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Has Science Education become Indoctrination? 

I was asked to contribute an article on the above theme to the ‘SOLAS Papers’ published on their web site.  SOLAS is The Centre for Public Christianity based in Dundee, Scotland.  The full paper can be found at:

Book cover - What are they teaching the children?It is based on a chapter I was asked to contribute to the recently published What are they teaching the Children?, edited by Lynda Rose and published by Wilberforce Publications and Voice for Justice UK in 2016.  That volume is largely concerned with sex education, but they included my contribution on what I see as the distortion of science education in the area of origins. 
In 2005, Terence Copley, a Lecturer in the School of Education at Exeter University, pointed out in his book Indoctrination, Education and God (SPCK, 2005) that education is the only universal activity in British society, along with shopping and watching television, and expresses his motivation for writing in these terms:
‘Our concern … is whether a secular indoctrination process is at work in British and European society, programming people against religious belief and, if so, whether education is an accomplice in this.’
His concern is well-founded, and I have been dismayed to note that in the last decade or so, science education has been corrupted, particularly in the area of origins, by a wholly secular and naturalistic view of how life and the universe can to exist.  Even though prominent scientists admit they have no idea how life and the universe came into being, they pronounce of these matters as if they had solved all the problems.  They are guilty of gross deception. 
Book cover - Indcotrinatio, education and GodSometimes this touches the absurd.  A friend told me recently that her 7-year daughter told her mother that in a ‘science’ lesson in her primary school she was told by her teacher that ’Christians don’t believe in dinosaurs’.  It’s hard to work out what is worst about this: is it the ignorance of the teacher, the inadequacies of teacher training, the superficiality of much of higher education, the shallowness of public understanding of science, or the sheer inability of a well-paid professional to differentiate between a species becoming extinct and the Christian understanding of origins? 
I accept that’s a fairly trivial example, but it is telling and the impression left in the mind of a 7-year old is probably long-lasting.  Sadly, though, indoctrination through science education is widespread and in some cases fairly sophisticated.  The bottom line is that young people are being coached in the philosophy of naturalism which insists that there can be no intelligent cause for the universe beyond natural processes.  Indeed the Department of Education for England and Wales has effectively enshrined that in guidance to schools, and the Scottish Government has issued an attenuated form of that advice. 
The philosophy of ‘naturalism’ or ‘materialism’ is not a scientific finding – it is an unproved and unproveable assumption brought to science, and into which the empirical data is made to fit.  True scientific investigation on the other hand should go where the evidence leads, and, in the area of origins, that is clearly beyond natural processes.  After all natural laws themselves require some explanation for their existence. 
In my SOLAS paper I explore these critical issues in some detail and deal with areas such as:

Science and scientism
Science and origins
Teaching evolution in schools
The origin of life question
Scientific theories and the Immaterial

If you are a parent, teacher, pastor, or are just interested in public education, I commend my paper to you and invite you to pursue these issues in your own sphere of influence. 

Dr Alastair Noble
Centre for Intelligent Design UK
July 2017

Image credits:
Thumbnail - courtesy of Solas Centre for Public Christianity, 

What are they teaching the children book cover - couretesy of Wilberforce Publications Limited, ISBN-13: 978-0957572584
Indoctrination, Education and God book cover - couretesy of SPCK Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-0281056828