Wacky Science Spectrum May 30, 2008

Wacky Science Spectrum

In New Zealand, 75% of the people support evolution. So you wouldn’t expect to see Kansas-like problems in neighboring Australia.

However, at Pacific Hills Christian School in Sydney, students were being taught the following spectrum of beliefs in regards to evolution:


Somehow, this teacher places Intelligent Design to the right of Theistic Evolutionist. That makes sense…

This teacher also doesn’t know how to delete unwanted parts of a Powerpoint slide.

The entire video in which this slide can be seen is found here.

On the upside, some are angry about this. And that school is being checked out by the Board of Studies (their version of a school board).

According to the BoS:

Intelligent design is not part of any Board of Studies syllabus. Intelligent design is not in the science curriculum because it is not scientific and not evidence based.

If schools choose to teach aspects of intelligent design in a science class it must be in addition to, not instead of, the Board’s full program of science courses.

Schools teaching intelligent design must make it clear to students that this material is not part of the Board’s syllabus and that it will not be tested in any public examination.

Students should understand that intelligent design would not be considered relevant in any responses they write for School Certificate (SC) or Higher School Certificate (HSC) science examinations.

Intelligent design should not be set as part of the school-based assessment tasks for science that contribute to SC and HSC assessment.

Ok, I take back the comparison to Kansas. Though I still don’t think ID belongs in the classroom at all, even as supplementary material to evolution.

(via Open Parachute)

[tags]atheist, atheism, science, evolution, Richard Dawkins[/tags]

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  • In New Zealand, 75% of the people support evolution. So you wouldn’t expect to see Kansas-like problems in neighboring Australia.

    Some quick Googling shows that New Zealand to Australia is about 1400 miles. If you’re going to compare on distance, this is kinda like saying that “In San Francisco, 75% of the people support evolution. So you wouldn’t expect to see problems like this in neighboring Wichita.”

    I’m sure an Aussie or a Kiwi will chime in here soon enough to tell you in further detail about how they’re not the same country :p

    All that aside, why should we be surprised to see nonsense like this at a religiously-based school?

  • (also the Google adsense ad right above the comments is:

    Intelligent Design DVDs
    Explore Evidence against Evolution As seen in Expelled the Movie

    Something tells me this isn’t the most fertile ground for their sales)

  • Hi, I’m from NZ. We have a bit of an inferiority complex about Australia and I’d say that a comparison between Canada and USA or Scotland and England would probably be more accurate than your inter-country example.

    Australia is more America-like in it’s political and civil setup and up until recently was pretty chummy with America’s stance on the war in Iraq where NZ has held the whole affair at arm’s length.

    That said, my impression of Australia is definitely more hedonistic than conservative NZ (especially with their liberal approach to sexuality).

    I have heard that there is quite a strong fundamentalist movement in Australia though so perhaps it’s that NZ is just generally more middle-of-the-road and less prone to extremes of religiosity or ‘worldliness’.

    Perhaps idiocy is contagious? Are the troops bringing it back from contact in the front lines?

  • Board of Studies is a state-wide government organization that covers syllabus and a variety of related issues for K-12.

    Those are professional people, not elected amateurs.
    All in all, it’s quite a bit different from just “a school board” in the usual US sense.

    I note that Australia has a slightly higher proportion of agnostics and atheists than New Zealand; I would not expect the level of acceptance of evolution to differ very strongly.

    As for figures on evolution belief, the only one I could find (from 2004) had just over a quarter of Australians “believe the bible provides a more likely explanation of the origins of life than evolution”, which while not exactly the same question, gives some indication that acceptance of evolution is up toward the 75% mark.

  • Damo

    Real live Aussie here.

    Australia as a whole is pretty much agnostic or has a low level religious belief. There are strong pockets of reigious faith though. Ken Ham is Queensland born and bred, and luckily for us and unfortunatly for you Americans has gone on to richer pickings.

