Tuesday, March 20, 2007

TOPIC: Oregon Biology Teacher Fired Over Bible References
Source: FOXNews.com
During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood. That was enough for the Sisters School Board (Sister, Oregon), which fired the teacher Monday night for deviating from the curriculum on the theory of evolution. "I think his performance was not just a little bit over the line," board member Jeff Smith said. "It was a severe contradiction of what we trust teachers to do in our classrooms."
Helphinstine, 27, said in a phone interview with The Bulletin newspaper of Bend that he included the supplemental material to teach students about bias in sources, and his only agenda was to teach critical thinking. "Critical thinking is vital to scientific inquiry," said Helphinstine, who has a master's degree in science from Oregon State. "My whole purpose was to give accurate information and to get them thinking." Helphinstine said he did not teach the idea that God created the world. "I never taught creationism," he said. "I know what it is, and I went out of my way not to teach it."
Parent John Rahm told the newspaper that he became concerned when his freshman daughter said she was confused by the supplemental material provided by Helphinstine. "He took passages that had all kinds of Biblical references," Rahm said. "It prevented her from learning what she needed to learn." Board members met with Helphinstine privately for about 90 minutes before the meeting. The teacher did not stay for the public portion. "How many minds did he pollute?" Dan Harrison, the father of a student in Helphinstine's class, said at the meeting. "It's a thinly veiled attempt to hide his own agenda."

The Sope-Bocks: First, I wonder if Mr. Harrison and Mr. Rahm would have had the same reaction if their children were being given references to homosexuality or pagan rituals. Somehow, I seriously doubt it. This story just goes to show the extreme bias against Christian values. It also shows the lengths some people will go to in order NOT to challenge the religion of evolution.
I applaud Mr. Helphinstine for pushing the students to think critically about what they are being indoctrinated with in public schools. His courage to challenge the system with the truth is admirable. Unfortunately, teaching anything other than extreme liberal thought will be a death-nail to your career in Oregon. Sad, but true.


Ed Darrell said...

There is absolutely no reason to use "Answers in Genesis" material in any biology class. None.

I can think of no reason why any Christian-thinking Christian would defend such deceit.

Ben said...

Congratulations on your faith. Hopefully, it keeps you safe from an eternity in hell.

I'm not sure why I'm taking the time to post. It's going to go in one ear and out the other. But I'll give it a try to reach out to you (my civic duty to spread education).

The problem with Creationism/Intelligent Design in a science classroom is that has no basis in science. Scientific inquiry did not lead the field of biology to explain the world in terms of a Creator. Controversy is important in science, but most topics (I would say all, but there is probably a counterexample that I'm not thinking of) of true scientific controversy are beyond the level of high school biology.

Therefore, it is important to teach the process of science alongside the facts. (I can observe X and Y are interacting somehow... how can I test the relationship between X and Y? from these results, what conclusions can I make?) That is the most important part of science curricula. Introducing students to ideas outside the realm of science is a reasonable scholarly pursuit, but it is better suited to philosophy or religious history classes.

Teaching past theories that have since been refuted (such as Lamarckian evolution by acquired characteristics) is an excellent way to demonstrate how science corrects itself and would be far more beneficial to students learning the process of science than teaching them non-scientific worldviews.

Higher truths are all well and good, but science is not about higher truths. It is about why and how? If "because God made it this way," humanity would still be living in the Stone Age.

Charlie said...

There is really NO reason to use the Origin of the Species in the biology class. It is so full of errors and contradiction that, if it were no so harmful, it would be almost cartoon-like.

Charlie said...

I thank you for your comments and appreciate your efforts to "reach out" in an area where we clearly disagree.

However, you start out with an improper assertion which leads you to an incorrect conclusion. You wrote: "The problem with Creationism / Intelligent Design in a science classroom is that [it] has no basis in science." The truth of the matter is that the problem with the religion of evolution is that is has no basis in fact. God is the Creator. He doesn't need science to prove He exists. Nature shows this fact clearly and simply.

