Questions and Views 
  Age of the Universe
  Methods of Creation  
  Two Books of God
  Design of the Universe  
  Age of the Universe
  Evaluation of Evolutions  
  Design in Science
  Public School Education  
  Christian Education (in  
  church, school, home)
  Informal Education  

Christian Education — Questions about

Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design

      Christian Education-about-Creation in the Church, School, and Home

      In our churches, how can we make "education about creation" an edifying experience for more people, to help improve our understanding and attitudes?
      In principle, Christian private schools can teach any way they want.  In practice, it can be difficult to decide which educational approaches and resources are best for students.
      Compared with other types of education, teaching in the home (for everyone, not just homeschoolers) allows more freedom.  How can parents take advantage of this opportunity for flexibility?

Resources for Christian Education about Creation-Evolution-Design

I.O.U. — This page will have more resources soon, hopefully by July 2010.
• Many useful ideas about the content of Creation Education are in other pages, which you can explore using links in the top-of-page table.

ASA Homeschool Science Resources is another website-service (who are we and how can this new resource-website help you?) provided by the American Scientific Affiliation.  It is being developed by Douglas Hayworth, is introduced by ASA's Executive Director, and will be growing in the near future.

Science and Faith in Harmony: Positive Ways to include Science in Worship by Kristen Verhulst, features ideas from Deborah Haarsma and Scott Hoetzee.  This page is a good starting place for understanding how some Christians view science, and for useful ideas about improving our attitudes.  It includes links to many high-quality educational resources.
• Deborah Haarsma & Loren Haarsma are physics professors at Calvin College, and co-authors of an excellent book — Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, & Evolution — and each has useful ideas about "how to teach science more effectively" in the section below.
• Scott Hoetzee is director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary and is co-PI of Science on Sunday: Integrating Science into the Life of the Congregation which is one of 7 science-ministry projects currently supported by the Science for Ministry Initiative of the John Templeton Foundation.

Test of Faith is a comprehensive educational project — offering a DVD film, Leader's Guide, Study Guide for participants, book about Spiritual Journeys with Scientists, and more, with an informative website you can explore by using the 11 top-of-page links (4 + 7) — produced by The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.

Later in this page you'll find summaries of ideas about Teaching Students to Think Christianly (by Mark Witwer), Real-Life Drama about People and Their Ideas, and Education about Age in Home Schooling.

Creation-Education Ideas from an ASA Conference in 2006

In a special symposium, ASA members shared a variety of good ideas for coping with the challenges of education in Christian higher education.  You can read a summary of ideas from each person, in Models for the Teaching of Origins: Case Studies and Pedagogy.   Some papers from this symposium are available on the web:  the first three below were in Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith (the journal of ASA) in December 2007, along with one more, and the other two are in this website:
Theories of Origins: A Multi- and Interdisciplinary Course for Undergraduates at Wheaton College by Stephen Moshier, Dean Arnold, Larry Funck, Raymond Lewis, Albert Smith, John Walton, and William Wharton (in PSCF)
Using Galileo to Teach Darwin by Craig Boyd (in PSCF)
Six Easy Pieces: One Pedagogical Approach to Integrating Science/Faith/Origins into College-Level Introductory Physics Courses by Sean Cordry (in PSCF, Dec 2007)
Paradise Regained: Teaching Science from a Christian Standpoint in a Postmodern Age by Amalee Meehan (also in PSCF, Dec 2007, although she did not attend the meeting in 2006)
• Loren Haarsma & Deborah Haarsma didn't write papers for PSCF because during this time, in 2006-2007, they were busy writing their book about origins.  But later they sent papers to me:
Using survey/response writing assignments to stimulate classroom discussion by Loren Haarsma, who finds that "when students begin discussion with their own writings in front of them... many of them are far more likely to share their ideas and opinions, and they seem more engaged with the subsequent discussion and lecture."  To inspire interest and motivation for discussion, "the statements and questions [about "methodological naturalism, scripture and nature, determinism and chance, historical science, philosophical interpretations of science, looking for scientific evidence of miracles, and the development of first life on earth"] are crafted to induce a substantial amount of disagreement amongst the students."
Teaching origins in 100-level science courses at Christian colleges by Deborah Haarsma

Here are some useful principles from Teaching Students to Think Christianly by Mark Witwer:

The method proposed here, contextual teaching, involves occasionally asking five questions about information being taught.  The questions develop understanding of context by conveying three ideas:  scientific claims are accepted because they are supported by evidence;  scientific information has personal relevance;  and it is important to integrate scientific information into a coherent biblical worldview.   The five questions are:
      1. How do we know this?  Scientific claims are accepted because they are supported by evidence.  Like detectives, scientists gather clues and try to explain them. ...
      2. How sure are we?  This question dispels the assumption that the word "know" always connotes certainty.  The claims in science textbooks may be placed along a continuum of confidence, ...
      3. What should you do, as a result of this?  Better understanding of the things God made facilitates better management of them. ...
      4. How does this show God's genius (or power)?  Science content contains many examples of God's genius and power that can strengthen faith and encourage worship.
      5. Did God do this?  This question is rhetorical, reminding students to give God frequent credit for the science content being studied. ...  The notion that a natural process happens "on its own" — meaning it is not done by God — confuses God's use of secondary causes with His absence.  As students build a Christian view of science, they stop asking whether God did something in nature, and begin asking how God did it.

comments by the editor:  #1 & 2 are about the logic of SCIENTIFIC METHOD;  3 encourages a CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP OF LIFE;  4 & 5 are essential elements of a CREATION-THEOLOGY that gives credit to God for his intelligent design of natural process.

