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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Academically Adequate

The big news today--at least, today's the first I've heard of it--is a ruling concerning the University of California. It seems that kids who take Christian science courses that do not teach evolution have not been given enough "critical thinking skills necessary to succeed at the University," and these courses are "academically inadequate."

Reading the rest of the article on this ruling, it turns out that the texts they are referring to are mostly Bob Jones University Press and A Beka books. Sonlight was, thankfully, not mentioned. Maybe we're just too insignificant because we don't publish textbooks.

In another article on the subject, I can see why the court would rule this way.

[They rejected] a history course called Christianity's Influence on America [which] "instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events" and evaluates historical figures based on their religious motivations.

Another rejected text, "Biology for Christian Schools," declares on the first page that "if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong."

I'm not surprised at all that a secular university would consider such statements "academically inadequate" in regards to critical thinking. In fact, I'd say that the Bible is not a good analytical tool for historical events because the Bible itself does very little historical analysis. And while I firmly believe the Bible is inerrant, most scientific claims from the Bible are based on our interpretation of certain passages.

Is that all that is going on here?

Probably not.

And this is certainly a dangerous path to walk down, especially if this becomes widespread: You are not "educated" until you have bought into the "party line" on this or that subject. And while I am wary of overly religious texts that squelch honest questioning, I am equally concerned when the "educational system" begins to pretend that it knows what is academically adequate. Such claims don't seem to promote critical thinking either.

Thoughts?

~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

3 comments:

spoileddaughteroftheking said...

When I hear things like this going on in AMERICA it just disturbs me to think the direction our country is heading!It reminds me of Russia before they became communist. But it also renews my determination to pray harder than ever because I know God can turn our country back to Him.

BTW_ I also enjoyed your tour of Sonlight and vlog. Can't wait to see the new tour.

CircleReader said...

Hi, Luke!
"You are not "educated" until you have bought into the "party line" on this or that subject."
Well, what's good for the goose is good for the gander! Isn't that exactly what "Biology for Christian Schools" is declaring in the passage you quote?

I think(IMHO) that what you are seeing here is the backlash against those who do not believe, as you do, that "most scientific claims from the Bible are based on our interpretation of certain passages," and who are willing to scuttle the practice of academic integrity if they think their interpretation is in danger. Yes, the world is prejudiced against Christian worldviews, but that is not all that is going on here.

In fact, we are able to tell the difference between bad and good scholarship with regard to evolution, as well as other sciences--and the ability to do so is at the very heart of critical thinking. The corollary is that we must be able to identify some approaches that are not, in fact, "academically adequate," even if they come from sources we trust and claim to be rigorous. I'd rather we did that ourselves (as have, Del Ratzsch, Gordon Glover and Ken Miller, among others), as a Christian learning community, than wait for a secular judge do do it for us. But if we (Christian homeschoolers) commit to a poor answer to the questions, as many of our currently favored texts do, we will lose our right to speak.

One of the things I've admired about Sonlight is the commitment to see Christian fellowship as including these kinds of struggle for understanding, rather than squelching honest questioning--and answering.

Luke said...

Thank you both so much for commenting!

I always appreciate prayer for me, our nation, and Christians worldwide.

And I agree, Circlereader! Great comment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

~Luke


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