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Dinosaurs, The Devil,

and Deception

Biblical Methods of Teaching Science

For Christian Home Educators

by

Earl & Diane Rodd





In this pamphlet, we look at the basis of science as the study of God's Creation. We seek to develop a Biblical way for home educators to approach the subject of science. Finally, we provide practical information on performing lab science at home including information on where supplies can be obtained.




Dinosaurs, the Devil, and Deception

Biblical Methods of Teaching Science

For Christian Home Educators


Families Honoring Christ
Earl & Diane Rodd 6044 Pine Creek St. N.W. North Canton, OH 44720

Phone: (330) 305-9318

4th edition - December 1994

Permission is granted to copy this article for personal sharing
but not for sale or other commercial purposes.

FHC is an Ohio based ministry providing encouragement
and fellowship to Christian parents who are training their children at home.

Overview



Historically, scientists have sought to know more about the world in which they live. Scientists who know the Lord Jesus have the advantage of knowing the Creator and thus start in their search with proper foundations and assumptions. Furthermore they can pray and ask for wisdom as commanded in James. In this pamphlet, we seek to develop a Christian approach to science. The first part of the pamphlet, "Dinosaurs, the Devil and Deception" addresses the necessity of knowing the Creator. The second part, "Biblical Methods - Scientific Research" addresses the development of a Biblical Method of Education. The third section presents some practical information on lab science at home.

Before turning to "Dinosaurs, the Devil, and Deception", we will begin with a testimony from scientists of the 19th century. The statement below, entitled "The Declaration of Eight Hundred Scientists of Great Britain" is taken from Stephen Northrup's book A Cloud of Witnesses (published by American Heritage Ministries, now called Mantle Ministries). The original of the declaration is in the Bodelian Library in Oxford (or rather it was when the book was published about 1900). We suggest coming back to read this declaration again after reading the remainder of this pamphlet. Read the declaration several times to allow the impact and wisdom to penetrate your thinking.

We, the undersigned, Students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researches into scientific truth are perverted by some in our own times into occasion for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God's Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ. We are not forgetful that Physical Science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly; and we confidently believe that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular. We can not but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ. We believe that it is the duty of every Scientific Student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the Statements of Scripture wrong; rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree.

We believe that we are now seeing the time when "the two records are seen to agree" with the work of various creation scientists in the past 20 years.

Dinosaurs, the Devil and Deception

Most parents who are training their children at home have experienced earth-shaking changes in the way they think about education. Most of us grew up in public schools or private schools, and never even thought about another way for our children to be trained until one day...

Having made the decision to train our children at home, we next faced decisions about what to teach them and how teach them. The easy (or at least obvious) part of the answers to these questions came from studying different curriculum materials available and talking to more experienced (even if only by a few months) home schooling parents about what books and instructional methods they used and how they arranged their home school schedules.

There is, however, another very important part of the answer to the questions, "What do we teach?" and "How do we teach it?" For many home schooling parents, this part of the answer may become a more earth-shaking change in their thinking and living patterns than the decision to train their children at home! In simplest terms, the answers to the "what and how" questions are:

What?
Every subject starting with the rock foundation of absolute (God's) Truth.
How?
Use of Christian curriculum materials and incorporation of sound instruction into practical daily life and learning to talk with our children about principles of living, God's view of what is happening in the world around us and their own thoughts and emotions.

We will use one Biblical doctrine as an example to illustrate this answer to the "what and how" question. The doctrine we will use is the doctrine of God as Creator - thus the first part of our title, "dinosaurs". We use this example for several reasons:

  1. It is a foundational doctrine. Often in the Bible, God himself is identified by the phrase "Creator of heaven and earth" to distinguish Him from the false gods of pagan peoples. For example,

    Acts 14:14
    14. But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out
    15. and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.

    Revelation 14:7
    7. and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters."

    To see the extent of this identification of God a the Creator, study II Kings 19 :13, II Chronicles 2:12, Psalms 121:2, 124:8, 134:3, 146:6, Isaiah 37 :16, 45 :18, Jeremiah 10 :12, 32 :17, 51 :15, and Acts 17 :24.

