ATLANTA – A furor erupted recently at an Atlanta high school after a science instructor showed an illustration from Christian apologist Ken Ham to her students.
According to reports, Anquinette Jones of Henry W. Grady High School taught a freshman Biology class last spring. Using a 52-slide PowerPoint presentation, Jones introduced the theory of evolution to her students, as required by the Atlanta Public Schools science curriculum.
The PowerPoint presentation is primarily pro-evolution, asserting that evolutionary theory is supported by numerous scientific fields, including anatomy, embryology, and biochemistry.
“96% of the human genome is the same as the chimpanzees [sic] genome,” one slide emphasizes.
Despite the PowerPoint’s seemingly pro-evolution message, many people were concerned by a single slide in the presentation which depicted evolution in a negative light. According to the high school’s student newspaper, the slide included an illustration of two dueling castles—one labeled “Evolution (Satan)” and the other labeled “Creation (Christ).”
Many people were outraged by the cartoon.
“I was offended, but more shocked and disturbed that a teacher in [Atlanta Public Schools] could get away with putting that in a classroom,” one student’s parent told the school newspaper. “Offended is probably the wrong word at this point; it is very troubling to me that a teacher who is in a position of influence over children in a public school can put something up [like the cartoon].”
Not only does the castle illustration mention creation and Christ, it also implies that a belief in evolution leads to numerous social ills, including divorce, racism, abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality. These social issues are depicted as balloons sprouting from the evolution castle.
“[I] have gay parents,” one student told reporters, “and [the cartoon] said that evolution caused homosexuality and it implied that to be negative, so I was pretty offended by it.”
Nikolai Curtis, a science teacher at the school, said the cartoon was “not acceptable.”
“If you start adopting religious doctrine as a form of teaching, you start advocating for a religion,” he stated. “There is no national religion. When you teach religion in a public school setting, you are reinforcing a national religion, and that’s not acceptable.”
The illustration shown in Jones’s class appears to be from Ken Ham, President of the Christian apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis. Ham has repeatedly used the castle diagram over the years to represent the war of worldviews between evolution and biblical creation. In a 2009 article, Ham said the illustrations of the two castles “summarize the message of Answers in Genesis.”
“These diagrams were first produced around thirty years ago as I endeavored to illustrate, in diagram form, the concept of the foundational nature of the battle between Christianity and secular humanism,” Ham wrote.
Though most media reports have not yet attributed the illustration to Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, many people were still outraged that Jones showed the slide to her students.
“This is egregious,” one commenter wrote. “I cannot believe this person is a science teacher.”
“I cannot believe that anyone in this day and age advocates for teaching creationism!” another asserted. “I would fire this teacher in a heartbeat. Let her go to work for a religious school where the students will be qualified to fry burgers or work at Walmart.”
Nevertheless, others defended Jones’s right to show the illustration to her class.
“Although I don’t agree with the cartoon, I also don’t agree with evolution being taught in schools and creationism [being banned],” one commenter argued. “Schools should be allowed to teach both and let the students decide what they want to believe.”
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Public Schools administrators had been made aware of the situation and had reviewed the PowerPoint in question. Jill Strickland, a spokeswoman for the schools, said the material was then “immediately removed.”
Meanwhile, Ham continues to use the castle cartoons to illustrate the importance of the evolution versus creation debate. In an articled titled “The Evolution Connection,” he explained why evolutionary beliefs often lead to sinful behavior.
“The more that generations of students are indoctrinated to believe in solely material causes for the origin of life—and the more their thinking processes are devoid of any understanding of a Creator God—the more they are led to believe that there are no absolutes and truth is relative,” he argued.
Once people deny the existence of God, Ham continued, rampant sinful behavior becomes inevitable.
“The restraining influence of absolute authority starts to dissipate,” he said.
Ham believes Christians should be prepared to defend their faith against the foundational attacks on the Bible’s authority.
“The world has attacked Christianity at a foundational level, and the church has for the most part just continued teaching Bible stories,” he asserted. “Christians need to be trained to believe God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation, and know how to defend it.”