Unfortunately, stories similar to those below — imported from the HOMEPAGE for ORIGINS EDUCATION — occur too frequently, with too much drama, in Christian Education:

Real-Life Drama about People and Their Ideas
      Fictional stories that illustrate real-life drama are scattered throughout an Introductory FAQ by Craig Rusbult (editor for this page) and are collected together in another page.  Here are excerpts, with an introduction and the beginnings of five stories:

      In this FAQ you'll see the raw material for exciting real-life drama of people and their ideas.  The drama is produced by encounters between people with contrasting ideas.  Too often, unfortunately, each of the differing ideas is held with a confident passion by individuals and groups who behave as if they think people with other views are enemies who must be fought and conquered.  But the ideas do have important implications and applications, especially in education.  .....
      You can get a feeling for what often happens in real life by using your imagination to visualize the ideas and feelings in five common situations where we see dramatic conflict. ...  These stories illustrate conflicts — internal and external, within people and between people — that commonly occur.  Imagine that:
      • your pastor confidently declares that "the Bible says the earth is young, so you should believe it."  But your teacher for Sunday School explains why..., and you have questions.
      • you're a flexible agnostic, uncertain about God but willing to search for truth.  You hear Richard Dawkins declare that...  But another respected scientist explains why...
     The questions in Sections 1-7 [of the FAQ] often produce uncertainties and conflicts within a person.  But when we make decisions about education, internal personal questions can become external interpersonal tensions, and conflicts become visible and vocal. ...  Imagine that:
      • you are a public school teacher who is wondering what to teach about origins: ...  If you think "maybe..." will you get in trouble with...?  But if you don't,...  What is the best way to survive and thrive in the current climate of controversy?
      • you're a science teacher in a private Christian school, and last year several parents didn't like what you said about the "when and how" of creation, and they removed their children from your school ...
      • you are the friend of a student who is a Christian, who has been taught by her parents (and by her pastor, and...) that...  How do you think she will respond — and what will happen with her interest in science, her views about creation, and the quality of her faith — in each of these five situations: ...

Education about Age in Home Schooling
For a variety of reasons — as discussed in HOME SCHOOLS — education in the home can be an excellent way to help your children learn about God and his creation, develop a Christian worldview and habits of living by faith, and improve their knowledge (in a wide range of areas) and thinking skills.

      Currently, home schooling in America is dominated by young-earth views, which are also influential in many Christian private schools.  One potential spiritual difficulty is described in the experiences of former young-earth creationists:
      If a person who thinks "believing the Bible requires belief in a young earth" examines the scientific evidence and concludes "the earth is old," another conclusion may be that "if the Bible is wrong about the earth's age, maybe it's also wrong about the rest," and faith is weakened or abandoned.  Here is part of a page about Personal Experiences of Former Young-Earth Creationists:
      This page describes the personal experiences of a few of the many people who have struggled with this dilemma. ...  Ed asks, “How many others [like R] have been disheartened in a like manner?”  Another way that “we are sowing the seeds of a major crisis” [quoting Joshua] is the virtual monopoly of young-earth teaching in home schools, which may result in a multitude of "if-if-then..." dilemmas (like those faced by Ed, R, and Todd) in the near future.

Is young-earth belief essential for Christian theology?  How can we avoid the problem that often occurs, as described above, when the Gospel of Jesus is linked with young-earth creationism into a "package deal" where either both are true or both are false, where if you believe one you must also believe the other?  These questions, and others, are discussed in AGE OF THE EARTH — THEOLOGY and Biblical Theology for young-earth Christians and EDUCATION-ACTIONS ABOUT AGE OF THE EARTH.   Also, check AGE OF THE EARTH — SCIENCE and ASA Homeschool Science Resources.

Here is an idea from Christian Education for the Whole Person by Craig Rusbult:

      Exploring ideas is especially interesting when, in an effort to get accurate understanding, you get the best information and arguments that all sides of an issue can claim as support.  A conflict of ideas is inherently dramatic, and the evaluative thinking it stimulates is an opportunity to learn valuable skills for life.  {a personal example of a high school teacher who changed the way I think}   In contrast with protective isolation (by trying to avoid contact with all non-approved ideas), supported exploration will help children learn the skills they need for intellectual self-defense.  They will be confronted with many challenging ideas from peers, authorities, and media, while living in the modern world.  Although you cannot protect children from exposure to ideas, you can protect them against indoctrination if you help them develop skill in evaluating the merits of different ideas.  Compared with protective isolation, supported exploration is more educational because there is more learning and thinking.  But exploring ideas is educationally useful and spiritually edifying only when it is done wisely and well, in a secure environment with adequate support.  The level of exploration should be adjusted for a child's maturity, since topics and resources that are useful and edifying for an older child might not be appropriate for younger children.  You should provide emotional and spiritual support through love and prayer, and intellectual support by showing that Christian perspectives are rational and are useful for improving quality of life.

In this page you'll find links to resource-pages expressing a wide range of views, which don't necessarily represent the views of the American Scientific Affiliation.  Therefore, linking to a page does not imply an endorsement by the ASA.  We encourage you to use your own critical thinking to evaluate everything you read.

 This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
 a NON-ITALICIZED LINK opens another page.  Both keep everything inside this window, 
so your browser's BACK-button will always take you back to where you were.

this page, written by Craig Rusbult (editor of ASA's website for Whole-Person Education), is
and was revised June 4, 2010

all links were checked-and-fixed on July 3, 2006

other links-pages about Origins Questions are at the top of this page,
or you can Search the Website