Creationist Diorama-Rama

| 2/20/2008 1:07:07 PM

Tags: Creationism, Science, Fair, Christianity, Darwin, evolution, preaching, teenagers,

Fossils at the Creationist Science FairLike all science fairs, you could tell which projects had parental help and which ones didn’t at the 2008 Home School Science Fair. The blue-ribbon winning project on dinosaurs and people roaming the earth together, with the color photos and the perfectly cut lettering, probably had parental help. The one explaining how a broken motor disproves Darwin's theory of evolution, with the roughly cut pieces of paper and the penciled in chicken scratches, probably did not.

Every diorama in the Home School Science Fair, which took place inside a shopping mall in Roseville, Minnesota, had a biblical quote attached to it. A young woman whose project involved teaching her dog how to run circles between her legs decorated the words: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) in pink lace fabric. This quote got to the crux of the science fair, in my opinion: parental commandment. These parents pulled their children out of school, away from their peers, and said, “Now prove that Darwin was wrong.”

Fossils DetailThe projects all used classic high school science language: Start with a hypothesis, move on to testing, and then draw a conclusion. The problem was that much of the science was backwards. In good science, you start with a piece of evidence and try to find a truth. With creationist science, you start with a truth (the Bible), and try to find the evidence.

Before I arrived at the science fair, I planned to engage some of the children and parents. I wanted to ask them about creationism and education. Once I got there, however, I was overcome with a sense of pity for the children. They stood around the suburban mall, in the prime of the most awkward years of their life, being forced to preach blather. I didn’t want to exploit them for a cheap laugh while their parents and the company Answers in Genesis (whose literature was scattered throughout the event) were so clearly exploiting them to proselytize. The children’s gangly limbs and bad acne reminded me how vulnerable I was at their age and how easily someone could have brainwashed me.

undefinedI overheard one parent saying, “One thing is for sure, a lot of learning has gone on this week.” I would change that statement a bit: I’d say a lot of indoctrinating went on that week. Hopefully, a good college professor, and a few years of therapy, will help these children turn all that “learning” around.

Bennett Gordon

4/10/2009 3:46:51 PM

I homeschool my kids and I was a public high school teacher before doing so. I think if the parents of public school children really had an idea of what went on at these schools on a regular basis they would be more inclined to homeschool their children too. It is organized chaos, and the children in the classroom can only raise to the level of the most annoying kid in their classroom. This is because that child is going to be the squeaky wheel and demand all of the attention while being disruptive. It is wrong for people that send their children to public school to automatically assume that everyone who homeschools is some kind of nutcase. We all choose to do it for different reasons. So this particular group of homeschoolers subscribe to a particular religion- so what? Does that make public school children and their parents more intelligent? No. If you think your children aren't being indoctrinated in other ways at public schools, think again. You have no control over how they are taught about sex, world religions or politics- and yes, they are being taught about other religions under the guise of history- just check out their history books for yourself - if they bother to bring them home.

Mandy L.
3/18/2009 2:31:23 PM

I would like to say that I hold a science BS from a state university and my husband is a doctor. We are both conservative, fundamental Christians. We are homeschooling our children for more than just 'religious' reasons. My mother and grandmother taught in public schools for 35 years. My grandfather was a public high school principal and his father was a public school superintendent. And there are more educators in my family. Does this qualify me as a teacher for my children? No. My love and knowledge of how my children learn and what motivates them are a better qualifier than my background. My base desire to research everything I can get my hands on to help them learn MORE than anything any school can ever teach them gives me more motivation than a minimally qualified, underpaid, slightly motivated, overworked teacher can ever have. Are there good teachers out there? YES. My mother taught me two years in math and had the best math program in county. But that does not replace a one on one, loving teaching environment where I can teach my children according to their bend. My children do not have to ride a bus or attend school with bullies, stand in line, wait on others to catch up so the class can move on, be afraid to raise their hand to clarify something because their classmates will think they are 'stupid' even though the same question was in their mind, worry about inane things like 'do I have the right kind of clothes, toys, games, car, house, neighborhood, etc.' One of our greatest presidents whom Obama is 'hoping' to live up to had only one year of 'formal' schooling, YET he became a lawyer and a revered leader of our country. Not all homeschoolers are equal!!!!

