Action Alert April 2010

This is an archived edition of Action Alert.

Increasing Threat to the Teaching of Creation in Non-Government Schools

The teaching of creation as a scientific basis for the origin of the universe and life forms is under increasing threat across Australia. Christian schools in at least two States are already facing pressure not to teach creation in science classes, and are being threatened with de-registration if they do so. De-registration would result in a loss of government funding (both recurrent funding for operating costs and capital funding for buildings), and could result in parents who continued to send their children to de-registered schools being charged under the provisions of truancy laws.

In South Australia, the South Australian Non-Government Schools Registration Board published a revised policy in December 2009 that effectively banned the teaching of creationism in science classes. The policy document states that the Board requires “teaching of science as an empirical discipline, focusing on inquiry, hypothesis, investigation, experimentation, observation, and evidential analysis”. There is no problem with that, for creation science utilises all of those basic elements of the scientific method (and, incidentally, comes up with better scientific explanations of the evidence than evolutionary science). The problem lies with the Board also stating that it “does not accept as satisfactory a science curriculum in a non-government school [in South Australia] which is based on, espouses or reflects the literal interpretation of a religious text in its treatment of either creationism or intelligent design”. Despite the fact that modern science arose in Western culture that had been founded upon a Judeo-Christian world-view, and despite the fact that many of the ‘fathers’ of modern science believed in a Creator who had made the universe in an ordered (and therefore able-to-be-studied) way, the SA Non-Government Schools Registration Board has ruled that Christian schools must not include information based on “the literal interpretation of a religious text” in science classrooms. Under this ruling, great scientists such as Johannes Kepler (1571-1630, mathematician, astronomer), Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727, physicist, mathematician, astronomer), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662, mathematician, physicist), Robert Boyle (1627-1691, chemist, physicist), and Michael Faraday (1791-1867, chemist) would be banned from teaching science in a non-government school classroom in South Australia. [Interestingly, Jane Lomax-Smith, SA Minister for Education (whose Department was ultimately responsible for the actions of the SA Non-Government Schools Registration Board) lost her safe seat of Adelaide on 20 March 2010 in a two-party-preferred swing of 14.5% (almost twice the average anti-ALP swing across the State).]

In New South Wales, Rebecca Lloyd, a spokesperson for the NSW Board of Studies, was recently reported in the media as saying, “The NSW Board has made its policy clear last June that science teaching which was not scientifically or evidence-based would not be part of assessment for the School Certificate or Higher School Certificate. But the NSW Board of Studies had a policy of not loading so much mandatory work on to schools that there was no time for anything else, and other non-core activities offered to students could include extra religious instruction.” In other words, Christian schools could include the teaching of creationism as a part of “extra religious instruction”. This position was spelled out by Michael Carr, Acting Executive Director of the Association of Independent Schools, when he said, “Our view is that NSW independent schools must follow the Board of Studies curriculum, which dictates that creationism cannot be taught as science. Schools wishing to teach creationism must teach it as part of their religious studies.”

However, it is the proposed National Curriculum, being developed by ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority), that poses the greatest challenge.  The draft National Curriculum for K-10 for English, History, Mathematics, and Science was released on 5 March 2010.  The Year 10 Science curriculum specifies that evolution be taught, and makes no mention of creation or intelligent design.  While the draft curriculum does not specifically forbid the teaching of creationism as science, it is probable that the curriculum documents will be interpreted to mean that the only ‘true’ science to be taught to Year 10 students in every school in Australia will be evolutionary in perspective.  Public comment has been invited on the draft National Curriculum – comments close on 23 May 2010 – and can be lodged at www.australiancurriculum.edu.au.

The underlying issue in all of this is actually freedom of speech and freedom of religion! Schools ought to have the freedom to teach all subjects within the tenets of their worldview, whether they are government schools working from a secularist worldview or Christian schools working from a biblical worldview. And parents ought to have the freedom to choose an education for their children that reflects their worldview / faith perspective!

Make a comment about this matter on the draft National Curriculum. And then contact your State Minister for Education and ask that the freedom to teach different approaches in science classes be retained (or restored) for all schools.

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Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?
Psalm 94:16

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This monthly release is prepared by Pastor Brian Robertson (P O Box 2367, Bundaberg, 4670) to inform Christian people about issues within our society.  “Action Alert” does not promote any one political party, but encourages its readers to be “salt and light” by speaking out on some of these matters.  The views expressed in “Action Alert” are those of the author and are not necessarily those of a local church or a denominational organisation.  To the extent permissible by law, no church or denomination accepts liability for anything contained in this publication and any use made of it.