The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Biologos interview

The folks at Biologos.org have interviewed me regarding Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home, my new middle school textbook published by Novare Science and Math.

http://biologos.org/blogs/chris-stump-equipping-educators/new-science-textbook-celebrates-ancient-age-of-earth-from-christian-perspective

earthscience

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Creation Care, Creationism, Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography, Old-Earth creationism, Origins, Science Education, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

The story of “Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home” – a Christian middle school textbook

ESci_coverMy first experience teaching Earth Science was at a small Classical Christian school in Missouri for the 2001-2002 school year. The headmaster was a young-Earth creationist. She knew that I was an old-Earth Christian, but perhaps being desperate for a science teacher she went ahead and hired me as a part-time teacher for a year, teaching middle school Earth Science and high school Chemistry. I had (if I remember correctly) eight seventh-grade students, almost no laboratory materials, and a pile of Bob Jones University Press Space and Earth Science textbooks. The students were great, I could make do with the limited resources, but the young-Earth textbook? That was hard to work with. I taught the students that there was a range of beliefs among Bible-believing Christians in regards to the age of the Earth and the formation of the rock and fossil records.

My second experience teaching Earth Science was at an International Christian School in Bucharest, Romania, where I taught Earth Science at the high school level (along with all of the other sciences in grades 7-12) from 2003 to 2008. The students, from a number of different countries, were once again wonderful. The supplies were once again limited, though I had brought a number of minerals, rocks and maps with me. One big improvement was that I was able to choose my own textbook. I would have loved to have had a Christian Earth Science textbook, but the only Christian titles on the market were from young-Earth publishers. I had learned by this point that it would be better to take a secular textbook and add Christian content than to take a young-Earth textbook and try to undo both the questionable Biblical interpretation and bad science that these books inevitably contain. At my recommendation, the school purchased Earth Science textbooks published by Glencoe, and I went ahead and produced supplementary materials on the relationship between Earth Science and Christianity.

At some point I got the idea that perhaps I should be the one to write a Christian Earth Science textbook. I even wrote a few complete chapters, and used some of them with my students. I shared the textbook idea with several friends, who all encouraged me to move forward. But the dream sat on the shelf for the most part from 2008 until 2014. I still had the idea in the back of my mind, but had no idea how to move forward with the project in terms of the business side of things, such as publishing, printing, and marketing. I knew that even if I were to write the best Christian Earth Science textbook in the world, it would be a failure if I didn’t get the business aspects right.

In July of 2014, I first heard of Novare Science and Math, a new Christian educational publisher. I posted a short note on GeoChristian.com:

GeoChristian20140704_2

 

On Novare’s web site, they listed that they would be producing an Earth Science textbook in the future. I figured that someone else had beaten me to it, which was acceptable to me. I went ahead and sent an email to the publisher, John Mays, explained who I was, and offered my services to review the book and help in any other way I could. My desire was to do what I could to make their upcoming book the best it could be, as I saw this as a critical need in the Christian educational system. John wrote back and said he didn’t actually have an author lined up. I sent him a chapter I had written several years previously, and before long, John asked me if I would be willing to write the book.

I agreed, we worked out an agreement and timetable, and I started working on the book. I began writing in September of 2014, and we initially set an aggressive schedule to complete the book by the summer of 2015. We soon realized that this timetable was unrealistic, but by that point, a handful of schools were committed to using the book for the 2015-2016 school year. We managed to put together a preprint of the first half of the book to get the students started, provided a second preprint with a handful of additional chapters a few months later, and I finished the writing in February of 2016, which was seventeen months after starting.

Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home is now complete, printed, and in the hands of students. I am thankful to God for what has been accomplished, and pray that this book would be used to help students love and worship their Creator, love and serve their neighbors, and better know and care for the creation, which is God’s world and our home.

It is common in book prefaces for authors to give their thanks to those who sacrificed alongside the author as the book was being produced. I and my family now know from experience what this is all about, and I would like to thank my beautiful wife, Shirley, and wonderful adult children for their sacrifice of time while I worked on the book, a project that took over twelve hundred hours while I was working full time at my natural resources job. When I was done with my book, my wife commented how good it was to have me “back.”

I would also like to thank John Mays and the Novare team for their leadership and patience as the book slowly came together. I know there times when John wondered when in the world the next chapter was going to show up. Novare has been a delight to work with, and many of the things that make this book good—the educational philosophy, page layout, and even the title of the book—are thanks to John.

