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Posts posted by acreecav

  1. Last winter I stumbled across contact information for a friend I hadn’t heard from in about 15 years, so I wrote to her then but never heard back.  Last night I found out why: a few weeks ago she died at age 43 of cancer that she’d been fighting for nine years.  If she ever saw my message, I’m guessing she didn’t feel like writing back to say, ‘Great to hear from you.  Things are good here, except that I’m dying.†


    So, in honor of Elizabeth Palmberg and other friends we should not take for granted, here’s a quote I love from Henri Frederic Amiel (1827-1881):


    "O, do not let us wait to be just or pitiful or demonstrative toward those we love until they or we are struck down by illness or threatened with death! 


    Life is short, and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us.


    O, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!"



    Some churches have made this into a prayer, which I also love:  


    Life is short

    And we do not have much time

    to gladden the hearts of those

    who journey the way with us.

    So be swift to love,

    and make haste to be kind.

    And the blessing of God,

    who made us,

    who loves us,

    and who travels with us 

    Be with you now and forever.  Amen
















  2. I'm dubious that you could build a whole program -especially for beginning spellers - based on meaning in this way, honestly. 


    I'm not sure an entire program would be feasible either, or necessary.  I'm thinking of that pile of leftover words that seem not to make sense based on the usual rules, including some of the little words like 'do' and 'does,' and 'to, two and too'--all the weird spellings that are especially hard to remember.  Plus a toolbox for learning how to analyze and investigate where words come from.  Once you start down one rabbit trail, it can get addicting, and for some kinds of thinkers/learners, this could make language arts very exciting. 

  3. Studying roots is always valuable, but the roots programs I’ve used focus on Latin and Greek roots, whereas most of the really oddball spellings in English—wr, wh, most kn’s, ough, igh, and others—come from Old English and Germanic sources.  If anyone knows of a roots program that includes these, please post!


    One of the things I like about approaching spelling through meanings rather than sounds is that it integrates spelling with history and it would give kids a sense of looking back across time to real people who have left their mark on the words we use now.  For instance, although this is not a case of irregular spelling, the ‘tril’ part of ‘nostril’ comes from the same base as ‘thrill,’ which means ‘hole’ or ‘pierce.’  So a nostril is a nose hole, and a thrilling experience is one that pierces you, or leaves a hole in you.  When I learned this I immediately pictured an ancient peasant ready to hurl a spear.  My linguist friend Gina says that learning word histories is like looking down a deep well, and seeing someone at the bottom waving up at you. 


    Another benefit would be introducing kids to figurative language, not as a flowery add-on to literature but as a building block in the words they use everyday.  Many words change over time from concrete, literal meanings, like being pierced with a spear, to abstract, figurative meanings, like having an emotional experience that feels like being pierced with a spear.  The literal piercing becomes a metaphor, and the metaphor is built right into the modern meaning of thrill, which sometimes still carries the sense of danger, as in a thrilling ride on a roller coaster, but just as often refers to a pleasant experience, like being thrilled by a job offer. 


    Spelling in my experience usually has a tacked-on feeling, like a chore that needs to be done but isn’t meaningful in itself.  “Do your spelling.  Sweep the kitchen.† Showing kids how spelling fits into a long story of people and language would make it more meaningful, interesting, and fun.  Anything that's part of a story is easier to remember.


    I'm not sure what rabbit trails people have been following, but you can find Gina's TED talks by googling "Gina Cooke TED."  On her website (google "Gina Cooke LEX"), there are some highly academic conversations between professional linguists, but if you poke around in the "categories" you can find stuff that might suit your interests. Take a look also at her Blogroll, which includes blogs from a couple of classroom teachers whose students are doing "word investigations" and other fun stuff, and links to other useful sources.

  4. A linguist friend of mine, who also works with dyslexic students, has convinced me that all the weird spellings in English and "exceptions" to rules are actually orderly and pattern-driven. If you're skeptical, read on.  