4/6/2008 11:50:41 AM

I just wanted to say to all of those out there who are bashing homeschooling, that I am a mother who homeschools two. I am not a person who homeschools my children in a "box" as a lot of homeschoolers do. My children know there are many different beliefs about how this world was created. They are now left with the chance to explore it in their own minds and decide what they want to believe in as God gives all of us a free will. The first child I did nothing but Christ - centered books and now she doesn't want those kinds of books anymore in her education. I learned that lesson and now with the second one I will not "shove" God down his throat. I am a Christian. I love God. I do not "hide" my children from the REAL world as they one day need to function in this world. I do not beleive the people who are writing negative posts in regards to homeschooling are being totally fair as they are putting all homeschoolers in a "box" - One of my kids is a special needs kid and he was in public school for awhile until I saw that his "emotional" state was being affected and his work ethics too. My son was starting to Hate learning and I would not have that. I decided to bring him home for awhile. He might eventually go back when he is older and can handle all of the crap that goes along with public school and still learn, because the main thing is about him learning in an environment that is healthy for him. I am a homeschooler who feels that homeschooling is not for every kid, it is not for every family and I am not against public school as both of my kids have been in it and I have pulled them out when I felt that public school was not a good enough education for them, not because I am a religious person, even though I do have a belief in God and some would call me religious I would call myself a Christian, I am human and I do sin like everyone else in this world and do not think myself better o

3/2/2008 10:45:43 PM

I like to say never sent my daughters to school. My younger daughter is still high school age, and therefore, is technically still homeschooled. My older daughter made the decision on her own to go to an exclusive, internationally-known prep school when she was in 11th grade - She had to audition, get accepted and receive scholarship money in order to go. She did it and went away for one year, returning home and attending the local community college for her senior year. She's now at the college of her choice, with excellent merit scholarships, having a wonderful time. I can list countless stories of homeschooled kids who have gone on to attend Ivy League schools and become doctors, lawyers, journalists and all matter of culturally admired professions. Does this make them successful humans, and provide evidence of the wonders of homeschooling? Not at all. But I ask, if you were to think about where you would be most likely to find an excellent lunch, would your first impulse be to say schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions? Yummy. And extra healthy too. NOT. If they can't even provide a decent meal, why would we expect that government-run institutions in which children are segregated according to age, often in groups of thirty and more, and led by one adult for hours each day, can provide for excellence in education, socialization or anything else? Is it truly reasonable to expect young children to sit at desks for the greater part of the day, each day, often for the bulk of the daylight? When they are unable to do so many are put on Ritalin. Egads.

the real cmf
2/27/2008 9:12:32 PM

Yep, it was at Har Mar. For a series of hilarious posts on "Creationist Homeschool" madness, check out this blog archive under "homeschool". http://

2/27/2008 2:26:05 PM

Someone asked if this occurred at Rosedale, but looking at some of the backgrounds, I think it was likely at HarMar Mall. HarMar has a history of doing shows of various types, whereas Rosedale tries oh so hard to be more upscale. Except when it came time to build their fabulous outdoor wing last year.

Paulo Pereira
2/27/2008 1:18:43 PM

Just proves that Americans can be such ignorants. Just hope they aren't all.

nunya bizness
2/27/2008 12:29:11 PM

"This is America! Let these people believe what they want to believe." Sadly, some people believe that this life is a dress rehearsal for something better, and that others who don't feel that way deserve to be burned at the stake, blown to bits or otherwise forcibly prevented from pointing out the Emperor's embarrassing absence of clothing. There are very good reasons for the separation of church and state in industrial societies, and for the absence of faith in science textbooks. Societies who cannot separate religion and government are condemned to perpetual civil war. Societies that cannot keep faith and science in their respective corners are doomed to be technological backwaters. I don't wish to live in a war zone or a grass hut. Do you?

