creationism, as we keep pointing out, goes against everything we know about the universe. Treating it as though it is a valid scientific idea just misleads students about what science is.

        1. Indeed… they are millions of creation stories (personally I like the FSM version), but there is only one truth. So far science is the only proven method for discovering that truth.

          I bet Woody85’s teacher didn’t teach about the FSM, the Hindu creation story, Greek creation stories or Scientology creationism.

          People like it when their science teachers are “open minded” about their particular woo– but not when they are equally open minded about conflicting woo.

          Should science teachers teach then demons, gremlins, possession and hell could be real too? I think they should leave creationism out of the science equation for the same reasons they should not promote the above.

          Whatever it is, it sure isn’t science. There are not 2 sides to reality. Reality doesn’t care if humans have various opinions about the shape of the earth, the importance of our planet, when the universe formed or how we got here.

          If you want to understand reality, get your science from scientists, not shaman.

  2. I beat the shit out of people like you, you cock smoking douche nozzle.

    And you wouldn’t believe what her husband said also.

    How ‘Christian’ of this person. Is this an example of how the ‘meek will inherit the earth’? Is this how they ‘turn the other cheek’?

    1. and people like that are the reason I stopped going to church and shed most every thing that my sunday school class taught me from even being plausible, for GODS sake, I was told that “condoms are an ultimite evil, and you will go to hell if you use one”

      And as a signifigantly bigger point, the very preist at my catholic chruch, yes catholic church, told me, and I quote; “the bible is a 2000 year old text, from a time before people even knew about dinosaurs, ANYONE who traslates the bible litirally, is a damn fool, the book of genisis even spells out evolution, and that it happened”
      Yes that was told to me by a priest, because I said I will not sit through those classes any more, and he said that he doesn’t blame me. so for all the creationists out there:
      1. compare an evolutionary chart to the book of genisis
      2. read the bible, it does state to respect other peoples belifs and not to blasphm them 😛 so saying evolution isn’t credible is not only agaist your bible but just the act of saying that is against your 10 comandments

      1. oh and note to any christians who are going to retailiate by bashing my “name” on here I use it as short for “lost in thought” on almost every online thing I use, because I actually do think of other possibilties before saying “no it’s not true at all”

      2. 1. compare an evolutionary chart to the book of genisis

        I did, they bear absolutely no resemblance to each other whatsoever. I wouldn’t be able to get it more wrong if I tried, because, for instance, it would never occur to me to put both day and night and trees before the sun.

        2. read the bible, it does state to respect other peoples belifs and not to blasphm them 😛

        Where does it say that? Usually the recommendations for dealing with other religions involve either genocide or slavery, or some combination thereof (such as genocide for everyone but the virgin females).

        so saying evolution isn’t credible is not only agaist your bible but just the act of saying that is against your 10 comandments

        Which commandment is that?

        1. In fact, wouldn’t it be impossible to place plants as evolved from another light source than the sun, and without day/night cycles, on account of the properties of the metabolic processes that has evolved in them?

          1. Respect thy neighbor, is the commandment,
            no less the order of things appearing in the book of genisis is the same of wich they appear according to an evolutionary chart

          2. oh and a second note, I know my bible quite well, I’ve read the entire thing through multiple times, I was at one point christian, but I chose a different path, not because of the texts, but because of the people who follow them blindly, such as:
            Usually the recommendations for dealing with other religions involve either genocide or slavery, or some combination thereof (such as genocide for everyone but the virgin females).

            In all truth the bible says no such thing. It states respect thy neighbor, it states to let people belive what they belive, it even says that, OMG not to force people to belive what you do, if they want to follow then that is thier choice. So all in all saying evolution has no credibility, though it is practically fact, and telling people they shouldn’t teach it, much less depriveing people of knowledge and blatently lieing to them that there is credibility hits alot of points against your own religion, by comitting your sins against god and denying that just maybe your text is right, and your just reading it wrong, that’s ignorant.

          3. You couldn’t have read the Bible very carefully, considering there is no commandment that says “respect your neighbor”. There is a commandment about bearing false witness against your neighbor, one or more commandments about coveting things depending on how you count them, but there is no commandment about respecting your neighbor.

          4. “no less the order of things appearing in the book of genisis is the same of wich they appear according to an evolutionary chart”

            I already pointed out two places where this is wrong: trees appear before the sun, as does day and night. I can list many more:

            -Day and night comes before the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, the stars, or the heavens
            -The oceans come before the Earth
            -The Earth comes before the stars
            -The sun comes before the stars
            -The moon comes before the stars
            -Plants come before the moon
            -Grass and trees come before fish
            -Birds come before the reptiles they are descended from

            All of these are wrong. In fact it is hard to find any cases where they actually got two events in the correct order. Even people back then should have known, for instance, that plants cannot live without sunlight.

            In the end, the kicker is that the world was created out of water. Living by the ocean, they basically had a 50/50 chance: they could either say the world was created out of Earth, and the water came later (which is the case), or they could have gone the other way around. Even where they had a 50/50 chance they got it wrong.

          5. black cat what bible are you reading? I’ve read the catholic, presbetarian, baptist, and luthurin bibles. and that is most definitaly not what the book of genisis says, no less the idea of creationism is from a book that is 2000 years old, and the book of genisis in which contains what has so caused the creationist theory, is older, it’s a jewish text, originally written in hebrew, and dates back to roughly 1200 B.C. OMG that’s over 3000 years ago, and you still want to translate it litterally? somthing written on paper, by PEOPLE, 3000 years ago, who had no understanding of science, and wrote it in the early form af a language that as oh today has been translated through many languages to make it into the one your reading it in, no less has been increadible susseptible to modification, by those who felt it neccecary to do so to gain power, so be it, be ignorant, don’t consider other possibilities.

          6. It doesn’t matter which version of the bible I am looking at, they all agree on the basic order of events. Which version are you looking at that has a different order?

            I can’t believe you are acting like I am being unreasonable for comparing the order of events in the book of genesis to the real order of events. You are the one who claimed that the order of events in the genesis creation myth match the order of events in real life, not me. If you make a claim, either stick by the claim or admit you were wrong. Don’t get mad at me for pointing out the flaws in your own claims.

          7. No. Just no. Whales created along with the fish of the sea? Before land animals were created? Wrong.

            Land plants before life in the seas? Wrong.

            Stars put in the heavens after earth, and sun, and land plants created? Wrong.

            Just no, seriously, read up and learn a little bit before you spout incorrect information like that.

    2. There is the possibility that this is a troll. I am a Christian and don’t know anyone that speaks or writes like this. Most creationists are ignorant, yes, but not offensively so as this person clearly either is or is pretending to be.

  3. “Ah, there’s nothing so vile as a Christian insulted!”

    That statement comes across as a bit bigoted. Moreover, I’m not convinced that the emails you receive are a representative sample of the Christian community.

    1. Moreover, I’m not convinced that the emails you receive are a representative sample of the Christian community.

      In which case, you have two choices. You can add your voice to the clamour (although don’t expect it to stick out past the more colourful ones). Or you can pick up your own voice, start a blog, a website, go on the radio, national TV, stand up in your church and say this kind of behaviour from christians is not acceptable.

      I’m well aware that not every christian is Fred Phelps, but until you get up and explicitly ostracise these dangerous lunatics, they continue to have the implicit support of mainstream christianity.

      Either way, your silence is part of the problem.

      1. When word gets back to him that atheists send these kind of personal attacks to theists, PZ Myers has repeatedly and loudly demanded that they stop via his blog. Perhaps you should think about getting your minister to hold up these emails in church, and explain to them why it’s unacceptable.

      2. I’m having a hard time understanding how my commenting on this blog post is tantamount to silence.

        In response to your points:

        1. I have no way of verifying the authenticity of the vicious invective Coyne has chosen to highlight. In fact, Coyne does not explicitly state that the email messages he quoted were from self-identified Christians. Were they written by Christians?

        Even if the quotes in question were written by individuals who claim to be Christians, I still think it’s quite a stretch to say that the sentiments are any kind of reflection on Christianity.

        Consider this statement: “I’m well aware that not every biologist is Amy Bishop, but until you get up and explicitly ostracise these dangerous lunatics, they continue to have the implicit support of mainstream biologists.”

        Has someone from the community of biology professors stood up and said that that kind of behavior from biology professors is not acceptable? Do they really need to do so?

        I agree that the coarse language and hateful rhetoric is not helpful or constructive. Anyone who chooses to communicate in that fashion forfeits all credibility…whether they claim to be a Christian or not.

        2. Although I’m inclined to defend Christians from statements that seem bigoted, I do not speak for “mainstream christianity”, and I do not have a church. My “silence” (or lack thereof) is not a message from the Christian community.

        3. If Coyne is wants to complain about vicious invective, his complaints will carry more weight if he refrains from making sweeping generalizations. And Coyne would be a better asset to the scientific community if he were to discuss the issues in a less dramatic and sensationalist fashion.

        1. Has someone from the community of biology professors stood up and said that that kind of behavior from biology professors is not acceptable?

          No need to. She is NOT a biologist. Most places refused to hire her and the one place that did, fired her. The biology community had already spoken. She didn’t like the results.

          1. “Has someone from the community of biology professors stood up and said that that kind of behavior from biology professors is not acceptable? Do they really need to do so?

            …Guess you missed the rhetorical question at the end.

          2. No, you missed the fact NewEnglandBob was pointing out how your “rhetorical question” had nothing to do with the issue at hand: Bishop didn’t shoot the facility members because Biology told her to, unlike Christians (do we really need to cite all the verses in the bible that speak of what to do when faced with unbelievers?).

            You earlier make the “no true Scotsman” fallacy when you question whether or not these comments came from “true” Christians but fail to define what it means to be a “true” Christian. As far as I know, Christianity isn’t some exclusive club: The only requirement is a total suspension of disbelief and the reverence of a genocidal deity and his zombie son.

            The silence issue is a legitimate one, because until someone among the god bothering elite stands up and says “Knock it off!” it is still acquiescence. And until that happens, the “sweeping generalizations” will continue: If you don’t like it, start pressuring the leaders to address the hate, otherwise quit your whining.

          3. To Sir Craig…

            “…Bishop didn’t shoot the facility members because Biology told her to…”

            And that is exactly the point that I was making with my rhetorical question.

            Christians aren’t a**holes because their religion tells them to be that way. Christians are responsible for their actions…their religion is not. Eliminate religion and you’ll still have a world full of rubes, a**holes, murderers and every other flavor of ne’er-do-well. The only real change would be that the rubes and a**holes wouldn’t committing their misdirected deeds in the name of Christianity anymore. So what.

            I just don’t buy into the “if it’s wrong, it must be religion” meme that Christopher Hitchens has tried to sell.

            I think it’s safe to assume that rude, aggressive, uncivlized and destructive human behaviors predate religion; and I’m willing to wager that we will continue to struggle with most of the same problems when all notions of god and religion are finally laid to rest.

            It certainly isn’t going to do us any good to replace old forms of bigotry, ignorance and intolerance with new ones.

          4. The problem is that for many Christians, their religion DOES tell them to be assholes. In fact it is considered a critical part of their belief that they have to be assholes, and if they aren’t assholes they risk eternal damnation.

          5. @TheBlackCat

            Ha! Good point!

            And lots of people think the TV is telling them to kill their mother…

            I don’t know what to do about that.

        2. You drooling imbecile.

          How could you *possibly* think that the scientific community in any way supports a homicidal maniac who shot six of our own?

          If you were even slightly brighter than you apparently are, or had the slightest trace of moral conscience, you would be ashamed of yourself for even thinking such thoughts, let alone typing them, and then posting them to the Internet.

          You’re disgusting.

    2. It’s fairly representative of what I read.

      What do you imagine a “representative” Christian response is?

  4. It is a sad state of affairs when a fringe movement like creationism/ID gains such a foothold in public thinking that it’s necessary to have a blog titled “Why Evolution Is True.” Maybe if education contained more instruction in logic and reasoning skills and less rote memorization, we would not be in such an embarassing situation. Keep up the good blogging!

  5. The situation in the religious parts of the US seems very much like that in Afghanistan under Taliban where girl were denied any education, and the education for boys was to learn the Koran by heart.
    No wonder both groups are retarded and fanatical! And less salonfähig than fartleberries.

    1. That is perfect nonsense. We homeschool our children, teaching them history, grammar, social studies and proper, old earth creation-based science with evolutionary theory. Our goal is to raise them up to be critical thinkers and leaders in their communities. We have two girls and two boys and we consider them all to be equal to serve.

  6. First off, let me start by saying that I am a conservative Christian and I do not believe in evolution. I believe that God created this planet in six days and rested on the seventh. I am ashamed that Christians like the man above exist and I am ashamed to associate myself with him. However, I believe that both evolution and creationism are merely theories and it is someone’s personal descision as to which they choose to accept as truth. I believe that both theories should be taught in school and given a fair chance. And in asnwer to the question above “Is this an example of how the ‘meek will inherit the earth’? Is this how they ‘turn the other cheek’?”
    This man is an example of a frustrated person who showed poor judgement in what he wrote. I do not believe that this man is a true Christian. Christian is defined in the original latin as “little Christ”. As you can see, this man does not at all seem to represent a good example of what a “little Christ” should be. Which, in it’s very definition is to do what Jesus would have done and show the love that he showed.

    1. FYI: Personal descisions do not adjudicate reality.

      But thanks for the lack of vituperative ad hominem that some others have incorporated into their oeuvre.

    2. You forgot there is a third theory, that also deserves equal times and should receive as much attention as the two others. It is called pastafarianism, the belief that everything was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster (
      We use the same kind of evidence as everyone else, just interpret it differently. We find it an outrage that the other two groups have EXPELLED us.

        1. Or the quite obvious theory that the world was created as a result of a bet between God and L. Ron Hubbard. Seriously, if we don’t diversify what is taught in school we won’t be able to tell if are childrens are learning.

          1. “if our childrens are learning.”

            Clever reference to the famous “Bush” flub, Gauldar. Just wanted you to know someone picked up on it. His grammar is a good example of what happens when someone gets a “christian” education.

    3. Why should your creation story get air time in a public school classroom and not say, a Norse creation story? A Greek creation story? A Muslim creation story?

      Maybe the creation stories should stay out of the classroom altogether.

      Oh well. I homeschool, so my kid gets to read ALL the creation stories AND gets a thorough grounding in evolution.

      We *heart* both mythology and science!

    4. Ryan Peterson,

      I would argue your beliefs only stand up if you remain uninformed regarding scientific methodology and the evidence for evolution. To those of us who are scientifically literate, it is brilliantly clear you are uninformed given your comment equating belief in creationism as a competing theory to evolution, which proves you do not even understand what a scientific theory actually is let the alone the evidence for each and the ability of each to falsify the other’s positive claims.

      If you are on a search for objective truth then I recommend this blogger’s book, Why Evolution is True as a good start, followed by Daniel Fairbanks Relics of Eden. My experience is that conservative Christians are fierce defenders of their mundane or willful ignorance by not investigating what science actually is and what science understands regarding evolution.

      In my decades of studying this topic I’ve never encountered one conservative Christian who was both cognizant of what science understands and remained a creationist, including intelligent design creationists. The only exceptions are a handful who make money promoting creationism and even then they’ve proven ignorant of the evidence, e.g., Michael Behe’s court testimony in the Dover trial along with science noting how his books ignore or avoid validated empirical evidence that preemptively falsifies his notions.

    5. What would the original Latin be? My Latin has languished for 30 years, but I am not aware of any ‘original Latin’ and ‘christian’ meaning ‘little christ’.

    6. Thank you for your kind words and forbearance, but I feel I must disagree.

      Evolution is a ‘theory’, it not only explains the past & present but makes predictions about the future that may be tested & proven either true or false in real time.

      Creationism is a ‘story’, which tells a tale of how the world we see came to be, but needs apologetics for explaining the bad in the present world, and makes no predictions that anybody now living will be likely to see, & I personally wouldn’t want to BE AROUND to see.

    7. What do you mean “both” theories?
      There are thousands of creation stories, yet I doubt you are open minded enough to want to teach them all.

      And by saying “merely” theories, you fail at understanding that in science there is nothing higher than a theory.

    8. John, you’re right on the money. I too don’t belive in evolution. Does that make me stupid? I think not. We evolution-non-believers catch lots of flack for our beliefs and that’s unfair. I can live my life how I choose. I also don’t believe in math, verbal communications or that we’re stuck walking around and not flying like birds. I’m going to jump out my window today because I don’t believe in being grounded by their “theory of gravity.” Here I gooooooooo, ahhhhhhhhhh.

  7. So… what books on biology and evolution would you recommend for the middle to early high school age groups? There is a huge selection out there for early readers and elementary aged kids, and a ton for late high school and college. I am homeschooling a 12 year old and am finding it almost impossible to find materials geared at these middle years.

