Study No. 154 

Shifting Paradigm: Where Will It End?

For centuries, history has been considered one of the most effective instructors for mankind, and many have commented on its importance. For example:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana

A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about. Woodrow Wilson.

The Bible, too, emphasizes the importance of studying history:

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Deuteronomy 32:7

The sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and which our fathers have told us, we will not hide them from our children. Psalm 78:2-4

The study of history has always played a prominent role in any curriculum plan for students. However, this is rapidly changing. For example, in a recent survey of 17-year-old high-school students:

1. Almost half could not place World War I between 1900 and 1950;

2. Two-thirds did not know when the Civil War took place;

3. Almost half could not say, even approximately, when the Constitution was written.

Despite such appalling results, there has been a decreasing emphasis on the study of history in many states. Why?

The answer may surprise you: evolution. Many people still mistakenly believe this is a scientific debate; but as the main tenet of evolution (that man is improving, ever moving upward, continually progressing) has been widely embraced, its effect is now forcefully felt in the fields of law, history, public morality, and theology — fields considered unrelated to science.


The Law and Evolution

Following Charles Darwin’s presentation of his thesis in Origin of Species in 1859, Christopher Columbus Langdell, dean of the Harvard Law School, theorized that as man evolved, then his laws must also evolve. Deciding that judges should guide the evolution of the Constitution, in the late 1800s he introduced the case law study method under which students would study judges’ decisions rather than the Constitution.

This method was quickly embraced by other law schools. As a result, by the 1920s, the ideas found in Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law, the law book of the founders and of American courts for well over a century, were discarded. Blackstone’s was deemed to present an outdated approach to law because it taught that certain things were always wrong and did not change — particularly those related to human morality and behavior. Under evolutionary law (also called "positivism" and "pragmatism"), nothing is absolute or transcendent; everything is changing.

Roscoe Pound was another legal educator who extended the philosophy introduced by Langdell. Teaching at four different law schools, and serving as the dean of the University of Nebraska and the Harvard Law Schools, Pound saw evolutionary law with a clear mission: "We have . . . the same task in jurisprudence that has been achieved in philosophy, in the natural sciences and in politics. We have to rid ourselves of this sort of legality and to attain a pragmatic (evolutionary), a sociological legal science." No longer would it be the mission of law to focus on the narrow field of legal interpretation; courts would now become a sociological force, guiding the development of society.

The philosophy of evolutionary law taught in law schools resulted in a direct effect on the Supreme Court and its decisions. For example, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., appointed to the Supreme Court in 1902, explained, "The justification of a law for us cannot be found in the fact that our fathers have always followed it. It must be found in some help which the law brings toward reaching a social end."

Louis Brandeis, appointed to the Court in 1916, urged the Court to break new ground, stating, "If we guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold." Benjamin Cardoza, appointed in 1932, declared, "I take judge-made law as one of the existing realities of life." Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941, similarly explained, "The Constitution is what the Judges say it is."

Although the prominent Justices and educators were endeavoring to advance this philosophy, it required decades before their movement gained the sufficient widespread acceptance necessary to produce radical societal change. Their time finally arrived when Earl Warren became Chief Justice of the Court in 1953.

Warren’s announcement in Trop v. Dulles (1958) foreshadowed what was soon to become a reality. In that case he explained: "The Constitution must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." Under Warren’s guidance and during his tenure, the Court completed its transition into a powerful societal force, striking down long-standing practices such as school prayer and Bible reading while openly acknowledging that it was doing so with no precedent. In other words, the Court announced that it had finally arrived at its fully evolutionary state, no longer being bound by history or precedent.


Evolution and History

It is logical that if man is evolving, then the past is not relevant today. For this reason, a declining emphasis on the teaching of history is usually found among educators embracing evolution — something often manifested in Outcome Based Education. (OBE is an educational plan based on the premise of man’s continuing evolutionary advancement.) Consequently, an early indicator of the advance of OBE in a state is often a changing of educational policies concerning the teaching of history.

For example, increasing numbers of high schools across the nation have dropped the teaching of American history prior to the Civil War. The new national curriculum standards recently announced by federal agencies further encourage a de-emphasis of history, even failing to teach that George Washington was the President of the United States.

Similarly, the current trend in colleges is to replace the teaching of World History with World Culture and American History with American Culture. And why not? After all, according to their premise, it is useless to study who we were, only who we are.