2/27/2008 10:04:55 AM

I was a creationist for years, but after I found Charles Darwin, my life was changed, and I was able to give up my drinking problem. Darwin bless you all!

2/27/2008 10:00:01 AM

This is America! Let these people believe what they want to believe. Are we freaking out over what people living in the Amazon or the plains of Tibet believe? How about the plains of Kansas? You may take the stance of an amused anthropologist, but what's the point of evangelizing people with science? Does it fundamentally make the world a better place whether or not we understand the facts about our origins?

2/27/2008 7:59:29 AM

It's odd (for me) that all the discussion about home schooling versus public schooling is about religion or brainwashing. My admittedly naive guess would be not that home schooled kids are less intelligent or less capable, but just not as socially developed. By that I mean more socially awkward then average, more likely to be occupied with work or hobbies as opposed to social relationships then average, etc. Essentially all friendships and relationships I had up until the age of around 24 were the result of school either directly or by no more then one extra degree of seperation (such as my sister's friends from school). If a child has parents that want to brainwash them with religious beliefs, then they're going to do it whether the kid is home schooled or not. At least they're going to try.

2/27/2008 2:11:58 AM

Religion is the most heinous, counterproductive force IN THE WORLD, BAR NONE. It teaches the opposite of thought, the opposite of tolerance, the opposite of evolution (in the every sense), and is so laughably obsolete that I cannot understand how one single person could possibly be so gullible as to believe one word of it, let alone make it the centerpiece of his or her life. It is virulently manipulative of all of its adherents, using the ultimate threat-reward paradigms to achieve the followers' subservience to the very human religious leaders who claim to have an inside position with their god. The imaginary threat of the only recently imagined and included "hell" is paired with the equally fatuous claim that this deity offers ultimate LOVE, and is somehow twisted into the end result of everyone being expected to do what the person standing in the pulpit says they should do. Oh, that and we should all give that guy some money or pity or hate "infidels" in the name of this ultimately loving deity. It's disgusting, and it makes me ashamed to be part of the human species at times. Grow up, people, and take responsibility for your own actions. Then maybe you will not need an imaginary parental figure so much that you forego all common sense in addition to all higher thought processes.

Chris Backe
2/27/2008 1:40:45 AM

As a homeschooled graduate (2000) and a college graduate on the Dean's List (2004), I can firmly say that homeschooling, as a general rule, does a great job. Bennett, I'm not quite sure what your agenda is, but I hope it isn't about to suggest that homeschooling is (or homeschoolers are) inferior because of their religious beliefs. Homeschoolers really are the varied bunch that makes up the human race - I personally have met Christian, black, Wicca, Jewish, and many homeschoolers of other races, background, and lifestyles. We are no longer the stereotype of white Christians as what might have been true 10-15 years ago. @Steaming Pile - regarding your comment about how the standards of homeschooling and their parents are low - what standards are truly required? By the time a child is ready for public school, they have been potty trained, learned their alphabet, numbers, colors, and a myriad of other vital things. All of these are taught by parents - quite likely your parents had hand in ensuring you were ready for first grade or kindergarten. Healyhatman - what exactly are you calling a "real and useful" education? One very recent article by USA Today suggested high school students aren't getting it (from • 43% knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900. •52% could identify the theme of 1984. •51% knew that the controversy surrounding Sen. Joseph McCarthy focused on communism. In the grand scheme of things, the public education system as we know it today has only existed since the 1800's. Before that, people learned from their parents or others in their community - there simply was no public school to attend. Instead of bemoaning a homeschool CREATIONISM fair for having a religious tilt, why not ask why our public schools are spending SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS PER STUDENT for the results listed above? http://www.lifeafterhom

2/26/2008 11:04:40 PM

heres my take on darwin and the theory as an illustration printed on tee's

2/26/2008 9:02:43 PM

"Every diorama in the Home School Science Fair, which took place inside a shopping mall in Roseville, Minnesota..." Was this held at Rosedale?