    Since all whole-language and even phonics-based spelling texts eventually resort to labeling things as exceptions, she says it's more accurate, easier, and more fun for struggling spellers to learn spelling through understanding that "words are made of stories."  In other words, words have histories, and the histories explain the spelling.


    For instance, she says that the "wr" in all wr- words comes from an Old English base that means "twist":  wring, wrangle, wrestle, wrap, wreath, wreck, etc., even wrath and wrong.  Once you see them all grouped together, the shared meaning becomes clear.  With a little imagination, you can picture wrath as a state of being twisted internally with rage, and wrong as somehow twisting away from the straight path.  Cool, huh?


    She says dyslexic students in particular make great gains by approaching spelling in this way and by learning words in "meaning families," rather than by the usual memorize-each-word-separately approach, along with memorizing the "rules" and the "exceptions."


    She has three fascinating TED-ED talks, including one explaining that the silent 'b' in doubt is there because 'doubt' shares a base with 'double,' as in, being of two minds about something.  You can watch it here.


    With her help I'm trying to pull together some simple lesson plans because she doesn't write curriculum, but you can learn a lot from her website, called www.linguisteducatorexchange.com.  



  5. But the problem with the evolution theory is that everything began as slime on a rock. Some of the slime became those cave fish; some became elephants; some became humming birds; some became us. Why?


    It is much easier for me to believe that God created us all, sometimes for no other reason than to make us ponder who He is.


    And there are way too many plants and animals that are so intricately designed that they could not possibly have evolved that way for me to think that everything started as slime on a rock.


    I actually agree with you on this.  Evolution without a creator is too much of a stretch for me for exactly the same reason that you state: the dazzling complexity all around screams out to me that a designer is behind it.  The question is the designer's method.  I love the analogy that Deborah and Loren Haarsma use in their book and videos called Origins: A functioning watch implies a watchmaker who made the watch, but imagine a watchmaker so good that he designed pieces that could assemble themselves into a watch, and then assemble themselves into yet more complex designs.


    You can check out the first video here:  Or if the link doesn't work, visit http://origins.faithaliveresources.org/#watch_online.

  6. Julie asks a great question.  On the surface, the only difference between asking how God evolved something and how God designed that thing is the method God used.  But the differences get bigger fast. 


    For starters, and please understand that I believe the universe and its systems have a loving Designer and a Sustainer who keeps holding it all together, YEC insists that God designed everything directly to be exactly the way it is.  But there’s a loophole: Things that are beautiful and work well are understood as God’s design, but things that seem ugly or broken, like birth defects, are blamed on a cosmic Fall that changed the physical nature of things.  This always bothered me as a YEC because it seemed like inconsistent picking and choosing.


    Evolutionary creation doesn’t assume that God designed every feature directly, but rather created systems that allow freedom to develop in many directions.  I personally don’t know how much God directly intervenes along the way, but I never knew this as a YEC either, for the reason that I mentioned above:  are the blind, useless eyes of cave fish the result of God’s design, or the result of a cosmic Fall?


    YEC did not have answers for many other questions.  Besides the blind eyes of the cave fish, some other animals have useless parts, such as nipples on male mammals, and wings on birds that can’t fly.   Why did God design a parasite that eats its host alive from the inside out, one organ at a time?  Where I grew up in Florida, two kinds of snakes have stripes colored red, black, yellow and white:  the coral snake is deadly, while the king snake is harmless.  Why would God design a poisonous snake that’s nearly identical to a harmless snake?  And why would the harmless king live only near the deadly coral?


    Whereas YEC had no answer for this, evolutionary creation has a great answer:  in the coral snake’s neighborhood, the king’s resemblance makes it unappealing to predators who mistake it for the poisonous near-twin.  The resemblance gives it a survival advantage. Outside the coral’s neighborhood, the resemblance is a disadvantage, because the king’s bright colors make it a conspicuous target, so king snakes don’t venture very far from coral snakes.  God designed the system that lets creatures find their niche and make the most of their surroundings, then change when change becomes necessary.


