Saturday, May 09, 2015

A Closer Look at Accelerated Christian Education

England is currently grappling with a controversy surrounding its free schools: some of them are teaching young earth creationism.  Javier Espinoza, of the Telegraph, writes:
Creationism is still taught in dozens of faith schools despite Government threats to withdraw their funding, the Telegraph can disclose.

Last August Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools found teaching creationism as scientific fact would not be eligible for any money from the taxpayer.

Yet a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests show that 54 private schools are still being funded by local authorities, while continuing to teach that the Earth began with Adam and Eve.

Only 14 of the 91 schools teaching creationism have had their funding withdrawn, an investigation by the British Humanist Association revealed.

The campaign group also found that some faith schools' science departments were teaching pupils to identify what happened on each of the days of the creation.
Apparently, the focus of the inquiry is into a particular curriculum that is being used, that from Accelerated Christian Education. Well, its accelerated all right.  Johnny Scaramanga, of Patheos, examined the ACE science curriculum and found, among other things, that:
  • The Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution.  I wrote about this a bit back here.  The direct quote that Scaramanga uses that I have also quoted:
    Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short, has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.
    No, it hasn't. There is no evidence that this creature exists, whatsoever.
  • Solar Fusion is a Myth.  This is a retread of the old Russell Akridge argument that the sun is shrinking.  Howard Van Till wrote a detailed expose of this creationist “talking point,” and it is no longer an argument used because it was so thoroughly debunked.  Apparently ACE has not gotten the memo. 
  • A Japanese Whaling Boat Found a Dinosaur.  As was pointed out very shortly after the discovery, it was not a dinosaur at all but a badly decomposed basking shark.  Even Answers in Genesis backed away from this one.  Creation.com also gave it a pass.  Once again, ACE treads where other creationists have urged caution. 
  • Evolution Has Been Disproved.  Here, Scaramanga points out some statements found in the text that parrot the usual, discredited arguments:
    “This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis.” (Science 1099, p. 30)

    “No branch of true science would make these kind of impossible claims without proof. Because evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative – that the universe was created by God – they declare evolution is a fact and believe its impossible claims without any scientific proof!” (Science 1107, p. 24)

    “It is not possible that our planet accidentally evolved into a living blue and green planet! No, the creation of our earthly home required a miracle. That miracle was the design and work of a mighty Creator.” (Social Studies 1098, p. 3)

    “The evolutionist does not realise that he also accepts his theories by faith; he cannot prove them by scientific demonstration, and he is dishonest when he claims they are science.” (Social Studies 1097, p. 25)
    Not only are these incorrect, they are couched in haughty arrogance and derision toward the scientists who work in this field. Contemptible.
  • Humans and Dinosaurs Coexisted.  This is an argument derived from what were considered dinosaur and human tracks at the Paluxy River, in Glen Rose, Texas.  Once again, this is an argument that creationists no longer use and have not used in years.   John Morris, of the ICR cautions his readers that this is not a credible argument. 
I have not looked at ACE's textbooks in awhile but, given the ruckus they have produced,their content has likely not changed much.  Other problems abound with this curriculum.  In another post, Scaramanga writes:
In 2012 I began a PhD studying ACE, and discovered that little had changed since I left in 1999. I have campaigned against ACE, with some success. The shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has described its stance on homosexuality as “dangerous” and “backwards”; the Advertising Standards Authority ruled last month that some ACE schools were mis-selling their qualifications; and the press finally noticed they were teaching that wives must submit to their husbands.

In all of this, however, little attention has been paid to the pseudoscience that ACE passes off as education. PACEs sometimes get basic science wrong, but more importantly they demonstrate that ACE can’t tell the difference between science and nonsense obscured with long words. For example, ACE’s Science 1087
(aimed at students in year 9) suggests it might be possible to generate electricity from snow.
That was written in September of 2014.  The rest of the article is a chilling expose of just how badly ACE has gotten basic science. It is astounding to think that sixty schools all over England are using it, or were using it five years ago. How will these kids react when they discover that the science they were taught is bogus? How will it affect their faith?  We know, in Scaramanga's case, it drove him to atheism

2 comments:

  1. Ah, I'm not sure if my first comment got eaten, so I'll try again. Thanks for writing this. I've decided not to campaign against ACE while I'm finishing my PhD (I want to get some distance from the subject), but I'm very glad to see it discussed.

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  2. I've heard of most of these silly arguments but I never heard the "fusion is a myth!" one. As a person who studies astrophysics that boggles my mind!

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