2/26/2008 6:41:11 PM

Quote from the article: 'The projects all used classic high school science language: Start with a hypothesis, move on to testing, and then draw a conclusion.' If that's what they taught, then they missed out one MAJOR step. It should be: 'Study the available evidence, form a hypothesis based on that evidence, move on to testing, and then draw a conclusion.' This is, in fact, how you get the various 'scientific' claims of YEC in the first place - they are all based on interpreting the evidence or even twisting the evidence to try to make it fit in with the preconception that the Earth is 6000 years old or so, and created by God, despite the fact this preconception is based on a book that may or may not be an accurate account of a story that may or may not have been told to a man (or several men), somewhere between 4000 and 15000 years ago by a being who may or may not exist.

2/26/2008 6:38:50 PM

I was essentially one of these children, resistant to Darwin until 16, when I moved to the other parent's house... It took a few years, but I eventually came around to real science, and there's certainly hope that some of these kids will as well. Unfortunately, many of them are damned to become proselytizing adults.

2/26/2008 6:15:24 PM

Ummm, we're not in fear of a group of school children and we're not lashing out. But to call it a "science fair" when it's anything but is WRONG!

A Disciple of Jesus
2/26/2008 5:45:49 PM

I'm praying for each of you who defiantly lashes out toward our Creator and at the truth that God gives us in the Bible, His Holy Word. There's no need to fear a group of schoolchildren who are professing freely their faith. There's every reason to fear a decision that impacts your eternal destination. Please don't be like that proverbial guy driving about lost and refusing to stop and ask for directions. There are those of us who sincerely care for you, but nowhere near as much as does God Himself.

2/26/2008 5:13:53 PM

Disgusting. This shouldn't count as "Home Schooling" more like "Home forced to believe the shit your parents tell you to believe to the detriment of a real and useful education"

Railroad Stone
2/26/2008 5:11:19 PM

I like the word "inculcation".

Dennis G. Jerz
2/26/2008 4:14:38 PM

Mr. Gordon, I'm a homeschool parent. My wife and I homeschool for reasons that are not religious. We don't teach our kids that fossils are fake, and we don't teach that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time. Identifying this event "The 2008 Home School Science Fair" implies that there is only one home school science fair. Even if that's the way the organizers billed it, it's misleading to present the winner of this particular science fair in a context that suggests all home school science fairs are judged on similar criteria. I understand and appreciate your desire to protect the name of science from those who misappropriate its terminology. I hope you'll also respect my desire to address misunderstandings about home schooling. My wife and I chose to live simply, off of one salary, because we feel that educating children is such an important task we don't want to entrust it to strangers. I have a tremendous sense of satisfaction knowing that I taught my daughter to read, and that I taught my son about wind resistance by conducting an experiment in the living room with a flat piece of paper and a balled-up piece of paper. When they get advanced enough in a subject area that requires more expertise than we can muster, will seek out specialists to enrich their education. In the meantime, we take the kids to classes and events at the zoo, the local library, the Carnegie Science Center, local nature centers, historic sites, and university lectures.