    In my understanding, evolutionary creation explicitly removes God from direct responsibility for the details while allowing God to intervene in ways I can’t measure.  As I said earlier, I always implicitly did this before, but without noticing that I was assigning the details I liked to “design†and the ones I didn’t to “the Fall.† Now I don't wonder why God made someone with a cleft palate, even while I know God can bring good out of this person's suffering.  Beyond this, evolutionary creation has turbo-charged my faith, my awe at the power and brilliance of God as creator, my gratitude for the generous provision of all that we need, and my humility before the task of “keeping†and protecting the creation entrusted to us.  

    Which brings me back to the original poster's question about her daughter, who's really interested in science.  My oldest son loves biology now thanks to the Campbell and Reece bio textbook that we used two years ago, which he still picks up to read for fun because it invites him into the story of the how and why--not the Ultimate Why, which science can't answer--but the proximate why's and all the puzzles that remain to be solved.


  7. As a former YEC person, I'd say that if your daughter is serious about science, definitely go with a secular textbook for the simple reason that anti-evolutionary books make science boring.  In YEC textbooks you can learn the "whats," like classification systems and the steps in meiosis, but you have to stop dead at the "hows" and the "whys," because the answers are always the same: "God spoke it into being," and "God wanted it that way."  My YEC sister said to me two days ago, while pondering the crazy shape of a hammerhead shark, "What was God thinking?"  There's no way for her to seek answers to how or why the hammerhead got its shape. She can't even ask the questions.  


    But the "hows" and the "whys" are the really fun and exciting part of science, and if you accept the open-endedness of mainstream science, every question can be asked. Not every question can be answered, but science is always seeking answers like pieces in an endless jigsaw puzzle.  And it means there are lots more puzzles for your daughter to solve if she pursues a science career.


    The downside of secular textbooks is that they can't (and shouldn't) address the questions of meaning, purpose, value, and dignity that matter to people of faith.  So you have to supply those yourself.


    There's a huge difference between naturalism as a method and naturalism as a worldview.  Like every other kind of professional, scientists have to use naturalism as their method: in other words, they seek to understand natural phenomena in entirely natural terms, without invoking a supernatural cause.  Just as I wouldn't want a doctor to tell me, "You have diabetes, so you must have sin in your life"; or a banker to say, "Your business is failing because God isn't blessing you," or a meteorologist to announce that "A tornado hit Illinois because God is punishing that wicked state," I don't want a scientist saying either that males have useless nipples because God wanted them that way or that science proves there is no God supervising and loving the creation.  It just isn't their job to say any of these things.  But it also doesn't mean they've embraced the worldview of naturalism, which says that the natural world is all there is.  The same doctor, banker, and meteorologist who might tell me that I have diabetes because my pancreas is malunctioning, or my business is failing because it's in an obscure location, or that a tornado has hit because of a high-pressure air stream, may also believe that God is deeply involved in my life.  Many evolutionists do believe in God.  


    Once I found satisfying answers to my questions about evolution and I figured out that the truth of the Bible and of the gospel has nothing to do with evolution or the age of the earth, I've been having a blast exploring the science I wish I'd felt free to explore when I was your daughter's age.  Have fun!

  8. My older boys started reading them when they were in 2nd grade, and Harry Potter turned my reluctant reader into a reading machine.  In 2nd grade he said, "I've never enjoyed reading so much.  It's like watching television because she writes so well."  Something about the way Rowling writes makes it very easy to picture every scene as you read through it.   I've recommended the series to other moms of boys who are reluctant readers, and Rowling has hooked many of them too.


    At that age they don't get all the nuances that make the books entertaining to adults, like the mocking of bureaucracy in Percy's project with the International Standardization of Cauldron Thickness, or the teen drama, but my kids have all reread the books as they got older, and each time they enjoyed them even more.