    1. Well, I do not have any suggestions on that point because I am merely 16 and have not looked into it. I was merely stating my beliefs because I thought that people should know that there are other Christians out there who believe and act differently than those who send hate mail to people just because they believe differently. I do believ that this article is quite biased, however, in that the author is obviously someone who has a problem with religion in general.

      1. Ryan, I was asking the author of the blog. Thanks, though. I really appreciate your polite and thoughtful tone. 🙂

    2. I haven’t read it or had my hands on it myself, but I’ve heard raving reviews for a book entitled Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton. Prominent skeptic Michael Shermer described it as “The best damn evolution book for kids, period.” It’s also been highly praised by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

  8. Far from being a bad thing that these creationists have discovered this site, it is in fact a wonderful turn of events. Most of them came for the purpose of spewing mindless invective, and many came for the purpose of spouting “gotcha” sorts of objections, which, sadly, betray their deep lack of understanding of science and how it operates. Fortunately, Mr. Coyne, you literally ‘wrote the book,’ addressing those objections. All the creationsists need to do is check Mr. Coyne’s book out of the library and come back to explain their objections to the evidence it discusses. How hard can that be?

    I’ll grant that most of the creationists who have visited here will never do that, because most have not come with an actual interest in learning about the science of biological evolution. Most of them have come here on an apologetic mission of sorts, which is about as far away from honest intellectual inquiry as you can get. I suspect the anger they express is a function of fear. Nevertheless, if they come here they have an opportunity to open their minds. Whether they choose to take it is up to them, but at least there’s a possibility.

    Jerry, the fact that you have confronted the creationists homeschoolers directly, without equivocation, is what has drawn them here. In doing so you have given them a chance. That’s more than the accomodationists have ever given them. You should be proud.

  9. Thanks, Jerry, for all your work, both scientific and electronic. I was at the Darwin conference you organized last fall, and it was wonderful, what a treat!
    I teach evolutionary genetics to young-earthers in the Canadian Bible Belt, and your work makes mine a lot easier.

    Much apppreciated, best wishes

  10. Cock smoking douche nozzle? Damn, I gotta right that down. That could come in handy!

    To confuse things, I am an atheist homeschooling parent, but the ugly truth is that the vast majority of homeschoolers are rabidly fundamentalist. I live in North Dakota which is as Bible thumping as it gets. Needless to say, feelings run strong against evolution.

    Take this pamphlet for the North Dakota Home schooler Convention
    Look at the guest speaker for the children. Buddy Davis straight from Answers in Genesis sings cute little songs about dinosaurs and Adam and Eve. What a bunch of shit.

    But there are those of us who are purely secular. We form our own side groups and teach our children real science. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. I read “Why Evolution is true” to my eleven year old son as a science text along with a dozen other modern science books. We’ve had a great time with them.

    Jerry, I run into the same aggression. Everyone thinks that because we homeschool we are fundies. They get a bit insulted when they learn we are not, as if we have somehow deceived them.

    I wrote a blog about it a few weeks ago. Enjoy

    1. Hi! We’re also secular homeschoolers. My son just turned twelve, and we’ve thoroughly exhausted all the kiddy evolution books. It seems there is a dearth of mid-level books, and then a jump to the college level books.

      Did you find Jerry’s book to be accessible to your eleven year old? What other books would you use with this age group? If you could only purchase one, which would you buy to keep for reference after it has been read?

      It’s so cool to run across other secular homeschoolers! 🙂

      1. Jerry’s book was fabulous, and I’m not just sucking up. Did my son grasp everything? Absolutely not, but much of what was talked about he got. The subject matter well explained is not that complicated. We enjoyed this book greatly with others nearly as much. I have been looking for good science books written for the layperson without a heavy reliance on math. Some have been fabulous. Here’s my list so far.

        Bryson’s A brief history of nearly everything. Some people might quibble about some technical errors but overall this book instills a wonder for science unlike any other. It does have a advanced vocabulary but I view this as a plus. Read it as a family!

        Phil Plait’s Death from the skies. Nothing keeps boys interested in science more than world destruction. This probably kept his attention the best, and it explains most of the major astronomical phenomenon.

        Tyson’s Death by black hole Great but with an advance way of writing that may leave kids behind. We stop a lot and talk about it.

        Richard A. Muller’s Physics for future presidents. Not one you would think of but an excellent primer for physics everyone should know. We did skip a few parts that I thought repeated too much.

        Kaku’s Physics of the impossible. Good but not terribly applicable to now.

        Diamond’s Collapse. Controversial, but an excellent book for anyone to read as a family.

        We are also working our way through Joy Hakim’s History of Science. Off subject, her History of US was fabulous.

        Future books include Gun’s germs and steel, The greatest show on earth, Bad astronomy and others.

        I always read them ahead of time to see if they’d work for a twelve year old. Some were great books but didn’t pass that test. Bad science by Goldacre was one. I found it fascinating but there was too little to interest boys.

        If anyone else has good book like these, I’d like to know

        Blessed Atheist Bible study @

        1. Thanks so much! I have a zillion choices for next year’s books now. Now if I only had a zillion dollars for new books… 😉

        2. [Sits back. Rubs eyes. No change. Rubs eyes again. Still the same picture.]

          But, but… those aren’t science books?!

          True, they are about science. And they will surely provoke an interest in it. But some of those aren’t accounts of science as much as personal, spectacular and speculative texts promoted by money.

          Kaku at least, known for his media hunger and highly speculative ideas. For example, according to Wikipedia he puts time travel as possibly available in “Physics of the Impossible”, while nearly everything we know about physics tells us it is impossible.

          General relativity equations permits all sorts of funny solutions because they have trouble with energy and its consistency. But even so, there is now a classical GR regime paradox that shows worm holes sucks [sic!] placed in the arxives [FWIW].

          And as soon as we go from the effective, not fundamental, theory of GR all sorts of problems surface. Faster than light travel (in effect time travel) destabilizes the light cone of gauge theories. Time travel would falsify the Church-Turing thesis and so explode the algorithmic tower of computational complexity, physically making all problems easily solvable and all physics possible; but it doesn’t look that way. And so on and so forth.

          Maybe it is because I have grown up in a nation that has readily available approved text books more or less exactly covering the intended curriculum that makes me squirm when I read what is in effect popular science books.

          I have no reason to believe WEIT or Plait’s DFTS isn’t exactly fascinating, knowledgeable and competent popular science books that would substitute for curriculum books. At the very least they would make terrific supplements!

          But not all books are created equal. I believe, if Kaku’s text is as speculative as I have reason to believe, his treatment of todays science doesn’t make up for the problems that speculative science makes for young minds, while they try to find their way among “known knowns” and “known unknowns” as opposed to speculative but “unknown knowns” and “unknown unknowns”. Creationism is, after all, speculative ‘science’…

          [Disclaimer. I dislike Kaku for the same naive reason why others seem to do so – because he likes to engage with the market in a lazy and somewhat “framing” manner. Perhaps I’m wrong.]

          1. I’ve also found Kaku’s books to be rather sloppy.

            I think the final straw for me was a passage in which he illustrates the similarity between human and ape facial musculature by reference to the King Kong animatronic puppet at MGM/Universal Studios Theme Park! Come on, even if the conclusion happened to be true it’s still like citing Barney the Dinosaur to illustrate the social habits of theropods.

          2. Truth is we stopped the Kaku book half way through, it wasn’t getting us anywhere real. I thought my post was getting too long and cut that part. Sorry. The others I stand by. These are supplements of a sort. But You would have a hard time finding a better text for evolution than “Why evolution is true.”

            Too many people fall into the category that if it’s not always serious it’s not science.I disagree. Like history where the beauty is so often stripped from official texts, science can benefit from a friendlier approach. Science for kids should be fun and can be if the info is packaged right. Plait’s work is perfect for young boys here. Tons of astronomy and astrophysics are crammed into an easy to read package. I would recommend it to any family interested in science.

            BTW, We also have a more regular curriculum. Right now, we are working our way through a physics text. And we did the Teaching company’s How the Earth works this winter. Next winter will be The teaching companies lecture series on astronomy.

      2. Daniel Loxton has a new book called “Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be” which is for the young adult age range. Might want to look into it.

      3. We also are secular home schoolers and we just finished evolution in Biology and my daughter was one of the few to score a 96% on her test. The teacher asked her if she studied for this test to get her high grade, she said no, my Dad has been pounding this into my head since I was a kid.She also encountered the usual arguments such as it is only a theory, and evolution is dumb,and the teacher comments that they have to teach because the State requires it.
        I’ve been reading Jerry’s book and I love it.
        I have used all sorts of Media to teach my daughter about evolution and skeptical thinking.
        Nice to know there are more parents like us out there.
        We are in So. Calif. and I sometimes think we are in the Bibl belt as well.

      4. Not a textbook, but I’d highly recommend Dawkins’ Royal Society Christmas Lectures, which are available for free online.

    2. North Dakota Home schooler Convention

      What I find laughable is the fact that this “home schooler” convention looks and sounds more like a bible conference than anything else. Pitty.

  11. I wouldn’t weep too hard. Public schools don’t exactly do the best job of teaching evolution either.

    I know everyone loves to write about how bad teaching creationism/ID to kids is, but I really don’t think it could be called child abuse. Here’s why:

    1. I was home-schooled by religious parents who wanted me to believe that the bible was the inerrant word of god. My “science” book said the earth was created in 6 literal days. I did believe that for several years. I am now a skeptic and accept evolution as the only valid explanation for the diversity of life we see. Why did I change my views about religion and the origins of life?

    2a. The bible indicates that god is a theistic being who interacts with the natural world. Empirical support for this idea seems conspicuously absent.

    2b. For anyone even remotely interested in science there is an incredible wealth of information available on the subject (even on the interwebs!). It’s amazing to contrast the amount of evidence supporting evolution with the lack of credible evidence for creation science (/ID).

    1. We don’t produce experts in evolution because kids get to study it about 6 weeks in 2 years of middle school, maybe another 6 weeks in 4 years of High school and if they take AP Bio then they’ll get it again. But a hopefully they are exposed to the ideas.

      1. There is NO WAY that the typical kid in the U.S. gets twelve weeks of classroom time studying evolution in the K-12 years. I’d be AMAZED if the average kid got 3 weeks, total, on evolution in middle and high school.

    2. not everyone who is beaten as a child becomes a child beater as an adult, either.

      I still think it’s a fair cop to call brainwashing your kids with lies “abuse”.

      fits right in with most state definitions of cults, too.

  12. It’s quite unfortunate that the AP article didn’t include complete information about the “why families homeschool” survey results published in USA Today some time back. Respondents could pick more than one reason, and “to provide moral or religious instruction” wasn’t even the top answer, tho’ there was, of course, an ever-present HSLDA spokesperson to make it sound as if it was. Thanks for the forum.
    P.S. The many homeschooling families who teach evolution have access to MANY other books on the topic; they don’t all buy their books from these two publishers.


    Top reasons cited by parents (could pick more than one):

    • Concerns about the school environment (including safety, drugs, peer pressure): 88%

    • A desire to provide religious or moral instruction: 83%

    • A dissatisfaction with instruction at other schools: 73%

    • An interest in a non-traditional approach: 65%

    Source: Top home-schooling reasons in 2007 Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey

    1. fun Note on that matter. My girlfriend was homeschooled, when she made it in to college, she had to drop courses because she never learned anything about them at home, no less they were not high level courses that she dropped, this was because her parents not only knew very little on the subject but refused to teachit all together. so why homeschool? to the christians: to keep thier kids iggnorant of other possibilities just like the church did in the medeval ages, but it’s 2010, no longer medeval times, so please, please accept the fact that there are other belifs and if you really want your kids to have a good job and morel belifs teach them ALL the seperate views

    2. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. 83% said “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction”; that’s a high percentage regardless of whether it was the top response or not. Also, since they could choose more than one, “concerns about the school environment” and “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction” are not mutually exclusive. In fact, if I have my arithmetic right, a minimum of 80% of those that said the former also said the latter. In other words, at most 20% of those that said “concerns about environment” did not also say “desire to provide religious or moral instruction”, suggesting that those concerns are strongly tied to concerns about the secular schools.

      1. That line shouldn’t provoke so much angst, anyway. Do secular homeschoolers not wish to give their children religious and moral instruction? They should. 😛 If we don’t teach our kids about religion, someone else will, and that’s not a risk I’d like to take. A bright, well educated homeschooled kid with no knowledge of religion heading off to college for the first time is ripe for conversion.

        1. That’s why I intend to make sure that my future children are familiar with all the Christianities, what they think of each, the different types of Islams, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Scientology, Greek & Roman Pantheon, Norse Pantheon, and anything else I can get my hands on. Hopefully I can tie it into well-made movies that give a sense of adventure and wonder in all those myths. And I’ll throw in a few Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies to show what good imaginations we people have.

          Oh, and I’ll warn my kid not to be TOO rude to those people that believe the pretty stories. They were lied to by THEIR parents.

          1. I swear the hardest part is not teaching kids reason and science. The hardest part is teaching them to be kind to people who aren’t very good with reason and science.

    3. What a strange list – homeschooling is “non-traditional”? I guess it is if you consider the ancient Greeks like Plato to have provided the sole “tradition method”. Throughout most of the medieval period homeschooling was all there was until public schools were established again – ‘public’ meaning open to any of the public who can pay for it. It is what we would call “private schools” as opposed to “private tutoring”.

  13. Richard Dawkins is supposed to write a children’s book about evolution. It appears however that more academic books for younger audiences are needed as well. I wish I was a evolutionary scientist and a good writer I would gladly help out. I know this is Jerry’s blog but Richards book Greatest Show on Earth is a good read too and could be understood by younger readers.

  14. If there were a blog dedicated to a mix of gay rights activism and evolution, and it was called “Evolution Faggot,” I would read it every day and buy all the t-shirts and coffee mugs.

    Really, we need more blogs on any number of topics that CONFRONT these cruel, ignorant people directly, rather than treating religiously-derived beliefs as inherently worthy, or acting like if we’re polite enough they’ll go away.

  15. I just wanted to comment that not all Christian homeschoolers use “Creationist” science material. Here are the texts that we use in our homeschool:

    As Catholics, we have no problem with evolution. I would hate for anyone to assume that since someone was Christian and a homeschooler they therefore had to be be anti-evolution. That simply isn’t true. You can, however, have a belief in God, and still fully accept science. I do not view the Bible as the authority on science and history, since that, to me, was not its intent. To lump all “Christian homeschoolers” together in one lump, is simply unfair.

    I have ordered your book from Amazon. I have read some of Gould’s books, but other than that, mainly science textbooks. We will also be using the Biology course from the Teaching Company to provide lectures.

    1. Sorry to break it to you, but you don’t seem to be in the majority.
      And creationism does exist among catholics. Bill O’Reilly, for example, told Dawkins that if you can’t teach that god is the creator in the science class that is “fascism”.

  16. I am an Orthodox Jew who does not accept creationism. To me, theology is one category, science is another; creationsim is based on unchallengable (in the eyes of its supporters) premises, while evolution is based on the scientific method.

    In my view, the big difference between those who subscribe to creationism and those who subscribe to evolution is this: in the (unlikely) event that a genuine scientific proof refuting evolution and confirming creationism were ever produced, the evolutionists, after subjecting it to peer review, would reluctantly accept it. The creationists, on the other hand, began with a religious preconception and have since tried to twist and manipulate convenient facts to fit their preconceptions. Unlike the evolutionists, they are unwilling to contemplate any kind of threat or challenge to their premises, and when such a challenge is offered, their responses are threats and epithets, not any kind of genuine rebuttal. Thank you.

  17. I’m with Bob Morris. The ongoing dance between “creationists” and “neo-atheists” is entertaining. It leaves out a lot of thinking religious people.

    1. The ongoing dance between “creationists” and “neo-atheists” is entertaining. It leaves out a lot of thinking religious people.

      You’re right. Leaving out the “thinking” religious people does make things entertaining.

      That is what you’re saying, right? Anyways, I can’t wait for the “neo-thinking-religious-people” to join the conversation and make it more boring and muddled.

      1. Right/burn. ( 😀 )

        Along with the idea of simply presenting two opposing views in the interest of making a “balanced” presentation (veracity be damned), there is certainly some tendency to think that when there are two extremes on some issue, then of course the middle of the two is correct. No. No, it is not. Dr. Coyne has some great posts that the “thinking Christians” ought to peruse. (Just look for keywords “Karen Armstrong,” “Francis Collins,” and, indeed, “Ken Miller” on this site….)

    2. There are no rules about who can participate in the dance. All are welcome. Perhaps the “thinking” religious people are just wallflowers. Or maybe they’re as mythical as their god.

  18. That’s just nasty. When you go to personal insults and abuse, in place of (not in addition to) good arguments, you’re out of the game.

