Creationism Alive and Well in Louisiana School

Starting this September, the students of Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, Louisiana and other private Christian schools will be learning about biology through a series of textbooks, as part of a curriculum that includes the “Accelerated Christian Education Program” (ACE), that claim that dinosaurs and creatures like the Loch Ness monsters are still alive, thereby disproving Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. The question on the minds of observers is: Can these textbooks truly overthrow over 150 years of scientific research on evolution?

To be blunt, the answer is simply: highly improbable. The reason being that the textbooks are obviously based on the Holy Bible – as the ACE program’s own website describes its teachings as a “biblically based program infused with godly character” that teaches Christian values and derive its core teachings from the scripture. One of the ACE textbooks – entitled Biology 1099 – claims that the famed Loch Ness monster was confirmed, by a submarine expedition, to be a living dinosaur. It also claimed that sea-based dinosaurs also exist as Godzilla-like creatures that were supposedly caught by Japanese fishermen after WWII and served as the basis for the green beast that attacked Tokyo on the silver screen.

The point of using these unscientific proofs is to make the argument that if the dinosaurs were never wiped out as told by scientists who follow Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, then their entire school of thought is undermined and disproved given the reliance on the idea that the dinosaurs died due to their inability to adapt. Given the survival of the Loch Ness Monster and “Godzilla” the Theory of Evolution somehow becomes weakened in spite of the hundreds of years of rescientific search that has proven over and over that evolution is the prevailing means of explaining how life came to be on Earth and how it continues to change up to present day. This is on top of the curriculum that suggest that the secular society in America and the world are the enemy of Christianity and that only a fundamentalist Christian government is what good Christians should aim to create.

This attempt to indoctrinate children with creationist ideas is part of a long history on the part of Christians to challenge the idea of evolution – including outright bans of its teaching for the longest time that went from the Scopes Trial in 1925 until the late 1970s up to cagey attempts to add creationism by calling it “intelligent design” as seen in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in 2005 – which have decisively banned the teaching of creationism in all its manifestations to be illegal due to the separation of church and state in the U.S.

To be sure, the schools operating on the ACE program and similar fundamentalist Christian curricula are not obliged to follow the legal precedence set by previous rulings that creationism cannot be taught. However some of the public funding for education goes toward the operations of these private schools. There is also a notable impact on academic performance, as noted by Lisa J.L. Kelley of Marshall University, who notes that "the ACT scores of the ACE graduates were consistently lower than those of the public school students" which was due, in part, to their poor scores in "scientific reasoning."

Not only do the Christian textbooks fail to scientifically prove their views on evolution, they also make some wild claims about “legendary” creatures, whose existence has never been confirmed, they also raise the question of whether or not the schools that use them should continue to be funded by public money given their stance on creationism and evolution. The evidence doesn’t support the claims of Biology 1099 as their claims about Nessie and Godzilla are both unfounded and shrouded by the veil of mythology. If America's children are brought up with such a questionable curriculum, how can we hope to compete in the global economy when some of us are brought up to believe such radical views and unscientific understanding of the world?

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Dillon Zhou

Dillon currently works as a Foreign Teacher at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu. He graduated from International Relations Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2012. He previously worked at the Cyber Conflict Studies Association in Vienna, VA as a research assistant. He has also worked at the US Embassy in Tirana, Albania and JFK Library's Declassification Unit. His primary areas of interests are in US-China Relations and US Cyber Security Policy. He is proficient in speaking and reading Mandarin Chinese.

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