    The books are much funnier than the movies, which aren't funny at all really, and much deeper.  In the books you see Harry's internal negotiations as he decides, for example, how much truth to tell Dumbledore, and you eventually understand the complexity of Dumbledore's affection for Harry too, and the mistakes Dumbledore makes because of it.  None of this you get in the movies.  I think the books make excellent fodder for discussions of character choices and ethical dilemmas.



  9. I'm a seriously disorganized, routine-averse person (when I look at other people's houses, I always wonder if I'm missing a gene).  FlyLady's babysteps are the only way i've ever made any improvement.  


    On the main site, there's an option called "Get Started."  If you sign up for the emails, her methods will start making sense. You can also cut back on the email volume if it's too much, and just copy down the daily routines to start with.  When I first heard of FlyLady's advice to start by shining your kitchen sink, I thought this was nuts.  The whole house was chaos, so polishing the sink felt like polishing the brass on a sinking ship.  But I tried it, and it started to make sense.  I now make the bed every day, get dressed to shoes, and so on.  I don't have to think about it anymore, like brushing my teeth.


    It could be what you are looking for, and you can divvy up the small tasks among your kids.  Good luck!

  10. Yes, thank you to Free--you've done a great job articulating one of the misconceptions I encounter in my family--that old earth and evolution are just "speculation" and not "real science," because they had no eyewitnesses and can't be "tested" (says my brother).


    As you say, testing doesn't just happen in a test tube, and crimes are solved routinely even without eyewitnesses.  We believe criminals can and should be convicted, sometimes even put to death--if there's enough evidence pointing toward a particular person, even if no one directly observed the crime and can't repeat it in a lab.  What can be recreated is a model of what happened, and if all the evidence fits the model, without too many glaring holes ("beyond a shadow of a doubt"), the crime is considered solved.


    When a scientific hypothesis is proposed, it's tested by seeing if its predictions correspond to other evidence.  As successful predictions pile up, the hypothesis graduates to the status of a Theory, which means it has no counterevidence to disprove it.  All evidence points toward the Theory, not away.  Even though there were no eyewitnesses, there's not a shadow of a doubt about it. The hypothesis that all the continents were once a single land mass was based on the observation that from a God's eye view they look like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Obviously, this scenario can't be recreated, but it led to the prediction that the rock formations at the eastern edge of South America and the western edge of Africa should match each other.  Sure enough, they do. The hypothesis that India broke off from southeast Africa and is still moving toward China led to the prediction that the Himalayas will keep getting higher as the tectonic plates keep crunching into each other.  Even within the timeframe since accurate measurements have been possible, the HImalayas have grown taller. Many other geological predictions have also been borne out.


    The great thing about the testability of old earth and evolutionary Theory is that it makes studying science a blast.  In my YEC years, I shied away from science because it seemed full of stories that I had to untell in my mind.  Without the stories--that is, the explanations of how things happened--YEC science is frankly pretty boring, because the answer to every question of How is, "because God made it that way."  Now I feel like a thirsty traveler who's found the way out of the desert into a dazzling landscape full of springs and waterfalls.  Fascinating stories about *how* God created the universe are everywhere, and they only increase my faith and awe.


    The difference between young earth people in the 17th and 18th centuries and young earth people of today is that the earlier ones weren't reading books about geology (there weren't any), they were actually climbing on the rocks, digging up the fossils, examining the places where orange sedimentary layers are tilted on top of gray sedimentary layers turned on their side (see Siccar Point, eg), or where liquid rock had intruded between sedimentary layers, tearing and pushing chunks of sedimentary rock as it went (see Salisbury Crags, eg.)  Although they assumed the earth was young and expected it to be so, they could see with their own eyes that such "unconformities" could not have happened in a single flood or in the timeframe they'd allowed for.  With their noses in the evidence, they reached the inevitable conclusion that the earth is very old and has been through many dramatic changes.  Modern YECs like to talk (as I did) about the Grand Canyon, where all the layers are level, but there's a lot more out there that needs explaining.  When I read posts in other threads claiming that photos in geology texts have been photoshopped, I want to say, "Go and stand on it yourself." Or pray that your kids don't grow up to work in the oil industry or to drive through any mountains, where roadcuts reveal the tilting of rock layers that couldn't have happened in a flood.


