Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Christian curriculum or Christ-centered teaching... or both.

Maybe I should have titled this post, "Knowing when to say when."  It seems I'm there, when it comes to our science curriculum, anyway.  I've argued previously in a post on biblical homeschooling that I believe a Christian education is not an education gained by reading books only written by Christians, but rather is an education from a Christian worldview.  I still hold to that. 

There are many books written by secular humanists that the Lord has used in my life to draw me to Him.  In fact, I'm almost positive that I didn't read a single book or paper by a Christian during the entire course of my doctoral studies.  And yet, as I learned more and more about our bodies on a molecular level, I became more convinced that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  These massive scientific textbooks all written with the assumption of evolution inspired me to give thanks and praise to God.  Another example is when I read America Alone several years ago and the Lord used it to completely change my life.  I went from a career woman finished having children to a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of six!  I know the credit goes to God and not to Mark Steyn, but still God did use that book in my life. 

Moreover, there are Christian authors who do not or did not believe in a literal six day creation.  Does that mean we discount everything they say?  Does that mean we shouldn't read C.S. Lewis?!  I don't think so.  But as a Christian and a scientist, I do not believe biblical creation and evolution are reconcilable.  In other words, I think by swallowing theistic evolution you must liberally interpret some parts of Scripture and ignore others. 

So... I have decided after some prayer and reflection that we are ditching our Sonlight science curriculum because at least one of the books is written with the assumption of evolution.  In fact, probably most of the books we're using this year as part of Sonlight's Core F science on the human body are written from an evolutionary point of view (I've noticed this with most of our Usborne books, history and science), but one author in particular makes her assumption of evolution clear quite often, while the others are more discreet.  My 12 yr old son has even nicknamed Blood and Guts, their evolution book.  It does not teach or endorse evolution per se, but it assumes that we are the product of evolution.  And that assumption just keeps popping up over and over again. 

It's not that I'm afraid it will brainwash my children, because they're the ones telling me that their science book is wrong.  If there were no better books available, we would stick with our current science curriculum and just continue teaching from a Christ-centered point of view.  In this case I believe a Christ-centered point of view means not only giving the credit to Christ, by whom God made all things and holds all things together, but also assuming a literal six day creation as outlined in Genesis 1. 

So, having said all that, we've made a switch.  I've never done anything like this before, changing curricula one-third of the way through the school year.  It means not finishing something.  It means I've wasted money on something we're not going to use.   That bothers me, but I know it doesn't mean failure.  Failure would have been making do with something that does not honor God and His Word when we could have been using something that teaches the same subject matter in a way that does honor God and His Word.   

I absolutely love God's Design for Life:  The Human Body by Debbie and Richard Lawrence, available through Answers in Genesis.  It was written by a husband-wife team who are both believers and engineers. 

Compare exerpts on the nervous system from Blood and Guts to God's Design and you be the judge over whether we made the right choice.

Blood and Guts:  "Bilaterally symmetric creatures no longer drifted every which way.  Their lives had direction.  Their nervous systems got bigger and much more sophisticated.  An onslaught of new information had to be dealt with by these creatures, like how to move along in a particular direction.  Gradually, a knot of nervous tissue developed at the end of the body facing the unknown.  This became the first brain.  Later, mammals developed ever bigger brains to deal with ever more complex worlds of sight, smell, and sound; not to mention internal controls like temperature and equilibrium." (Blood and Guts by Linda Allison page 112, emphasis of evolution code words mine)

God's Design:  "Have you ever seen an animal that could read a book and understand it?  Can a monkey build a building?  A parrot can repeat words, but can it carry on a conversation?  No.  Why not?  Animal's brains were not created to learn and think the same way that human brains can.  Of all of God's creatures, only man was given a mind able to think and reason at a high level. ... Be glad that God gave you a special brain and exercise it every day." (God's Design: The Human Body by Debbie and Richard Lawrence page 48 Beginner's section for younger kids.)

God's Design:  "The human brain is so complex we can never hope to fully understand it.  God has designed our brains to not only control our bodies and to react to the world around us, but to learn and think so we can understand and enjoy the world God has created."  (God's Design for Science: The Human Body by Debbie and Richard Lawrence page 49)

Do you see the difference in assumptions?  And of course, our conclusions depend largely upon our assumptions.  Why haven't we been using this curriculum all the time?  I have no idea.  I guess because the idea of Sonlight's Charlotte Mason approach to science of using living books rather than textbooks appealed to me.  I did look at God's Design for Science briefly when we were at the Creation Museum last year, but I didn't have much time and my husband was anxious to get the kids out of the bookstore, as you can imagine.  We'll be using it from now on with our younger kids.  It's geared for multi-level homeschooling grades 1-8.  I love that it's broken up into short lessons and sprinkled throughout with special features, biographies of great scientists, and fun facts that ispire awe and praise.  (Very Charlotte Mason-like and un-textbook-like on the whole.)

Disclaimer:  I figured this out on my own and had to actually buy the curriculum.  It was money well spent, though!

I've written before that our goal is to glorify God in our homeschool.  That's our top priority.  Using a science curriculum that gives God the credit for creation and leads us to praise Him for it, makes it that much easier for us to glorify God as we study science each day.


  1. I am SO GLAD that you wrote this!!!!

  2. I love this! I would love to use God's Design for Science in our homeschool,some day. Right now, we are using Christian Kids Explore Biology and we love it. It is creation-based as well.

  3. testing to see if my comments work yet....

  4. Much of what you pointed out here is why we ended up leaving Sonlight. I know we've talked before about teaching from secular texts and I do that quite often, but it seems Sonlight is getting more and more that way and are now a favorite among atheist homeschoolers. We are using Apologia for the entire family and love how the texts are written TO the child. I'm glad you've found a science curriculum that suits your worldview. Enjoy!

  5. We are using God's Design for the Physical World this year and LOVE it. Great post and I completely agree with you.

  6. We love the God's Design for Science series! I'm so glad you found a curriculum that meets your goals for homeschooling.

  7. I have both of the resources for science you have mentioned. I love God's Design for my younger ones but the Sonlight science books don't bother me for my eldest as I have already "indoctrinated" him with a questioning heart. lol

    Every single time we watch a show that assumes evolution we have commented that we don't agree. He will know there is a different view out there but he knows my view too.

    I think it really depends on your children's ages and their personality. Mine would have questioned anyway so why not be clear about the different views and discuss them openly. Just my experience!

    Best wishes
    Jen in Oz



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.