Thursday, March 12, 2015

Great Homeschool Convention 2015: Jay Wile

Melanie and two of the kids have gone junketing off to the 2015 version of the Great Homeschool Convention, in Greenville, South Carolina.  The convention has sessions on all kinds of different topics, and a few on science in general and evolution, specifically.  The featured speaker this year in that area is Jay Wile.  Remember, the American homeschooling experience is, almost without exception, firmly in the young earth camp.  This is almost like founder effect, where one small population, in which all people have the allele for x proliferate and soon everybody has it, a la black hair in Japanese, Chinese and Koreans (which I am sure is pleiotropic).

Anyway, you may remember the dust-up a few years back involving Pete Enns and Ken Ham, in which the latter showed how nasty a person he can actually be.  I told Melanie that I would prefer that my children do not attend any of Jay Wile's sessions because I am quite sure that they will get only half-truths and misinformation.  He has a nine-part Youtube series on "Evolution: The Enemy of Truth and Science."  I scanned the series and concluded:
  • His knowledge of the fossil record is non-existent
  • He relies on out-dated information to bolster his case, such as making the statement that there are no transitional fossils and focusing for long periods of time on digressions like Haeckel's embryos and Piltdown
  • He completely misunderstands the cytochrome C argument
  • He completely distorts what Charles Walcott found in the Burgess Shale in 1909
  • He distorts how long the Cambrian explosion was, but the worst thing is that
  • He accuses evolutionary biologists of covering up data and lying.  
I wonder how he would react if someone in the audience stood up and said "Mr. Wile," did you know that young earth creationism is a lie?"  It is distressing to see a Christian address the science in this way and, in this vein, he is no better than Ken Ham, a man for whom I have no respect, whatsoever.  These are arguments that can be put over on an audience that does not have the necessary background to understand their vacuity.  Mainstream science always winds up on the defensive, in these instances. (Note: this paragraph is different from the one that was originally posted, which was considerably more scathing.  I wrote it after watching some of Wile's YouTube videos, and his distortions made me very angry, some of which I have repented of).  Like so many creationists, with the exception of Todd Wood, I cannot tell if he really has absolutely no idea what he is talking about, or is intentionally trying to mislead out of a misguided sense that he has to make sure that his audience doesn't ever accept evolution.  

Wile was the founder and writer of many of the textbooks of the Apologia educational ministries.  I ran into one of those a bit back, which was awful.   He has since left the ministry but is now on the convention circuit.  In 2009, Jerry Coyne received a letter from a distraught parent who's kids had also run afoul of the Apologia series.  It reads, in part:
There is a serious problem in homeschooling right now in that most homeschooling families find themselves using the Apologia series for teaching science because it is so parent friendly. However, this series was written with one purpose in mind and that was to debunk evolution in favor of Intelligent Design. While our family is religious, we are not Creationists and I have serious problems with the Apologia series. I find it dangerous because so many homeschoolers are using it. The author and owner of the company, Jay Wile, is so convincing he is turning many homeschooling families away from the real science of evolutionary biology to the pseudo science of Creationism even if they started out as evolutionists. These parents are turning to Apologia in good faith because there is nothing else out there that is parent friendly. We even used it ourselves at one point, but supplemented it with evolution videos and materials, but I refuse to contribute money to the company. Sadly, I have seen people that I know are intelligent and well educated fall victim to Dr. Wile’s very convincing arguments. I almost did myself, but was saved by more extensive research and my daughter’s level head.
Sadly, most parents will not go to the trouble of doing the extensive research necessary to combat the arguments so they get their heads filled with this nonsense from people like Wile.

The one good thing I can say for him is that, when Ken Ham launched his viscious attack against Pete Enns, Jay Wile stood up for Enns, and was, in turn, attacked by Ham's organization.  This does not exonerate Wile from his distortions and misinformation, however.  I pray that none of my friends go to these sessions.  I don't want to have those conversations with them. 


  1. Jim, this underscores a question I ask again and again, which has several important ramifications: How should Christians educate our children about science?
    This is especially an important question for the homeschooling community, where as you pointed out, YEC views predominate.

    The first ramification that flows out of the question simply regards education: Will we choose to teach our children actual science (which connotes ALL of sciene) or will we cherry-pick bits and pieces in order to support a polemic? Students who have been "educated" with YEC views are ill-equipped to study science at the college level (unless they go to a Fundamentalist college, where the problem will be compounded).

    The second question is spiritual and pastoral: How will students who have been raised with YEC views respond when they encounter actual science for the first time at the college level? Some students will experience a crisis of faith and will conclude that the Church has defrauded them, and will abandon Christianity because of it. Ironically, parents who have the intention to preserve their kids' faith may actually be planting the seeds that will result in the kids leaving the faith.

    Ultimately this boils down to an ethical question regarding the commitment of Evangelical parents to Truth. Not just to biblical truth, but to truth, wherever it may be found. Any view which avoids certain truths in order to defend faith is actually a violation of what ought to be every Christian's commitment to truth-telling, even when truth is uncomfortable.

  2. You are right, Rob. I do know that the American Scientific Affiliation had an education section of their site but it looks like it hasn't been updated in some time. In one of my posts on homeschooling, this question was posed to a textbook vendor, who replied, paraphrased, that the reason they don't do that is because there is basically no market for it. Everybody wants the books from Apologia, or Bob Jones. In the face of that, only a grassroots model will work. I think that Pete Enns' course ( is one place to start. There is another curriculum that is geologically based ( from Old Earth Ministries that I have thought about downloading. This is truly an uphill battle.

  3. Re Jay Wile (whose posts I SOMETIMES agree with when I read them):

  4. Jimpithecus

    Further message as just sent to Wile (who has refused to answer ANY of my recent messages to him pointing out his unexplained and cowardly looking censorship of my attempted post - shown at the BCSE - tackling his blanket attacks on the Nye book):

    "Other Christians KNOW about your antics, Dr Wile. I have informed this other blogger nicknamed Jimpithecus about your dishonest censorship of myself (and your accompanying rudeness).
    I also told GeoChristian about the former some days ago after he generously mentioned one of your more honest blog posts re radioactive decay.

    A H-R"

    (The blogger GeoChristian mentioned the more recent Wile blog on his Facebook page.)

    PS I assume 'Great' means 'big' rather than 'very good'? Your blog title implies that Wile is leading a 'great convention'!