    Sorry for my part in the cluster-fuck of a thread yesterday. It was fun, but it doesn’t enlighten anyone I don’t reckon.

  19. The major concern that I would have about home schooling, apart from the obvious anti-realty agenda that many, though certainly not all, parents have, is that, unless you as a parent have a very broad knowledge, as well as access to a wealth of good quality information, there has to be a risk that you are not doing the best by your children, no matter how hard you try to do so.

    However, I also admire people who do it for the right reasons, and who expose their children to as much information as they possibly can, and I think that it is important to acknowledge that some parents likely do a wonderful job, in this regard.

    But the concern is always there that some parents simply aren’t equipped to be able to tell the difference between their own ignorance — which is a funny thing, because it’s neither easy to face up to the fact that we are all profoundly ignorant about almost all human knowledge, or to have a good grasp of precisely what it is that we as individuals are ignorant of — and realty as the best experts have described it.

    And it does disturb me that so many religious parents appear to know so little about morality and ethics that they genuinely believe that religion is the best vehicle for teaching children these important issues.

    If that was true, it should be curious to find that the overwhelming majority of moral philosophers throughout history have excluded religion and God from their moral theory. They haven’t done so because they were all militant atheists — far from it, in fact — they have developed moral theories that exclude God and religion because they have understood that all religions barely even scratch the surface of moral and ethical insight in human history, and also because they have recognized that grounding ethics in human desires, needs, harm, suffering, etc, is the only way to seriously address the issue.

    Introducing God in the equation does little to clarify what is good and right, and what is bad and wrong, and often does far more to confuse people. Indeed, it should be plainly obvious that texts written hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years ago, are rendered almost useless in the modern age, due to the fact that we now understand so much more about human nature and biology. No religious texts that I am aware of, for example, deal with any of the modern moral dilemmas that we all face on a daily basis.

    So, it does concern me that some people appear to believe that you can derive all that you need to know about morality and ethics from religious texts. That is actually no more true than the idea that the universe is 6000 years old, and it may have far more serious consequences for a child to believe that it is.

    And the problem for all religions is that, once you admit that it is not and can not be the last word on morality and ethics, it’s hard to see how you cannot conclude that perhaps others throughout history have come to even more insightful conclusions about that which is contained in the religious texts.

  20. I was taught exclusively in a Christian school until late in high school, and I never had a public-school class in biology. My textbooks were from either A Beka or Bob Jones U.

    College was a shock. I took a basic biology course for core requirements. The prof would casually mention basic facts in asides that I’d been taught were wrong or hadn’t ever heard at all. I had to scramble to reeducate myself outside of class just so I’d be at the basic level–there was absolutely no scary college-level brainwashing involved, because I had to hunt up the original creationist misinformation and then the real-world version! (Finding talkorigins was wonderful; so many lies in one place.) Since I’d learned most of it as a child, there were lots of things that quickly struck me as wrong once I sat down and thought about them as an adult, but I’d never even thought twice about before.

    It wasn’t just geology and biology, although those were the two biggest problem areas. It was just about every area of science, even astronomy.

    Summary: Wile is absolutely full of it. I don’t appreciate having been lied to all that time.

    1. awesome comeback for reality!

      I salute your struggle to overcome some seriously bad info thrown your way growing up.

      many never make it.

      you might consider spreading your story on your own blog, and trying to help kids you now see undergoing the same misinformation campaign you were subjected to.

      good luck!

    2. Same story on my side, Sharky. I was raised in a VERY strictly southern baptist family that also, paradoxically, was somewhat pro-science (especially with regard to astronomy, since I lived in Cocoa Beach during the height of the space program). Fortunately, I developed a passion for science early in life and, through personal research, discovered that much of what I was taught by “spiritual advisors” (i.e. con men) was both historically inaccurate and logically untenable. By the time I chose Biology as my major in college, much of the damage done by the church had been repaired and I did quite well. But to this day, I resent my parents for being such ignorant followers. Sadly, my children (grown, now) never really developed a strong relationship with their grandparents because my wife and I wouldn’t leave them alone with their grandparents for any length of time, despite their constant pleading and assurances. We were always fearful that, in our absence, the grandparents would try to brainwash them in the same way they tried to brainwash me.

  21. “…unless you as a parent have a very broad knowledge, as well as access to a wealth of good quality information, there has to be a risk that you are not doing the best by your children…”

    That’s a very good point. And that’s why most home-schoolers belong to large groups that collaborate.

    As weak as the academic environment may be for many home-schoolers, unfortunately, their public school alternatives are no better…and in many cases they’re significantly worse.

      1. As you no doubt noted, I talked about “cases” in which public school alternatives are worse.
        And I’m sure you can imagine why randomized prospective controlled studies on public schooling vs. home schooling are non-existent, but this piece from the University of Maryland is a fairly good starting point in the home-schooling discussion: The Harms of Homeschooling

  22. This is all to be expected.

    The best Christian comment ever was received by Dawkins (of course):

    “I hope you get hit by a church van.”

  23. Jerry,

    The person who sent that email is mentally deranged. You should not have given it exposure by quoting it. It is best simply to delete such garbage and block the sender. Hopefully, he will find his way back to talk radio.

    1. Then there are a lot of mentally deranged people out there. These types of insults are very common and come from the so called TrueTM Christians. Things like this need to be posted as far as I’m concerned. You can turn a blind eye to it as most Christians do and say “that’s not my religion”. It doesn’t solve any problems and the reality there’s a lot of these so called deranged people out there who say this stuff and mean it.

  24. While I realize that it adds nothing to the discourse regarding the crazies that homeschool their children, I just wanted to bring a good story of homeschooling for those unfamiliar with some of the secular benefits. I grew up in a very small, rural school that wasn’t well equipped to deal with advanced students, I tested out extremely high on tests at a young age, and I was getting a bit out of hand at school because of sheer boredom. Rather than attempt to pay for private schools they couldn’t afford that were an hour away, my parents elected to homeschool me – so, at the age of 9, I had attended by last public school class. Over the next three years, I educated myself through high school, and enrolled part time in a local university at 12 years. Because of my youth, I took my time there a bit, and I’ve been slow in graduate school as well, but the end result is that I’m now 24 years old, have a B.S. in Molecular Genetics, and I’m finishing my Ph.D. in Microbiology. All told, I’ve got to say that my homeschooling didn’t hold be back in science one bit, and it’s exactly why I am where I am at a young age.

    Homeschooling has important uses – those that would seek to strip it away altogether (as P.Z. Myers seemed to be suggesting, don’t seem to fully understand that. For people that have a good approach, it’s quite valuable.

  25. The jesus cult isn’t even medieval superstition – it’s more ancient than that. It also plagiarizes a lot of pre-jesus-cult superstition. Since the flood myths aren’t quite at the start of the book, perhaps we should call it antedeluvian superstition?

  26. For a parent to ignore 150 years of solid science, feeding their children lies based on theology, is to deprive those children of the wonder of the universe—a wonder based on truth rather than medieval superstition. It kills off the part of a child that most needs nurturing: her sense of wonder, and all the possibilities of life that are opened up by that wonder.

    Beautifully put.

  27. Professor Coyne wrote: But, as Lovan noted in his piece, “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.’” I weep for those children.

    Prof. Coyne–
    Please don’t think that all 83% of these homeschooling parents are brainwashing their children. I am an atheist homeschooler, and a lot of my friends are secular homeschoolers, but I also know lots of homeschooling parents who religious that would probably check a box on a survey saying that religion and morality are important reasons for their own homeschooling. Many of them are pretty moderate about religion; allow their children a fair amount of access to mainstream ideas, the Internet and pop culture; and although they teach their children things I don’t agree with (such as that God answers prayers, etc.), they tend to expose kids to evolution, too.

    There are definitely some homeschooling parents who indoctrinate and brainwash, and it’s good that you and others speak out against that–but the proportion of that going on is not nearly as high as 83% of the homeschooling community.

    By the way, religious parents and teachers do a fair amount of misleading kids in public schools, too, and undoubtedly in private schools. It isn’t a problem just for home education–it’s a problem for all education.

  28. I have often found that one of the most common, and frustratingly annoying, antics of creationist/religious types is to label anyone who does not bow down to their unsupported theological assertions as being rude and uncivil.
    I suppose it makes it easier for them to dismiss your points – why, you are just a rude atheist!
    As Jerry points out with his quoted email, Christians are often the most rude, incivil, and often times aggressive and threatening folks you will ever encounter.
    Funny how that works.

  29. Just a comment about the children that you are weeping for (those who are being taught creationism by their parents): I grew up believing creationism. But you know what happened? I out grew it; as I got older, I began to realize that it is nonsense and gradually accepted evolution and, yes, because an atheist (the latter took longer).

    No, a membership in the National Academy of Science isn’t in my future, but I did earn a Ph. D. in mathematics and establish a very modest publication record.

    So, things can change, even if the the child has a bad start; people can outgrow what they were brought up with. A restless mind can’t be cooped up.

    Note: even when I embraced creationism, I knew that scientists taught evolution, the big-bang theory, etc. I just thought that a good scientist had to find a non-religious reason for things else they wouldn’t be good scientists, and if one “played the science game”, evolution is what you came up with. I thought that God would understand and “save” the scientists anyway since He put them on the earth to do good things for us.

    1. Yes, I think the “damage” done to children being taught nonsense is overestimated. Not to say that teaching nonsense is okay. But much of the teeth gnashing is unnecessary. Half of them aren’t listening anyway.

      In my case, for 12 long years, I had prayer and bible study every schoolday. And you know what? It helped me realize what load of baloney religion is.

      1. EXACTLY!! What started me on my path to atheism was my actually reading the Bible while in high school. I was horrified at what a primitive, ugly book it was.

        1. this is an asinine argument that basically amounts to saying it’s just fine to lie to kids because the smart ones will figure it out anyway.

  30. Does anyone know what the Creationist view on nuclear disintegration is? On the face of it, one element changing into another is just as ‘forbidden’ by ‘Genesis Science’ as one species giving rise to another: but it does seem to be an inescapable fact, unless one wants to deny the last 75 years of history as well.

    1. No, nuclear reactions are fine because they don’t imply that we evolved from monkeys.

      Of course radioisotope dating is the work of the devil. How they accept both at the same time is beyond me.

  31. I found this blog after reading the piece on Yahoo! about religious parents not teaching Darwin. I’m one of those “religious” homeschoolers and I weep for those other so-called “religious” people who have left such vile comments. They give true believers a bad name and hurt the cause of Christ with their lack of love and humility.

    It’s mildly funny that I stumbled upon the article – I was taking a break from preparing a test for tomorrow on the book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Phillip Johnson. I’m teaching this book as well as teaching the basics of evolution and am encouraging my kids to weigh them both. Ignoring either would be a mistake.

    1. I’m sorry, but unless your children come away from reading, “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds”, understanding that it is a profoundly dishonest book that misrepresents modern evolutionary biology, the only thing that you will be doing is unnecessarily (and cruelly) confusing your children.

      I could be wrong, but it appears that you have no idea how bad a book it actually is?

      As Jeffrey Shallit says in his short review of the book:

      Looking for scientific evidence against evolution? You won’t find it here (or anywhere else, for that matter). What you will find is the kind of rhetoric lawyers are skilled at: if the facts and law are against you, pound the table.

      You’ll also find deep misunderstandings of the nature of science (which doesn’t “prove” its theories, as suggested on p. 42) and information (which, contrary to Johnson’s claims on p. 73, can indeed be generated by physical processes).

      This book could be the basis for an easy and fun game called “liar or fool”. Nearly every page offers a choice. When Johnson claims (p. 94) that “We know that the Darwinian mechanism doesn’t work and that complex biological systems never were put together by the accumulation of random mutations through natural selection”, is it a lie or just stupidity? And who is the “we”, anyway? It certainly doesn’t refer to people who actually study biology for a living, since 99% of them accept that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life as we see it today.

      When Johnson defines macroevolution as “the vaguely described process that supposedly creates innovations such as new complex organs or body parts” (p. 57), is it a lie or just ignorance of the definition actually used by biologists?

      Or, this review by Robert T. Pennock:

      We should applaud Johnson’s call for teaching critical thinking, but his seven-point program for applying this as the framework for a biology curriculum is ludicrous. Imagine suggesting that the proper way to teach geology is to tell students that the subject is little more than “philosophical dogma” and that geologists are “bluffers” who intentionally “dodge the hard questions” and who should be “viewed with suspicion.” Teaching an academic discipline in this manner would be intellectually irresponsible and morally reprehensible.

      In the end, what you teach your children is your own prerogative. But I can only be honest and say that, if you are letting them read that book without them first thoroughly understanding the basic principals of evolution, it is almost certainly the case that it will likely confuse them, unnecessarily, and, in my opinion, you are doing a disservice to your children by allowing that to happen.

      There is no scientific basis to Intelligent Design or Creationism, and by telling your children anything other than that, you are not being honest with them, whether that is intentional or not.

  32. What an astonishing thread. I feel compelled to say something to the numerous Christians who linked from the Yahoo site and thus have mustered up the courage to venture onto the site of the brilliant Professor Jerry Coyne.

    I was formerly a sincere and devout Christian, having been reared as a Catholic (by a still devout Mother), and up until as recently as 2004 I was attending weekly services and bible study classes at a large Baptist Church called Riverbend (in Austin, Texas). Gerald Mann was the pastor at the time — a wealthy, pleasant, avuncular man who had his own evangelical TV show. I myself preferred a younger firebrand priest named Rick Diamond (who was educated at Southern Methodist University). After hearing one of Rick’s more impassioned sermons — a sermon I actually purchased on VHS tape, where his chiding topic was “It’s not all about you“, and where he employed passages from a book by Flannery O’Connor, I happily volunteered my time to some of Rick’s organized social activities (decorating the church interior, setting up chairs for prayer sessions, etc.) I truly felt a sense of community and “spirit” with Diamond and the people of Riverbend, and I honestly believed I was in the right place at the time.

    It is now only a scant six years later. Doing the math, I was a believer for 42 years of my life. I’m now 48 years of age.

    Those six years, from 2004 to 2010, have been nothing short of a revelation. Simply by reading the books of Dawkins, Coyne, Pinker, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Carroll, Shubin, and Dawkins (yes, Dawkins intentionally repeated), and by spending time browsing and posting on the informative websites of Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, and Jerry Coyne, among many others, I have COMPLETELY, UTTERLY CHANGED MY MIND.

    I have personally decided, after six years of study and considerable, “soul-searching” reflection on the matter, and by the way it is a matter I consider to be among the most important that can be discussed, that the Christian God, and all of its many tangential flavors, simply do not exist.

    Evolution is true. It is absolutely, one-hundred-percent true. The psychological need for an all-powerful, all-loving Christian God has completely vanished from my life. And the feeling of inner peace, and child-like wonder, is just indescribable. Once you yourselves have arrived at the place where I and thousands of others now stand, proud of the long journey to enlightenment and yet thoroughly humbled to the core by the magnificence of The Greatest Show On Earth, every single one of you will clearly understand that religion, and all its vague notions of divinity, or trinities, and even serenity — simply have no place in our natural universe.

    I see myself in your posts. And it greatly saddens me. Make no mistake about it: your heart-rending ignorance is fully on display in this thread, and certainly in the previous one. Every single argument being put forward here by Christians has been completely, utterly refuted — hundreds of times no less, and if you sense exasperation on the part of some atheists who have taken the time out of their busy day to respond to you, it is merely the same exasperation your favorite teacher of history might feel, were he or she to be shouted down day in and day out, in his (or her) own classroom, by students who continually cut class, decry and moan about how hard the homework is and how unfair the tests are. These undisciplined churls are always taking the easiest way out, the path of least resistance as it were, and STILL have the unbelievable gall to question whether the Roman Empire ever existed.

    In other words, you Christians are EMBARRASSING YOURSELVES. It is nothing short of shocking. Please take my word for it. I’ve been in your shoes. They simply don’t fit anymore. The grandeur and beauty of the world we share — as conscious apes with sophisticated language evolved through natural selection — is quite simply TOO BIG to fit in silly, myopic, antiquated, and dogmatic Christian shoes anymore.

    Start educating yourselves. Please. It isn’t that tough to do. Professor Coyne’s book Why Evolution Is True is a great place to start your own fantastic journey.

    1. Awesome letter SaintStephen–

      It’s good to get a reminder that not everyone is as unreachable as they might seem.

    2. Forgive me for being uncertain, but is this sarcasm? It reads almost precisely, word for word, like the former-unbvelievers-learning-the-glory-of-Christ examples in the old Jack Chick tracts.

