Meeting the needs of Christian students in high school biology - Articles

This to me gets too close to the line between secular science and TE/EC for comfort. Although Biologos says this is geared to private schools and home schooled, I am concerned about public school Christian science teachers some how illegally inserting this into the public schools science curriculum or in their classroom.

Notice to Biologos: FFRF is watching and will act should the line be crossed, even accidentally by a well meaning Christian public school science teacher.

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Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. These books are really needed in the world of home schooling, and it is well worth the tiny risk of a random public school teacher mistakenly using these materials in a public school. Science needs as many smart and enthusiastic scientists as it can get, and it would be a real shame if we lost the next great scientist to really poor home schooling.

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If you’re going to get twitchy every time someone publishes a book that could possibly be misused by a well-meaning high school teacher you’re going to spend your life flailing.


I tend to agree with you that there is a definite need for what Biologos is doing for both private schools and homeschooling. In this regard I think Biologos should speak louder against AiG and DI.

And I am not against educating Christian Science teachers in public schools that science doesn’t impinges faith.

My only gripe is lack of neutrality. TE/EC like ID and YEC is creationism and illegal to be taught in the public schools. As long a public school teachers know this and don’t bring a creator God into the sciences, I am fine but watchful. As we all here agree that science is neutral on whether there is or isn’t a Creator.

Leading by example might be a better route for them.

I agree with you there. We shouldn’t ignore the realities of our society in public schools. There are non-confrontational ways to teach “controversial” science, such as telling the students that they simply have to learn what the current theories are, not pledge their belief in them.


There are a number of interesting, and potentially sticky issues, here.

You talk about what is “taught”. While that is a more black-and-white issue, I’m interested in what is asked about and discussed by the students in the class. I can certainly acknowledge that it’s not the public school system’s job to do religious education, and in fact that’s a benefit to the Christian. But what is the public school teacher supposed to do with a classroom of students, many of who come from religious background, when questions come up about how science and faith intersect? It seems like FFRF wants the teacher to just ignore or avoid the question, but is that really solving the problem? I think that’s tended to make the religious science-minded high school student seek out the advice of their parents and pastors when issues come up. Is it reasonable to point to an outside resource that could help the student understand things from the perspective of the faith-tradition they come from?

Teach and answer questions as required by the State curriculum and required by law. There is such diversity in public schools today that a Christian teacher should not try to insert her religious beliefs into a science Q &A with any student. That is where the problem is. Would you be okay for a Baptist YEC public school science teacher inserting her religious beliefs into a public school classroom where 30% of the student parent’s are Nones, 25% are evangelical Christians, 24% are Catholic, 5% are Jews, and 3% are Mormons, 2% are Muslim, and 2% are Jehovah Witnesses? Would it be okay that she seeks out the student who has Baptist YEC parents and tries to help this student preferentially?

The answer to any question regarding an individual student religion is NEUTRALITY. That is the law. And no, it is ILLEGAL for the teacher to tell the student to seek out faith-based answers to any problem the student has.

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You’re not getting my point, I think. I already said the teacher should be neutral. What I’m saying is should the teacher be allowed to help facilitate the student’s discussion. Say the students are asking questions about Adam & Eve, would it be appropriate for the teacher to say “for those of who come from a Christian background, you might want to check out resource X, those of you from Muslim backgrounds may want to check out Y” I think that approach is neutral as far as religion goes, but doesn’t leave the religious students hanging.


No. Should a student ask about Adam and Eve, the public school teacher is required to say something like “where in the textbook or in the lessons is Adam and Eve mentioned?” And then leave it like that. Children asked crazy questions all the time. Are there aliens? or ghosts? What about Adam and Steve?

I feel like that is a real missed opportunity. I know so many Christians that completely checked out of their biology classes because their theological concerns weren’t addressed (even in a neutral way). That means the only significant scientific authority in their life (their HS science teachers) has been essentially sidelined and instead they go to pastors and parents for “science”. It’s too bad.

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Yes that is really terrible that the theological nonsense that is jam into children’s head at a young age make learning real knowledge of the world more difficult than it should be. I blame the parents. These children are the victims of their parents beliefs. I really feel sorry for these children. I hope that they can recover and get a good education in science which is really important to live a good life in our secular scientific world of today.

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Could you please cite the case law where that is stated? Religious neutrality certainly does not prevent a teacher from teaching about religion, so where does this requirement come from?

And good teachers answer them all the time.


Significant case law exists. Yes, teachers are prevented from talking about A&E in science class.

A great deal of case law exists. I want to know what case law supports your specific claim here.


And specifically what do you think my claim is?

Note that I am very familiar with guideline of how public school teachers in New Jersey must operate under in the teaching of biology and other sciences. Public schools here are very diverse with a lot of beliefs represented. Public Schools here are very aware of volatile issues like religion in the classroom. All public school teachers in NJ are trained well in the law and State guidelines. Every school district has to deal with tons of complaints on everything from gender issues, sexuality issues. Creationism is old news. Bigger, more complex issues keep the teachers pretty busy.

‘Should a student ask about Adam and Eve, the public school teacher is required to say something like “where in the textbook or in the lessons is Adam and Eve mentioned?"’

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I got that directly from a retired NJ High School biology teacher. If a student would asked about anything religious in the biology class, the teachers was instructed to focus the student on the material presented and instruct the student to studied the material presented in the classroom. The same in health class, teachers are instructed NOT to teach morality in health class.

I have no trouble believing that some school boards mandate that kind of response. I’m looking for the case law that supports your claim. (Claims, actually. You also said


This summaries the law quite well.

If the law dictates what the teacher is required to say, then we don’t need teachers. We can just play a tape.

But we do need teachers. And we need those teachers to be sensitive to the needs of the students.

If I were teaching biology, I would be mentioning that some people are YECs and some are ID proponents. The students need to know the range of views out there. And I would be careful to teach the class in such a way that a YEC student would not feel that he/she was certain to fail the class.