Friday, June 09, 2006

Can We Talk?

For reasons too numerous to mention, my wife Melanie and I are homeschooling our oldest child Marcus. We are using the Sonlight Curriculum which, while unabashedly Christian in slant, does not present revisionist history and mixes historical context with novels from the time, so the child gets the look and feel of what went on. The math curriculum has also been well-regarded. Naturally, though, I was apprehensive about the science curriculum. Imagine my surprise when I read, in the back of the science workbook, the following chapter title: Young and Old Earth Creationists: Can We Even Talk Together. The first few paragraphs are illuminating and, sadly, very true. The author, John Holtzmann, writes:

Over the last few years, it appears that the vast majority of evangelical Christian homeschoolers--and certainly the majority of leaders in the evangelical Christian homeschool movement--have aligned themselves with a particular interpretation of Genesis 1-11. Specifically, they have aligned themselves with what is known as a Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) perspective.

I wrote the following paper because, it seems, the move to a YEC perspective has been so strong that any Bible-believing Christian who dares publicly to raise serious questions about the YEC model risks social ostracism and possible official exclusion from Homeschool groups or events on that ground alone.

Whoa!! Reading this came as quite a shock to me for exactly the reasons he points out. I figured I was going to have to write my own science curriculum for the older years to combat the pervasiveness of the YEC viewpoint. Interestingly, I have never seen the term YEC used by a Christian before. It is almost always used by opponents of this view in a somewhat pejorative fashion.

Holtzmann points out that many Christians view the age of the earth as being important because of the slippery slope argument, but also that the correct interpretation of Genesis 1-11 (called the Primeval History by most theologians because it differs so radically from the rest of scripture) is exceedingly difficult.

He asks the question of whether it is appropriate to use scientific data to interpret the scriptures. He then, seemingly, answers his own question by using only scriptural passages that lend themselves to a possible Old earth viewpoint. I don't always agree with his conclusions and he relies a bit to heavily on Answers in Genesis, which is home to some of the most ardent YECers in the business. But hats off to him for broaching the subject in an open, thought-provoking fashion.

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