      1. I don’t think so. Chick never encouraged anyone to think for themselves. And his version of evolution was a parody. I once took the trouble to check one of his references (to living “clams” – what I would call freshwater shellfish – being carbon-dated to ancient times) and found his claims were refuted (the clams had been eating from ancient sediments, or some such, and absorbed ancient carbon) within the reference itself. He was actually dishonest.

        1. Yeah, he didn’t say which Chick tract though they widely available.

          I’ve read a several Saint Stephen posts here and elsewhere– and I’ve read multiple Chick tracts and I don’t see any resemblance at all.

          Saint Stephen is coherent, honest, and humorous– Although, I’ve had a good laugh at Chick tracts, I can’t think of a single one that is coherent and honest.

          Unless Kirth links a Chick tract that reminds him of Saint Stephen, I’m going to assume he was dishonest when he said, “forgive me for being uncertain…”. He’s just doing that disingenuous thing theists do where they ask questions they don’t really want answers to so they can imply something smarmy thus winning them a point in their head game.

          I suspect it was a post and run by another miffed true believer.

          1. I post here regularly, and am most decidedly a non-theist; “anti-theist” might be a better term. The thrust of my remark is the tone of “Oh, I was so misguided but now everything is clear,” which most of the Chick tracts ended with.

            And no dishonesty — I really was uncertain, which is why I asked. If Stephen’s epiphany is for real, more power to him — warm welcome, in fact! Just wanted to be sure, though, because it seemed almost too gushy, on the surface — probably I’m just too cynical for my own good.

          2. No apologies necessary, I assure you; I can see in hindsight that the original post was somewhat overly-ambiguous. Indeed, thanks to you and the others for pointing that out.

  33. Well put, Stephen. Many of us atheists came from some kind of background of religion and can understand how you feel. I admire how you did it on your own with an open mind.

  34. So I’m not here to get into any arguments, just to state my opinion. I homeschooled from 7th to 12th grade. I believe in Creation, however I have studied the Theory of Evolution. I am religious, I do believe in the bible and God. However I am not trying to convert anyone. I dont think that a Creationist can change the mind of a person who believes in Evolution, or vice versa. People are going to believe what they will. I’m not going to call anyone a “douche”, “cocksucker” or say that all evolutionists are going to hell. (I don’t believe in hell, and hey, lets face it that isn’t exactly christian.)
    I don’t ever take to a belief without first convincing myself its true. I believe in Creation mainly because of what I have observed in nature. To me the balance between life is just amazing. The interactions between plants and animals is just incredible. Take for example some of the partnerships found in nature. Termites can eat wood, but without protozoa in their bodies cannot digest it. In order for Lichens to break rock down into soil, algae and fungi first need to team up. Then there is the connection between Insects and flowering plants. We all know that bees help spread pollen to help plants reproduce. Yet there are many plants that cannot reproduce on there own, and without bees or other insects would quickly become extinct. The relationships between these organisms and the delicate balance at hand causes me to think that the system was set up with purpose, not by chance.
    The most convincing argument towards creation for me however is the human body. The complexity of our circulatory system, our nervous system, and our ability to create life is just incredible. Take for just a moment our brains. First we have what sets us apart from animals, our ability to make choices and reason. We have our cerebral cortex to thank for that. Animals are guided by instinct, only able to make physical choices, whereas humans are unique in that we can put to use our brains thinking ability.
    Also astounding in our brains is the complexity of the connections which allow us to function. The nerve cells in our brain are made up of about 100 billion neurons. Each of those neurons is connected to thousands of other neurons by means of microscopic nerve fibers. The connections in our brains are more than a quadrillion in number. Our brains could hold the information found in some 2o million volumes. Yet we only use about 10% of our brains at any time.
    I personally believe that humans were meant to live longer than the 80 years we do now. The regenerative properties of the body and the limited amount we use our brains compared to the potential to learn and create that we have give evidence to that. I hold a hope that one day earth and mankind will be restored to its original state- perfect. No war, crime, hunger or pollution. No sickness or reason to be sad. Just long life filled with satisfaction.
    Now, as I said before I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I’m simply giving my view. Don’t try to change my mind, because this is what I believe. And I will respect you and your beliefs just as I would hope you respect me and mine.
    I will leave with one last thought… Think of your favorite place on this earth. Perhaps its a local park, or a beach, or maybe a long hike to a top of a mountain overlooking rivers and a forest. Picture yourself there… think about the peace you feel at a place like that. No matter who you are everyone enjoys food, the wonders of the earth, the animals, your kids- they all bring you happiness. We all face stress and problems in this world, but maybe that’s why we all need some belief to hold on to. It gets us through were we are at now. Sometimes we just need a belief that something bigger’s out there.
    Thanks for reading,

    1. You sound like somebody who might be interested in investigating the workings of the natural world. In fact there are a scientific explanations for the phenomena you describe. These explanations don’t rely on special creation, but they reveal a beauty far deeper than I suspect you imagine at this moment. I strongly encourage you to begin to explore the natural sciences.

      If your concern is that scientists are out to convince you to change your religious beliefs, understand that there are religious scientists who have written brilliantly about evolution and biology, and you might want to start with one of them. You should read Ken Miller, for example. But understand that the purpose of science, indeed any honest acquisition of knowledge, is not to reinforce your preconceptions. Facts have the nasty habits of not caring what you believe, so if your primary concern is not having your beliefs changed, then you have just given up any possibility of ever learning anything.

      1. Thanks for the information. I never meant to give off the idea that I disagree with certain sciences. On the contrary I’m always interested in learning more about the earth we live on. I feel as though the bible actually can coexist with science. Even if people disregard the idea that the bible is an inspired book, many still can agree on when it was written. I always found Isaiah 40:22 interesting, because it says “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers, the One who is stretching out the heavens just as a fine gauze, who spreads them out like a tent in which to dwell…” If you notice where it says the circle of the earth, (some translations even say sphere, or globe) this was written over 2700 years ago, yet the idea of a round earth wasn’t accepted until the Renaissance.
        The bible even talks about the water cycle: “Every river flows into the sea, but the sea is not yet full. The water returns to where the rivers began, and starts all over again.” – Ecclesiastes 1:7. This too was written when men thought the earth was flat, the general idea being that water fell off the earth at the same rate so the water level kept consistent.
        In any rate I’m very interested in learning more about our earth. Even if no one agrees on how it was made everyone can agree that the life on it is still marvelous.

        1. Chloe: If you notice where it says the circle of the earth, (some translations even say sphere, or globe)
          It says circle because “flat” seems to be the biblical view of the earth. The translations which say globe or sphere seem to be importing modern knowledge into the original text.

          Chloe: this was written over 2700 years ago, yet the idea of a round earth wasn’t accepted until the Renaissance.
          Actually, the greeks, some 2000+ years ago had figured out the earth was a sphere, and had a pretty close measure of it’s size.
          If you read 1 Enoch (written around 2000 years ago), you’ll see the cosmology of the Israelites (and Christians, as many church fathers accepted the books as inspired) at the time was of a flat, tiered “creation”.

  35. I think one of the things that frustrates me about this discussion is not so much the differences of viewpoint, its that one side (the Creationists) seem to simply not UNDERSTAND evolution, but the other side (the scientists) do understand the basis of Creationism (e.g. the literal interpretation of Genesis). Education is not supposed to CONVINCE people of a viewpoint/idea, necessarily, its supposed to give them the information to make up their own minds. Every time a creationist attempts to attack evolution, most of us sit there thinking “Wow, they really don’t know what the principles of science are, and they don’t understand the theory of evolution by natural selection”. This is an issue of EDUCATION. I find it useless to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t even know what evolution is — I have to first spend time explaining the theory to them before we can even have a discussion about the merits.

  36. “The most convincing argument towards creation for me however is the human body.”

    Oh, really? Like

    1) our spines that aren’t really meant for upright posture and lead to back problems
    2) our hemoglobin in red blood cells that has a stronger affinity for carbon monoxide than for oxygen leaving us susceptible to CO poisoning.
    3) our wisdom teeth that don’t fit most of our jaws.
    4) women’s birth canals that are barely (and sometimes not) big enough to pass a fetus
    5) the eye that focuses images upside down such that they have to be corrected by the backward-wired bipolar cells in the retina

    and on and on and on…

    “The complexity of our circulatory system, our nervous system,”

    Like the recurrent laryngeal nerve? How does that one show evidence of creation?

    I’m amazed at how many creationists have no idea about the examples of bad design.

    1. Its true that as humans now yes we all face various health issues. However most creationists believe in the bible and that we were once imperfect but inherited sin. If we were in our original perfect state, you can bet that there would be no physical health problems at all. Plus, lets face it most people do not live life as we were meant. Maby people don’t exercise, eat, or work as we were meant to.

      1. “If we were in our original perfect state, you can bet that there would be no physical health problems at all.”

        All right, please tell us, how it was our original perfect state? I think that in that original perfect state Adam and Eve didn’t walk in two legs, because that causes back problems, KP said that and you accept it and explained it was product of sin. So, the only option that remains is that our ancestors (Adam and Eve) walked in four legs to avoid the imperfection of the back problems… like apes.

        1. First off I must say ive never heard that back problems are caused by standing upright. Teenagers slouch and many people have degenerative back problems because of the poor health, or simply genes. People who keep good posture genuinely have less problems later on. My second thought is that if evolution is supposed to mean the furtherment or progression of the human race- evolving into a superior species or state- can you explain why we would begin to stand upright if it would cause health issues? Shouldnt we then still be hunched over like apes if its more healthful? Just a thought.

          1. First, evolution does not say that creatures necessarily evolve into superior species or states. Generally speaking, “superior” is relative to a creature’s environments. Humans would do very poorly if dropped in the middle of the ocean, for instance. Generally what evolution says is that versions of traits that make an organism better-suited to its environment become more common.

            The key is that evolution can only work with the traits that are available to it. Being hunched over is okay for moving through dense forests, but it is relatively slow, leaves the hands occupied with walking so they can’t be used for tools, makes climbing harder, doesn’t let you see as far, and isn’t as good for heat regulation.

            So for certain environments, like the floors of dense jungle, the hunched-over knuckle-walking of chimpanzees and gorillas is better. For other environments, like moving between trees and the ground or moving about on open prairie, upright posture is better.

            The problem arises from the fact (yes, it is a fact) that humans evolved from four-legged animals. Our backs evolved for a four-limbed form of movement. In order to stand upright, which as I said is better in certain environments, our backbones and pelvis had to be twisted and contorted into a weird shape. This is better than a hunched-over posture for the environments our ancestors lived in, but it is far from the best way to design a backbone. However, since evolution can only work with what it has, it couldn’t just start over from scratch and make a new backbone, it had to resort to modifying an existing one, which means the options were limited and we ended up with the sub-optimal design we have.

            You find this sort of thing throughout the human body, and other organisms as well. We are filled with sub-optimal traits, sometimes downright life-threateningly bad traits. Although creationists can always say “well God could have used lousy design”, that misses the point entirely. If you look at it from an evolutionary standpoint, all these sub-optimal traits make perfect sense. Organisms are limited by their history, they can only modify and/or duplicate existing structures, they rarely make anything entirely new from scratch. The flaws we see make perfect sense as being due to inherited limitations, things evolution cannot change because it had to work with the raw materials available to it. There is no similar explanation from creationism as to why would we expect to see sub-optimal traits that look like they resulted from having to modify existing traits. Only evolution can explain these observations.

          2. Back problems are caused by nothing other than standing upright, especially in tall men and women. (Also varicose veins.)

            4) women’s birth canals that are barely (and sometimes not) big enough to pass a fetus
            This one is scandalous. Millions of women and babies have died in childbirth because the birth canal passes through the pelvis. Vaginal delivery is only possible because the cranium (bigger than the other primates’, guess why?) hasn’t hardened, and it can flex at fissures. Even so the head has to make two different turns on the way out. If the pregnancy is prolonged, the skull is too large and inflexible, and for millennia, mother and baby were doomed. There re also issues with the pressure of the late foetus on the exit. The whole thing would be a lot simpler if an Intelligent Designer had simply put the outlet at the top.

            5) the eye that focuses images upside down such that they have to be corrected by the backward-wired bipolar cells in the retina
            No real problem with “upside down” (it’a all the same in the brain), but the way the retinal cells point away from the light, which has to pass through the nerves, is ridiculous. And that means that the nerves collect together at a blind spot to escape from the eyeball. Why do squid get this right and we don’t, if they have the same Designer? (Hint: they evolved separately.)

            6. The vasa deferensa (sperm tubes) going right around the bladder and the urethra going through the prostate – ask one old man in four what this leads to.

            7. The trachaea passing through the oesophagas, the reason anyone may choke on a chicken bone.

            These and alternatives may be seen at

      2. Is our need for Vitamin C also the result of inherited sin? Most other animals make their own, but we have to make it part of our diet. Our bodies attempt to manufacture it, but because of a genetic flaw the final step fails. This is a trait we share with many other primates, and it appears to be the result of a mutation that occurred millions of years ago.

        If our simian cousins share that fault from the self-same sin, it follows that Adam was a small, hairy, tropical tree-dwelling primate. Otherwise the other primates share our curse but not our original sin.

      3. Chloe, I’ll have you know that I *deliberately* put just enough information in my comment to bait you into the “Fall of Man caused genetic and other design flaws” argument.

        As Bad Jim mentions, Chloe, the Vitamin C pseudogene was inherited from primate ancestors and shows a pattern of inherited mutations that you would predict if descent with modification occurred. Very difficult to explain with creationism, unless you think the creator decided to shut down the gene in all primates and give more closely related ones more similar mutations.

        As is stated in the blog owner’s book, if a creator was involved, he/she/it created things to make it look as though they evolved.

        1. As stated before, I didnt come here to debate. I simply came to state my view and the reason why I believe. We could literally go on for years arguing different facts or reasons we believe what we do, but it wont change anyones mind. What I was hoping for was an understanding, or at least respect of what I believe versus what you believe. I don’t agree with evolution, yet I still will respect you as a person. Getting into petty arguments is pointless, since neither side as of yet has won and I doubt for many years to come there will be no one unified and agreed upon factual answer. At this point however, Ive made my peace.

          1. The problem is we do understand creationism, that is precisely why we have no respect for it. Many of us have been studying creationist ideas in depth for years. I have been studying them for about a decade myself.

            Ideas do not automatically get respect just because someone has come up with them, they must earn respect by showing that they are useful. Evolution is useful, it explains a great deal about life on this world and predicted many facts that were not known when it was first discovered. Creationism, on the other hand, has demonstrated that it is utterly useless. It proved no insight, no explanation, it cannot predict anything we have found, in fact it is contradicted by pretty much everything we have learned. It requires countless ad-hoc rationalizations to explain away inconvenient facts, like the issue with vitamin C, or it simply ignores them like you are doing right now. It is an intellectually bankrupt idea that has made no progress in the last 200 years and has contributed nothing to our understanding of the universe. Far from being an idea that deserves respect, it is an idea that deserves ridicule and scorn.

            That is not to say that YOU do not deserve respect. We are perfectly able to separate a person from his or her ideas. Criticizing an idea is not the same thing as criticizing a person. So our lack of respect for creationism does not indicate a lack of respect for you, only a lack of respect for an idea you hold.

          2. There IS one true, factual answer just like there is one history of this earth. The earth isn’t a combination of the various shapes people have imagined over the years. (And if you think your bible contains an accurate description of the water cycle, you’d fail 9th grade science in public high school.)

            Your religion has ensured that you cannot understand some actual truths, however, by threatened your salvation for “biting from the tree of knowledge”. Truth isn’t debatable.

            You may be convincing yourself that you are “at peace” with your “understanding”, but you aren’t convincing anyone here. And it’s very telling what posts you do and don’t read– what you do and don’t respond to. I’m sure many a former fundie recognizes themselves in you.

            Of course you did not come here to debated. You lack the very basic understanding of science to be capable of engaging in debate. Your schooling has left you wholly unprepared to debate anything about reality.

            The truth doesn’t need to have “excuses” made for it, you know. Does your faith in god depend on evolution not being true? What do you make of the many theistic scientists that accept evolution– do you imagine yourself more knowledgeable than them with your sub-par homeschooling as well? Do you think your sub-par education could get you in medical school?

            You are evidence of problems with homeschooling in the same way Tom Cruise’s youtube spiel on Scientology is indicative of the problems with HIS brainwashing. So, I thank you very much for dropping by and serving as a most excellent example for Jerry’s post.

            There have been millions of creation stories invented by humans over the eons but there is only one truth. Rational people understand that scientific evidence is the only way to find that truth. Even most irrational people realize that. (Most people choose airplane travel over astral projection and medical doctors over faith healing.)

            When we want to solve a crime, we don’t imagine demons or aliens absconded with the body. The same principle applies to those who want to actually understand how our planet and humanity came to be– we don’t imagine invisible men poofing us into existence as part of some nebulous “divine plan” that seems mighty provincial and anthropic for such a huge universe.

