Canada Creationist Ken Ham's date with Alberta home schoolers draws fire

05:20  09 november  2017
05:20  09 november  2017 Source:   Calgary Herald

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The invitation of a leading creationist to speak at an Alberta home schooling convention has drawn the ire of critics who are also questioning what those private instructors are teaching.

Australian-born Ken Ham, a leading Christian fundamentalist proponent of creationism over evolution, is scheduled as a keynote speaker at the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) convention in Red Deer next April.

Ham spearheaded the building of a Noah’s Ark-centred creationist museum in Kentucky and the educational books he’s authored includes Dinosaurs of Eden: Did Adam and Eve live with dinosaurs?

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“Those who believe that only the uneducated reject evolution perhaps do not realize that evolution, far from fact, does not even qualify as a theory,” states an entry on his Answers in Genesis website.

“Evolution is a belief system about the past.”

It also offers a line of text books in areas of biology, geology and “creation apologetics.”

“Students will be involved in reading articles, researching issues related to biblical authority…completing quizzes that uphold the Bible as the ultimate source of truth—even in the field of geology,” states a description of one of them.

Another speaker slated for the convention, anti-evolution former pastor Calvin Smith, is to speak on the topic of “dinosaurs and the bible,” states the association’s website.

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The AHEA, which also invited the contentious reality TV couple Bob and Michelle Duggar to speak at their 2016 convention, didn’t return requests for comment.

And a spokeswoman for the United Conservative Party was reluctant to have anyone with the party comment on the appropriateness of someone like Ham and Smith addressing educators and students.

“None of the UCP caucus will be attending this convention and our leader Jason Kenney has always been a very outspoken defender of choice in schools,” said Annie Dormuth.

But Alberta Liberal leader David Khan said while home schoolers have every right to invite speakers like Ham, it raises questions about what those children are being taught as science.

“None of that belongs in science curriculum, which should be mandatory for everyone regardless of whether they’re funded by Alberta Education or not,” said Khan.

“Having a bunch of kids lacking in basic science education is a problem for society writ large.”

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He questioned whether Education Minister David Eggen is doing enough to ensure real science is being taught outside conventional classrooms.

While the AHEA doesn’t receive provincial funding, they’re expected to teach fact-based science, said Eggen’s spokeswoman Lindsay Harvey.

“All students, no matter what format of education they receive are expected to learn from the current Alberta curriculum,” said Harvey.

“Our government is committed to ensuring that students receive an evidence-informed education that prepares them for success, which is why we are currently redeveloping the curriculum.”

The province said there are about 11,600 home-schooled students in Alberta in the current school year.

Bill Nye debates Ken Ham at The Creation Museum in 2014:

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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