Blog Archives

Evolution is a conspiracy!

I’ve chalked up another flawless victory and been published in the New Statesman.

As I write, the article is the top story on the Statesman‘s home page.

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Please share this one. My previous widely-published articles on ACE have been somewhat tabloid in style, all numbered lists and sections in bold. This is an attempt to raise the level of the conversation on the subject. Here’s the link:  http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/01/creationism-and-conspiracy-evolution-inside-uks-evangelical-schools

In a bid to do less blogging and more actual work, I’ve got really behind in sharing links with you, so here’s some more excellent reading if you have time:

Zack Kopplin did a thorough exposé at Slate about ResponsiveEd, the secularised version of ACE that’s currently gaining ground in America. I’ve previously written on that too.

Tyler Stoltzfus, past (and hopefully future) Leaving Fundamentalism guest blogger, wrote more about his life as an atheist at an ACE school for AlterNet.

I did a thing for AlterNet about the propaganda cartoon that lace the ACE curriculum, and how they seem to promote racism, sexism, and the intolerance of non-Christians.

Dana Hunter has started blogging about ACE too. She has purchased the entire 8th grade Earth Science PACE set and is going to review each one in turn. You may have noticed my strategy for 2014 is to get people who aren’t me talking about ACE (anyone who cares knows what I think by now), so this is a very pleasing development.

“This is why everyone hates atheists”

I’ll be honest: The reaction from ACE’s defenders to my last post was not uniformly positive.

It began with this:

Facebook argument 1

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Attacking science, insulting Islam: the reality of PAC charter schools

By now you’ll have seen my Salon article about how charter schools (mostly in Texas) are promoting creationist ideas in a way that seems to violate church-state separation. There are two main curricula discussed: ResponsiveEd and Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC). Both are offshoots of Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). Of the two, ResponsiveEd seems to be used more widely, but it’s hard to get solid information about it. PAC, on the other hand, has kindly uploaded many curriculum samples to its website. What they’ve uploaded will be of great concern to campaigners for both secularism and science education. PAC lessons mock and insult Islam, promote Christianity, and attack mainstream science.

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‘Life Principle’ from PAC’s high school biology course.

A brief web search finds Paradigm Accelerated Charter Schools in Dublin, Comanche, Wallis, and Early, all in Texas. Although the Dublin school is shown as having closed or relocated (and its website now links to a page in Japanese), it was functioning at least as recently as January 2013, when GreatSchools.com last updated its page, giving the school 2 out of 10. None of these schools has its own website, so it’s hard to determine their status, but PAC markets itself as a charter school curriculum and claims its curriculum “honors the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ doctrine, thus enabling purchase of Paradigm curriculum with tax funds.” Hmmm.

PAC is run by former ACE Vice President Ronald E. Johnson, who you will remember for writing “Children matriculate into Christian school in dire need of spiritual programing of their minds to accept and desire the things of Christ.” What ‘programing’ is he offering now?

World History

The region where Europe, Asia, and Africa meet is known as the “Fertile Crescent.” Our timeline begins there about 4,000 BC when scientists agree that a cataclysmic event occurred (like a worldwide flood) that forced mankind to “start over.”

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Telling Lies for God

Notice: I am giving my talk, “Inside Britain’s Creationist Schools”, in Leicester tomorrow. Details here.

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There are a lot of people who dislike creationism. Richard Dawkins, famously, is not that keen.

James F. McGrath, author of such treatises as “Do young earth creationists worship the devil?” and “Antievolutionism is a tool of Satan“, also appears to hold a less than favourable view.

Eugenie Scott has dedicated her life to fighting it, and Paul Braterman, sometime guest poster for this very blog, called it a cancer.

But all of these people’s antipathy to creationism pales into nothingness when faced with the raging, explosive hatred of Ian Plimer. Plimer feels about creationism roughly as normal people feel about child slavery. On the first page of his book, he calls creationism a “cult” and accuses creation scientists of committing “blatant scientific fraud”, and the salvo barely lets up from there. Telling Lies for God: Reason vs Creationism is not a nuanced or subtle tome. And, as much as I wanted to like it, I’m not convinced it’s very good.

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Please help: research participants needed

Alright everyone, I need your help. Please pass this on to everyone you know who could possibly assist in this.

I am looking for participants to join in the research for my PhD. If you attended an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school in the UK (or if you were home schooled with ACE), I want to hear from you. Until now, almost no research has been done on the outcomes of Accelerated Christian Education students.

I’m especially keen to hear from people who still consider themselves Creationists, but I would love to hear from you whatever your views.

If you take part:

  • You will be anonymous
  • Your views will be treated with respect and sensitivity
  • You will be free to withdraw from the research at any time
  • You will initially commit only to a one-hour recorded interview
  • You will have the right to approve the transcription of this interview. You can ask for parts to be removed, changed, or added

Read on for a Q&A for participants. Please pass this on to anyone you know who could take part… or who might know someone who could, or… etc.

Read the rest of this entry

Creating a fundamentalist bubble

In my first ever blog post, I wrote that the blog existed to expose the activities of Accelerated Christian Education. I now think that “expose” was the wrong verb. It implies that ACE is in some way underhanded about what it does. ACE is actually completely blatant about its educational philosophy, and their leaders’ own writing on the subject of education is far more damning than anything I could write on the subject.