Novare had an excellent team of reviewers for the textbook: Steven Mittwede, Ronald DeHaas, and Chris Mack. They caught a number of errors in my writing and made numerous other suggestions that greatly improved the textbook. There were a few of their suggestions that I chose not to implement, and hopefully I made the right choice in those rare circumstances. I am sure there are some things in the book that are not exactly the way they should be, and any errors that exist are certainly my responsibility.

The best endorsements as far as I am concerned have been from my wife, who proofread each chapter and let me know it was interesting, and from a group of middle school students somewhere out there who read portions of a chapter and liked it.

I am most of all thankful to my Creator and Redeemer. As we stand in awe of his many works—thunderstorms, mountains, forests, waterfalls, and much more—may we be moved to worship him for all that he has done and is doing.

Grace and Peace

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Note: Order the textbook directly from Novare Science and MathIf you order from Amazon, you will get one of the paperback preprints rather than the hard cover final version.

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Christianity, Creation Care, Environment, Geology, Meteorology, Science Education | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Novare Earth Science — an upcoming middle school textbook by The GeoChristian

NovareLogo_2Color_122012

Like their secular school counterparts, many Christian schools offer a full year of Earth Science at the middle school level. These Christian schools, as well as home school parents who wish to offer a year of Earth Science, really have only two sources for curricula: secular publishers, such as Glencoe or Holt, or young Earth creationist (YEC) Christian publishers, such as Bob Jones or A Beka. When I taught secondary-level Earth Science at a Christian school, I went with a secular textbook. I figured it was easier to insert a Christian perspective into a secular textbook than it would be to undo the bad science and dogmatic but questionable biblical interpretations in the YEC textbooks.

I was excited this past summer when I stumbled across the web site for Novare Science & Math, a rapidly growing Christian science curriculum publisher. One thing I was enthusiastic about was Novare’s three Core Principles:

  1. CPF-New-300x300Mastery. Typical middle school and high school science textbooks are 800+ page monsters, filled with a lot of interesting stuff, but also packed with more information about more topics than most teenagers could possibly learn and remember. This leads to a Cram-Pass-Forget cycle, which almost all teachers and students can relate to. The Novare textbooks, on the other hand, take a Learn‑Master-Retain approach, part of which involves publishing textbooks that cover fewer topics, with each being covered in more depth.
  2. Integration. Science classes are often taught in compartmentalized boxes. Novare textbooks integrate their subjects with other fields of science, mathematics, and history, with an emphasis on developing science writing skills throughout (no multiple-choice questions).
  3. Kingdom Perspective. Rather than taking the conflict model taken by many Christian educators, who insist that there is a war between science and Christianity, Novare takes an “All truth is God’s truth” approach. As the Novare website states, “There can be no inherent conflict between faith in the One who made the world, and study of the world He made.” Novare textbooks seek to be thoroughly Biblical in their approach to the study of God’s world, which does not negate what God has revealed in his creation.

Here’s what Novare says about the age of the Earth:

Finally, virtually every Christian science textbook publisher is overtly committed to an agenda of rejecting mainstream scientific evidence pertaining to the age of the earth. For both Biblical and scientific reasons, we believe it is time to put this debate behind us. We find the literalistic model of an earth approximately 10,000 years old to be not only not necessitated by the soundest principles of Biblical exegesis, but to be in conflict with the “other book” of God’s revelation: the creation itself. From Psalm 19 and other passages we believe the creation reveals the glory of the Lord. Since scripture and creation both come from the same God, they cannot be in conflict. And when both are rightly understood, they won’t.

I got even more excited when I read that Novare is planning on publishing a middle school Earth Science textbook in time for the 2015-2016 school year. I contacted the owner of the company, and offered my services for reviewing this upcoming product. To make a long story short, the conversation quickly moved from me being a reviewer to being a co-author, to being the author.

Earth Science01

Writing a textbook in a very short amount of time is a daunting task. Not only do I need to present content from a wide range of fields at a level appropriate for middle schoolers, I need to do so in a way that points them to the loving providence of our all-powerful and wise Creator. I am currently working on Chapter 3 (out of about 15), and appreciate your prayers as I write.

Grace and Peace

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Christianity, Environment, Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography, Old-Earth creationism, Science Education | , | 6 Comments

Snow day and snow maps

The mega-storm that has affected over 100,000,000 people in the United States turned out to be somewhat wimpy here in St. Louis. At our house we got lots of rain, then about 0.25 inches of ice, followed by two inches of sleet, topped by a few inches of snow (hard to tell exactly how much with the wind blowing it around).

