In the science room at Lighthouse Christian School, a poster of the Earth’s structure shows the inner core, the mantle and the crust, then quotes a Bible passage: “The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.”
In the debate over vouchers, a religious school’s approach to science is particularly contentious. Voucher opponents argue public money should not go to schools that reject evolution.
Lighthouse Christian School uses science workbooks from Lifepac, a Christian home school curriculum published by Alpha Omega Publications of Rock Rapids, Iowa.
In the fifth-grade curriculum’s science section, students are told that some scientists classify fossils by identifying the age in which the fossils may have first been deposited. This method “can be a problem for Christians,” the text reads, because it leads some people to think “life began as a natural, random or accidental process over millions of years.”
In contrast, “creation scientists” would say the Earth is not millions of years old but “much younger, perhaps only several thousands of years old,” the text says. These scientists contend the methods used to date fossils “are not accurate or reliable.”
The workbook asks, “Who are we to believe?” and concludes, “We cannot accept evolutionary theories and explanations that would discount the existence of God or His creation of all that exists.”
In an interview, Al Christopherson, vice president of curriculum development for Alpha Omega Publications, said the company “presents things from a Young Earth creationist viewpoint, but our agenda isn’t that that’s what they need to believe.”
The Rev. Tia Sierra, the school’s principal, said she considers the curriculum “fair” in its presentation of both sides.
“I think it actually presents an opportunity for children to think critically about an issue,” she said. “This is an important skill for children as they develop as individuals — they have the right to choose what they believe.”
Sierra said Lighthouse Church takes no official position on evolution, and that while she believes God created everything, she is “open to the time line.”