Evolution and Morality

Evolution even affects public morality through a field called "evolutionary psychology." Evolutionary psychologists recently studied sexual behavior among animals to determine what is "natural"; after all, in evolution man is only one among the rest of the animals; therefore we can learn from the animals.

Evolutionary psychologists concluded that sexual faithfulness and monogamy is not prevalent among most animal species; therefore, why should it be among human beings? As explained in a Time magazine article for July 15, 1994: "It is ‘natural’ for both men and women — at some times, under some circumstance — to commit adultery." Since evolutionary psychology "proves" that promiscuous activity is not only normal but even hereditary, why should society be offended by such behavior?

Consider the further implications of this philosophy. If we are to derive our moral standards from the animals, then undoubtedly our laws on theft and murder eventually will be discarded; for in nature, "might makes right"; possession is based solely on whatever can be taken and held. The implications for a society governed by the tenets of evolutionary psychology are frightening.


Evolution and Religion

A fundamental precept of Christianity — and of many major religions — is that man does not change, that apart from the restraining and elevating influence of religion and its teachings, man is naturally disposed toward evil. Based on this belief, the Bible has been transcendent across generations and cultures, and its guidance has remained timeless.

However, if a student embraces the tenets of evolution, he must question the usefulness of Christianity. After all, Christianity is a history-based religion; its teachings are at least 2,000 years old with many being 4,000 years old. In a student’s mind, if man is ever evolving and moving upward, then where is the relevance of Christianity today?


Stopping the Effects

Evolution is no longer limited to a classroom science debate; its effects have permeated throughout all of society. What can be done to halt, or even slow its advancing effects?

The answer rests in teaching a thoroughly conservative approach to law, education, history, morality, and theology; and there are currently several such endeavors underway.

For example, Vista School District (24,000 students) in southern California has adopted a policy (based on standards established by the State Board of Education) allowing the teaching of creation science in the classroom. The Vista policy declares:

A. No theory of science shall be taught dogmatically and no student shall be compelled to believe or accept any theory presented in the curriculum....

B. To enhance scientific exploration and dialogue, scientific evidence that challenges any theory in science should be presented.

C. Discussions of divine creation, ultimate purposes, or ultimate causes (the "why") are included at appropriate times in the history-social sciences and/or English language arts curricula.

In a separate development in a different school district in California, biology teacher John Peloza felt he could no longer, in good conscience, teach his students evolution as an undisputed scientific fact. His superiors disagreed, removed him from the science classroom, and made him a PE teacher.

Peloza filed suit, and the case reached the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (with jurisdiction over California, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon). The Court first noted Peloza’s claim: "The school district forced Peloza to teach the belief that life and the universe came into existence without a creator, and to teach this belief as if it were undisputed fact rather than scientific theory."

The court then commented on that type of policy:

Such actions would violate the Establishment Clause’s mandate of "government neutrality between religion and non-religion."...(T)he State may not establish a "religion of secularism" in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus "preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe."

Although this case is still ongoing, it is perhaps indicative of a pending change and is a very encouraging decision.

On a different front, several states have begun efforts to strengthen the teaching American history in the classroom. Kentucky, Arizona, and Tennessee have passed the "American Heritage Education Bill" which encourages teachers to post historical documents, speeches, writings, etc. on the walls of their classrooms. That bill is also pending or being acted on in more than a dozen other states.

Also in the realm of historical reclamation, Thornton Oil Corporation in Kentucky awarded a grant to Wall Builders to develop American history posters to be placed on the walls of public school classrooms. The result was the "Great Americans" poster series. Each poster highlights a famous American, giving his or her important biographical data and several "God and Country" quotes from that person.

Thornton Oil Corporation framed over sixty sets of the posters and presented one set to each school in its area — a strategy which can easily be copied by other companies /individuals for the schools in their local area.


These examples represent only a few of the many good changes which are occurring. Romans 12:21 tells us that the way to overcome the evil is with the good. In other words, the infusion of an evolutionary philosophy throughout society will be hindered by simply teaching others what is right — something that each of us can do in our own sphere of influence.

Abraham Lincoln wisely observed, "The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next." We all have a "classroom" in which we can instruct, whether it be with our friends, churches, civic clubs, or whether it be a public, Christian, or home-school classroom. Let us raise up a different philosophy of government in the next generation by teaching correctly in this one.

 — written by David Barton, Wallbuilder Report, Fall, 1994. Reprinted by permission.

 NOTE: For other interesting material from David Barton, write: Wallbuilders, P.O. Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008.