Texas Public School Bible Classes: ‘Theories of Creation’

Today we offer another example of what Texas students are learning in their public school Bible classes. A number of these classes incorporate pseudoscience, especially when it comes to promoting creationism. Suggestions that the biblical creation story is literally true are not uncommon. Neither are attempts to show that the Bible’s account can be reconciled with modern science.

In this example from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s new report, Reading, Writing & Religion II: Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011-12 by Prof. Mark Chancey at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, students in the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa are asked to match the theories on the left with the descriptions on the right.

TheoriesOfCreation

It’s one thing to teach students in such classes that some people believe the Bible’s creation story is true but that such views are not shared by others. But that’s not what this Ector County exercise is doing. This exercise presumes the biblical creation story is true while suggesting that there are valid “theories” about the specifics. Moreover, scientific theories about the formation of the universe and about the development of life on Earth are simply ignored. This exercise might have a place in a Sunday School classroom, but not in a public school. And it’s certainly out of place in a truly academic study of the influence of the Bible in history and literature.

The TFN Education Fund’s new report includes many other examples of serious flaws in Texas public school Bible courses. You can read a short overview of the report here. Read what some Texas courses teach about race and Judaism and how they portray the Bible as “one of the most accurate history books in the world.”

The new report and other TFN Education Fund reports on public school Bible courses are here.

This article was posted in these categories: Bible in schools, TFNEF. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post.Trackbacks are closed, but you can Post a Comment.


-->

14 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted January 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Well. I screwed up. “Reification” is not the right word for what I described. There is another anthropological term for it that I cannot remember—getting too old I guess. Sorry.

  2. Charles
    Posted January 26, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Marsisi,

    I can answer your question. If I am not mistaken, cultural anthropologists call it “reifying.” When you have a “belief” in a society rather than something that is factually and empirically demonstrated as a “fact,” the society has to establish cross-threads of relatedness (like in a complex and detailed spider web) to maintain and bolster that belief in the society. This becomes especially important when certain pressures arise (for example evolution, big bang, etc.) that endanger some aspect of a belief system.

    The spider web of reification is very common and geographically widespread in its own unique ways in primtive societies. One could even argue that it is something our species just does almost universally—sort of like doing it was bred into our genes at some point in the evolutionary chain.

    Here is how the human impulse towards doing reification would work in our own society. It is not enough to just believe that the earth is only 5,000 years old and have the preacher teach that in some church. So, the church makes an agreement with Maxwell House Coffee to put a message saying: “The earth is just 5,000 years old.” on every can of coffee they sell. Then someone says, “Why not every Band-Aid strip?” After a while, McDonald’s is convinced to fire brand every hamburger bun with the words: “5,000 Man. I’m liken’ it.” Then the local city fun run makes the exact length of its new cross-town footrace “The Run for the 5,000.” Then a ruling comes down that every library must have at least 5,000 books to honor the age of the earth. Then disposable diapers all have a tag that says, “My kind is just 5,000 years old.” I think you see my point. The purpose of reification is to COMPLETELY SATURATE every aspect of a society with the basic elements of a belief system to the point that they complexly cross-brace that belief system in every tiny aspect od the society and people’s lives.

    The Christian fundamentalist belief system in this country sees their unique view of the Christian faith as dying out. A panic is on, and when people get into a panic about a belief system, it is humanly natural to immediately reach for the primitive system of reification that has pervaded primitive, pagan cultures and all of humanity throughout human history.

    Teaching the Bible in public schools is a reach for “reification.” It does not really matter that it is taught at some church. It must be made to pervade the whole society so the things that are said at church appear to be cross-braced and strengthened by other aspects of the society.

    The best way to ensure that the sort of Christian fundamentalism that pervades the Texas SBOE continues its flight into oblivion is to deny it any opportunity for “reification” in the larger society. If McDonald’s wants to fire brand a “5,000-year” message on their hamburger buns, 10,000,000 people write to them and tell them that they are eating at Burger King until it stops. Denial of the ability to “reify” is one of the best ways to fight the Religious Right because it is a realm they desperately need, but it is also a realm that they do not control. Objecting voices in that alter societal realm have real power.

  3. Marsisi
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    This is exactly why I vigorously opposed the Bible Study bill years ago. Those who should have been joining me were saying, “Oh, no. It’ll be taught as any literature course. It won’t be taught as religion.” Religious zealots will always be religious zealots. They will lie, cheat and steal to teach their delusions to others.

    My questions now are the same as they were when the bill passed: Why aren’t the churches doing what churches are supposed to do? Why don’t they teach the Bible Study course in their churches after school, utilizing pastors who are trained to teach religion to young people? If parents are so eager for their children to learn the Bible, why don’t they take their children to church on Sunday? [Hint: Football comes on TV before the sermon is over.]