          3. Just thought I’d add to this one last time- as I said before I dint disagree with science. Ive studied Darwin’s theory and see many holes in it. In fact many well respected scientists do not believe in the Theory of Evolution. I had excellent grades in history, Biology, Chemistry and am currently studying to become a nurse. I am not discrediting science as a whole, merely just the ideas on how we got here. But again, I know I’m not going to change your mind, and your never going to change yours.

          4. Chloe, tell us about these holes you found in Darwin’s theory. I doubt they hold water.

            It is not true that many well respected biology scientists do not believe in the theory of evolution. Well over 90% agree with it.

          5. You can’t reject evolution without rejecting science. The same principles used to study evolution, the same principles that have convinced essentially every scientist on the planet it is true, were also used for the rest of science. Evolution has more evidence backing it up than probably any other scientific principle ever. At the very least it is in the top 5 or so. You cannot reject evolution without rejecting the rest of science along with it.

          6. Well everyone who wants to claim mutations as the basis of human life:
            For decades now scientists, especially geneticists have been trying to experiment the effects of mutation on various insects. Just to name 2- one was done on fruit flies. Since the 1900’s scientists exposed fruit flies to X-Rays, increasing the mutations by 100 times the normal. Dobzhansky revealed one result: “The clear-cut mutants of Drosophila (fruit flies), with which so much of the classical research in genetics was done, are almost without exception inferior to wild-type flies in viability, fertility, longevity.”
            So not only were any of these mutations useful, but also they didn’t produce anything new. The fruit flies had malformed wings, legs and bodies, and other distortions, but they always remained fruit flies. And when mutated flies were mated with each other, it was found that after a number of generations, some normal fruit flies began to hatch. If left in their natural state, these normal flies would eventually have been the survivors over the weaker mutants, preserving the fruit fly in the form in which it had originally existed.
            Our DNA code has the ability to repair itself against damage.
            Scientific American relates how “the life of every organism and its continuity from generation to generation” are preserved “by enzymes that continually repair” genetic damage. The journal states: “In particular, significant damage to DNA molecules can induce an emergency response in which increased quantities of the repair enzymes are synthesized.”
            Thus, in the book Darwin Retried the author relates the following about the respected geneticist, the late Richard Goldschmidt: “After observing mutations in fruit flies for many years, Goldschmidt fell into despair. The changes, he lamented, were so hopelessly micro [small] that if a thousand mutations were combined in one specimen, there would still be no new species.”

            Now take for instance the peppered moths. Often in evolutionary literature England’s peppered moth is referred to as a modern example of evolution in progress. The International Wildlife Encyclopedia stated: “This is the most striking evolutionary change ever to have been witnessed by man.”20 After observing that Darwin was plagued by his inability to demonstrate the evolution of even one species, Jastrow, in his book Red Giants and White Dwarfs, added: “Had he known it, an example was at hand which would have provided him with the proof he needed. The case was an exceedingly rare one.”
            At first, the lighter form of this moth was more common than the darker form. This lighter type blended well into the lighter-colored trunks of trees and so was more protected from birds. But then, because of years of pollution from industrial areas, tree trunks became darkened. Now the moths’ lighter color worked against them, as birds could pick them out faster and eat them. Consequently the darker variety of peppered moth, which is said to be a mutant, survived better because it was difficult for birds to see them against the soot-darkened trees. The darker variety rapidly became the dominant type.
            But had the peppered moths that were considered mutants a new type of species? No, they were simply a different color. English medical journal On Call referred to using this example to try to prove evolution as “notorious.” It declared: “This is an excellent demonstration of the function of camouflage, but, since it begins and ends with moths and no new species is formed, it is quite irrelevant as evidence for evolution.”

            Scientists have tried to keep changing various animals and plants indefinitely by crossbreeding. They wanted to see if, in time, they could develop new forms of life. With what result? On Call reports: “Breeders usually find that after a few generations, an optimum is reached beyond which further improvement is impossible, and there has been no new species formed . . . Breeding procedures, therefore, would seem to refute, rather than support evolution.”
            Much the same observation is made in Science magazine: “Species do indeed have a capacity to undergo minor modifications in their physical and other characteristics, but this is limited and with a longer perspective it is reflected in an oscillation about a mean [average].” So, then, what is inherited by living things is not the possibility of continued change but instead (1) stability and (2) limited ranges of variation.

            So even if certain animals and plants can adapt, they never underwent the necessary changes to become an entirely different species. And its fact that humans are a different species than monkeys. (Or, apes if you prefer.)

            As far as you saying about all scientists believing in evolution, its shown that even evolutionists cannot agree upon the Theory or stability of it.
            When a special centennial edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species was to be published, W. R. Thompson, then director of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, in Ottawa, Canada, was invited to write its introduction. In it he said: “As we know, there is a great divergence of opinion among biologists, not only about the causes of evolution but even about the actual process. This divergence exists because the evidence is unsatisfactory and does not permit any certain conclusion. It is therefore right and proper to draw the attention of the non-scientific public to the disagreements about evolution”
            Paleontologist Niles Eldredge, a prominent evolutionist, said: “The doubt that has infiltrated the previous, smugly confident certitude of evolutionary biology’s last twenty years has inflamed passions.” He spoke of the “lack of total agreement even within the warring camps,” and added, “things really are in an uproar these days . . . Sometimes it seems as though there are as many variations on each [evolutionary] theme as there are individual biologists”
            A London Times writer, Christopher Booker (who accepts evolution), said this about it: “It was a beautifully simple and attractive theory. The only trouble was that, as Darwin was himself at least partly aware, it was full of colossal holes.” Regarding Darwin’s Origin of Species, he observed: “We have here the supreme irony that a book which has become famous for explaining the origin of species
            in fact does nothing of the kind.”
            Booker also stated: “A century after Darwin’s death, we still have not the slightest demonstrable or even plausible idea of how evolution really took place—and in recent years this has led to an extraordinary series of battles over the whole question. . . . a state of almost open war exists among the evolutionists themselves, with every kind of [evolutionary] sect urging some new modification.” He concluded: “As to how and why it really happened, we have not the slightest idea and probably never shall.”
            Britain’s New Scientist observed that “an increasing number of scientists, most particularly a growing number of evolutionists . . . argue that Darwinian evolutionary theory is no genuine scientific theory at all. . . . Many of the critics have the highest intellectual credentials.”

            If even evolutionists can’t agree on one solid argument, and there is still no solid evidence of it being fact, (missing link, and the inability to recreate the effects of evolution in a controlled environment) then I’m going to hold onto my beliefs in creation.

          7. So not only were any of these mutations useful, but also they didn’t produce anything new. The fruit flies had malformed wings, legs and bodies, and other distortions, but they always remained fruit flies.

            This is highly disengenuous. They had antenna replaced with legs, or eyes replaced with antenna, or other major changes to their body plan. If you go with the standard definition of insect, which is a six-legged, four-winged, two-antenna arthropod with 3 segments, these animals were not only no longer fruit flies, they could no longer even be considered insects. This is like a human being born with wings in place of legs, these are major changes.

            And when mutated flies were mated with each other, it was found that after a number of generations, some normal fruit flies began to hatch.

            I suggest you inform yourself about dominant and recessive alleles. This is middle-school level biology that you are not understanding, and is no problem whatsoever for evolution.

            If left in their natural state, these normal flies would eventually have been the survivors over the weaker mutants, preserving the fruit fly in the form in which it had originally existed.

            Did you miss the point where they increased the rate of mutation by a factor of 100? Of course they are going to be messed up an inferior, the mutation rate has been pushed far, far beyond anything you would see in nature. You can’t say that because an extremely accelerated mutation rate resulting in multiple major independent mutations in each individual is harmful that therefore normal mutation rates where you may see a major mutation every dozen or even hundred generations are also harmful.

            Our DNA code has the ability to repair itself against damage.

            Yes, it has the ability, but it often fails. We are talking maybe .1% failure rate, but that adds up to a lot over the whole genome.

            So even if certain animals and plants can adapt, they never underwent the necessary changes to become an entirely different species. And its fact that humans are a different species than monkeys. (Or, apes if you prefer.)

            This is simply wrong, you once again demonstrate your ignorance on the subject. We know of literally dozens of cases of new species being formed. See here for a few examples:

            Of course breeders cannot change animals past a certain point. Breeders cannot produce new traits, cannot produce new mutations. They can only work with the traits, the mutations, that are already available. So they are therefore limited to those range of traits that are present in the population they have to work with.

            But that only applies to humans’ short lives and the small populations breeders have to work with. Over longer time periods and with larger populations, however, this is not a problem. The mutations necessary for new traits, or entirely new versions of existing traits, are common over much longer time periods.

            We know, by looking at organisms today, that the mutations necessary for large-scale changes in organisms are not uncommon. We have a number of instances, just in the time of human history, where species have underwent mutations that lead to major changes in some traits. For instance entirely new colors in mice that allow them to live in new environments, newly-developed abilities to colonize high altitude forests in insects, changes in the behaviors mosquitos use to choose their mates. These may seem like small changes to you, but these have all occured just within the last couple hundred years. Extend that by a factor of a thousand and you get a thousand changes like that. That is more than enough, for instance, to change a mouse into something that is almost identical to a hamster, or a cat into something that looks and acts like a dog. The mutations we see in nature over human time scales are of the exact type and magnitude that would be needed to produce entirely new forms of life over geologic time scales.

            And despite your quote mines, scientists do agree that evolution takes place and they do agree on the mechanisms. The disagreement is on how important certain mechanisms are relative to other mechanisms and which mechanisms applied in which specific situations. Using discussions regarding these sorts of disagreements, creationists routinely take quotes out of context to make it seem as if biologists do not agree about evolution as a whole. They do. Creationists are notorious for this, and it is extraordinarily dishonest. The disagreements, the issues for which there is often not enough evidence, is which specific evolutionary mechanisms applied in which specific situations. That doesn’t mean evolution is flawed, it just means we cannot always tell in what way evolution worked in some specific case.

            Yes, Darwin’s had a lot of good ideas and a lot of bad ones. No one uses Darwin’s ideas verbatim anymore, there has been a huge amount of progress in the study of biology any we know much of what Darwin came up with was wrong. Much was right as well. Unlike religion, science moves forward. Darwin would certainly recognize his ideas in the modern theory of evolution, but he would also have marveled at all the new ideas, all the new detail, the firm mathematical basis that he never imagined.

          8. Chloe, There never can be “one unified and agreed upon factual answer” when creationists don’t require, ask for or seek out facts. Stories in an old book are not facts simply because they are old.

          9. Hard to win a gun fight without guns, bullets, or the ability to aim, huh? You didn’t come to debate because you can’t; you’re simply willfully ignorant. Evolution won 150 years ago, you just don’t like the outcome. Either explain the questions presented to you or concede. Reality is not a point of view, so whatever peace you have is based on ignorance.

          10. Of course people can — and will — change their minds. What a silly thing to say, Chloe, after all your previous, more thoughtful posts.

            I’ve changed mine!

            Just keep reading and studying. You’ll get it, eventually.

          11. True some people can change. I’m sure your familiar with Jesus stating that it is easier for a a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Obviously he wasn’t saying that it was impossible, merely difficult. Some people, will never change whether its stubbornness or just because of a real honest belief. It’s true that people need to be open minded, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t have examined both evolution and creation before making a decision. I’m not one to follow blindly, anything teaching I take on I thoroughly convince myself through study first. Its the same with my belief in creation. To me it makes sense and evolution simply does not.

          12. It is impossible for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. Something that is more difficult than something impossible is also, by definition, impossible, since nothing can be more difficult than being impossible.

            And you still don’t see to understand that you are extremely ignorant of even the most basic aspects of biology. I don’t know whether you only studied creationist sources, picked really terrible or really juvenile pro-science sources, or just didn’t pay attention, but you do not understand evolution at all. I am not sure how many times this has to be explained to you.

            Please learn something about evolution, you are just making yourself look bad by spouting these decades-old, long-debunked creationist talking points. It only hurts your case.

          13. Chloe, you said something very important a few posts back:

            What I was hoping for was an understanding, or at least respect of what I believe versus what you believe.”

            It’s clear you aren’t here in search of truth. By your own words, you’re merely looking for RESPECT for your own views. I don’t need to tell a smart person like you that these are two very different animals.

            Respect in science must be earned. If you simply want respect as a fellow evolved primate endowed with language, you have mine, unequivocally.


      4. And as usual, it takes lengthy, LENGTHY posts just to straighten out the misconceptions about basic biology that all creationists have — let alone teach them about any evolution…

        1. To which I add: It always amazes me how creationists in a thread full of experts on evolutionary biology can think they know more about evolution than the people they are debating in said threads.

          1. You know clearly you all need to feel like you won here, as I came in merely to state my reasons why I believe what I do. Ive said before what Ive studied- both creationist material and evolutionists. Ive read Darwins book. Ive read various studies published by evolutionists, and clearly have brought out enough points to get you both in a tizzy. But then again what should I expect? This is an evolutionists blog. So this is my last post. Congratulations you successfully made me view evolutionists in a worse light. I try to take the high road in most occasions, and I give respect where its do. But do not tell me that I am inferior due to my beliefs, or education. The true tell to a person is how they act when persecuted. So instead of getting into name calling and childish arguments that effectively do nothing more than make the other parties mad, I’ll take my leave.

          2. That is probably the best course of action since your points have been thoroughly refuted by TheBlackCat.

          3. Ah yes, when you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Standard creationist response when faced with counter-arguments they can’t deal with.

          4. “But do not tell me that I am inferior due to my beliefs”

            I didn’t see anyone say that Chloe. In fact, TheBlackCat made it quite clear that he’s basically respecting you and judging your ideas, not vice-versa – the way it should be.

            It seems to me a little ingenious to claim to be the victim in order to justify bowing out of a discussion.
            But that would seem to be the only way out for you, at this point.
            I’m disturbed that you don’t acknowledge that at the very least, some of what you said is false or misleading, or both, as BlackCat has pointed out.
            Your position is one of rabid defence rather than pursuit of understanding and truth. You misrepresent evolution by characterizing as simply ‘random’. Yet right or wrong, we all know that it is the combination of random mutation with non-random natural selection that produces much of evolution. Why would you mis-characterize it like that, I wonder, such that you are actually speaking falsehoods?
            I ‘doubt’ everything and if it can be proven that evolution is false, there’s nothing for me to lose – none of these people have something to gain by evolution being true & many could earn great wealth by proving something about it being wrong.
            I just want to know the truth and I do not care for anything which prevents me from being able to ‘doubt’ or question it. This, to me, is clearly the wisest and most sensible position to take.

          5. My quote from you about evolution being ‘random’ should more accurately be “the system was set up with purpose, not by chance”

  37. For those who say that an education in creationism instead of evolution doesn’t harm children because they figured it out for themselves, I would say that’s like saying, “My parents beat me, but I still turned out all right.”

    I received an atrocious education in science and actually couldn’t stand biology in high school because it just didn’t make sense. When I got to college and learned about evolution in biology 101, it changed my life. I fully believe that I would’ve gone into science or medicine had I just had a proper education in science in the first place. Unfortunately, because I thought I hated biology, I waited until my very last semester to take that course.


    1. Obviously, good education is better than bad education. All I am saying is that children are more resilient than we give them credit for; this upbringing is NOT an intellectual death sentence.

      I agree that it is harmful and that we should speak out.

    2. I avoided biology in high school because I didn’t want to dissect dead animals in class. No ideology or religion behind my reasons, but just curriculum requirements I had no desire to participate in.

  38. Just have to comment as a homeschooling dad that I got into homeschooling to give my children better (more flexible, more advanced) educations, and in my case that means LOTS of teaching of the facts of biological evolution, including read-alouds for my middle children this last year from Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and from Dawkins’s The Greatest Show on Earth. My third son is quite interested in biology and I have taken him to public lectures by PZ Myers. The key variable here is not homeschooling versus not homeschooling, but pursuing accurate information about biology versus not pursuing accurate information about biology. Plenty of classroom school courses in biology are appallingly bad; I couldn’t count on good courses in biology, reading (especially), and math in my friendly local public schools for my children, so we are trying to encourage their curiosity to seek more knowledge from more sources than just school lessons.

  39. It’s been interesting to see one or two of the same people who have been disgusted and speaking out about stopping the “cock sucker” rhetoric seen here also standing up for and defending similar rhetoric on Pharyngula.

    Groupthink: it’s dirty, and it distorts your mind, doesn’t it?

    1. There’s a difference between making a rude comment in a community setting and sending an email to a stranger threatening violence. Context matters.

    2. You’re absolutely right, Milton. The same applies to the people who defend the right of movie directors to attempt to depict real life as it actually is, warts and all, as it were, and then complain when the teacher of their four year old children attempts to use the same language in their science class.