    Australian politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have a much higher rate of religious belief than the general population. They are aware though of loudly prolclaiming it will lose them the audience. This does leave scope for much secrecy and makes them curiously sympathetic to the more wacko fundamentalist groups (Christian groups that is. Muslim fundamentalists receive the attentions of ASIO and the Australian Federal Police.) The religious groups if they get a sympathetic ear and can keep a secret can get all sorts if dispensations for their school’s.

    The previous conservative goverment for some reason had a lot of time for a strange mob called the Exculsive Bretheren. Strange, because the Bretheren ban their members from voting in elections they also don’t like their members watching TV or listening to the radio or using computers. They also don’t like educating their women much. They do have a lot of money though. They managed to get allowances for their schools to drop certain compulsory blocks of Board of Studies requirements.

    Damian above, stated that their was quite a strong fundamentalist movement here in Australia, to clarify their strengh comes not from numbers, but their suprisingly good political contacts.

    Bit scary ? Huh.

  • I’m an American, but I can vouch for the scarily strong fundie movement from down-under.

    It seems that every time I get into a religious debate with a fundamentalist Christian, its usually an Aussie. Maybe thats just my luck of the draw, but it does surprise me that the Aussie’s here claim that their country is mostly agnostic or not as serious about religion as other countries.

    Then again, I’ve also heard that Foster’s (supposedly “Australian for Beer”) is not even a popular beverage down under, and after trying it at a local pub, I now know why. My aunt and uncle went to Australia on vacation, and they came back with the knowledge that Aussies prefer a crafty micro brew over a Foster’s any day. Hearing that made me want to visit and see for myself, as most Americans lean towards things far worse than Foster’s (try Coors and Budweiser, eww.).

  • Ken

    Australians and Kiwis are competitive but I would expect that the compositions of our populations would be broadly similar. The NZ Census figures show lower numbers declaring themselves Christian and more declaring “no religion” but I think the way the question is asked could be important (see Non religious in Australia and New Zealand).

  • Darryl

    We’ve been sending missionaries to Australia for a long time. When I went to Bible College in California way back when some of the first people I encountered were Aussies training to be missionaries back home. Ah, what a world: we send them to Australia as prisoners, and then send missionaries to proselytize them–a double curse.

  • So you wouldn’t expect to see Kansas-like problems in neighboring Australia.

    Well, we can’t export them all. From an Aussie point of view, I agree with Damian’s comparisons between Australia and New Zealand on the one hand and the US and Canada on the other. I had no idea we were more sexually permissive though.

    For me, the worrying thing about these schools (apart from teaching creationism in science class at all) is the potential for confusion if students decide to study biology in year 12. I’m not sure about other states but evolution makes up a large part of the senior biology curriculum in South Australia. I know I’d have a hard time passing a subject if the content contradicted a decade of previous education.

    Actually, public schools sometimes have a similar problem, not through teaching creationism, but by omitting to teach evolution before year 12. (and other things as well, like the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STDs). Of course, the conflicting information come from outside the school, so at least the school is consistent but when there’s misinformation in the community we really should try and counter it by teaching these things early and often.

  • cipher

    Would you guys be willing to take back Ken Ham if we threw in some cash?

  • AV

    When the current leader of the Federal Opposition, Brendan Nelson, was Education Minister in the former conservative government, he made the following remarks in response to Campus Crusade for Christ’s pimping of its DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life around Australian schools in 2005:

    “Do I think that parents and schools should have the opportunity — if they wish to — for students also to be exposed to this and to be taught about it? Yes I think that’s fine,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, students can be taught and should be taught the basic science in terms of the evolution of man, but if schools also want to present students with intelligent design, I don’t have any difficulty with that. It’s about choice, reasonable choice.”

  • yobo

    Your taxes, hard at work . . . « Five Public Opinions Says:

    what about that schoool?
    it is a christian school it will teach christian values and morals,
    as well as what is set out by the BOARD OF STUDIES…

    parents do have the choice of sending there kids to a christian schoool, wanting them to know and learn.
    so you cant really say anything to it.

    Its fact of life. live with it.
    we all have different views to life…
    and this is mine…

    (i didnt read this article….just something about education and PHCS…. )
    so im commenting on that..

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