    Science reveals God's marvelous handiwork, and none of its findings are news to God.  We don't need to fear.



  11. An article in Christianity Today shows that the Gallup polls are misleading because they give people too few options.  When A Christian sociology professor at Calvin College  surveyed people with similar questions, he also followed up with questions about how certain they were.  Of those agreeing with the statement that "God created humans in their present form at one time within the past 10,000 years," only 5% said they were "absolutely certain," and some even said they were "not at all sure," apparently because they liked the other answer choices even less.


    You can read the article here: "Rethinking the Origins Debate: Most Americans--and most Christians--do not fall neatly into creationist or evolutionist camps."

  12. The original question was, Why does it matter whether the earth is old or young?  Does it really matter to faith?  This is a great question, and one I struggled with for 30 years before “converting†to old earth and evolutionary creationism.  The main reason I couldn’t accept an old earth was that it presents a huge theological problem related to sin and death. 


    In evangelical traditions such as mine, it’s understood from Romans (“the wages of sin is deathâ€) and elsewhere in the New Testament that all death is the consequence of human sin.  If there wasn’t even animal death before human sin, then all fossils, including dinosaurs, have to come from within the timespan of human existence, because until humans appeared on the scene there was no one capable of sinning and “bringing death into the world.â€


    I accepted this as “gospel†for a long time, along with the idea that everything before Sin was perfect, although in the back of my mind it didn’t fit with other parts of the Genesis story.  For example, the tree of life gives the ability to “live forever,†but such a tree would have no purpose if Adam and Eve were immortal from the start. 


    And the fact that both the animals and people were expected to eat presents several problems if they’re already perfect and immortal.  Even in Eden, they needed food; they got hungry.  The plants they ate would die when eaten.  As soon as animals or humans ate food, they’d have to digest it, which requires microbes with short life spans and produces waste that decays.


    Old earth creationists (such as the Reasons to Believe people), although they reject human evolution, accept that there was at least animal death before human sin, so they can tolerate a long fossil record and the geological evidence for an ancient earth. 


    The whole field of geology came into being because Christian naturalists in the 17th and 18th centuries kept bumping into rock formations that didn’t fit their young-earth expectations, such as eroded, extinct volcanoes in France or stacked sedimentary layers in Scotland that are upended or folded into “M’s†(look at photos of Siccar Point near Edinburgh, for instance). 


    Since the original poster asked about young earth vs. old earth, I won’t get into my reasons for accepting evolution as God’s amazing design.  But the reason that the old earth question matters a lot to me is that I want my kids to know they can plunge into science without fear, that God’s Word and God’s World make sense together, and that they already know the Author of any stories the earth has to tell.

  13. I'm looking for resources for teaching evolution as God's design.  I've seen secular science books and lots of anti-evolution stuff, but nothing really in between.


    I have great resources for helping adults sort out their questions, but not much geared directly toward kids.  If I can't find any, I'll write my own lessons on meaning, purpose, dignity, and value, on ways to take Genesis seriously, and on how evolution demonstrates God's generous love, but if this is already out there, that would be better!


    Please post your favorite resources either here or in the social group called Evolultionary Creation.  (Or if there's another thread with the same info, please point me to it.)  I'm putting the same request in the k-8 board.  Many thanks.

  14. I'm looking for resources for teaching evolution as God's design (call it evolutionary creation, theistic evolution, or what-have-you).