      Bloody hypocrites!

      1. After reading gallons of bronze-age old creationists’ “evidence” without principle of evidence, Damian’s coment brings something original: an “analogy” between without any principle of analogy. No matter that the main point of contention is, more than the self-important doublethought nastiness of the Christian rant, its total dearth of supporting substance but hollow comunally reinforced random representations; what flaws the ill-crafted attempt to draw parallels is the fact we’re dealing with presumable adults, unless the object of the “four-year old children” analogic extension is the Paulinists (or “Christians”, to employ messed-up terminology) who observing non-Paulinists go over the top feel more than justified to cross the same or further boundaries, with the difference of coupling their diatribe with the childish (could this “childish” justify the analogy, after all!?) truth-value precognitive presumptions of their metanarrative.

        Bloody backfiring!

        1. Just to complete the point: Wasn’t Jesus who supposedly said “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”? (King James Bible, Matthew 19:14) Maybe many adult Paulinists feel like being equated to little children and for their case the analogy “ranting atheists”/”counterranting Paulinists”-“apologists of foul-language in media”/”dirty-mouthed four-years old children” could subjectively (by no means objectively) hold.

        2. I can’t make any sense of your comment, YakobusBR. If English is not your first language, that’s understandable, though it still doesn’t allow me the proper right of reply.

          If you were suggesting that my analogy doesn’t work, you’d be right, because it was never meant to. Context is all important, unless your only goal is to make facile and self-serving analogies, as I believe to be the case with Milton. And that’s why I decided to reply in kind.

          It is not self-evident that bad language in all contexts is, well, necessarily bad. Whether people wish that it were is irrelevant, because they are still expected to argue for the truth of their conclusion.

          So, if you understood that, congratulations, but from the little that I can make out from your comment, I’m not convinced that you did in fact understand the point.

  40. Interesting threads. I have no testimonials of conversion to offer, I guess I was lucky enough to avoid any effort to indoctrinate me into superstition. But that is not what I wanted to comment on anyway.

    A few things about “home schooling”.

    For one thing, even if home schooling is carried out by some kind of small social group instead of parents alone it is still a far cry from the social environment of all but the smallest schools. In the first place, in most cases the child is never really exposed to a clear demarcation between authority figures in general and the parents as authority figures. This is a critical passage I think. First one discovers that authority figures per se cannot be trusted a priori the way one tends to trust a parent, and then one begins the enlightenment that parents too are not infallible. This can be a very difficult or very easy transition but it is always needed.

    In home schooling I cannot imagine how anything like the diversity of social behaviors that occur in a secular school system can be generated let alone appreciated. In most secular environments one is exposed early on to the entire gamut of social lessons including injustice, prejudice, bigotry, dishonesty, friendship, mutual respect, justice, forthrightness, and on and on. It is not easy to live through all this in one’s formative years, but that does not make it any less necessary.

    Yet another lesson that seems to me very improbable if not impossible is that of self reliance. If one is removed from the secular environment at an early age and home schooled at least in part that constitutes a lesson that the proper way to contend with the indifference and indeed the danger of the larger world is to withdraw into an insular and largely delusional sanctuary.

    Even in a cooperative of home schoolers, where will you find the diversity and depth and range of experience represented by the many instructors with whom you would come in contact in a secular environment? How can you experience the process of discriminating what knowledge is useful and trustworthy regardless of the source? How will you learn the difference between those educators who expect you to perform like a well trained pet and those who seek to inspire you? And how will you come to understand that learning is a constant and lifelong necessity?

    To keep this brief I will skip over many other things that may well only be instances of what I have already mentioned, but one thing I think remains that is perhaps the most important of all. Self identity. In a narrowly insular and highly homogeneous society how does one learn that what goes on in your own consciousness can only have so much influence on the surrounding world but that the surrounding world can have a profound influence on your own consciousness. How do you then learn to defend your privy cognition from those outward influences that are often pernicious and often perilous? Worse still in the instance where an imaginary authority figure is supposedly able to eavesdrop on your thoughts, how can you ever become free enough to think for yourself?

    When a human being becomes self-aware, the arc of the universe lies before them. Education should expand, not constrain their path into the future.

    1. It’s obvious you have never taken the time to get to know homeschooled children and their families. Quite diverse we are. A public school is one of the most homogeneous social constructions one can find. As a parent of children that migrated from home school to public school, I can tell you that they had NO problem at all. Please do some research, field research, before perpetuating myths that have long since been dismissed. Oh, and for the record, we’re secular, evolutionary teaching homeschoolers.

      For a great synthesis between evolution and faith, I recommend:

      1. Secular and you give a reference to thankgodforevolution?

        You didn’t really address the substance of my post, but what you did appear to respond to was diversity. However, you omitted the fact that I referred to diversity of behaviors.

        In what ways are public schoools homogeneous?

        Why would I research home schooling as you put it? How can one do that? Did I make any statistical claims about successful transitions of homeschoolers to university? Why would that be significant? To the best of my knowledge all universities, and all High Schools have a “dropout rate”. This is a simple statistic that portrays as a percentage of some population those who are not included in the “graduates” statistic. Is the dropout statistic reflective of the flawed nature of the individuals who make it up, or a measure of the inadequacy of the educational system overall?

        I am just curious about these things, but I really don’t expect you to respond or even want you to respond. I would prefer you try to think about the things I said in my original post.

  41. Everyone knows that if you stay in a certain situation long enough, you get used to it. If you live in the cold, up north, and move to the Sahara Desert, it will seem very hot, uncomfortable for a while, but, eventually you’ll get used to it, and it will not bother you.
    The same with hell. At first, it will be uncomfortable, but, after about 25 years of the same ole same ole, it will be familiar. Then, after burning for 150 years, it will be second nature, And after 1000 years, no big deal at all. After 100,000 years of it, you’ll actually enjoy it and have friends all around. And, after 10 billion years, there won’t be any torture or pain you haven’t already experienced, and it will be another walk in the park. After all, an eternity is a really long long time. It’s forever. So maybe hell really isn’t such a bad place after all.

    1. Fortunately, a material body is required to feel anything– including pain.

      This is fortunate, indeed, since everyone is going to hell according to somebody’s heartfelt religion.

      It will be a better day when humans cease to be manipulated by such threats–threats of hell are why many rational people find religion akin to child abuse.

    2. Or maybe hell is reserved for people who reject reality for stale, millenia-old dogma. Or maybe it is reserved for people who don’t do jumping jacks facing 18.763 degrees west of due north at 2:18 am every morning. Even if we assume Hell exists, there is no more reason to believe your rules for who is and is not going to hell than any other randomly-generated reason.

  42. To Krubozumo Nyankoye:

    You ask where will homeschooled kids find…and list many important things. Self-reliance, the need for lifelong learning, self-identity, and many more.

    Your post is interesting and important, but I know many young adults who were homeschooled and can tell you that, despite your doubts about their ability to get all of that important non-academic learning, somehow they do. They meet up with adversity, immerse themselves in diversity, learn to take responsibility for themselves, know themselves.

    No guarantee, of course: any one homeschooler might miss out on something — but so do school kids. For example, I have definitely seen a few school kids who seem to need to be spoon-fed concepts and lessons and who blame everyone but themselves for their lack of success.

    Again, you ask where can homeschoolers find all these things (which I agree are important): from just *one* of my kids, the answer is our large and evolving homeschool group, extended family, summer camps, science classes at the local school (afterschool program AND summer program), group lessons in swimming, skating, gymnastics, and dance, individual lessons with various music teachers, children’s theater in several different settings, Girl Scouts, rock climbing class and challenge, a competition dance team, camp outs, large-scale group projects, college courses starting at age 16, volunteering, working, NOT-back-to-school camps, and lots and lots of travel (starting at age 15, much of it without parents and starting at age 18, without adults). Plus I probably missed a whole bunch of other stuff. Life can be very rich, especially if one doesn’t have 30 hours a week of often-stultifying and usually-sedentary school.

    1. Cathy –

      All well and good. What do you mean by “many”? A hundred? A thousand? Ten thousand? What percentage of the school age population of the US is ten thousand?

      Have you ever heard of the concept of the “tragedy of the commons”?

      What you describe sounds to me a lot more like an elitist charter school than home schooling, but I could be wrong. Pray tell me, is your rock climbing class conducted on an artificial wall or at some nearby crag?

      Travel is indeed a powerful means of education. Does your group sponsor travel to Liberia, or Peru or China?

      I am just curious.

      1. Our homeschool group is not elitist (and doesn’t sponsor any travel anywhere), and many of these activities were my daughter’s, not the group’s.

        As a group, the homeschoolers I know enough about to comment on their economic status are pretty broke. My own family is very broke (in the red) right now, although a lot of that is because of one daughter’s health problems and the insanity of health care and health insurance costs.

        That is not to say that we (my friends and my own family) are not very, very lucky when compared economically to much of human history or indeed much of the world today. It IS to say that, as families, we have put things like education and (many of us) travel ahead as priorities over house, car, clothing, and lifestyle.

        I “get” that we are lucky to be able to do what we have done, but I think it is fair to say that we sacrificed some things to do so.

        We afforded events, classes, and travel in a variety of ways. At times, I traded teaching other people’s kids for free classes for my kids. The specific thing you asked about was rock-climbing: we splurged on a few indoor rock-climbing classes for my daughter so she could participate in a practically-free rock climbing excursion at Joshua Tree Monument (we camped out there, so there were low rates for pitching a tent on the group campsite; the parents leading the rock climbing excursion were members of the group and didn’t charge for their expertise). My parents, who were much more financially well-off than us, paid for a lot of the dance lessons and competition dance team costs, although my daughters and I fund-raised some of the costs as well. My good friend works for an airline, and we were lucky enough on several occasions to get really cheap airfare through flying standby, and many trips are car-trips; when we travel we stay with friends for free as much as possible (yes, even in England and Belgium), although of course we buy food and cook for our hosts, so it isn’t totally free; we also camp when possible; and we have gotten really good at traveling on-the-cheap. Much of the travel my daughter did from age 15 on up, she paid for herself by working a crummy job at a movie theater and saving like crazy. Even though she paid a lot of her own life-at-home expenses AND bought a used car, she was still able to save enough to do her dream of traveling with two amazing friends, when she was 18: she traveled to Hawaii for a month and Europe for maybe two months because she used the buddy passes for airfare, stayed with friends + a little bit of camping in HI, stayed with friends and youth hostels in Europe, and traveled on-the-cheap.

        1. Cathy –

          Thanks for the reply.

          Ah yes Joshua Tree, I actually prefer to call it Yucca brevifolia. I believe now it is a National Park. Hence the fees. I haven’t been there for more than 17 years. It is a fascinating place. Since I assume you did not take part in the actual climbing has your daughter remarked to you at all what the difference was between climing at the rock gym and at Joshua Tree? I am sure you can think of many yourself. As I recall the group sites at JT were near Jumbo Rocks. On the opposite side of the playa from Jumbo Rocks is a nice area called the Zebra cliffs. I don’t suppose you visited those?

          So I would ask you, since you pride yourself (and I think justifyably) in the range and scope of the homeschooling your provide why you don’t take advantage of both? IOW draw some arbitrary line that defines the most basic, and allow your progeny to obtain that education and all the additional (as you put it) non-academic experiences and supplement, reingforce and enhance it with your own concerted program? I would think that would be the best of both worlds and more economically prudent as well because you must pay taxes that fund public education?

          Or does your “group” receive any outside funding? That is also why I brought up the concept of the tragedy of the commons.

          Perhaps you would care to address that?

          Since evidently you have put a lot of effort into your home schooling regimen, may I ask how you think you compare to the overall population of home schoolers? You don’t have to be specific just below, average, or above will do.

          What is your opinion of autodidactics? What is your opinion of how to measure educational success?


          1. Wow, a lot of stuff to answer. I’m probably going to miss some stuff.

            1) I don’t know Joshua Tree very well. I don’t remember the specific names of the places my daughter climbed — it may have been about a decade ago, and I was “playing” and hiking with my youngest. She loved climbing in nature, but she liked the rock wall, too. She hasn’t done much since–she’s been living in the Bay Area and now Brooklyn, NY, since she reached adulthood, and it doesn’t fit in PLUS is expensive.

            2)I have worked in a lot of public schools (still do, in afterschool programs), and my husband is a public school high school teacher. I don’t like much about the system. Lots of nice teachers, of course, mostly well intentioned, but I think that schools teach the wrong things (for example, I know that the intent is to teach math, but what most kids learn is that math is hard and boring and that they are no good at it). I know this sounds harsh, but I think that the school environment is pretty toxic to creativity, independent thinking, true learning, and love of science, history, math and reading.

            That said, I did allow my kids to get “the best of both worlds.” Once they got older, we always talked about options. One kid decided to go to a public homeschool program that had classes, assignments, grades, and so forth — but still a TON of flexibility compared to most school programs. (She chose this at age 16 and was in the program for 2 years.) My second daughter considered and looked into a variety of options but chose to homeschool until age 16, when she enrolled in the local junior college. My youngest decided to go to the local high school dance team and enrolled in the district homeschool program, with which she could take dance at the high school and also take one more class per semester.

            Why did I let my kids go to a system that is “toxic” (IMO)? Because my kids were old enough to make such choices, old enough to withstand much that is bad about schools (again, IMO), and also because my kids chose to do very moderated programs that were much more “best of both worlds” than just enrolling full time in the local school would have been.

            3) My homeschool group does not receive any outside funding. The group has no funding at all (plus has no staff, no newsletter, nothing TO fund). Just a bunch of homeschooling families that get together…and often pool resources, expertise, etc.

            4) The Tragedy of the Commons. This has been a big point over on Pharyngula (sp?), too.

            I “get” that caring, intelligent parents removing their own kids from a system would tend to make that system go down in quality. If *all* parents who cared *at all* about education removed their kids from public schools, then what would be left would be a sad sort of enterprise indeed.

            However, I already think that almost all public schools (and to some extent private schools, most of ’em)are a sad sort of enterprise. Yes, a lot of the teachers care. Yes, a lot of people come out of the system with ambition and creativity. But a lot of people come out of wars with strength and self-confidence, too; that fact doesn’t mean that war doesn’t destroy many others, or that war is an overall good thing.

            Speaking in generalities, the school system takes in curious master-learners at one end and churns out people who don’t think for themselves very well, and who either don’t care about things that they associate with school subjects OR care passionately, but just about getting that next reward, that next “A” or credit or diploma.

            I once sat in a master’s-level class with a whole lot of other adults who had just sat through an evening commute to get to the class, and I seemed to be the only one who cared at all about the course content we were supposed to be getting. I swear, adults were raising their hands and asking, “Is that going to be on the test?” Adults who had paid money and time to get there to get this fantastic information (class was about computers and human cognition)cheered when we got to go home early (after only half of a class). Some people told me that they only skimmed the reading assignment but would be able to ace the test, cuz they knew how to “work the system.”

            WHAT? Who cares about the durned grade? Get me the info!

            It was like being in a classroom activated this whole public-school mentality that I hate.

            Well, obviously I could go on and on. Suffice to say, I really think that this particular “commons” is already fundamentally broken. I personally try to help kids in public schools (tutoring, afterschool classes, etc.), but I could not possibly justify putting my kids in the system fulltime, all their childhood, given my opinion about the system itself.

            I am aware of the fact that most people in the world disagree with me about schools. I think fewer people would disagree if they read a lot about learning (that is, what science knows about learning) and if, armed with that knowledge, they visited a variety of schools at all levels.

            The way out for a person who does that and agrees with me? Either start a small public charter or private school with a completely different structure, or homeschool/unschool.

          2. Cathy –

            Thanks again for the response I do appreciate it. I am sorry if I asked too many questions but my last first hand experience with public schools in the US was 43 years ago.

            This is not really relevant to the conversation by I was struck by your comment that rock climbing is expensive. I agree but when I started doing it around 43 years ago it was not particularly so. And incidentally I was living in Brooklyn at the time. Odd how paths can cross.

            In any event, I hope you see this because this thread has grown rather stale and unfortunately I was not able to get online last night because I had pressing work to finish.

            Since you have been so forthcoming I will try to reciprocate. I think I can understand your point of view of public schooling as a parent and I will readily admit that you have a certain justification for it as well. I am not a parent so I can’t speak from any personal investment so to speak. On the other hand I have lived all over the world, I don’t mean visited, I mean spent from months to years working in a number of countries in S. America, Africa, N. America and to a lesser extent Asia and Europe. So I think my perspective on the matter of education is that there needs to be active participation by the parents of those being educated for the system to be a success. Even a modest success. That is why I brought up the question of the commons. We all live in society and as such we all deserve some benefits and owe some participation in it.

            I get the impression from your responses that you are quite the exception to those who make up the majority of home schoolers. Your intent appears to be to give your children the best possible education with limited resources while trying to preserve what you characterized as “curious master-learners”. That is commendable to be sure.

