School response on creationism, claims evolution ‘controversies’

Following a claim by a former pupil Mt Hobson Middle School that creationism had been taught in a science class in preference to evolution – see Claim of creationism taught in school linked to National – the school has responded, denying it.

NZH: Claim Simon Bridges’ sister teaching creationism

A former student at the school has told Newsroom that creationism was being taught in preference to evolution.

Alwyn Poole, a Villa Education Trust board member and principal of Mt Hobson Middle School, said Rachel O’Connor was a superb teacher and “very balanced and open in all that she presents”.

“The NZ curriculum is broad and designed brilliantly that way by the team that did it. Darwin himself would be very unhappy if the controversies, developments and unfinished business of his theories were not discussed. Everyone who actually knows the basics of science understands that it is built on profound discussion and reaches across broad disciplines. The student’s recollection of Mrs O’Connor’s statements and the ability to discuss are highly flawed”.

This still takes a swipe at evolution with “the controversies, developments and unfinished business of his theories”. A standard creationist tactic is to promote ‘the controversies’ of Darwin’s theory.

Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859 – that’s 159 years ago.

There has been a lot of scientific advances since then on evolution. It is not controversial any more. More is being added al the time to scientific knowledge and research continues, as is normal in science, but the scientific basics of evolution are as established as the basics of gravity.

And creationism keeps being rejected as science. Wikipedia:

The teaching of evolution in American secondary school biology classes was uncommon in most of the first half of the 20th century. The Scopes Trial decision of 1925 caused the subject to become very rare in American secondary biology textbooks for a generation, but it was gradually re-introduced later and became legally protected with the 1968 Epperson v. Arkansasdecision. Since then, the competing religious belief of creationism was legally disallowed in secondary school curricula in various decisions in the 1970s and 1980s, but it returned in pseudoscientific form as intelligent design (ID), to be excluded once again in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case.

Simon Bridges, O’Connor’s brother, has cried foul over what he calls a ‘hit job’.

Bridges’ sister Rachel O’Connor, who is married to National MP Simon O’Connor, is a science teacher at Mt Hobson Middle School.

“It strikes me in terms of whoever’s involved, there’s a bit of a cheap political hit here. It’s a private Christian school. I don’t know the ins and outs of the rules on what should be taught but that school should be teaching the government curricular in this area. Everything I’ve seen and understand suggests they are.”

He said he believed in evolution but that had nothing to do with the issue. He would “absolutely not” talk to his sister about it.

Bridges said he didn’t know what his sister’s beliefs were but “she’s a New Zealander and she should be able to believe whatever she wants”.

Yes, she should be able to believe whatever she wants.

But what a science teacher teaches is a valid public issue, especially if evolution is promoted as a ‘controversy’ by the school, and if creationism is given more than a passing mention in science classes.

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42 Comments

  1. lurcher1948

     /  August 1, 2018

    Simon really wants those charter schools teaching”science”and will his sister get a say in what’s taught???

    Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  August 1, 2018

    Teaching creationism & attempting to give it any credibility at all is simply absurd. It’s the sort of thing that could only happen with someone who is a completely deluded Bible nut & the sort of thing one would normally expect nowadays in a madrassa in Saudi Arabia or some goat-herders’ village in the back blocks of Afghanistan where no one can read or write.

    Those who think the teeny few things left in the Evolution by Natural Selection Theory that haven’t been explained & now evidenced are hopelessly ill-informed, usually by choice. They simply haven’t read widely & deeply enuf. Understanding exsctly how & where dna changes happen & get passed to the next generation alone is incredibly complex, but it can be grasped.

    The continually accumlating evidence for the Evolution Theory’s correctness is still pouring in from all kinds of scientific fields.

    By comparison, Creationism (aka Intelligent Design these days) is so full of flaws & disproofs only someone truly wilfully ignorant

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 1, 2018

      … would attempt to teach it – except perhaps as a means of showing how to conclusively disprove a silly theory.

      Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 1, 2018

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Creationism was taught in some schools in middle America. I’m not sure where Islam stands on Creationism.

      Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  August 1, 2018

        From wiki

        “Unlike the Bible, the story of creation in the Qur’an is not told in one chapter, but rather can be pieced together from verses all over the book.[”

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_views_on_evolution

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 1, 2018

          Our posts crossed. Actually the contents of the Quran and their organisation into chapters are the result of piecemeal revelations over 23 years as & when Muhammad needed one. He & the angel Gabriel met every year (from memory) to review & reorganise them. When you read The Quran, you can pick up that it’s patched together.

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 1, 2018

        Similar to Judaism’s & Christiany’s Jaweh diddit theory. But typically also confused & contradictory. Islam lifts & distorts some of its very limited creation verses from Jaudaism’s Jaweh story.

        Reply
  3. Corky

     /  August 1, 2018

    ”There has been a lot of scientific advances since then on evolution. It is not controversial any more.”

    Except its more controversial than ever. I recently gave examples of human remains found in Australia that don’t fit tcurrent paradigms. That goes for other discoveries world wide.
    While that’s not evolution per se, for evolution to be a scientific fact, it must be able to show this fantastic leap from simple organism to humanoid being. Or, how a Model T became a Ferrari with ABS brakes within the space of three weeks ( on scale).

    To clear up one matter. I belong to a class of evolutionary theory critic who also has no time for the creation theory which, of course is absolute crap. Yet people in this debate seem to think you must take sides…I don’t.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  August 1, 2018

      for evolution to be a scientific fact, it must be able to show this fantastic leap from simple organism to humanoid being.

      It does, across multiple fields.

      Or, how a Model T became a Ferrari with ABS brakes within the space of three weeks ( on scale).

      It didn’t. That shows a massive lack of knowledge.

      I belong to a class of evolutionary theory critic …. who also has no time for the creation theory which, of course is absolute crap.

      That figures. Good luck with that, whatever it is.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 1, 2018

      I don’t see why you think there are fantastic gaps. We are surrounded by organisms that span the range from simple inanimates to sentient and intelligent beings. All have evolutionary links.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 1, 2018

        There aren’t any fantastics gaps. They’re all getting filled in the fossil discovery field alone, just about every year. The missing intermediary forms between archeopteryx and birds hsve been turning up all over the place, for example. The stash with the biggedt variety of feathered dinosaurs that could and couldn’t fly seems to be in China. Includes some forms with four limbs winged that never lasted long.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 1, 2018

          *four limbs feathered, sorry. Early form feathers weren’t for flight. Flight feathers themselves are a specialised, traceable evolutionary development.

          Reply
        • admiralvonspee

           /  August 1, 2018

          Anything pre-Cambrian explosion turned up yet?

          Reply
    • Corky

       /  August 1, 2018

      ”Or, how a Model T became a Ferrari with ABS brakes within the space of three weeks ( on scale).”

      It didn’t. That shows a massive lack of knowledge.”

      Could you expand on that please?

      Reply
  4. alloytoo

     /  August 1, 2018

    1. Yes it probably is a hit job.
    2. There is no controversy, evolution remains the best explanation for the diversity of life on earth.

    Reply
    • Where did the various forms that evolved come from ?

      I can’t see that the two are mutually exclusive. A created thing evolves and changes. QED.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 1, 2018

        Where did the various forms that evolved come from ?
        The first forms. All subsequent life forms still have their simple dna sequences included in theirs.

        Reply
      • alloytoo

         /  August 1, 2018

        And your evidence of a creator is?

        Ultimately you will get to a point of special pleading claiming said creator arose spontaneously or always existed (all without evidence).

        In the face of such special pleading accepting that life arose spontaneously (though a process we have yet to determine) seems very reasonable.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  August 1, 2018

          It seems unlikely to me that all the varying forms of life simply occurred by chance….something had to be alive.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 1, 2018

            The first “life form” that conferred the ability to reproduce would have taken over the habitable world. Thereafter variants that extended the habitat or consumed or out-competed the first would have set off the evolutionary arms race. Intelligence would have been a late arrival.

            Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  August 1, 2018

          I have no ‘evidence’ of a creator, but I wonder if anyone has any ‘evidence’ that living things simply occurred by chance. When did life come into being ? And how ?

