YEC college scores #1 in academics

A week ago I blogged about the possible link between creationism, home-schooling, and apostasy. I am the first to admit that my hypothesis that there is a link between creationism and apostasy (falling away from the faith) was anecdotal, and I am pleased that there are many home-schooled kids raised on young-Earth materials come out of that with their faith intact (as always, by the grace of God).

Patrick Henry College is a classical, Christian, liberal arts university in Virginia, with a student body that consists mostly of students who were home-schooled. The school recently scored highest in the nation on the ETS Proficiency Profile. Gene Edward Veith, provost of Patrick Henry (and author of the blog Cranach, which is one of a handful of blogs that I read on a daily basis) boasts about his school:

On the ETS Proficiency Profile, a recognized and widely-used standardized test of academic proficiency in higher education, Patrick Henry College students posted the highest average scores of all institutions that took the test. Those 261 schools taking the test included liberal arts colleges and large research, doctoral-granting universities. Among those taking that test, PHC’s academic performance is #1.

The school is unabashedly young-Earth creationist, as stated in its catalog:

Any biology, Bible, or other courses at PHC dealing with creation will teach creation from the understanding of Scripture that God’s creative work, as described in Genesis 1:1-31, was completed in six twenty-four hour days. All faculty for such courses will be chosen on the basis of their personal adherence to this view. PHC expects its faculty in these courses, as in all courses, to expose students to alternate theories and the data, if any, which support those theories. In this context, PHC in particular expects its biology faculty to provide a full exposition of the claims of the theory of Darwinian evolution, intelligent design, and other major theories while, in the end, to teach creation as both biblically true and as the best fit to observed data.

Of course I would disagree with most of that statement, including the conclusion. Young-Earth creationism is biblically unnecessary and a poor fit to observed data, especially in the field of geology. But that is not my main point for now.

Patrick Henry College scored first in all categories, including Natural Science. This is despite the fact that the college catalog only lists five science courses: Biology, Biology Laboratory, Physics, Physics Laboratory, and Origins.

Do you have any speculations as to how a young-Earth creationist college that places almost no emphasis on science can score #1 in Natural Science?

I’ve got a few ideas:

  • High admission standards
  • An emphasis on writing
  • An emphasis on logic and reasoning
  • The breadth provided by a liberal education (as opposed to the narrow specialization of many university degrees)
  • The test might not have a sufficiently comprehensive science section

One additional thought: PHC has the highest average score in Natural Science. That does not mean that they had an unusually high number of students who scored high on the Natural Science section.

Grace and Peace

(P.S. I write this as one who has been both a home-school parent and a science teacher in a classical Christian school)


9 thoughts on “YEC college scores #1 in academics

  1. Jordan

    My guess would be that the science — or, more specifically, biology — section of the test is non-comprehensive, with little focus on evolution (and probably lots of focus on microbiology). I’d love to see the test for myself.


  2. Virginia Peterson

    I wonder what would happen if a student decided to follow a different viewpoint than young-earth after being exposed to the different options.


  3. geochristian

    The PHC catalog (p. 6) states that all students shall “shall fully and enthusiastically subscribe to the following Statement of Faith” which includes:

    God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them for His own good pleasure. He has absolute sovereign authority and control over all His creation and sustains it by His gracious providence. Humans and each kind of organism resulted from God’s distinct and supernatural creative intervention and did not result from a natural evolutionary process, nor from an evolutionary process that God secretly directed. In particular, God created man in a distinct and supernatural creative act, forming the specific man Adam from non-living material, and the specific woman Eve from Adam. The first man and woman were therefore the progenitors of all people, and humans do not share a common physical ancestry with earlier life forms. [Genesis 1:1-2:4; I Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 23; Psalm 104; Colossians 1:16-17]

    There’s nothing there specifically about the age of the Earth, so I imagine a student could hold to an old Earth and not be expelled. On the other hand, there isn’t much room for biological evolution.

    A current trend in young-Earth creationism is hyper-rapid speciation after the flood (to get from the thousands of species on the Ark to the millions found on Earth today). Why doesn’t this violate the PHC Statement of Faith? It seems to violate the “each kind of organism resulted from God’s distinct and supernatural creative intervention” part of that doctrinal statement.


  4. WebMonk

    I’ve gotten to wondering about that test. I would be extremely interested in knowing how PHC could score first in the Math and Bio sections when they only have a geometry course and a statistics course as their math classes.

    Same thing for Biology and Physics – a single bio class and a single physics class, both intro-level.

    I’m not familiar with the ETSPP test, but I VERY highly suspect it doesn’t actually test subject content.


  5. geochristian

    I’m not familiar with the ETS exam either. Perhaps the PHC students do well on the exam because it isn’t a content-based exam (pure speculation on my part). My experience with lower-level classes that most college students take is that they aren’t very challenging. I picture 200 students in Astronomy 101 never interacting with their instructor and filling in bubbles on scantron sheets. Memorize the facts and go on; no critical thinking required. I suspect that the PHC students are much better at analysis and problem solving than most college students, and this would help them on a standardized test that required them to think rather than just regurgitate some facts.

    Again, it would be helpful to know what kind of exam the PTS is.


  6. PHC has a core curriculum that includes two rigorous science courses (that our students typically dread–but learn a lot from). These courses involve experimentation, the scientific method, mathematical analysis, and lots of work. (I’m speaking as the provost of the school.) Surely all of you are aware of the “crisis in scientific education” that many people in the sciences are worried about. We don’t do nearly as much with science as I’d like and someday we might do more. But even with our two courses, our students are getting more than the vast majority of college students today, who, lacking a true core curriculum, can avoid “hard courses” like these.


  7. Sapphire

    As a Brit living in engand I’m probably not really qualified to comment.
    For what it’s worth I could suggest a combination of
    Concentration on topics that are readily deat with by the observation, hypothesis, experiment and conclusion method.
    An emphasis on learning what’s taught as opposed to student centred learning.
    Tighter discipline than secular colleges so that the work is done and done well.
    Students whose backgrounds acustom them to that style of learning and discipline.
    Students with a strong work ethic.
    A very great deal of scientific enquiry can be carried out without reference to Genesis, Darwin, Divine Fiat or the Big Bang


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