            You alluded in your second to last paragraph to “what science knows about learning”. That prompts yet another question, what do you mean by that? Many would argue that standardized testing is scientifically sound. I wouldn’t, but I have to ask to try to understand your point of view.

            In my opinion the educational systems in the US are largely a process of elimination. Notice that I do not call it selection. At least that is the impression I came away with in the late 1960s. I suppose by now it has become far worse. I strongly suspect so. But unfortunately that does not change the fact that public education, for the majority of children, is the only reasonable alternative. You appear to be exceptional in that sense and more power to you, I think you realize that your approach to education is unavailable to most parents.

            That is to say in the US, let alone the rest of the world, yet we all live in the same world.

            Unfortunately, I do not have as much time as I would like to continue my response now. I think our conversation may well dry-up due to the passage of events and time but I hope not. I will look for other posts by you in more recent threads and see if I can refer you to this reply in the event that you don’t come back and check it again.

            BTW there is excellent rock climbing in upstate New York near Pokipsee (sp?) the Shwangunks. There is also some climbing on basalt crags near New Haven and Hartford. There is also rock climbing on the New Jersey Palisades just across the Hudson from the city. 13 miles of crags from the George Washington bridge north to about opposite West Point. It may be considerably more developed now than it was when I was last there and hence safer. At the time it was totally unclimbed and the rock rather rotten.


  43. That “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.’” statistic really bothers me. I’m a vocal atheist, and I consider moral instruction to be both very important and sorely lacking from public schools (FYI, I’ve written a book on personal morality and ethics — Ask Yourself to be Moral).

    If someone asked me if I homeschool my son in part to give my child religious or moral instruction, I’d say yes — not all moral instruction is religious instruction. I think I do a much better job teaching morals than public school did teaching me morals. In fact, I feel that I developed much of my morality despite public school instead of because of it.

    I also give my child religious instruction. He’s learning comparative religion, Bible stories necessary for cultural literacy, etc. He’s learning these things from an atheistic perspective, and he wouldn’t learn any of them in a public school, unless you count what he’d hear from religious classmates as “learning.”

    Although it wouldn’t apply in my case, I also imagine that someone who homeschooled their child because they didn’t want their child saying the Pledge of Allegiance or otherwise participate in school-sponsored endorsement of religion might say that they are homeschooling for reasons of religion.

    In short, I don’t think that statistic necessarily means what you seem to be implying it means. You certainly have no reason to weep for my child.

    1. That “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.’” statistic really bothers me. I’m a vocal atheist, and I consider moral instruction to be both very important and sorely lacking from public schools…

      Of course it’s lacking in public schools, it’s not the responsibility of public schools to instill religious or moral instruction in children, it’s the responsibility of parents to do it as they see fit. But, guess what, parents don’t have to pull their children out of school to do it – tens of millions of parents, most of them Christians, do it at home outside of school hours. That justification for homeschooling is simply code for those who don’t want their children exposed to evolution, sex education, and other “evils” that are part of the modern world. As such, they handicap their children severely.

      1. I may be reading too much in to your post, tomh, and if so I apologize, but I disagree that schools should not at least be addressing the basics of morality and ethics (and philosophy in general). In fact, I can hardly think of anything more important to society, because it forms the basis of all thought on all issues (how to think, in other words).

        I would agree that it isn’t the job of schools to force children to accept any particular philosophical position, but by not even addressing things like philosophy and, in particular, moral philosophy, you end up with a situation like we are seeing in my own country, in which both main political parties supporting “faith schools”, for the reason that they do not, in my opinion, possess the imagination to figure out that secular schools could have exactly the same impact on children, if not far greater.

        One of the reasons that I believe that both main UK political parties are so keen on faith schools is because they believe that they will at least attempt to address issues that are of great importance in modern society (i.e. due to the changing nature of society, too many children are not being taught, either at home or in school, about many of the values that are essential to our modern way of life), and of which secular schools have shied away from, because they fear that they would be interfering with a parents right to bring their children up as they see fit, except in the areas where we may speak of facts rather than values.

        This, in my opinion, is a profound mistake, for two reasons. Firstly, because there is absolutely no reason why secular schools couldn’t address moral philosophy and get children to start to at least think about these issues, while at the same time, steering clear of placing too much emphasis on what the children must believe (it is in fact the thought process that leads to moral insight and ethical behavior, not being told what to believe, as happens so often with religious instruction).

        Although, having said that, there are many basics that we do pretty much all agree on, so it should not be problematic to discuss those issues with children and for them to understand why they are so important.

        The second reasons is that secular people are, and have been for some considerable time now, been cutting their own nose off to spite their face. We have effectively cleared the floor for religious groups to make it clear to everyone that it is they who decides (and who are in the best position to decide) what is moral in society, and we have given the impression that we, as secular individuals, have absolutely nothing to say about these issues, at all.

        And as I’m sure that you would agree, we actually have all the best answers, based on centuries of scientific and philosophical insight, and yet, we keep all of that from children, for fear of imposing ourselves on them. What we can’t expect is that children (or adults, for that matter) will be able to figure all of this out for themselves. By not introducing them to even the basics of philosophy and how to think about these issues, we are playing right in to the hands of the religious leaders who are more than happy to suggest that they do have all of the answers. And they have convinced a lot of people of that, primarily because we have been so silent on the issue.

        1. We’re talking about two different things here. Of course public schools should, (and do), adress the academic subject of philosophy, inluding the basics (as you put it) of morality and ethics, although elementary and middle schools, where the bulk of homeschooling takes place, might seem a bit early. When people say they want to homeschool because they want to give their children religious and moral instruction, they’re not talking about the finer points of Kant and Hume, they’re talking about the Bible and lots of it. This generally means creationist textbooks and an anti-science agenda. At least in America this is how it works, I have no idea about the UK. Or even if homeschooling is an issue there.

  44. “We were once perfect”, according to Chloe.

    But what on earth does that mean? In the Garden of Eden did we have an extra pair of eyes in the back of heads? They would certainly come in useful.

    Did we have gills so that we could go swimming without the annoying need to come to the surface to breathe every couple of minutes?

    But perhaps all Chloe means is that the aches, pains and diseases we suffer from nowadays didn’t exist in our perfect state, and exist now because a vindictive deity imposed them on our forefathers because, at the behest of a talking snake, they broke an obscure rule about eating fruit.

    Chloe is thus saying that, after the fall, God changed women’s bodies so that babies’ heads don’t go through the birth canal easily, thus making childbirth a painful, and sometimes lethal experience.

    The being we are all supposed to worship also then screwed up our jaws by giving us the wisdom teeth that don’t fit, and gave us the entirely useless, and highly dangerous, appendix.

    This is an interesting variant on the argument from design. Chloe is presenting us with a god who is a deliberately bad designer, who is imposing bad design on his creations as punishment for the sins of their ancestors.

    Chloe didn’t talk specifically about micro-organisms and parasites. So a question for you, Chloe – do you believe that the malaria parasite, liver flukes, tapeworms, tuberculosis, HIV and all the other agents of disease and death we suffer from – are they all part of the punishment for original sin?

    In which case why do animals, which are presumably incapable of sin, suffer from parasites and diseases that are rather similar to the ones that afflict us ?

    Finally, in the unlikely event that this deity exists, a deity capable of imposing such misery on the things he is supposed to love, then I suggest our duty is to rebel against him, and fight against fascism in heaven just as we fight against it on earth.

    1. Paul, your ignorance amazes me. There is no greater love then the love of a sadistic torturer. History books are filled with the likes of Stalin and Hitler, mass murderers and evil doers, who were not only worshipped but handed the keys to entire civilizations. The Russian people knew Stlain loved them to death and his viscious, elf-centered, egomaniacal actions only strengthened their bond. I ask you, for your own safety, to accept the word of the Lord. He may not have brutally slaughtered you yet, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get away with this blasphemy forever.

      1. So Randy, are you comparing your God with Stalin or Hitler? If so, you appear to be agreeing with me – except that I say that such monsters should be fought against, whereas you seem to think they should be worshipped.

        Or are you trying to be ironic and failing miserably?

        Apparently, if I don’t accept “the word of the Lord” (whatever that is), I am in great danger.

        What precisely do you think will happen to me, Randy? What exactly will your God of love do to me, if I continue with my “blasphemy”? Please enlghten me.

        1. Wow Paul. YOu say my sarcasm failed, I think it might have been too sarcastic. I am comparing god to Stalin and Hitler. I’m not sure which of the three have caused more deaths. I agree with you completely!

          1. I am not sure between two, but I can be pretty confident it is the not the imaginary one.

    2. “We were once perfect”, according to Chloe.
      But what on earth does that mean?

      It means that xianity co-opted Plato.

      that’s pretty much it.

    3. I agree with you, Eve is like Prometheus in the greek mithology: a great rebel who gives knowledge to mankind defying gods.

  45. While 83% of homeschoolers my want to give their children “religious or moral instruction” the 83% are not necessarily Christians; Muslims, Pagans, Buddhist and those of other religions also homeschool and wish to pass their “beliefs” on to their children. Also MANY Christian Homeschoolers do believe in evolution and teach evolution to their children.

    1. What percentage do you imagine are like Chloe and/or the letter writers in the OP? What percentage can we weep for?

  46. Hi, I’m sorry you were so insulted by those folks. I homeschool my daughter, and I don’t believe that 83% statistic, although I will grant you that whatever percentage the Christian fundamentalist homeschoolers are, they can be very vocal, so it “sounds like” there are more of them than they are. I have a degree in biology and chemistry and this year my daughter (12) and I are studying AP Biology. She has been steeped in evolution theory as it is the fundamental basis of all biological science. Thanks and I just wanted you to know we are not all lunatics.

    1. I homeschool my daughter, and I don’t believe that 83% statistic

      You may not believe it, but the fact is that of the 2 million or so home-schooled kids, every poll shows that the big majority of them are in fundamentalist Christian homes. All these secular homeschooling stories are heartwarming, but you have to realize that it’s just a drop in the ocean.

      A speaker for Apologia Educational Ministries, a homeschool curriculum and publishing company, gave another reason why this is so important to Christians, “94 percent of homeschoolers said they agreed that the religious beliefs of their parents are also their own religious beliefs,” she said. “And this is at a time when we statistically see the 18-29-year-olds leaving the church in record numbers”

  47. Everyone is brainwashed… Parents teaching their children… University professors teaching their students.
    Ultimately… Everyone makes a decision at some point in their life who will be allowed to do the washing.
    With that said… let me leave you with a personal quote of mine and then a final thought…
    “Darwinism is a fossil theory that has yet to be found” ~ Parent
    … Why would any intelligent science based mind believe and elevate Darwin’s theory of evolution to fact… Hmmmm … Let me see… Unless maybe they were brainwashed.

    1. Please learn basic scientific terminology. Theories do not become facts. On the contrary, in science a theory is the top of the ladder, the highest rank any idea can achieve. Facts are fairly trivial in comparison.

      That being said, no one uses Darwin’s ideas verbatim anymore. We have learned a lot since then, and the modern theory of evolution is far more detailed, for broader, and matches the evidence far better than Darwin’s ever did.

      Unlike religion, science does not have a messiah that hands down unquestionable proclamations from on high. Darwin was a smart guy who worked hard and came up with some important insights. But few biologists read his work because it is really not that relevant anymore. His ideas had good points and bad points, the bad points were analyzed and corrected and new good points were added. Far from being unquestionable dogma, his ideas were questioned and improved upon.

      1. Thanks for the short dissertation on theory vs. fact but even though I would love to debate the point you made… a far more important one needs to be made to your Darwin conjecture.

        You stated that no one follows Darwin’s original theory verbatim anymore implying that some of his ideas were found not to be true by today’s scientific standards. (Question: When parts of a theory are found to be incorrect…are these factually wrong parts or just theoretically wrong ones?)

        One is either intellectually blind or dishonest to not see or admit that evolution is as much a religious pursuit of faith as any other – complete with believers, faith and following. From their dogmatic genesis “Big Bang” expanding universe theory to the faith this new and improved Darwinian theory you speak of demands in its religious pursuit.

        Fact: After 200 years of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, its faithful followers have not brought us any closer to the answer of the age old question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” . Nor do I expect one since Darwin’s tree of life begins with life splitting off in to species branches and avoids the real scientific quest for truth of how it began in the first place.

        I personally chose to believe and accept that a loving God died to wash my brains and forgive me of my sins and evolutionists are simply content in believing the singularity god washes theirs… none-the-less… everyone’s brains are washed by someone or some ideal.

        1. We don’t follow Darwin verbatim any more because he just had the framework, you dolt… he didn’t even know about DNA which confirms his theory in stunning detail.

          But, of course, I’m talking way way over your head. You still believe in talking snakes and humans that were poofed into existence as adults, right? And then they bit from that nasty tree of knowledge so god had to kill his kid (who was really him) to atone for his error-filled creation. Or have I got the wrong myth?

          Golly gee, I bet there’s a whole heap of evidence for that story, eh? I bet your homeschooled spawn are as scientifically educated as you are, aren’t they– as you use real miracles like computers brought to you by (gasp) science!

          It must really be scary to imagine that thinking can lead you to eternal suffering… not very becoming of an invisible guy who is supposed to be benevolent.

          Either your religion has made you too stupid to understand evolution or stupid people like yourself are satisfied with magical thinking in place of actual answers. You are as illustrative of the Dunning Kruger effect as DNA is illustrative of Darwin’s theory. Congratulations.

          Maybe if you keep repeating the same creationist babble over and over, you will really come to believe it’s true and won’t feel so threatened by scientists all over the world who don’t believe your magic creation story any more than they believe the Scientology creation,Greek Myths, or other “woo” you laugh at. And for the same reasons!

          You remind me of a child stomping their feet insisting that Santa is real and they are going to keep on believing so they can get presents under the tree. Of course, at least a child has evidence… and is the appropriate age for engaging in magical thinking.

          Magical thinking is for those who are too young, too ignorant, or too afraid for facts.

          1. Oh, and the chicken egg thing is really dependent on what you’d call the first chicken… is it the last chicken who could successfully breed with today’s chicken and get fertile offspring… oh never mind, you are too stupid to understand why that’s not a real question but an excellent one of those smarmy fake questions creationists ask but have no actual interest in the answer.

          2. Actually, since dinosaurs hatched from eggs, and birds evolved from dinosaurs, and chickens are birds, the answer is unequivocally, “the egg” and this question is closed.

        2. “I personally chose to believe and accept that a loving God died to wash my brains and forgive me of my sins…”

          The theory of evolution says nothing about that, and quite a few religious scientists believe something similar (except the “brain washing” bit). (The odiousness of the claim that one person can be punished for another’s crimes, like a mediaeval whipping boy, is part of another discussion.)

          “… and evolutionists are simply content in believing the singularity god washes theirs…” This makes no sense.

          “…none-the-less… everyone’s brains are washed by someone or some ideal.” Speak for yourself.

        3. One is either intellectually blind or dishonest to not see or admit that evolution is as much a religious pursuit of faith as any other – complete with believers, faith and following.

          There is no faith in evolution other can accepting the evidence.

          From their dogmatic genesis “Big Bang” expanding universe theory to the faith this new and improved Darwinian theory you speak of demands in its religious pursuit.

          You demonstrate your profound ignorance of science here. The big bang has nothing to do with evolution. The big bang could be completely wrong, that has no impact whatsoever on whether evolution is true or not, and vice versus. But the big bang does not require faith, either, only following the evidence, which is very strong indeed (although not as strong as for evolution, practically nothing has evidence as strong as evolution). Look up the cosmic microwave background radiation, for starters. Creationism has no explanation for that, yet it was predicted by the big bang.

          Fact: After 200 years of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, its faithful followers have not brought us any closer to the answer of the age old question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” . Nor do I expect one since Darwin’s tree of life begins with life splitting off in to species branches and avoids the real scientific quest for truth of how it began in the first place.

          Geez, could you ask an even easier question? As hugh already explained, the egg came first because at some point a non-chicken (but almost chicken) had to give birth to a (barely) chicken. It doesn’t matter how you define chicken vs. non-chicken, that point had to be crossed somehow.

          As for not being able to explain the origin of life, of course it doesn’t. Once again, you don’t understand science in the slightest. Each scientific theory aims to explain a certain subset of phenomena. Evolution aims to explain how and why populations of organisms change over time. It doesn’t aim to explain how life arose, but that is not because we are avoiding the question, many scientists are working very hard to answer, it is because it is handled by another branch of biology, abiogenesis. Similarly it does not aim to explain why object fall towards the center of mass of a planet, that is explained by the theory general relativity. It doesn’t aim to explain how electrons move around in atoms, that is explained by the theory of quantum mechanics. Science is broken up into branches specifically because we need different explantions for different sorts of phenomena. You can’t dismiss, say, quantum mechanics for not explaining the location of the continents (which is explained by plate tectonics), that is just as ludicruous as dismissing evolution because it cannot explain the origin of life.