2/26/2008 3:41:52 PM

As a Christian who was homeschooled by parents who did it for religious reasons, I shake my head when I see stories like this. It will take these kids years to overcome the intellectual hurdles their parents have placed in front of them; in many cases, they will never recover, but will instead carry on as close-minded intellectual midgets incapable of critical thinking. I have had to work very hard to drag myself out of that same situation. When my wife and I decided to homeschool our own children, we very deliberately decided it was NOT for religious reasons, but rather because we wanted the best academic situation for them. Our daughter is brilliant (finished Grade 9 at the age of 11), and our son is...not. Both of them would be underserved in the public system, and between the lack of secular independant schools in my area, and the proliferation of "faith-based" ones whose Doctrines bothered me, homeschooling was clearly the best choice for our kids. We built our own curriculum from an eclectic selection of materials that best suited our kids' learning styles, and rolled with it. This all worked great until they hit the higher grades where neither of us could support the math requirements, whereupon we enrolled them in the public school. Homeschooling has given both of our children an incredible advantage over their peers, both academically and socially (that whole "how do they socialise properly?" argument is utter bullshite); because we focussed on teaching our kids how to learn, rather than simply pouring facts into them and making them regurgitate onto a test sheet. Neither my wife nor I have a liberal arts education, aside from that which we've given ourselves via the thousands of books in our home library, the wide variety of websites we read, and the varied and colourful people we call friends. Yes, we still believe in God- but we don't blindly accept what we're fed, and hopefully we have giv

2/26/2008 3:39:48 PM

@Kalias little brother - thanks for that link. I think the best way to confront these throwbacks is to turn the tables. They can talk all day about gaps in the theory of evolution - of course there are gaps, there probably always will be gaps, our knowledge is never going to be absolutely complete. I think the average semi-educated citizen has a misunderstanding and uneasiness about evolution (and would be similarly queasy about quantum physics if they knew enough about it). If you can turn the tables to what they actually believe, to how much science they need to throw out to do it (young earth, literal truth of the ark, etc), I think you may be able to put them on the defensive. Not the hard core AIG types, but the garden variety uncertain ones, if you can get them to understand that the anti-science folks really want to throw EVERYTHING out, maybe you can get them to help us continue to marginalize the true wackos.

2/26/2008 3:08:47 PM

Jonathan Tenkely The bible is not the directive but piggybacks upon established rules Those "teachings" are nothing more that co-opted rules of behavior from many societies. basically religious writings have always taken good things from others co-opted them and claimed to have been the originator. It's the same tactic that microsoft uses for the same motivations of personal profit and padding ones ego. both are lying cheating and fraudulent corporations whose programs and applications are buggy, illogical and overpriced rip offs.

2/26/2008 3:08:03 PM

This is the reason that public schools should be necessary for all, or at least "home shcool" should have the same standards as public schools

Justa Comment
2/26/2008 3:07:43 PM

Lewis Black has the funny and relevant opinion that these 'Christians' need to take the time and ask a Jew about their book - you don't see Jews going around interpreting 'our' book ! They'll be happy to take a few minutes from 'Jewiness' to set them straight.

roseville resident
2/26/2008 3:05:42 PM

you could have mentioned the event was sponsored by the Twin Cities Creation Science Association.

2/26/2008 3:05:07 PM

I am a homeschooling YEC Christian. I have earned multiple degrees from accredited schools. I can think (and freethink) circles around most, including the author of this piece of skeptic's rubbish. Thank you.

Marcos Hernández
2/26/2008 2:45:21 PM

I'm a catholic myself and I just can't understand how people believes in creationism! If we came from Adam and Eve we should be extincted in the 5th generation or so!. Evolution it's not a thing that you believe, IT'S A FACT! Anyway, in a country where the "political correctness" is so important doesn't creationism justify things that are so wrong in many levels? like Racism? from God himself?

Jonathan Tenkely
2/26/2008 2:35:14 PM

Having had to create a presentation for a very similar science fair in my private high-school days, I can say that there are Christians who have matured and gone on to do some very critical thinking of their own, outside of teachers and parents. I was fed the same rhetoric as a teen and have since parted with many of the teachings and requirements of Christianity that were insisted upon me by my teachers. I haven't however, given up on my faith. What many religious critics seem to overlook is that many Christians, though they can't explain or prove the Bible is Truth, still feel that it's teachings are valuable and applicable to their daily lives. Whether people believe the Bible says that human life was "poofed" into existence, or that it grew from a single cell, is just fodder for argument. There are so many more valuable lessons to learn from the Bible that it's a shame more Christians can't just let the division between faith and science exist.