  2. It effects many subject areas.
  3. It is a doctrine with which our culture is in violent conflict.

Our culture (newspapers, schools, entertainment, TV news etc.) is extremely opposed to the idea of creation. Every issue of National Geographic contains probably hundreds of statements based on the assumptions of evolution and a godless history of the universe. Every major tax supported museum contains hundreds of displays pronouncing evolutionary assumptions. Most history books details the Scopes "monkey" trials.

In contrast, National Geographic never published a major retraction of a story on a "stone age" tribe in the Philippines which was later exposed (and admitted) to be a hoax. All pictures in the article were staged. Local people were paid to have their pictures taken half naked in "stone age" dress. Details of the supposed "stone age" culture were fabricated to fit the expectations of evolutionary thinkers like the editors of National Geographic . The story was published in the August 1972 issue of National Geographic . The hoax was uncovered in April of 1986. Yet, what library has removed the article from its shelves where an unsuspecting reader will read the article and accept it as fact.

What museum has displays showing how the Grand Canyon was formed in days or weeks, not millions of years? The history books don't bother to mention that the primary evidence provided at the Scopes trial for evolution, so called Nebraska man, was later shown to be the tooth of an extinct kind of pig! This one (only one!) tooth claimed to prove the existence of a creature not quite evolved into a modern man.

In a short article, it is impossible to adequately explain the pervasiveness of the lie of evolution. We recommend further study and provide suggested resources at the end of this article.

Does it all matter? The deception which the devil would like Christians to accept is that a OK Christian can accept evolution and all that goes with it and not suffer any intellectual or spiritual harm. This deception wants to take men down the path which ultimately says that:

  1. The creation story is a myth contradicted by science.
  2. Therefore it is obvious that the Bible is not really a literal book about historical events which happened.
  3. Therefore the strange stories of the Old Testament are just fables, not true events.
  4. Therefore the miracles of the New Testament did not really happen.
  5. And finally, the story about Jesus on the cross is just a story.
Thus we have the plan of the devil to steal salvation from men and worship from Jesus!

The very basic idea of evolution contradicts the foundations of Christianity. Evolution depends upon the process of natural selection in order to favor certain mutations. However, natural selection depends upon death (death of the less fit and survival of the more fit). However, the Bible teaches that death did not come to the world until sin came. Sin did not come until after Adam was here. This means that in order for any creatures to have evolved prior to Adam, death had to be present before sin. This means that the basic foundational doctrine of sin (and therefore salvation as taught in the New Testament) is inconsistent with the evolutionary view that men evolved from other animals.

The doctrine of creation impacts many subject areas. For example, let us look at the scientific and ethical questions surrounding the widespread practice of abortion to eliminate undesirable humans from our society. Humanistic logic (i.e. the devil's logic) goes as follows:

  1. All life evolved from nothing by chance over millions of years.
  2. Therefore man is on his own in the universe and must determine his own destiny.
  3. Man is just another animal not in nature different from a mosquito.
  4. Therefore, it makes sense to cull the race via abortion in order to "enhance" the living standards of the survivors.
  5. There is no "life" after death so advancing life on earth is best for mankind.
Similar logic can be followed to justify (and even mandate) euthanasia or other organized killing (e.g. Hitler's attack on the Jews).

However, evolutionists are not consistent when they won't allow certain species to go extinct. They say that man must intervene to save those species which are not surviving. A consistent evolutionist would believe that the species would simply evolve again, or that a superior species would evolve, if man did not intervene. Furthermore, to be consistent, an evolutionist must see man as just another animal in the scheme of natural selection who does his part to stamp out inferior creatures.

Even engineering is affected by our view of foundational absolute truth. An example is the engineering of the moon lander used during the Apollo program to put American astronauts on the moon. Because of the prevailing belief that the world (earth and moon) were billions of years old, scientists measured the rate of fall of dust particles from space to the earth and calculated that the moon's surface should be covered with several feet of dust or more. This lead to great expense in building large pods on the feet of the moon lander to try to avoid sinking into this thick layer of dust. In fact, the expected thick layer of dust was one of the greatest concerns of the engineers and scientists in the Apollo program. In the end, we found only a couple of inches of dust. This is exactly what what would be expected if the moon and earth are about 6000 years old which is the age we get if a very literal interpretation of the events of the Bible is accepted.