    I have great resources for adults to sort out their questions, but I haven't found much that's good for kids.  If I can't find any, I'll write my own lessons on meaning, purpose, dignity, and value, on the range of ways to take Genesis seriously, and on the ways that evolution demonstrates God's generous love, but if it's already been done, that would be better!


    Please post your favorite resources here or in the social group called Evolutionary Creation. I'm also posting the same request in the 9-12 section, so don't bother to reply there also.  Many thanks.

  15. Hi, lea_lpz,


    I'm wrapping my answers into a story.


    Although my evangelical parents never felt their faith threatened by mainstream science, somehow by the time I reached AP Bio in high school, I had already rejected evolution on my own.  I think I must have absorbed anti-evolutionism from Christian radio.  In my experience, most Christians have no worries about evolution or origins when they first come to faith, and they only get concerned when, like you, they encounter anti-evolutionism in church, homeschool groups, or other evangelical subcultures like radio.  It's like a contagious illness, and the main symptom is fear: We start to worry that our children won't have faith unless we reject mainstream science, even though science didn't stop us from coming to faith in the first place. 


    In college I planned a speech for my speech class on the virtues of young earth creationism, but unfortunately I procrastinated my research until the last minute, when I found to my dismay that the creationist claims weren't as solid as I'd supposed.  When I stood up to give my speech, I knew that my statements weren't convincing even to me.  For the next thirty years, I muddled along in the middle, reading arguments from both extremes, feeling that neither the creationism side nor the evolutionary side was completely convincing.


    From the creationist standpoint, I'd been told that the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) made evolution impossible. I puzzled over this for many years, and I even went through the library stacks at Cornell University trying to find an explanation of how entropy and evolution could both be true. If the second law really meant what I'd been told, how could so many scientists see no contradiction?   I found nothing in the library, and I now know why:  entropy applies only to closed systems, and the earth is not a closed system because the sun pours energy into it around the clock. We don't even know if the universe itself is a completely closed system.


    From the evolutionary standpoint, I wondered how to understand Christianity's teaching about death as a result of sin.  If death of any kind can result only from human sin, I didn't see how Adam and Eve could even eat fruit (which kills the fruit) and digest it, which involves eventually excreting it, which means there will be waste that must decay, and decay requires microorganisms that live only a few minutes.  Even inside the gut of Eve and Adam there had to be bacteria which have a short life cycle keeping their systems going.  And if their bodies were perfect and immortal, why would they even get hungry and need to eat?  Why would Eden include a Tree of Life if they were immortal right from the start, especially since God warns that they shouldn't touch the tree "lest they eat of it and live forever"?  So the idea that there could not even be plant or animal death before human sin never made sense to me.  I now believe that Creation wasn't perfect, it was Very Good; that mortality was built in from the start; and that the "death" that comes through sin has to be spiritual death, not physical death.


    After feeling at odds with both the church and the world for decades, a couple of years ago I stumbled upon a book (in a Big Lots of all places) that changed my life. Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution by Karl Giberson addressed all my questions in more than shallow ways, and when I finished I felt like I'd found 4-D glasses that helped me see the fantastic marvels of the universe and human beings and blades of grass for the first time.  I've had faith as a young earth/anti-evolutionist, as a confused-in-the-middle uncommitted person, and as a dazzled evolutionary creationist, and I find the last to be the only kind that makes sense both of God's word and God's world, allows me to answer my kids' questions with integrity and confidence, and gives me immense joy in the beauty and power of Christ as Creator.  


    When we--and I'm including my own former self--are committed to anti-evolutionism, including evolution of the universe and the earth, we can look at details of nature and admire them, but we can't happily dive in to the why's and how's.  This rock has crystals in it because God made it that way.  This volcano is here because God wanted it here.  Poisonous snakes and frogs often have flashy colors because God likes them that way.  Male mammals, including humans, have nipples that are useless because God wanted them there.  Cats torture their prey before eating it because God designed them to do that.  No wonder so many Christians struggle with or even dread teaching science.  It's both fearful and boring at the same time.


