A Call to Arms for Conservative Christian Science Educators
by Steve Deckard, Ed.D.
The young and growing discipline of science education is at a pivotal point of development. This very important field deals with aspects of how we teach our children and inform society about science. From a young-Earth creationist perspective, there is a major problem within the discipline. This problem is the prevalent and persistent onslaught of the false ideology of the evolutionary perspective or worldview.1 In an effort to combat this problem and establish a firm Biblical base for the discipline of science education, the following tenets are proposed.
Proposed Tenets for Creationist Based Science Education
1. A student's worldview is an important determinant regarding the learning of specific knowledge (I Corinthians 2:14-16).2 This is especially true in the scientific disciplines. Worldview development should be an integral part of true science education (and for all education).
2. The makeup of a learner mirrors the Creator and therefore is Trinitarian in nature. The learner uses the senses, the mind, and the spirit in all facets of learning. Complete learning encompasses hands-on (senses), minds-on, and hearts-on (use of spiritual discernment) components. All three components must be in harmony with the Creator for true and complete learning to occur.3
3. Because the learner has a three-fold nature, effective teaching must address all three components of learning.
4. Assessment and testing (examinations) in science education should focus on the content being taught and the learner characteristics. Among these are: (1) testing of factual knowledge; (2) testing of student's understanding of God's creation and its purpose and function; (3) testing of the specific development of the student's worldview; and (4) the testing of the student's abilities in the three component areas of learning as stated in tenet number two.4
5. Specific textbook chapters on Biblical and scientific creationism should be included in all science textbooks written for the Christian community. The rest of the textbook content, as well as all other curricular materials, should contain the principles and elements of Biblical and scientific creationism in a fully integrated form.5
6. Students should be exposed to evolutionary philosophy after they are thoroughly grounded in a creationist worldview. Persons who are competent, knowledgeable, and are able to explain why evolutionary theory is false and how it contradicts a true Christian creationist worldview, should conduct this teaching.
7. Both creationism and evolutionary theory are belief systems. This statement of fact does not make it wrong for either of them to be discussed and taught in the science classroom. Science does not hold within its domain exclusivity of knowledge and does not possess the answer to all of man's questions and problems. Clearly, the study of science and origins is multidisciplinary; therefore, science teaching must not be limited. The process of limiting is not good teaching and does not allow the student to obtain the big picture.
8. Christian teaching points the student toward the source of all knowledge (God) and explains how that knowledge is obtained by revelation and reason. Science is only one method for obtaining knowledge about the world around us and should be presented as such.
9. Creationism must be taught systematically. Basic principles of creationism must be integrated into the textbooks and curricular materials of each scientific discipline. Such principles include the following:
a. Time, space, matter/energy are all created entities and therefore had a beginning.
b. Life was supernaturally created.
c. Teleological considerations (design and purpose) are appropriate and therefore must be integrated throughout science textbooks and curriculum materials.
d. The world which can be observed is not the original created world, but rather the cursed and flooded remnant of that world. Proper interpretation of scientific data must include these considerations.
e. The human mind was formed for the purpose (among others) of exploring and understanding God's creation. Students must be encouraged to recognize this high calling.
f. The Fall in Genesis 3 has affected the human mind. Limited because of its finiteness, the mind is further clouded by the effects of sin and wrong thinking. The teaching of a fully Biblical creationist worldview is thus paramount in attempts to understanding the creation.
g. The human mind was formed to function at its best when focused upon the Creator (Colossians 3:2). It also follows that the student's epistemological beliefs (what the student believes about the nature of knowledge and learning) are developmental in nature. As a student matures physically and mentally, he must also develop spiritually. Because the battle between the two worldviews, creation/evolution, is a spiritual one, the teacher must be aware of the student's spiritual developmental level.
10. A teacher should understand that a student's spiritual beliefs parallel his or her beliefs about scientific knowledge. Just as scientific beliefs form a trichotomy, so do their spiritual beliefs. The trichotomy consists of a certain percentage of the beliefs being tentative, certain percentage unchanging, and a certain percentage undiscovered. Thus, to some extent both science knowledge beliefs and spiritual beliefs change over time. It is this change and development that the teacher can affect in a Christ-honoring manner.
