In March, The Atlantic published an illuminating report by David R. Wheeler on the growing number of homeschooling evangelical Christian parents who are demanding textbooks with real science inside them that they can use to teach their children.
The article was fascinating, and for me, very encouraging. Wheeler profiled Erinn Cameron Warton (also a scientist) and Jen Baird Seurkamp — both evangelical mothers who homeschool and actively avoid using books that reject or attempt to discredit evolutionary theory.
“I nearly choked,” Warton was quoted as saying, recalling a homeschool science textbook that showed Adam and Eve (presumably with their unclothed genitalia hidden behind a strategically rendered bush or hippo) putting a saddle on a dinosaur. “When researching homeschooling curricula, I found that the majority of Christian homeschool textbooks are written from this ridiculous perspective. Once I saw this, I vowed never to use them.”
So Warton, who admitted she gets “a lot of flak” for not using Christian textbooks, was forced to pull together a curriculum of her own. The other mom, Seurkamp, said she utilizes the same science textbooks as public schools: “We want our children to be educated, not sheltered from things we are afraid of them learning.”
The article goes on to discuss a handful of efforts by publishers and other organizations to offer textbooks that present content from an orthodox Christian perspective without twisting or ignoring certain facts of modern science. I encourage everyone to read it.
Here’s the problem: None of my evangelical readers who reject evolution will (read the article, that is). And if they do read it, they probably won’t buy it. We are talking about The Atlantic, after all — the liberal media! “Well, that’s exactly what they would write, isn’t it?” a hypothetical young-earth creationist — who fervently believes most of the world is conspiring against them — might say. “Anything to promote their anti-God, pro-everything-else agenda!”
That’s why I was thrilled to see a very similar piece posted on Christianity Today’s website this morning. Headlined “A New Creation Story,” the article by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is slated to appear in the May issue of one of the most influential media outlets in the evangelical church.
I applaud CT for publishing something I’m certain that at least some of their conservative readers will hate. Like The Atlantic’s piece, Zylstra notes initiatives by the BioLogos Foundation to bring to market new textbooks aimed at homeschoolers and written by college professors who wholeheartedly accept, or are at least open to, the scientific consensus on human origins.
The CT report ends with this:
Sonlight [Curriculum] cofounder John Holzmann believes the books will find a market of homeschooling parents who perhaps aren’t shifting views so much as becoming more polarized and public with their previously hidden positions. “At this point there is more ‘coming out,’ if you will.”
Indeed. Is young-earth creationism’s stranglehold on the American evangelical church finally beginning to weaken? Is the tide finally starting to turn? More and more evidence is suggesting that yes, it is.
And all I can say is — now more than 150 years after a Christian religious leader, John Henry Newman, wrote of Darwin’s theory, “I do not [see] that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings’ is inconsistent with divine design — It is accidental to us, not to God” — it’s about time.