Another recent example comes from Creation Magazine . An Australian scientist who has specialized in opal geology has researched how opals might have formed. This is important because if geologists can understand how the opals form, then they know in what sorts of rock formations they can expect to find opals. To date, no theories had produced any results, because all theories were based upon processes in which opals formed over millions of years. The Australian scientist believes in a recent creation, as taught in the Bible and used that as his starting point in looking for methods by which opals form. After years of experimentation, he has demonstrated in his laboratory a process by which opals form in weeks or months, not millions of years. What other discoveries may our children uncover because they begin with the right premises derived from God's absolute Truth.

The major discoveries which have been the basis of our technological age (e.g. electrical equipment, electronics, machinery) were made by men who believed that the universe was ruled by simple, orderly laws because they believed in the Divine Creator. Even though we are all quite accustomed to expecting all areas of the physical universe to unfailingly adhere to the laws of science, we need to pause to consider that such order is mandated only by the mind of God. A world evolved by chance gives no such expectations. For example, certain laws govern the behavior of chemicals regardless of what the chemicals are, or where they are mined. The same laws affecting the motion of cars determine the paths of planets. Furthermore, the scientific laws are consistent - they do not change from one day to the next.

In order to teach our children from a Biblical foundation, parents must first of all understand the Bible and its application to all walks of life. For many parents, this means a dramatic shift in time spent from sports, TV or the newspaper to the Bible and Christian fellowship in order to gain instruction from other Christians. Very few of us were raised with solid training in how to view our world from God's point of view. Therefore, nearly all of us need a radical retraining of our minds. God fulfills His promise of the New Covenant to write His laws on our hearts as we seek Him and His truth!

Hebrews 10:16
16. "This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And upon their mind I will write them,"

The Bible shows us that it is what we have in our heart which we pass on to our children,

Deuteronomy 11:18
18. "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
19. "And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.

As we meditate on this Scripture and on Deuteronomy 4 :6-7, we see that we must first have God's Word in our own heart before we can teach "when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road".

If we, as parents, have both a knowledge of foundational truths of the Bible and the skill to apply this truth to the world and events around us, our next step is to train our children in the same truths and skills. This cannot be done by simply tacking an occasional Bible verse on the end of a science lesson! There are three basic areas of learning for our children.

Academic.
Formal learning such as English, history, math and science can be given a better foundation by using curriculum materials which have strong Christian content integrated into the studies. Most home schooling families choose Christian texts. Of the three areas of learning, this one usually has the best Christian content.
Other "book" learning.
This area includes recreational reading, magazines, newspapers, library books, the encyclopedia etc. Parents often allow this kind of "book" learning to act as a negative effect on the Christian training of their children. Children need to be taught how to judge what they read in an encyclopedia (for example, how to identify examples of evolutionary assumptions, see note below) or other books. Parents need to limit the amount of non-Christian (usually anti-Christian) material their children read. Most of what is in the public library is very worldly. One important thing which parents can do is to build a good library of books at home. This is a radical idea for many families simply because they did not grow up in a home in which books were often purchased! However, for a very modest cost, a family can build a library of good books available from Christian publishers including biography, fiction, science from a creationist point of view etc. Even a dictionary can be a help - the recently republished original Noah Webster (1828) dictionary provides very crisp definitions with a Christian world-view along with a superb section on the development of our American English language. Until an enterprising Christian (one of our children?) compiles an encyclopedia, we must rely on non-Christian books for such general knowledge. Still, with such a reference in the home, parents can far more readily train their children in the skill of discernment.

Some parents complain that they cannot afford to buy many books other than basic texts. In some cases, families can greatly multiply their library by sharing with other home-schooling families. Tragically, sometimes parents who don't think they can afford to spend several hundred dollars on books have homes with hundreds of dollars worth of video tapes and electronic games! In this case, all that is needed is not more money, but a change of priorities. For some families, the task is to educate other family members concerning the value of giving children books (or scientific equipment) as gifts instead of toys.
Note: In one recent look in the Encyclopedia Britannica, we studied two different articles in different sections which dealt with the rate at which Niagra falls recedes due to erosion. Apparently due to the authors' zeal to avoid the reality that the true evidence is that the age of the falls is very consistent with a young (i.e. not millions or billions of years old), earth, the articles gave contradictory information on the rate of recession of the falls and one article contained a simple arithmetic error in order to come up with an old age! Our children need to know that "experts" are fools in God's eyes when they deny the Truth, and say there is no God (Psalm 49).