I love winter, so I was a bit disappointed. But the kids don’t have school and my wife and I don’t have to go in to work, so we will be out playing in the snow sometime today.

Here are a few maps and images from around the internet, starting with a satellite image showing the size of this storm:

Credit: NOAA

The National Weather Service has a number of static and interactive maps about snow:

Interactive Snow Information map from the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center -- http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/interactive/html/map.html

Scaled 24-hour Snow Precipitation (rainwater equivalent of snow) -- http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/

Non-Snow Precipitation (There was a lot more to this storm than snow) -- http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/

Current Northern Hemisphere snow cover -- http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nh_snowcover/

Stay warm. Keep Safe. Have fun.

Grace and Peace

February 2, 2011 Posted by | Maps, Meteorology | | Leave a comment

Earth Observatory images

A few NASA Earth Observatory images from the past few months:

Mataiva Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, South Pacific Ocean, August 30, 2010

Credit: ISS Expedition 24 Crew

This image makes a great desktop background. The full-resolution image doesn’t have labels.


The Water Planet, October 2, 2010

Credit: NASA MODIS

Arthur C. Clarke once remarked, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”


Susitna Glacier, Alaska, October 20, 2010

Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Note the complex ice deformation along much of the length of glacier. Most of the lower portion of the glacier is completely covered by debris.


Strong Extratropical Cyclone Over the US Midwest, October 29, 2010

Credit: NASA GOES Project Science Office

This low pressure system brought severe weather to much of the central U.S., and set a record low atmospheric pressure for a non-hurricane storm in the U.S.


Matusevich Glacier, Antarctica, November 7, 2010

Credit: NASA EO-1 team


Nile River Delta at Night, November 8, 2010

Credit: ISS Expedition 25 Crew


Grace and Peace

November 26, 2010 Posted by | Geology, Imagery, Meteorology | | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg — the “skeptical environmentalist” is skeptical no more

From Yahoo! News: Noted anti-global-warming scientist reverses course.

With scientific data piling up showing that the world  has reached its hottest-ever point in recorded history, global-warming skeptics are facing a high-profile defection from their ranks. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the influential tract “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” has reversed course on the urgency of global warming, and is now calling for action on “a challenge humanity must confront.”

Grace and Peace

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Climate Change, Environment, Meteorology | 2 Comments

Billings tornado!

On Saturday, June 20, a rare Eastern Montana tornado destroyed the 10,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena (formerly Metra) in Billings. No one was seriously injured or killed by this F2 tornado which went through a portion of Montana’s largest city.

Growing up in Billings, my memories of Metra include high school graduations (including mine), hockey games, high school basketball tournaments, concerts, rodeos, and various other events.

Youtube has a number of videos:

The large, rectangular building in the background is the Rimrock Auto Arena.

Grace and Peace

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Meteorology, Montana, Natural Disasters | 1 Comment

Last week: snow. This week: 75 F.

A week ago we had 18 inches (46 cm) of snow on the ground. Today it is 75 F (24 C), and most of the snow has melted. I love Colorado weather (which makes me homesick for Montana weather).

Skiing_ClementPark

Me cross-country skiing in the Denver suburbs

Grace and Peace

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | , , | Leave a comment

APOD: Morning glory clouds

From today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: Morning Glory Clouds Over Australia.

morninggloryclouds_petroff

Credit & License: Mick Petroff

The text description from APOD:

Explanation: What causes these long, strange clouds? No one is sure. A rare type of cloud known as a Morning Glory cloud can stretch 1,000 kilometers long and occur at altitudes up to two kilometers high. Although similar roll clouds have been seen at specific places across the world, the ones over Burketown, Queensland Australia occur predictably every spring. Long, horizontal, circulating tubes of air might form when flowing, moist, cooling air encounters an inversion layer, an atmospheric layer where air temperature atypically increases with height. These tubes and surrounding air could cause dangerous turbulence for airplanes when clear. Morning Glory clouds can reportedly achieve an airspeed of 60 kilometers per hour over a surface with little discernible wind. Pictured above, photographer Mick Petroff photographed some Morning Glory clouds from his airplane near the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia.

Grace and Peace

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | | 1 Comment

Hail storm

Sorry I don’t have pictures, but we just had the strongest hailstorm I’ve ever seen. We had enough one-inch hail in a short amount of time to make the ground almost completely white, with some accumulations being several inches deep. I didn’t even know there was a thunderstorm, and all of the sudden it sounded like a freight train outside. Fortunately, that sound was hail instead of a tornado, but Wow! What a sight! We stood on our covered balcony and watched it come down until it stung our feet too much.

