When Textbooks Get It Wrong


It all started when Coby Burren, a young ninth grade student, sent his mom a picture of the textbook his class was studying. The photo showed a map of a part of the United States. A box off to the side of this map about the Atlantic Slave Trade labeled the Africans who came over as “workers” rather than slaves. After Coby’s mom, Roni, posted this on Facebook and later made a video about this flaw, it quickly received many likes and shares. Soon major news sites like ABC, CNN, and the Washington Post gave it attention. It didn’t take long for the textbook’s publisher, McGraw-Hill, to notice the uproar. They quickly issued a statement which basically communicated they were wrong, sorry, and still dedicated to quality educational material (See It Here). They also noted that they made an immediate change on the electronic textbook version and that it will also be corrected in the next print run. Amazingly, all of this happened in a just 3 days.

While I can’t speak for everyone who shared or commented on this matter, I appreciate how all sides worked out the issue. From what we can see, both the Burren side and the McGraw-Hill side acted civilly and were able to come to a resolution (Yahoo).

It is encouraging to see at least some textbook publishers who are willing to listen and make changes. The problem is, many are not so willing. As a result, mistakes have remained in textbooks for many years, even when certain topics have been thoroughly disproven and shown to be false. Even new textbooks today are reprinting these same mistakes and same issues. What mistakes am I talking about? Haeckel’s Embryos’ pictures, the Miller-Urey Experiment, among several others. These are widely known to be wrong, and in some cases fraudulent, even in the evolution community. Yet they are continuing to be printed and presented as fact and as good evidence for evolution. We aren’t even talking about theories or ideas, but of known false evidence and research on evolution. These have been taught in textbooks for decades at this point and are even being reprinting in some of the most current textbooks (EvolutionNews). Take a look at this more comprehensive list of current textbooks which include these and other disproven ideas about evolution (Discovery Institute).

It’s sad and ironic that the McGraw-Hill textbooks can be changed in 3 days but hundreds, if not thousands, of other publishers refuse to change, examine the evidence, or admit they are wrong if it at all relates to evolution. If we were talking about nearly any other topic other than evolution, it would fall right in line with the Burren’s outcry and the 3 day turn around. Instead, evolution has been placed up on such a high pedestal that few are willing to speak out, and any who do are quickly shooed out of the room like an ignorant child.

This isn’t even a fair fight. Nearly every thought and idea relating to God or Creation has been ripped out of the school systems. Few children are ever given an opportunity to, at the very least, examine evidence on both sides of the debate. Instead, evolution is being presented dishonestly and given to our children as fact, even though it is only a theory, not to mention one that has many holes.

It’s amazing how well the words of Jeremiah fit with our current society, “‘Everyone deceives his neighbor and does not speak the truth, they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,’ declares the Lord” (9:5-6). Truly we live in a time when most refuse to know God and deceitfully teach on evolution. It’s difficult to know what to do with a situation like this when the odds are so stacked against Christians. This doesn’t mean we are without hope though. We can speak out to textbook publishers. We can pray (Matthew 5:44). We can continue to be an example of good behavior (1 Peter 2:12). We can calmly teach the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). With out a doubt this is a monumental task, but when God is on our side, no opponent is too great. Let’s do what we can and keep pressing on.

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