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Christian homeschool science textbooks have long taught young earth creationism (YEC) almost exclusively. But observers say a growing number of parents want texts that also teach evolution.
"Homeschooling has broadened so much, and now includes many Christian groups who have never adopted [YEC]," said homeschool pioneer Susan Wise Bauer, a history professor at Virginia's College of William and Mary. "Also, there are a lot of younger evangelicals who have come to a different way of understanding Genesis, while still holding [on to their] evangelical roots."
Numbers on the trend are hard to pin down. Still, BioLogos president Deborah Haarsma says that it's "fairly common" for homeschooling families to request materials from her organization, which promotes theistic evolution. Some of these parents still believe in a young earth, says program director Kathryn Applegate, but they want their children exposed to different perspectives.
Doug Hayworth, coordinator of homeschool science resources for the American Scientific Affiliation, agrees. Inquiries to his Christian association reveal not a wave of old-earth converts, but instead frustrated young-earth believers who believe that "the standard [YEC] curricula ... are very strident," said Hayworth, who homeschools. "They're looking for some advice."
Curricula for such families have been hard to find, said Wise Bauer. "I am consistently frustrated when evaluating resources. There really isn't much."
Sonlight Curriculum is an exception. It offers a diversity of homeschool curricula that allow parents to teach various theories of origins. "The YEC position is strong and ingrained in the homeschool movement," said Sonlight president Sarita Holzmann, who homeschools her children and believes in a young earth. "That might be to our detriment." She says students need to be able to evaluate different positions.
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