This question was just brought up on a list I belong to by a person wishing to homeschool with a Christian worldview, and I thought I’d try to address it. Here’s what I wrote in response:
Any rigorous course of study does two things well – it encourages the learning of specific content knowledge, and it helps students expand their methods and habits of thinking, and the intellectual tools they can bring to bear in anything else they ever think about.
I always prefaced my evolution unit (when I taught public high school biology) with the statement that I wasn’t asking my students to ‘believe’ in evolution, just to learn the material and the analyze the evidence. The second point is a FAR more important one to me; in fact it is the controversy created by Creationists that make it such a great teaching tool for secular courses: the student is asked to adopt the habits of mind of a practicing scientist, and actually EVALUATE the evidence, rather than just take it at face value as scientific fait accompli. (Evolution is a THEORY. We can offer proof of current speciation events, but we will likely never be able to *prove* how we got here.)
I routinely have had students who have taken evolution for granted, and refused to question the evidence, and I’ve sometimes (although fairly rarely) had students refuse to look at the evidence because they were Creationists, and I was trying to ‘corrupt’ them. (Their word, not mine.) Both sets of students lost out on a great opportunity to learn how to evaluate evidence without bias, which is something that scientists MUST do, and frequently don’t. (Religion and funding status can both put blinders on science, in my experience.)
The National Science Standards are part of a much larger movement to have development of critical thinking skills, including analysis of evidence, be at the forefront of learning goals for our children. I *have* heard of curricula presented from a religious world view that try to get students to engage in just such a process with evolution, which is great, although I am concerned that the paradigm of ‘because the bible says so’ might introduce a bias in the results of any such analysis as does take place, and that the depth of the analysis itself might be less when students are being taught (if they are) to question everything, as long as they don’t question the Bible! Are there highly religious scientists doing great analysis work AND maintaining a worldview consistent with their faith? Absolutely, but that can be a really hard line to walk!
My suggestion would be to use the curriculum you feel most comfortable with, and introduce the habits of mind of critical thinking in areas you feel are appropriate. Just because public schools use evolution as the subject for that kind of skill development doesn’t mean that you need to do the same, although it is important for your children to understand the concepts of evolution, since it applies to fields far beyond biology. Encouraging your child to have both a strong faith AND a scientific mind might be harder than promoting just one or the other, but doing so is more likely to give him both solid ground to stand on AND the ability to reach for the stars.