    • Pete Rogan
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

      The churches are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: Wield temporal power through the manipulation of their well-controlled flocks. The goal is Dominion, and the end of democracy, and the return of Bronze Age-goverment via elders and Levitican Law.

      This is essentially the same goal the Taliban have, and I for one don’t know why we aren’t using drones against the leaders of this terroristic movement the same way. Do we imagine them to be less of a threat? Do we think their goal is rational and desirable? Dear God, WHY?

  4. Coragyps
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I think I have it figured out…..there’s a bright comet set to arrive in March, and a CRAZYBRIGHT comet due for December. Since comets allegedly portend Bad Stuff, I’m thinking these two portend the End Of The World, but they are divvying it up. Countries starting with A through E disappear in April, and then F through Z in January ’14.

  5. breckenridge
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    B. Hussein Obama wants to take our guns away and give them to the terrorists! He’s a socialist-Muslim and the anti-Christ all rolled into one! He hates all good Christians!

    The End Times is coming people, you best get right with God or you’ll be left behind. Don’t just take my word for it either, ask Tim LaHaye.

    • Pete Rogan
      Posted January 22, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      More Dispensationalist nonsense. Don’t you know the Dominionists are going to beat you into shape after they destroy public schools and the whole concept of democracy? Get with the program. Your religion is politically unacceptable.

    • Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      “The End Times is coming people…”

      Apparently after Armageddon chaos will reign, and noun and verbs will be in eternal disagreement.

  6. Charles
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Allegory? Nah!!!! It’s a parable. If you will look in the New Testament, Jesus did a great deal of his teaching with parables. The only problem is that Texas Christian fundamentalists believe that they are the boss of Jesus. They only allow him to tell parables in the New Testament, but they forbid him to do it in the Old Testament (notably in Genesis). You have to be an ignorant, two-bit Texas redneck to boss Jesus around.

    By the way, in this same vein, some Texas weenie was on CNN tonight arguing that everyone on Texas college campuses should be packing concealed firearms. Best I could tell, his vision was 860 kids in the college dormitory with 860 loaded guns.

    Based on my own years in college, I can show you how that would go:

    “If I catch you with my girlfriend again, I’ll blow your ass off.”

    “Not if I blow your ass off first!!!”

    “Please, please, you guys quit fighting, I love both of you!!”

    “What say we both blow her unfaithful ass off.”"

    “That sounds like a great idea. Kaboom!!!”

    • Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      WHOA! Virtually EVERY SINGLE WORD Jesus said came from the Jewish scriptures, the Tenach. That stands for Torah, Prophets and Writings. He also quoted from the Jerusalem Talmud. The so-called “New Testament” wasn’t written until after the apostles were all dust. Not a word of it was written by anyone who ever heard Jesus (Joshua, actually) talk, so virtually ever single word he spoke came from the Jewish scriptures; they are NOT from the Christian books.

      Jews rejected him as the messiah because he did not DO what the messiah is supposed to accomplish. Jews are still spread around the world and the Third Temple has not been erected, two very important items Christians choose to ignore or say it will happen when he returns.

      The single most important thing that messiah will do when he gets here is that he will bring about UNIVERSAL PEACE. Nobody with a single synapse in their heads can claim that there has ever been a period of universal peace.

      God is one and cannot be split into two, three or five thousand gods and that is why the Jewish people to this day reject the messiahship of Joshua.

      BTW, nowhere in Jewish theology does it say that the Messiah will be a deity. He will be just an ordinary man, born the normal way, and somehow is going to knit everything together.

      Most Christians simply hear what their preachers say and let it go at that. I’ll end this diatribe with this: God made an eternal covenant with Abraham. That means that the covenant is still in effect because we have not yet hit eternity, right? Therefore, there can be no “New” covenant or testament.

  7. Tom Brucia
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Missing: The idea that The Biblical account is allegorical and that it’s not intended as a scientific text. AKA, that The Bible is often attempting to teach a religious concept (that the universe was created) using poetic license. (Note: Doctrine approved by the Roman Catholic Church, the world’s largest Christian body….)

  8. Pete Rogan
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    So, it seems, Texas wants to transform itself into the next Afghanistan, only with less hope for the future and far, far less education. Just another wilderness full of ignorant religious fanatics. I think the US needs to send troops here instead and bring back civilization and wipe out the local Taliban before they spread. We need to deploy drones here soonest. This threat to Americans needs to be reduced in the worst way.

    • Posted January 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Excellent comment. Intruding creationism into the public schools clearly violates the US Constitution and assaults the religious freedom of all Texans.

    • Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Amen!

Post a Comment

TFN Insider Comments Policy

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>