          I agree it would be a problem if scientists were totally ignoring the question of how life arose, but they aren’t, it is a very active area of study.

          I personally chose to believe and accept that a loving God died to wash my brains and forgive me of my sins and evolutionists are simply content in believing the singularity god washes theirs… none-the-less… everyone’s brains are washed by someone or some ideal.

          I have no clue what this means, I have my doubts that it actually means anything.

    2. Why would anyone elevate atomic theory or germ theory to fact. Why would anyone assume that it’s a fact that Science builds airplanes that can fly? Why would anyone assume that the earth goes around the sun? Why would anyone assume that scientists are right when they showed the earth was round???

      You are one of the stupidest creationists that we’ve had post here, parent.

      It is YOUR spawn we grieve for. Fortunately, we’ve had people posting here who had parents like you inflicted upon them, but they became rational intelligent people in spite of this handicap.

  48. I deal with home school applicants to the university daily. I’m of the opinion that most home schooled kids do NOT go straight away to a university but those who do apply tend to appear rather well prepared. Strong standardized test scores usually accompany what appears to be a straight A home school transcript.

    What of the others, those who were not schooled on a college prep track?

    I have no problem with well prepared home school students. BRAVO!

    I do have a problem with ignorant adults producing ignorant children then perpetuating ignorance through home schooling because they teach evolution in school or some other equally lame excuse. And the religious right wing wacko machine is hard at work supporting and encouraging ignorant adults to produce ignorant children in the name of God. So I also have a problem with the educated religious right wingnuts who are failing to police their own! C’mon people!

    A healthy family dynamic will empower children to make good choices, in the opinion of their parents, and provide a foundation for decision making when parents are not around. This is as it always has been.

    The US is the poster child for opportunity and the strength of our public institutions of education happens to be a major part of the foundation upon which our success as a nation was built. Our public education system needs to be strengthened, not with religion but with science, math, literature, history, philosophy and all of the academic disciplines. How can our public educational institutions thrive when athletic achievements are praised over academic achievements?

    This is where we are, people. The football players and cheerleaders who were socially promoted through the public school system then excreted are our chosen leaders.

    When “Coach” is the first name of a majority of ISD employees, it says volumes. How many coaches are doing the teaching in your school district? Start with the top of the org chart and work down.

  49. For Homeschoolers who want a great source and want to open up the discussion, I highly recommend you watch Judgement Day online (it’s free!) and they have tons of interactives. is excellent too.

    Both are excellent sources for anyone who has been brainwashed by religion to think evolution is “random” or “difficult to understand”.

    I don’t think any of them are threatening to those who believe in god unless you believe in a god who wants you to believe that he poofed the world and all the creatures in it into existence 6000 years ago.

    This is excellent for school teachers as well.

    The truth will out. (Do creationists think that PBS, the Smithsonian, labs doing forensics and paternity tests, flu vaccine makers, all Natural History Museums all over the world, etc. are in a conspiracy to hide the truth we’ve been discovering? And why would they imagine people would do that? Do they think that scientists are less interested in the truth than anyone else? If there was any evidence at all for something in someone’s scriptures, don’t you think it would be trumpeted widely since all humans have a vested interest in understanding the truth that is the same for everyone?!)

  50. I don’t know, I miss the blog for a couple of days and WWIII breaks out.

    Having taken a while to catch up with the things that I missed over the weekend one thing is clear, and it is not the logic of most of those who profess to be Christians.

    Whilst there are many who are intelligent, one of the classes they missed was critical thinking; but brainwashing is brainwashing and it works.

  51. In my own opinion, and based upon a not-completely-scientific mental survey of Christians that I know personally, creationists are in the minority among people of faith. A very vocal and somewhat irritating minority perhaps, but they do not necessarily reflect the mainstream of Christian thought. I was raised in a very devout Baptist home, and when I began asking questions about evolution as a youngster, my mother responded simply that evolution was the means by which God chose to make our world – He works on an impossibly bigger scale than any human can imagine. His working day starts in the early Devonian and ends with a cigar and a good scotch in the late Cretaceous. We are given “eyes with which to see, and ears with which to hear” – and a brain with which to think. I pray that these enemies of Reason do not get to have their way with our children’s minds and return us to the dark ages.

    P.S. I had the very great pleasure of working for you briefly back in the early nineties, tending and counting your fruit fly collection. You made tea for me once, when I was sick with allergies but still determined to put in a full day over a microscope. Sometimes its the small kindnesses that stick with us the most. I’m gonna have to read your book now :).

    1. In the U.S., polls consistently show them to be either roughly on par with or more common than non-creationists.

  52. Why are home schooled children singled out when Christian private schools do the same thing? It is not home schooling per se that leads to brain washing on the subject of creationism.
    I have friends that have home schooled their children because they lived an alternative life style. Their daughter got her PHD this summer in Evolutionary Biology/Population Genetics. She is 27 yrs old and never attended formal school until going to university at 18. There whole circle of home schooling friends attend large state universities, some have gotten advanced degrees, many in science related fields. It is not home educating your child that leads to this narrow-mindedness on scientific matters. This anti-evolution mindset pre-dates the home school movement. Do you remember the Scopes Trial? This was a public school. The Butler Act, which gave Tennessee the legal basis to outlaw teaching of evolution in school was a state statute.
    This anti-science attitude does not have its genesis in home schooling. Please leave the process of home education alone and go after the real culprit, fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalist religion has the numbers to reorganize as private schools if home schooling is witch hunted out of existence over this. The average unconventional family, that for various reasons chooses to home educate their children, does not.

  53. Why are home schooled children singled out when Christian private schools do the same thing? It is not home schooling per se that leads to brain washing on the subject of creationism.
    I have friends that have home schooled their children because they lived an alternative life style. Their daughter got her PHD this summer in Evolutionary Biology/Population Genetics. She is 27 yrs old and never attended formal school until going to university at 18. Their whole circle of home schooling friends attend large state universities, some have gotten advanced degrees, many in science related fields. It is not home educating your child that leads to this narrow-mindedness on scientific matters. This anti-evolution mindset pre-dates the home school movement. Do you remember the Scopes Trial? This was a public school. The Butler Act, which gave Tennessee the legal basis to outlaw teaching of evolution in school was a state statute.
    This anti-science attitude does not have its genesis in home schooling. Please leave the process of home education alone and go after the real culprit, fundamentalist religion. Fundamentalist religion has the numbers to reorganize as private schools if home schooling is witch hunted out of existence over this. The average unconventional family, that for various reasons chooses to home educate their children, does not.

  54. Two quick questions about Darwinism & Evolution:
    1. Is Evolution is true, why are monkeys still on the planet?
    2. Does Darwinism create Racism?

    Those who argue that Darwinism should be taught in public schools seldom have taken the time to read him. If they knew the full title of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”, they might have gained some inkling of the racism propagated by this controversial theorist. Had they actually read Origin, they likely would be shocked to learn that among Darwin’s scientifically based proposals was the elimination of “the negro and Australian peoples,” which he considered savage races whose continued survival was hindering the progress of civilization.

    In his next book, The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin ranked races in terms of what he believed was their nearness and likeness to gorillas. Then he went on to propose the extermination of races he “scientifically” defined as inferior. If this were not done, he claimed, those races, with much higher birthrates than “superior” races, would exhaust the resources needed for the survival of better people, eventually dragging down all civilization.

    Darwin even argued that advanced societies should not waste time and money on caring for the mentally ill, or those with birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.

    1. #1. This question show that you are extremely ignorant about evolution.

      #2. No. Darwin’s theory of evolution has nothing to do with that.

      You are also extremely ignorant and do not understand the word race.

      Get an education, Derf88. I am sorry to say you need to begin at fourth grade. You are also a fool.

    2. “1. Is Evolution is true, why are monkeys still on the planet?”

      If protestants came from catholics, why are there still catholics? The answer, of course, is simple, only some protestants became catholics. The same is true for humans and the rest of primates.

      It is a bit more complicated than that, because we did not evolve from modern monkeys, both modern monkeys and humans evolved from a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago.

      And we did not evolve directly from monkeys either, we evolved from a now-extinct species of great ape. All apes evolved from a single species of monkey that no longer exists. Other monkeys, perhaps even other members of that same species, continued on and evolved into the species we see today.

      That is why it is called the “tree of life”, new forms of life are always branching off from existing forms, but since it often only a part of the population that is branching off, the original form often remains for a long time.

      “2. Does Darwinism create Racism?”

      No, on the contrary it shows that the concept of race is a meaningless distinction based on a handful of traits related almost exclusively to superficial appearance. Evolution shows how closely related we are, making racism an untenable position.

      Those who argue that Darwinism should be taught in public schools seldom have taken the time to read him.

      Of course they don’t, science has progressed a lot since then. We know far more than Darwin could ever dream of. His books are pretty much irrelevant except from a historical perspective.

      If they knew the full title of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”, they might have gained some inkling of the racism propagated by this controversial theorist.

      Science is not the only thing that evolves, language does too. “Race” used in that context does not mean what it means today. It is simply referring to a group of organisms with different traits. And “favored” means in regards to the species’ environment.

      Besides, it doesn’t matter whether Darwin ate babies, whether something is true or false has nothing to do with the opinions held by the person who came up with the idea. All that matters is what the evidence says.

      Had they actually read Origin, they likely would be shocked to learn that among Darwin’s scientifically based proposals was the elimination of “the negro and Australian peoples,” which he considered savage races whose continued survival was hindering the progress of civilization.

      He proposed nothing of the sort. He said that some might see that as a valid conclusion from his ideas, but he then went on to explain why that conclusion was flawed. Creationists love to quote him explaining the idea but conveniently leave out the following refutation. This makes it seem like Darwin supported the idea instead of him using the technique which he often used, explain a potential issue and then refute it.

      It is called quote-mining, take a quote out of context to make it seem as though someone was saying the exact opposite of what he or she really said. It is extremely dishonest, lying by omission, but it is one of creationists’ favorite tactics. It has been used here several time just within the last couple of days. And I thought the Christians were supposed to be the moral ones, with rules against lying.

      Darwin was, like pretty much all Englishmen at the time, a racist. He was actually very progressive for his time, compared to his peers his racism was far, far less. But he was racist, and no one today denies it. That is totally irrelevant to whether evolution is true or not, which depends solely on the evidence.

      Darwin even argued that advanced societies should not waste time and money on caring for the mentally ill, or those with birth defects. To him, these unfit members of our species ought not to survive.

      Once again, he laid out this idea, and then refuted it. Creationists quote the explanation but leave out the refutation. More quote mining.

    3. And this is what creationism does to the brain.

      Someone has clearly beaten derf88 with the creationist stupid stick. I think this is something that even a miracle cannot cure.

      Derf88, read more and spew creationist talking points less. I don’t think any creationist would be proud to have someone like you speaking for their side–nor any homeschoolers.

      But thanks for dropping by to amuse. Perhaps you’ll save some young soul from growing up to sound like you.

      1. Wow guys!!! I was just here to ask a couple questions that have been floating around my mind and I get blasted w/ insults. I’m still in the process of learning about this stuff and the info “The Black Cat” left is very insightful……Thank U 🙂 I guess I’ll have to find somewhere else to discuss this topic since it seems most of the people on this blog are so quick to throw insults at opposing positions………and to those who are still learning like myself. Except for “The Black Cat” of course……your info was actually worth while, thanks again!

        1. You should read “The Greatest Show on Earth: the evidence for evolution” by Richard Dawkins. It’s right up to date (late 2009) and it’s written precisely to answer questions like yours. (You may find him a little condescending – he’s been answering questions like yours for a long time and he’s growing a little tired of it.)

          But the “why still monkeys?” question betrays a really total lack of knowledge of what evolution is or says. It’s like asking “If my mother’s mother’s name is Smith and my name is Jones, why are there still Smiths?”

          1. And by reminding us that we are related to every other human being (and more and more distantly to every animal, plant, bacterium and other living thing on the planet), Darwinism does the reverse of promoting racism.

        2. You spouted so much stuff that is addressed over and over without having read anything AT ALL.

          Like many creationists you just imagined you know more than those who might actually give you a clue.

          And if your ego is affected by hearing our opinion of your opinion then don’t spout off your opinion without having read anything here. Freedom of speech isn’t just for creationists who think the know the super duper secrets of the universe, you know. You really ought to try and model respect for our opinions that you hoped we’d have for yours.

    1. That was gracious of you to offer. I haven’t looked at either of the links you gave but I assume from their content that they have at least some objectivity.

      My ulterior motive for posting this reply is to refer you to my other reply to our continuing conversation up thread.

      1. Thanks for directing me back to your long and interesting response, and thanks for the NY/New England climbing tips. I will send them to my daughter just in case.

        Yeah, I would NEVER have spotted your reply if you hadn’t sent this…Don’t know if you will see this reply, but if you want to continue the discussion, you can post comments or whatever on my blog,

        That’s where I (as time permits, which is not nearly often enough!) report some aspect of research findings, etc., about cognition and learning, and try to look at what that can mean for teachers and parents.

        It’s great to “hear” a little about your experience all over the world! I do think that small local schools set up with a will by a community can succeed even with some of the techniques that do not succeed in most schools in the U.S., and that community (mostly parental) involvement is very important. We homeschoolers made our own passionately involved community; it basically was a pretty fabulous lifestyle, education, and childrearing experience.

        I’m not positive about some of the points you made about schools. For example, what do you mean by saying that U.S. schools are largely a process of elimination (not selection)?

        I do not think I would call standardized tests scientific. (I realize you said that you wouldn’t make the point, either.)But scientific or not, the thing we care about is:
        (1) Do they measure worthwhile learning? (You know, the important stuff.)
        (2) Do they affect the quality of a child’s education? If so, in what way?
        To those questions, I would say: (1) No standardized test I’ve ever seen measures the important aspects of education–creativity, long-term memory, upper-level thinking skills, ability to apply knowledge, ability to problem-solve. To some extent, they don’t even do a good job of testing short-term memory of the lowest level of “thinking” (simple facts), because there are so many factors that obscure this most simplistic evaluation, including the fact that a lot of kids have test anxiety.
        (2) The tests are used to rank kids into high-medium-low groups (and convince them that these groupings actually mean something, and that it is something intrinsic in them (IQ) or in their work ethic that got them there. Tests are also used to rank schools and mark some of them as failing.
        But tests are almost NEVER used to actually improve a child’s education. Once we find out that a child is reading at this-and-such level or doing math at that-and-so level, there is rarely anything DONE to bring up the levels for that specific child. (And when I taught, even with 30 kids, I KNEW who was able to read and write and compute at so-called “grade level,” who was “ahead” or “behind.” Knowing that stuff doesn’t require “standardized tests” — but knowing what to do about any shortfalls detected is the hard part and is almost never addressed by makers of the tests or anyone else.
        The testing industry got its start quite some time ago, and with some good intent, but it takes up valuable time and helps to damage kids, and almost all should be dumped right away. We need to start over with our ideas of evaluation, IMO.

        Anyway, hope to see you on my blog!

  55. I was home schooled for religious reasons – and now I am an Atheist. Rather than write about my story in the comments section you can read my story as I wrote it for

    All I can add to this discussion at this point, is that our most precious gift of thinking can be hijacked by superstition and belief. Indoctrination not only risked my intellectual development but almost altered my trajectory in life. I give absolutely NO credit for my current level of success in life to homeschooling or any of the curricula used by my parents. My life, my thoughts, and my lot in life are mine. I own them. Nobody else does.

  56. Chloe, I don’t know if anyone else can be bothered cutting and pasting the rebuttals to the ripped-out-of-context quotes you have cut and pasted. I know I can’t. For many of those you quote, there is no doubt they were not disputing the fact of evolution, only some detail. But to take just one:

    ““As we know, there is a great divergence of opinion among biologists, not only about the causes of evolution but even about the actual process. This divergence exists because the evidence is unsatisfactory and does not permit any certain conclusion. It is therefore right and proper to draw the attention of the non-scientific public to the disagreements about evolution””

    (Goggling that text yielded 96 hits, all from Creationist websites.)

    The disagreements between biologists about evolution are a crack in the road conmpared to the Grand Canyon that lies between Old Earth and Young Earth Creationists. Our numerical system disguises the vast difference between an age of 10,000 years and one of 4,000,000,000 years. As Richard Dawkins said (more or less), YEC is like saying the distance from New York to San Francisco is eight yards.

    Chloe, don’t worry about the mote in our eye, worry about that beam in Creationists’ eyes.

    So Chloe, do you believe the earth is no more than 10,000 years old, or more like 4,000,000,000 years old?

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