K. W. Leslie on Teaching Science Instead of “Christian” Science

Today I would like to direct your attention to a post that I found over at K. W. Leslie’s blog, which is entitled “How I taught science instead of “Christian” science”.

It is a rather lengthy post, so be prepared to commit a little time to this one.  K. W. Leslie recounts his experience teaching middle school science at a Christian school, and finding that the textbook which he was supposed to use was woefully inadequate.  This textbook did not attempt to address the state standards for science; instead it was taken up with nature trivia, space trivia, and all sorts of mostly irrelevant Bible verses about how great nature is and how great God is for creating nature.  In order to deal with this, he took whatever he could use from the textbook and went out and pulled together a curriculum that would satisfy the state standards.  But there was a problem:  the parents wanted a textbook; they wanted to make sure that their kids were learning “Christian” science and not “secular” science.

This is an issue for many Christian parents because the concept of evolution, which so permeates the world of “secular” science, is seen to be in direct opposition to the authority of Scripture.  The Bible is believed to make specific claims about the age of the earth; Archbishop James Ussher put together a chronology based on the lives of the patriarchs listed in the biblical genealogies and arrived at the conclusion that the earth was created in 4004 BC.  This assumption lies at the heart of young-earth creationism.

But people who take this stance are not defending the Bible from science, much as they may think that they are.  Instead, they are defending their own interpretation of the Bible.  In the final analysis, Christianity and science are totally separate provinces:

These are separate realms. Or, to use a Christian term, kingdoms. Christianity can say nothing to science except about moral issues: “I don’t think the way you’re going about that experiment is right.” And scientists can say nothing to Christianity except quantitative issues: “Your behavior is not consistent with the morals you teach.” We can only speak in the languages of our respective kingdoms. When we try to apply the rules of those kingdoms to the other, you get the farce of “Christian” science… and maybe Scientology.

As a college student studying education, I had to be prepared to resolve the issue of science versus the Bible in my own mind.  I don’t think that I would have even considered going into education at all if I was not in a place where I was willing to accept that “secular” ideas about science might have some merit and that what the Bible says about science–or rather, what almost all of evangelical Protestant-dom says it says–is not the final word.