    If we accept evolution as belonging to God, we can investigate how Christ has created all things and peek into the mind of God.  Rocks have different characteristics because God made them in different ways using a host of surprising processes.  Volcanoes are found in strings along tectonic plates because God created a dynamic earth that is still in motion, and we are responsible for taking care of it!  Poisonous snakes and frogs have bright colors because these colors warn other animals not to eat them, and this helps the poisonous animals survive; if they live where they have few or no natural predators, they're more likely to have ordinary colors so they don't stand out.  


    God has made all of creation with free will, and most of us creatures focus on preserving our own skin, filling our own bellies, seeking our own happiness. We are driven by instinct to be self-centered: it's our "sin nature."  Meanwhile God in love for both the just and the unjust keeps providing what we need to make less selfish choices if we are willing to receive an abundant life that is anti-instinctual: instead of seeking to save our life, we must lose it; instead of hoarding wealth and oppressing others to protect it, we must stop hoarding and start sharing with the "least of these"; instead of killing our enemies, we must love and bless them.   Evolution makes sense of the gospel, because the gospel reveals that our instinctive way of living keeps us thinking like animals.  Gospel living allows us to think like God and reflect God's image.


    For a wonderful overview of different Christian viewpoints, including various ways of understanding Adam and Eve, I recommend the following book and website, which has videos that can be viewed online:  Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, and http://origins.faithaliveresources.org.  Both are written by wife-and-husband scientists who are professors at Calvin College, Deborah Haarsma and Loren Haarsma.


    I'm working on a list of resources that help me understand and teach how evolution supports and deepens faith, which you can find (free) at http://teachingscienceandfaith.net if you're looking for such.  If you know of others, or if there's a thread here somewhere where someone else has already listed some, please point me to it or send me an email at carol@tsandf.net.




  16. Hi,

    I agree with Pilgrim that this book wouldn't work for most high school students.  I read it this winter, and I rely on it still to help me get back to sleep in the middle of the night--not because it's not interesting, but because parts of it are extremely dense and technical:  radiometric dating, eons of time with names like Eocene, Permian, Devonian, Mississippian . . . . zzZZZzzzz z z


    If you are fine with an old earth, then any mainstream geology textbook would do, and you would need to supplement only the awe-and-wonder factor of recognizing geological processes as belonging to God.  Young's earlier book called Creation and the Flood might work better, but I haven't read it.


    His book called The Biblical Flood: A Case Study of the Church's Response to Extrabiblical Evidence is also dense, but it's more of a narrative about how Christians through history have interpreted the flood story, and in particular how pragmatic Christians who knew all about feeding animals over a long winter without a nearby feed store focused on calculating, for example, how much feed you'd need on the ark to support so many animals for 4 months and how much room you'd need to store it, how much poop the animals would generate and how everyone would survive not being able to scoop it overboard if the windows couldn't be opened, etc  Once the age of exploration began and new worlds with new animals were discovered, all the calculations were redone to accommodate the new discoveries.  There's lots more to the story, but the short version is that the math never worked, the geologic evidence for a world-wide flood wasn't there, and lots of Christians through time have had to understand the Noah story as something other than literal.


    What's interesting to me about geology is that the whole field came into being because Christian naturalists in the 1700s/1800s kept bumping into features of the earth--like extinct, eroded volcanoes in France,or sedimentary rock layers in Scotland stacked like pancakes, but up-ended or turned completely on their sides--that didn't fit their own belief that the earth was 6000 years old.  The more they looked, the more they found that they couldn't account for, and they concluded that the earth was much older than they'd thought, long before Darwin came along.  


