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Textbooks in Public Schools:

Education or Indoctrination?

By Mike Riddle

Updated from an article published in:
Treasure Valley Christian News, Boise, ID

Mike RiddleToday’s public school textbooks are highly respected by teachers, parents and especially students. But do these textbooks and their authors truly warrant such a high standing in our society? This month’s article will clearly demonstrate that the answer is "No"!

In the area of science we should question all information and train ourselves to be critical thinkers. For instance, much that has been taught as fact about evolution has later turned out to be wrong or excused as "being the best answer we knew at the time." Since writers of "approved" science textbooks hold an evolutionary worldview and they present information as being factual or as the only possible explanation. For instance, in a current biology textbook the following statement is made:

"But all researchers agree on certain basic facts. We know, for example, that humans evolved from ancestors we share with other living primates such as chimpanzees and apes." Miller and Levine, Biology, 2000, p. 757.

Is this a true statement? No! The authors’ use of the word "all" indicates that either they have not done their research or they are deliberately being dishonest. In reality, there are thousands of scientists today who reject evolution and believe in creation as the explanation of origins. To view a partial list of these scientists and their credentials go to www.icr.org and www.answersingenesis.org. Also, the phrase "certain basic facts" is misleading since, in reality, there are no facts to support evolution. This is why evolution is referred to as a "theory", model, or hypothesis.

When studying about origins we must critically examine what we read by asking ourselves questions such as:

  • Who is making the statement and what are their foundational assumptions?
  • Has all the information been provided or only selected data that supports a given theory?
  • Does anyone disagree and offer alternative explanations?
  • Is the outcome consistent in all cases or are there exceptions?
  • Are there any assumptions that the reader is not aware of?
  • Are explanations presented without suitable supporting evidence?
  • Are attacks on alternative explanations valid or is there a distortion of data in order to discredit other views?
  • Are logical fallacies being committed, e.g. ad hominem (personal) attacks, etc.

Look for fuzzy words and phrases that indicate uncertainty or doubt about the claims being made. Examples of such phrases might be:

  • We believe or we think
  • Given enough time, it will happen
  • It might work
  • It could possibly have occurred
  • My guess is. .
  • It seems like. .
  • This must have. . .

These phrases should be a "red-flag" alerting the reader that the author has apparent confusion and uncertainty about so-called "factual" claims. For example, in the Prentice Hall Biology 2002 textbook, authors Miller and Levine, make the following statement:

"Those life forms must have evolved in the absence of oxygen…"

The phrase "must have evolved" is a clue that even though scientists don’t conclusively know how it happened, they are unwilling to accept any other possible explanation. This is not science; rather it is dogma masquerading as science.

We need to practice identifying statements where misinformation is being passed off as science. For instance, can you spot any problems in the statements below?

#1: "Humans also have vestigial organs. We have a set of miniature tailbones at the base of our spine - which obviously no longer support a tail.... The appendix is a vestigial organ that does not seem to serve a function in digestion today."  Miller and Devine, Biology, 2000, p. 284

This is an example of presenting false and deceptive information because it is well known that without the coccyx and its attached muscle system, humans would need a radically different support system for their internal organs. To state that the appendix is a useless (vestigial) organ because it does not seem to function in the digestive system is also misleading. While the appendix does not appear to play a role in digestion, research has established that it plays a role in our immune system as well as other vital functions.

#2. "No wonder life as we know it today did not exist during the Precambrian – there was no oxygen in the atmosphere to breathe!" Earth Science; Geology, the Environment, and the Universe, Glencoe and McGraw-Hill, 2002, p. 585.

The phrase "no oxygen in the atmosphere" is an incorrect statement. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in 1982, reported evidence that oxygen was abundant in the early Earth’s atmosphere.

#3."Since the 1950s, Miller and other researchers using modifications of Miller’s apparatus have made most of the 20 amino acids commonly found in organisms,…" Biology: Concepts and Connections, Campbell, Mitchell, Reece, 2000, p. 321.

This is a deceptive statement since well-known scientific information has been omitted. Although Stanley Miller did produce amino acids in his laboratory, they were the wrong mixture for supporting "life". Most textbooks usually omit the fact that amino acids come in two shapes, left-handed and right-handed, and that only left-handed amino acids are used in proteins to make life. The Miller experiment and all subsequent experiments have always produced a mixture of left- and right-handed amino acids, which is a poison to life.

Biology and other science textbooks are full of misleading statements, incorrect information, and deception by omission of vital facts. Students need to be taught to critically analyze the "facts" and come to their own conclusions about the value of any given theory.

Mike Riddle has worked in the computer and education field for over 25 years. He has a degree in mathematics from Southern Colorado University and a graduate degree in education from Pepperdine University. He has managed training organizations for US Sprint Worldwide Technical Training and Microsoft's Worldwide Technical Sales and System Engineer Training. Mike was an officer in the U.S. Marines and is a former national champion in track and field.

Mike is the president of Christian Training Initiative, and in 2005 Mike Riddle began working for Answers in Genesis at the US headquarters in Kentucky. He travels around the country teaching and delivering seminars on the Biblical and scientific truths of creation.

Mike's background in creation ministry includes:

  • Developing a creation science education and training program on the Internet for the Institute for Creation Research, which is available at http://www.creationonline.org
  • Teaching at the Institute for Creation Research graduate school
  • Developing and instructing a college level course on creation and science
  • Conducting seminars on many topics concerning creation at all levels
    (primary grades through adult)
  • Speaking at Christian leaders conferences around the country on the importance of creation to church doctrine
  • Authoring two books on creation and science
  • Creation/Evolution: Does it Matter What We Believe
  • Science and Education: The Origin of Life