          It all comes down to which theory people decide is credible.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 1, 2018

            Which theory is credible depends on evidence, not belief.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  August 1, 2018

              All that had to happen was for one event to generate a self-replicating simple organism that passed on its abilty to reproduce a copy. Every other divergent life form is now very reliably shown to be capable of developing from that in the geological time frames & environments known so far. That event could just as easily occur by a chance unknown combination of events & environmental conditions as by some external intelligent actor or power causing it.

            • Gezza

               /  August 1, 2018

              Sorry – that was @ Kitty.

  5. Zedd

     /  August 1, 2018

    when I was in UK (many moons ago) they had R.E. (Religious Education) it was not about pushing a particular ‘religion’ but more about discussing issues common to all & what they say. They made it clear that creationism was in many religions; Hinduism, Judeo-Christian & Islam.. but it was just ‘belief’ not science

    There are many allegations that Darwin distorted his ‘evidence’ for evolution over distant time too.. there is no clear evidence in fossil record of ‘intermediary species’ (missing links) & life does seem to have ‘appeared’ in a short time; the Cambrian explosion, which has been pointed to as ‘the possible creation’ BUT unless Dr Who pops up with her Tardis to take us back.. it will likely still be one of the two issues that still cause most of the disputes & even Wars ? politics being the other.. 😀

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  August 1, 2018

      I also saw a news report; someone found dinosaur bones (supposedly over 65 million years old) with cartlidge & bone marrow…. must have been either frozen for millions of years OR the time scale for their ‘extinction’ is wrong; creationists say the earth & all life is only 1000s of years old, not many millions, as Darwin claimed ? :/

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  August 1, 2018

        I grew up being taught evolution.. but in my later years, I have at least looked into other ‘theories’ & ideas, its called ‘keeping an open mind’ :/ 😀

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 1, 2018

          The evidence supporting it has a come a long long way in just about every relevant field since when you went to school. Nothing wrong with keeping an open mind as long it doesn’t get confused with an empty head.

          Reply
          • Griff.

             /  August 1, 2018

            keep an open mind but not one so open your brains fall out .

            Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  August 1, 2018

          What other theories? I have yet to see anything that has more credibility than a conjurer’s wand.

          Reply
    • Corky

       /  August 1, 2018

      ”BUT unless Dr Who pops up with her Tardis.”

      Now that’s an evolution theory that has been conclusively proved. I now understand why people don’t like their pet theories questioned. People like the above.😃 The thought of a shelia guiding the Tardis along different time lines then stopping for shopping is just plain mind-blowing.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 1, 2018

        The thought of a shelia guiding the Tardis along different time lines then stopping for shopping is just plain mind-blowing.

        Not to me. That’s what my lady would’ve done. Also me mum. What’s more, me mum would’ve recognised someone there, & the next minute she’d be holding us talking to the wife about all the people they both knew & what they were doing these days, & where all their kids were, who they married and how many kids they all had.

        Reply
    • DJA

       /  August 1, 2018

      There are many transitional fossils – check out “Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters” by geologist and paleontologist Donald R Prothero who provides numerous examples. He also points out that the fossil records of the late-Precambrian and Cambrian periods indicate that life did not “explode” in the Cambrian but appeared gradually over a span of almost 100 million years. Even if there really were no fossil records of ‘intermediary species’ this wouldn’t debunk the Theory of Evolution because the DNA evidence alone is indisputable:

      “As someone who’s had the privilege of leading the human genome project, I’ve had the opportunity to study our own DNA instruction book at a level of detail that was never really possible before. It’s also now been possible to compare our DNA with that of many other species. The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming. I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to try to deny that.” – Francis Collins (former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute).

      Reply
  6. lurcher1948

     /  August 1, 2018

    Along with charter schools the National party is backing creation as govt policy,with Simon Bridges sister as minister of creation

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  August 1, 2018

      You forget science is a religion, Lurchy. It believes in the material and nothing else. Science inquiry its Litany. Professors of science, the high priests. And people who believe in science. the congregation. Like any religion it has its good, bad and ugly aspects, and likewise, people.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 1, 2018

        Science is belief with repeatedly proveable evidence
        Religion is belief with no provable evidence

        Reply
  1. School response on creationism, claims evolution ‘controversies’ — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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