Here’s the Intellicast.com interactive radar page a few minutes after the storm passed through our area in Lakewood, Colorado.

hailstorm_intellicast

It was fun to watch, but I’m sure there was damage—broken windows, roof damage, and so on. I hope no one was hurt.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There were still some piles of hail around 24 hours later, despite a high temperature in the upper 70s F (about 25 C). An auto dealer about a mile from our home has a big “Hail Sale” sign up.

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | , | Leave a comment

Montana clean

My home town of Billings, Montana is tied for being the city with the cleanest air in terms of ozone concentration in the entire United States, and is in the top 25 for cleanest air in terms of particulates.

From MSNBC.com: Report lists worst, best cities for air quality

Ahhh. To breathe some fresh Montana air.

HT: The Green Life

Grace and Peace

April 29, 2009 Posted by | Environment, Meteorology, Montana | , , | Leave a comment

Thundersnow!

We’re having a very rare thundersnow storm (or is it a snunderstorm?). Really cool. It is snowing very hard (close to a whiteout), the wind is blowing, and the the entire sky gets bright when lightning strikes.

From Wikipedia:

One unique aspect of thundersnow is that the snowfall acts as an acoustic suppressor of the thunder. The thunder from a typical thunderstorm can be heard many kilometers away, while the thunder from thundersnow can usually only be heard within a two to three kilometer radius from the lightning. In the United States, March is their peak month of formation, and on average, only three events are reported per year.

Like during scattered thunderstorms in the summer, some parts of Denver are getting socked, and other areas just a few miles away are snow-free.

I’ve been in one other thundersnow storm, in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s.

Grace and Peace

April 1, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | , | 2 Comments

Australia flooding images

While the southern parts of Australia have been burning over the past two months, the northern parts have experienced cool weather and heavy rainfall. The following images are of Normanton, Queensland, which has been cut off by flooding for several weeks.

Credit: NASA, EO-1

Credit: NASA, EO-1

Credit: NASA, EO-1

Credit: NASA, EO-1

The first image is in natural color; the second is enhanced with infrared, which gives a clearer indication of ground that is covered by water.

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Floods in Australia.

Grace and Peace

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Imagery, Maps, Meteorology, Natural Disasters | , | 1 Comment

Creation Care and Climate Change

There is no inherent reason for a scientist to not be a Christian, nor for a Christian to care deeply about the creation.

From the Harvard Divinity Bulletin: The Greening of Jesus by Mark Pinsky.

Riding the train down to London last summer, after a two-week fellowship session on science and religion at the University of Cambridge, I noticed an article in the Independent newspaper about a new book which reinforced that notion of an increasingly irreligious Europe. It is true that outward signs of faith—apart from biblical passages emblazoned on London’s famed red double-decker buses by jesussaid.org—are difficult to come by.

But I found deeply felt Christianity alive and well in an unlikely setting: the academy’s scientific community. To many, this may seem counterintuitive. The evangelical theologian Alister McGrath told us he once believed that “science was the ally of atheism.” Yet among our other lecturers at the Templeton-Cambridge program were major figures in science, from cosmologists to biologists to particle physicists, who pronounced themselves believers. Of course, given the interests of the late Sir John Templeton, who endowed the fellowships, in the relationship between science and religion, this should not have been surprising.

Still, these towering figures—Simon Conway Morris, John Polkinghorne, Sir Brian Heap, Sir John Houghton—characterized themselves as evangelicals as well. Polkinghorne, author of Science and Theology, preaches at a Cambridge church on weekends. To be sure, these are evangelicals of a particular sort. By and large, they reject creationism and intelligent design, embracing the concept of “theistic evolution,” a God-created, billions-years-old universe. None numbered themselves among any of the apocalyptic American evangelical tribes of arrogant dominionists or fanciful premillennial dispensationalists of the “Left Behind” stripe.

[emphasis added]

The article goes on to describe the increasing acceptance of man-made global warming in the Evangelical community, led by Evangelical Christians such as Sir John Houghton, former head of the British Meteorological Office.

The Harvard divinity school is hardly a bastion of Evangelicalism, the article contains a good description of what is going on.

HT: Crunchy Con

Grace and Peace

March 7, 2009 Posted by | Climate Change, Environment, Meteorology | | 1 Comment

Snow in Georgia; 75 F in Colorado

From NASA’s Earth Observatory — Snow Along the East Coast:

us_east_snow

It has been in the 65 – 75° F (18-24° C) range here along the Colorado Front Range this week. We’ve had hardly any snow this winter, which has been somewhat of a disappointment.