Evolution is the problem because it attempts to explain what cannot be explained as random chance, survival of the fittest or some other totally ridiculous notion. You see, your basis for argument is that science is the be-all, tell-all, know-all. Unfortunately, science is a question, not the answer.

Even the scientific laws of physics and other theory disprove evolution (which is what you conclude that science supports). The fact is that true science, scientific method and scientific thought ALL could never independently come to the conclusion that evolution is true.
One of many examples is that order doesn't come from chaos.

IF (and I'm not sure of his intentions) the teacher (who is the subject of the post) was merely trying to introduce other ideas in opposition to the theory of evolution, then I applaud his efforts. Evolution is a farce that needs to be challenged at every level. OTOH, and in agreement with what you wrote ("Introducing students to ideas outside the realm of science is a reasonable scholarly pursuit, but it is better suited to philosophy or religious history classes")... IF the teacher was merely trying to have Bible class in biology, then I disagree with his approach.

One other point of disagreement is your defining biblical, historical truth as "non-scientific worldviews". While much of the Bible could be considered worldview, much of it has also been proven as historically accurate -- even through the medium of scientific research and discovery.

I don't understand your last two statements. If you will, please explain them. It seems as though you're saying if mankind accepted God's word as fact, then we would never have engaged in scientific studies and would therefore be relegated to the Stone Age. I hope you would put forth such a simply unfounded idea. Mankind investigated the world before the Bible was published. There is no reason to assume he would have stopped once the Bible was published.

Ben said...

You have no idea what evolution is or how it works. And that is problem number 1.

You have no idea what science is or how it works.
And that is problem number 2.

I have no belief in God or how people buy into religious dogma.
And that is problem number 3.

I'll stay out of your religion, you stay out of science, and we'll agree to disagree.

Charlie said...

I beg to differ. I would grant that I know much more about the religion of evolution than you. I would also wager that I have more college credits in the sciences than you.
Nonetheless, we can agree to disagree -- which is probably best as you seem to be unwilling to hear the truth.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Evolution is a scientific THEORY. Never proven. Everyone has a right to think what they want. Teachers are required to teach evolution. If a teacher decides to put a certain article into the hands of students that debates evolution vs. creation, students have a choice to choose what they find to be true. People that believe in creation also know much about evolution in order to know how to defend their belief. Students that beleive in evolution, or are introduced to the theory, should know both sides of the story. If Helphinstine was never bias at all, why should he be punished for the bias in the article?

Tani said...

A claim and an assumption were made on March 20, 2007 when Mr. Helphinstine of Sisters High School was fired. The school board fired the well-liked biology teacher because of an accusation made about his teaching of evolution.
Mr. Helphinstine was “deviating from accepted curriculum by presenting materials supporting creationism to his biology class” and that is why he has been fired as of Monday night. Is this an accurate accounting of his actions? Aren’t we all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?
Myself and a few other students were brought to tears when reading the article about his firing. We couldn’t believe that one malicious lie could end a young man’s career.
"The test was 90-plus percent intelligent design material," Rahm said.
I don’t know what test Rahm’s daughter took, but the test the rest of us had taken was about vocabulary and their meanings. But that is just what devastates me most. If the school board was to go to the extreme of firing Mr. Helphinstine, shouldn’t they properly investigate, such as looking at the test material given?
Plus, is it truly fair for there to be a requirement to teach one THEORY, but not acceptable to inform about another?

Charlie said...

THANKS for telling the truth of this story -- from someone who was there. I sincerely appreciate your comments. Feel free to add any other information you have -- cuz we need to know the TRUTH.

Andy Thomas said...

I too was a student of Helpenstein and I fully support the school boards desicion. It is true that there have been some over statements and assumptions made. he never really taught ID mostly just what he calls "critical thinking" which was accually just him persenting confusing and unrealted information that was ment to encourge us to reject the theroy of evelution. I have no desire to debate weather eveloution is a valid theroy, I just wanted to say what happened from my perspective. Helpenstein was a nice guy and I will be sad to see him leave, but never the less, it was the right decision.