On his site, the scientist Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True and quoted in the recent AP piece by Dylan Lovan, fills us in on his experiences since the AP piece ran:
For no particular reason I could fathom, I began receiving all kinds of religous loon-mail today, including denunciations of evolution, pictures of fireworks explosions resembling Jesus on the cross, and sundry laments for the fate of my soul.
After acknowledging the AP article, Coyne tells us how his involvement in [Dylan] Lovan’s AP article started:
You may remember, early in the history of this website, that a woman wrote me about the nearly complete absence of materials to help homeschooled children, like her daughter, learn evolution. Or, rather, there are materials, but they’re all creationist pap, directed to that large segment of homeschooled kids who are being homechurched at the same time.
At Lovan’s request, Virginia Tech professor Duncan Porter and I reviewed two widely-used evolution units sold by religious homeschool outfits, Apologia and Bob Jones University Press (I’ve talked about Apologia before).
So he corresponded with what appears to be one homeschooler looking for science resources, and it spirals from there.
In a subsequent post, The home-schoolers respond, Dr. Coyne writes:
The home-schoolers have responded, leading to the longest thread in the brief history of this website.
Lovan noted in his piece, “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children ‘religious or moral instruction.'”
I weep for those children. For many of them are simply being brainwashed by their parents. Yes, that’s what it is–brainwashing. For a parent to ignore 150 years of solid science, feeding their children lies based on theology, is to deprive those children of the wonder of the universe–a wonder based on truth rather than medieval superstition. It kills off the part of a child that most needs nurturing: her sense of wonder, and all the possibilities of life that are opened up by that wonder.
And those responses:
I’ve been bombarded with private emails suggesting–and not in delicate words–that I am deeply ignorant of evolution, will go to Hell, and that I’m ugly, too.
Here’s one truncated specimen:
The email itself lends an unfortunate degree of credibility to Dr. Coyne words, “Ah, there’s nothing so vile as a Christian insulted!” (Read that ‘specimen’ if you must.)
While it is sad that there are homeschoolers who are too short sighted to realize how poorly this kind of responses reflects on us all, the bigger concern is these response only hardens positions. A case in point is the oinion expressed by PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, writing about the emails. Prof. Myers concludes:
I’m one of those people who thinks we ought to be consistent and require everyone to attend an accredited school, public or private, and that private schools ought also to be required to meet certain secular standards, such as that their science education ought to address the evidence reasonably. You want to send your kids to a school that teaches them all about Jesus? Fine. But it doesn’t count as a legitimate education unless it also teaches the basics of science, math, history, English, etc. in a way that meets state education standards.
Before the homeschool movement was drug into the culture wars, homeschoolers were mostly known to be about children and learning. Nearly three decades of innovations in the practice of education, by hundreds of thousands of families, and we only meet where there is no room for understanding?