Grace and Peace

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | Leave a comment

Australia heatwave

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Exceptional Australian Heat Wave.

NASA

In this image, red areas are hotter than normal, and blue areas are colder. Credit: NASA

This image was created using data from NASA’s Terra satellite. It shows surface temperatures—as opposed to the air temperatures given in weather reports—for the end of January, which of course is in the midst of southern hemisphere summer. The highest air temperature recorded in this heat wave so far is 119°F (48°C).

The death toll from wildfires now stands at over 170. Thousands more have lost everything. Some of the fires have been set by arsonists. Remember those who are suffering.

Grace and Peace

February 9, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | | 5 Comments

Climate change survey

From CNN: Surveyed scientists agree global warming is real.

The results of a University of Illinois survey of scientists include the following:

  • 90% of the scientists surveyed agreed that global temperatures have risen compared to levels from before 1800.
  • 82% agreed that human activity been a significant factor in this increase of mean global temperatures.
  • 97% of climatologists surveyed agreed with anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
  • At the other end of the spectrum, only 47% of petroleum geologists agreed with this.

The researchers chose scientists listed in the the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments, 2007 edition.

Geologists in general have been more skeptical about AGW than have other scientists, though I’ve noticed a considerable shift on this in publications of the Geological Society of America and the American Geological Institute. Two reasons for this skepticism that have been proposed are:

  1. A deep historical perspective. Geologists know that Earth’s climate has fluctuated throughout its history by purely natural means, and that a number of factors have caused this, including changing brightness of the sun, changing oceanic circulation patterns, plate tectonics, and cyclical variations of Earth’s orbit. The Quaternary Period, i.e. the past 1.8 million years, has had an especially variable climate, with long glacial maximum periods, punctuated by interglacial periods, such as the one we live in now.
  2. The close association of geology to the fossil fuel industries. Perhaps there is something psychological here, with a denial that the oil, gas, and coal that we are so closely tied to are the cause of something bad.

I think it is significant that 97% of climatologists surveyed believe global warming is real and that humans have been a significant factor in this. But climatologists will continue to need the input of geologists to gain a fuller understanding of how Earth’s climate works, in both the short term and long term.

Grace and Peace

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Geology, Meteorology, Why Earth science matters | | Leave a comment

Global warming and solar cycles

If you are a regular reader of The GeoChristian, you know that I lean towards the validity of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), which is the idea that human activities are causing the Earth to become warmer. Much of the debate–on both sides–is driven by ideology more than science, but I have found the scientific arguments on the AGW side to be stronger.

The AGW proponents say that variations in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are the primary drivers of climate change at the present time. They acknowledge that the Earth’s climate naturally varies, and that greenhouse gases are not the only factors in climate change, but warn that the present changes in climate are outside of the natural range.

The Earth is an incredibly complex planet, and it is difficult to integrate all of the factors that go into something as complex as weather and climate. The issues involved include greenhouse gases, variations in the intensity of solar radiation; cosmic rays, ground cover, ocean circulation patterns, orbital variations, and others. Despite decades of intense research, it is still not possible to say with certain how much of the Earth’s natural greenhouse warming comes from the various greenhouse gases present, such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. (Don’t forget that the greenhouse effect itself is an extremely good thing; Earth would be about 30°C (50°F) colder without it).

The London Times has an article on the influence of solar activity and cosmic rays on climate: An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change. The article examines recent experimental evidence that indicates that observed fluctuations in climate, both now and in the past, have been the result more of changes in solar output than greenhouse gases.

AGW advocates would say that we cannot wait for a couple more decades of research in order to take action. Overall, I agree, because many of the actions they say we must take are good whether AGW is true or not. Examples include increasing energy efficiency, simplifying our consumptive lifestyles, and developing sustainable, renewable energy alternatives.

Grace and Peace

January 17, 2009 Posted by | Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Meteorology, Why Earth science matters | , , | 2 Comments

Light pillars

lightpillarsFrom today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: Unusual light pillars over Latvia. It is not that light pillars formed by ice crystals in the air over bright lights are unusual, it is the curious fanning out of the light at the top of the pillars which is unexplained. Go to APOD for a better view.

Grace and Peace

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Meteorology | Leave a comment

Snow cover maps

snowcover1The Map Room has a link to current snow cover maps.

We had a few snowflakes here in Denver today, but the ground is bare.

Let it snow!

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Maps, Meteorology | | 1 Comment