Discussion and Conclusions
The evidence is indisputable, and the battle lines are drawn. It is past time for the Christian community to defend the Biblical, creation-based worldview. With the abundant evidence for Creation, the Fall, and the Flood available, and the extraordinary resources which now exist, there can be no excuse for Christian teachers and Christian schools to capitulate to the evolutionary worldview so hostile to Christianity. It is also time that all youth were taught real and truthful science. These tenets serve as a starting point for such an objective.
1 Although the secular world recognizes the idea of worldview, many do not understand its importance or significance. Therefore it is necessary to define worldview (especially from a Christian young Earth creationist perspective). For the purposes of this document, worldview is an ideology, philosophy, theology, movement, or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God and His world, or a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the makeup of our world (Developing a Biblical Worldview, Nehemiah Institute, p. 14).
2 The importance of this principle has been established by works such as: Developing a Biblical Worldview, by Daniel Smithwick, 1996. The Capabilities of Science in the Formation of a Modern Worldview, Steve Deckard, 1997.
3 For example see: Genesis 1:26, Hebrews 5:14, Colossians 3:2, Genesis 6:5, Deuteronomy 4:29, Hebrews 10:22, Matthew 22:37, Acts 17:11, Romans 12:2, and II Timothy 1:7.
4 For example see: Psalm 26:2, Jeremiah 12:3, II Corinthians 11:28, II Corinthians 13:5, Galatians 6:4, and I Thessalonians 5:21. Also note: the testing of students in domains outside of content knowledge is an area of on-going investigation and the need for further research is great. Current assessment instruments which address some of the issues raised here include: (1) the PEERS Test; (2) SAT-9, Christian School Edition; and (3) Worldview Test (WVT). Information about the PEERS Test can be obtained by calling 1-800-948-3101. Information about the Association for Christian Schools SAT-9 can be obtained by calling 719-528-6906. For information regarding the WVT see: Deckard, Steve W., and Gregory M. Sobko reference listed below.
5 One textbook that may serve as a model of this approach is Biology Principles and Perspectives by John Silvius, published by Kendall Hunt, Dubuque, Iowa.
For further study
Deckard, Steve W. (1994). "Practical Model for Integrating Science and Faith," Acts & Facts 23(9):i-iv (ICR Impact No. 255).
Deckard, Steve W. (1995). "An Educational Step in the Right Direction," Acts & Facts Impact Article 24(12):i-iv (ICR Impact No. 270).
Deckard, Steve W. (1996). "Biology Textbooks Worldview Development and the Creation Evolution Controversy," Acts & Facts: 25(9):i-iv (ICR Impact No. 278).
Deckard, Steve W., Jan Barnett, and Richard Overman (1996). "Implementing a Creationist Based Field Trip," Acts & Facts: 25(11):i-iv (ICR Impact No. 281).
Deckard, Steve W., Richard Overman, Bryan A. Schneck, Candace B. Dixon, and Robert E. Brook. "Methodology for Analysis of Science Materials from a Creationist Worldview," CRSQ, 31(1) pp.25-27.
Deckard, Steve W. (1997). "The Capabilities of Modern Science in the Formation of a Modern Worldview," CRSQ 33 (4) pp.257-261.
Deckard, Steve W. and Gregory M. Sobko, "Toward the Development of an Instrument for Measuring a Christian Creationist Worldview," International Conference on Creationism (1998), Robert E. Walsh, ed., pp. 13-165. Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA.
Smithwick, Daniel J. and Dennis L. Woods (1996). Developing a Biblical Worldview: An Introductory Course to Basic Christian Philosophy. Nehemiah Institute.
Wisnieski, Mark E., The Worldview Approach to Critical Thinking. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism (1994), Robert E. Walsh, ed., pp. 593-607. Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA.
* Dr. Deckard is currently the VPAA at Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, ND 58436. He served as assistant professor in the science education department at ICR from 1991 until July of 1998. He will also continue to teach in the ICR Graduate School summer program.