Steaming Pile
2/26/2008 2:32:05 PM

@Jennifer - I must assume your parents are well-educated and enlightened people. Unfortunately, there is no such requirement for homeschooling parents in most if any of the states. In fact, the standards for homeschooling in most states are appallingly thin. My guess is that most religious homeschoolers possess nothing more than a bible and a high school education, and that just isn't enough, no matter how much you pray. The result is something like "school in a can," which is a prepackaged kit usually put together by the likes of Bob Jones University - hardly the most enlightened institution on God's Earth. It all comes down to the reason a parent decides to homeschool. Those who happen to have college degrees and liberal attitudes are a very tiny minority. That ought to scare the crap out of you. I know it does me.

2/26/2008 1:25:35 PM

I homeschooled to offer a climate more favorable to helping a mind grow.

2/26/2008 12:07:55 PM

Hmmm, Based on above comments I decided to find out more about this fair. Found the following site The first page has this declaration... Unlike Some Science Fair Sites We Are For Real! Unlike Many Secular Educators We Teach The Scientific Method! Interesting, but, in reading through the site, it is obviously a Christian fair so it is no surprise that the Bennett Gordon wrote what he did. And, while the declaration says they teach the scientific method it appears that this is just hype...

2/26/2008 11:40:03 AM

Judge not harshly, lest you be judged harshly. We are all, in some way or another, a hopeless prisoner. What appears to be true today will turn out to be folly tomorrow. What appears to be freedom is but the space before another wall.

radical unschooler
2/26/2008 11:32:08 AM

ARRGGGHHH!! This was the homeschool CREATIONIST science fair, a fact you conveniently left out. The homeschoolers I know - and I'm in Charlotte, NC, smack-dab in the bible belt - are a very diverse bunch. Sure, there are creationists. But there are also freethinking radical unschoolers, atheists, pagans, open-minded Christians. WHY would you want to continue to paint "homeschoolers" as close-minded indoctrinaires? Damn, do a little research. Print the facts - a CREATIONIST homeschool science fair will have the creationist p.o.v. An open homeschool science fair will have many, many points of view, from a wide array of people with very diverse beliefs. We are an awesome bunch. Google "radical unschooling". Who's close-minded? I believe the author of the piece started with their end in mind: all homeschoolers are close-minded creationists, and wrote to prove that.

Kalia's little brother_2
2/22/2008 12:13:53 PM

RE critical thinking about everything except your own dogma: see a recent piece by Paul F. Campos: Evidence of Faith

No fan of the religious right
2/22/2008 9:55:11 AM

I'd be careful of saying how "regular school" doesn't indoctrinate in any way and these home-school kids definitely are being indoctrinated . . . I bet there are lots of people who say we get indoctrinated no matter where we are (I, for instance, would say we're all indoctrinated toward capitalism). It's just what side of the debates you're on that determines whether you're getting "indoctrinated" or just getting an education . . .

Andrew Westgate
2/21/2008 6:27:58 PM

That's why I like to think of myself as a dropout.

2/21/2008 11:25:08 AM

I think it is sad that this is what homeschooling has become. I was homeschooled K-12 grade and was taught to be an independent thinker. My parents didn't homeschool me for religious reasons but to avoid the cultural indoctrination that does take place in public schools and to provide me with a better education than what was available at the time. Our schools teach to the test and impart the most important life lesson that Americans need--to sit down and shut up and let someone else to your thinking for you. It embarrasses me to have to tell people that I'm homeschooled and to try to explain and defend what has become indefensible in its modern, most common expression.

Kalia's little brother_1
2/21/2008 9:29:04 AM

Speaking of Answers in Genesis, check out what they have to say about the Paluxy footprints mentioned in that blue ribbon-winning project: "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use"

2/21/2008 8:46:58 AM

I would like to challenge all so called "creationists" to explain how their source(the bible) even came about. I doubt any of them even know! For any further questions from "them", "they" should refer to material by the late famous Bill Hicks.