Having four kids in the public school system has allowed me to acquire a good understanding of the evolution that’s taught at each grade level in CA schools, as well as how the theory is taught to kids in a successive, “building block” fashion.
In fourth grade, students are “warmed up” to the concept of evolution using the doctrine of uniformitarianism. This teaching holds that earth’s current landscape can be explained by long, slow processes—processes that include every mechanism possible except for a divine “Creation” and a grand “Catastrophe” (the Biblical Flood). This teaching introduces students to the “long ages” that underpins every single “pillar” of evolution they will be taught in subsequent years. Interestingly, we were warned about uniformitarianism when Peter penned 2 Peter 3: “…scoffers will come in the last days…saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’” Peter continues that these scoffers would “willfully forget” about the Biblical Creation account and the Catastrophe of the Flood. How do you “willfully forget” about something? You teach the opposite. This is exactly what’s being taught into today’s public schools.
In fifth grade, students continue learning about long ages in science class, and even take field trips to the Vernal Pools where they will be taught that small creatures take “millions of years to adapt to live in ecosystems.” They are also taught that creatures have co-evolved over millions of years and that such “evolution [and not God] has filled even the harshest habitats with life, including vernal pools.”
Sixth grade is the first year where the “big pitch” of evolution is unleashed, starting with the biggest battleground for origins—humans. Students in most CA schools receive about two weeks of teaching on human evolution. Most textbooks start the “march of man” line-up with Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) (starting about 4-5 MYO), followed by Homo habilis (about 2.4 MYO), then Homo erectus (about 2 MYO), and finally Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago. In one leading textbook, this line-up is even shown with “developing tools” that were not even found with the skulls displayed on the same page.
In seventh grade, students receive the full evolution download—88 pages in one leading CA textbook (typically two full chapters in most Life Science textbooks). And (sadly), most kids receive this teaching without filters or shielding from parents or youth pastors. The teaching typically sinks deep into their belief system for four reasons:
(1) It’s framed as “scientific fact.” Throughout the entire textbook, the lines between “historical” and “observational” science are blurred. In fact, the distinction between the two is not mentioned even once. This leads kids to believe that evolution occurred (a historical assertion that’s not observable or testable) with just as much certainty that balloons pop when poked with a needle (observational science).
(2) Evolution theory is typically taught using the same process and authority as other topics, and students are conditioned to learn and trust the information in the textbook. They are (of course) even graded based on how well they learn and understand the content. Earlier in the year (and in the same class) they are taught very believable (and factually accurate) scientific concepts about their world. Then evolution slips in with the same expectations.
(3) Life Science textbooks typically appeal to authority by making statements such as, “scientists believe” or “scientists have proven.” Seventh grade students don’t typically have enough discretion and discernment to wade through the complex theories of evolution.
(4) Finally, evolution theory is typically framed in the most believable way possible, with quality illustrations, graphics, and arguments.
Tenth grade students receive basically the same evolution arguments as seventh grade, but this time with more details. The books also typically add two new evolution topics: Whales evolution and vestigial structures (supposed body parts that are “left overs” from evolution).
What does this mean for Christian families who have kids in public school? It means that they will receive a total of 50 hours of evolution teaching. How do most students respond? Fortunately, some kids will receive the inoculation necessary, and their minds and hearts will be guarded. Unfortunately, however, most kids will not—they are walking head-long into teaching that will plant seeds of doubt that cause many to later leave the faith shortly after entering college (some estimates put this estimate as high as 70%).
So what can be done? God’s Word advises that parents should “train up” (Proverbs 22:6) their kids. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 exhorts, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Parents, we are responsible for our kid’s education—not the public school system. While many public schools (including the ones that our kids have attended) provide solid education in many subject areas, it is the responsibility of parents to educate their kids with biblically-based education that will counter the evolution teaching they receive in school. This is precisely why we started our website, www.genesisapologetics.com.
~Dr. Dan Biddle