What ACE and other fundamentalist curricula are, however, is mostly invisible to the general public. As Paul F. Parsons explains, there’s a reason for that.

Fundamentalist schools, in particular, operate in secrecy. This is done not only to discourage the prying of government agencies but to avoid the eyeing of a suspicious public.

So here’s what ACE says it exists for in its own words. After I spoke to Reading Skeptics in the Pub about ACE, one teacher came up to me, pointed to an ACE book and said “This has absolutely nothing to do with learning. You need to shine a big spotlight on this.”

Here’s the spotlight. In this excerpt, you’ll see the intense milieu control that ACE deliberately exerts over children. They don’t just intend to inculcate the fundamentalist worldview; they don’t want children to have any idea about any alternatives.

[There's a chance that I'll get asked to take this down because it is copyrighted material. The way I see it, it's all available for free online from ACE, so I'm not costing them any money, and trust me, I have no desire to pass this off as my own work. The following text is an excerpt from The Great Commandment and the Great Commission: God's mandate for Christian education, (C) 1999 (2013 revision) Accelerated Christian Education, available at http://aceministries.com/aboutus/pdf/Great_Commandment_Commission.pdf]

Christian education is not an alternative. It is not a luxury. It is not even just a good idea. It is the law of God. It is the law that He gave to our forefathers, and it is the same law that He now gives to us. It is the GREAT COMMANDMENT…

Cease to Hear the Instruction . . . !

Notice the phrase in Proverbs 22:6 that states

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

That is inclusive of everything God has considered important enough to put in His Word. It includes all the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Lord in both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, according to Proverbs 19:27, it also excludes anything that is not consistent with God’s Word.

Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

Not only is the child to be taught all the principles of Scripture, but he is to be shielded from anything contrary to the way in which he should go. Does that mean we are to be careful that we do not have him exposed to just a little bit of humanism, just a little bit of evolutionary theory, and just a little bit of all the other multitudes of unscriptural concepts? Not even so our children will understand “what the world is like”? Yes, that is exactly what it means! Notice what the verse does not say. It does not say, “You would be better off not to listen to it,” or “I would not recommend that you listen to it.” It says, very clearly, “Cease to hear it!  Read the rest of this entry

God or Gorilla?

W.A. Criswell’s Did Man Just Happen? is a creationist classic, first written in 1957 and revised in 1972, making it an early example of the modern creation movement.

Did Man Just Happen, W.A. Criswell

Found in the fiction section of all good bookstores.

It’s completely fucking terrible.

Now, I’m not aware of any creationist literature that’s good, but it’s hard to imagine much of it is worse than this. There are creationists who consider themselves rigorous scientists, and try to theorise workable creation models. Criswell is not among them. He was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, and his argument consists almost entirely of assertion and irrelevancies. His characterisation of evolution is so far from what scientists actually think that the book could only be persuasive to someone who has never read any mainstream science, and never been taught to think critically. Such as – just for a hypothetical example – a student in Accelerated Christian Education.

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Our fundamentalist neighbours

I’m honoured today to host a guest post by Adam Laats.  Laats is an historian in the Graduate School of Education at Binghamton University, State University of New York, USA (recently appointed Associate Professor).  He is the author of Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars.  He blogs about conservatism and American education at I Love You but You’re Going to Hell. When I started writing, Adam’s blog was the first one I found, and it’s been one of my most-read blogs ever since. Adam and I recently got into a debate about whether a petition to ban the teaching of Creationism is a good idea. Here is Adam’s argument; my response will be on his blog soon.

My fundamentalist neighbor is a dick.

He lets his dogs bark at all hours of the day and night.

He parks his work truck in the yard.

He built a huge ugly palisade fence between his yard and that of our other neighbor.

After years of living next door, he still doesn’t know my name.

He berates me occasionally about America’s woeful abandonment of God and the Bible.

He throws his garbage into the yard of the church next door.

I think he drinks.

In short, my fundamentalist neighbor is a dick.  But it wouldn’t make any sense to try to pass a law to stop his dickishness.  Yet that is the attitude, apparently, behind some other recent anti-fundamentalist efforts.   Read the rest of this entry

Accelerated Christian Education launches new science video series

Here is the first in a series of science documentaries being launched by Accelerated Christian Education.

Creationism rocks!

I’m a guest poster today at Laughing in Purgatory. I’m writing about how Christian rock was used to sell Creationism. And I got so carried away that I forgot to include the most obvious example of all, “Evolution Redefined” by Geoff Moore & the Distance. So, exclusively for you:

All the classic Creationist tropes are there. The biology teacher is short, ugly, intolerant, and has a nasal voice, while the Christian girl is blonde, wholesome, and attractive. While the nasty, hobbity teacher is probably stolen from Mötley Crüe’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” video, the video’s plot is straight from the infamous anti-evolution Chick tract, “Big Daddy?” This is slightly ironic, since Chick tracts claim that Christian rock is demonic.

Anyway, you can learn all this and more in my post, so go and read it!

You can also check out Laughing in Purgatory on Facebook.

Related post: Christians rock too!

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