The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

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:

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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

Cover art for Earth Science textbook

Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home from Novare Science and Math has a cover!

ESci_cover

June 2, 2015 Posted by | Geology, Old-Earth creationism, Science Education | , , , | Leave a comment

A 4th grade quiz on dinosaurs that the teacher would have given me an “F” on

Here is a quiz on “Dinosaurs: Genesis and the Gospel” given to fourth graders at a South Carolina Christian school:

quiz_1

quiz_2

The quiz was based on material from Answers in Genesis.

Atheists and skeptics, of course, have made much of this quiz since it was first posted on the internet a few weeks ago. Christians are obviously a bunch of morons, liars, brainwashers, idiots, and so forth. For a couple of examples, read Intolerant Atheists Viciously Attack Christian School by PZ Meyers or South Carolina creationist science quiz is real on Daily Kos.

And predictably, Answers in Genesis has replied with a “Christianity under attack” response (here and here).

The atheists are wrong; Christians are not idiots. But Answers in Genesis is wrong as well, in that young-Earth creationism gives the skeptics a tragically easy reason to reject Christian truth.

Here’s how I would answer the 4th grade quiz, with red X‘s on the answers the teacher would have marked as incorrect:

quiz01

X — True. The opening statement of the Bible — “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” — is not necessarily included in the six days of creation, so the earth could have been created in 4000 B.C., 4,000,000 B.C., or 4,000,000,000 B.C.

quiz02

X — True. Dinosaurs went extinct about 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

quiz03

1/2 X — The 6th day. But is God’s day the same as our day? Moses himself indicates flexibility on this question in Psalm 90.

quiz04

X — False. The Bible does not say that dinosaurs lived with people, and there is plenty of geological evidence that they did not.

quiz05

X — The Bible says that animals and humans in the Garden of Eden ate plants, but states that the world outside of the garden was a wild place in need of subduing. Carnivores outside of the garden ate meat.

quiz06

X — None of the above. Maybe a hippopotamus. A brachiosaurus wouldn’t have fed on grass like an ox, and could not have hidden in the lotus plants and reeds in the marshes along the Jordan River.

quiz07

False.

I don’t know what happened to #8-10. I probably would have gotten them wrong.

quiz11

God.

quiz12

X — There are multiple history books of the universe. The Bible tells us about the origin of the universe, but it doesn’t give us much in the way of details. What it tells us is true, but what it tells us and what the young-Earth creationists tell us that it tells us are two different things. For example, Genesis 1 tells us that God made the stars, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the processes he used to accomplish this act. For that, I would turn to books about astronomy and nuclear chemistry. Genesis 1 also tells us that God said “Let the land produce living creatures,” which implies some sort of process without stating what that process was. I would turn to books about biology and geology to learn about the history of those living creatures and the processes by which they came about. (I apologize, Teacher, that this answer did not fit on the little line).

quiz13

An ark.

quiz14

False. I think just about everyone would agree that Noah’s ark didn’t look like that.

quiz15

X — I took Vertebrate Paleontology a long time ago at Montana State, but I would really have had to guess on this one. I would have had guessed b. rhino.

quiz16

X — None of the above. The Bible does not say that Noah’s Flood deposited the sedimentary rock record along with its fossils. None of the other answers are things that in themselves would produce fossils.

quiz17

X — Fossils are the remains or traces of organisms from the past that are preserved in Earth’s crust. There are patterns in how they are preserved that indicate that they were not produced by one, brief, cataclysmic process.

quiz18

X — I agree that Earth is billions of years old. To say that it is only 6000 years old is neither Biblically necessary nor scientifically feasible.

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My grade from a YEC’s perspective: 4.5/15 = 30%. F

Conclusion: With a Biblical and scientific foundation like this, no doubt some of these kids are “Already Gone.”

Grace and peace

For an update, including my answers to the missing quiz questions, see More on the Answers in Genesis 4th grade dinosaur quiz

May 17, 2013 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Christianity, Evolution, Geology, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , , , | 6 Comments