    I think it would be fun to teach geology through the eyes of these early Christians (Townsend, Hutton, Fleming, Lyell, and others) like a Crime Scene Investigation episode:  here's the evidence, now what could explain it?  How did they make sense of marine fossils in the Alps, and giant bones of unknown creatures dug up during the Industrial Revolution when mechanical diggers started excavating coal mines and deep foundations for taller buildings?  Who first noticed that the continents looked like jigsaw puzzle pieces, and if the continents had once fit together, what else would this model predict?  Such an approach would fit beautifully with the history of exploration beginning in the 15th century up through the Industrial Revolution and into the 20th century.


    For studying space, I highly recommend Howard Van Till's The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens are Telling Us About the Creation.  It's probably too dense for your high schooler to read alone, but it would be easy for you to teach from it.  I have a slightly more detailed explanation of it on a guide to resources for teaching evolution and faith that I'm still putting together; the current version is available (free) at http://teachingscienceandfaith.net


    Anyone interested in starting a social group on evolutionary creationism--old earth, ancient universe, evolution of all living things, and how all of this deepens faith?



  17. Sebastian,


    Thanks for these suggestions, which I haven't heard of before.  


    This is slightly off-topic, but do you know of any Christian science curriculum that accepts evolution/old earth/etc?  When my oldest was doing AP Bio last year, all we could find was either totally secular or totally anti-evolution.  If I should post this question to the general list, I can do that.  Just not sure how these forums work yet.

  18. Hi,

    I just joined the WTM community, so I'm late to the conversation. 


    I'm also a Christian who muddled along in the middle of the creation/evolution argument for 30 years, feeling that neither side was completely convincing.  Finally I found resources that gave more than shallow answers to both my theological and scientific questions (what about death and sin? what about entropy? etc.).  I feel like I've found the 4-D glasses that help me see the created universe in a whole new and glorious dimension, and help me teach my sons about biology, ecology, geology, and astronomy with confidence and joy in the harmony between God's world and God's word. 


    Since the anti-evolution perspective is usually represented well (or exclusively) at homeschool conventions, what follows is a list of resources that argue from an evangelical Christian perspective for evolutionary creation in an ancient earth and universe.


    The Origins book mentioned above gives a pretty thorough overview of the range of Christian perspectives.  The authors are wife-and-husband scientists trained at MIT and now professors at Calvin College (Deborah and Loren Haarsma).  The book also has videos that can be viewed free online:  http://origins.faithaliveresources.org


    Deborah Haarsma is also president of BioLogos, an evangelical Christian, pro-science, pro-evolution organization started to answer the many questions put to geneticist Francis Collins after he wrote his bestselling memoir of converting from atheism to evangelical Christianity (The Language of God).  The website at www.biologos.org has answers organized by topic.


    Collins and Karl Giberson later wrote The Language of Science and Faith, which answers in less detail than the BioLogos website the FAQs that many Christians have about science, evolution, and faith.  My favorite section, called "A Grand Narrative of Creation," interweaves Biblical statements about the Creation with a scientific account of the development of the universe and of life within it. 


    Giberson's book Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution was written by a physics and biology professor at a Christian college (Eastern Nazarene University) who began his own college days intending to be the next defender of young earth creationism, but found that the evidence pointed him in a different direction. 


    The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us About the Creation by Howard Van Till, a now-retired astronomer and professor at Calvin College, explains how he takes both the Bible and the physical Creation seriously.  This dense but fascinating book explains the ancient polytheistic context of Genesis 1 and exactly why scientists conclude that the universe and the Earth are billions of years old.  One of my favorite quotes, which may not make sense until you read it, is, "We are literally made of earthdust; and earthdust is stardust."


    OldEarth.org is a website by a geologist who nearly lost his faith when he started working in the petroleum industry and found that the earth's geology didn't match up with the young earth creationism he'd been taught.  He doesn't address evolution, but he does have free curricula on dinosaurs and historical geology.


    If you'd like a more detailed, downloadable guide (free) to these and other resources, you can find me at teachingscienceandfaith.net.  I'm hoping eventually to start a blog, but for now there's just one page where you can download a printable guide.


    Blessings to you in your search for satisfying answers,




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