Practical skills.
The third area of learning is practical living skills. Most parents readily recognize such skills as cooking, home repairs, gardening or sewing in this type of learning, but we very easily fail to realize that our children learn far more practical skills than these such as economics (how to we manage our money), government (by how we react to the news) or ethics. If we, as parents, fail to even talk about such matters with our children, then they will still learn some view of these skills. If we don't teach home budget management, then they will be taught by advertisements which persistently teach "get it now, pay later". If we don't teach a Biblical view of government, then they will be taught by the popular press and the babble of deceitful politicians and the thoughts of their equally uninformed peers. If we don't teach the value of integrity, then they will be taught countless examples in the world where it can appear that lying and deceit are the way to success.

We could examine many other doctrines and similarly follow their effects upon what we teach our children. A Biblical understanding of the nature of man teaches us an entirely different view of psychology than that based upon the atheism of Freud. The contrast between the truths of God's Word and the common teachings of our culture in this area are is as dramatic and far reaching as the doctrine of creation. In fact, the contrast is precisely that of our culture and the doctrine of creation because modern psychology, and even medicine, are based upon the assumption that man is a mere animal here by chance whose physical drives have evolved over the ages. The Christian knows that man was created in the image of God and for a purpose by God Almighty!

A Biblical understanding of the purpose and nature of government shows us how to teach government and how to analyze current political issues. A Biblical understanding of money and economics shows us how to teach economics and how to run our day to day lives as well as the economic policy of the nation.

However, no amount of knowledge on the part of parents will allow us to fulfill our Biblical call to disciple our children if we do not pass on our knowledge and skills in using that knowledge to our children in every aspect of our daily living.


Note: Recommended resources for a beginning study of creation.
  1. Creation magazine. This is a quarterly magazine covering a wide variety of topics. In our household, it is read cover to cover by every family member! It includes a special section for young children. While anyone can read all articles, some provide significant instruction in science. In Australia write Creation Ex Nihilo , PO Box 302, Sunnybank, Qld. 4109. In the USA, write to, Creation Science Ministries, PO Box 6330, Florence, KY 41022-9937.
  2. The Lie by Ken Ham. This book details the importance of the doctrine of creation.

    . The Genesis Solution by Ken Ham & Paul Taylor. This book, easy to read and understand, shows the Biblical foundations whose erosion has led to family turmoil, immorality, homosexuality etc. This book is easy to use on a 7th grade level as a foundational course in apologetics and ethics. The book is a Christian answer to values clarification which will enable our children to adequately refute the lies and deceptions that many of their non-Christian peers may espouse.

    A number of excellent children's books are available from ICR. These books build on children's keen curiosity about ancient creatures to give sound instruction in honest scientific pursuit.

    In Australia write Creation Ex Nihilo , PO Box 302, Sunnybank, Qld. 4109. In the USA, Write to ICR (Institute for Creation Research) at PO Box 1606, El Cajon, CA 92022.

  3. Man's Origin, Man's Destiny by A.E. Wilder-Smith. This is a substantial book by a leading scientist of our time. This book is a very powerful book for readers with a good knowledge of chemistry and thermodynamics.
  4. Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation by Dennis Petersen. This book is a compilation of lecture notes and illustrations. It covers a wide scope of information. The presentation format makes for easy and exciting reading for the entire family. It covers the basics of creation, various theories of the history of the earth, the evidence for the age of the earth and the evidence that men in former times were indeed intelligent humans (contradicting the evolutionary lie that men are evolving into beings of superior intelligence and moral character.)

    In Australia, write to Creation Magazine in Queensland. In the USA, order from Christian Equippers International, PO Box 16100, South Lake Tahoe, CA 95706.

Biblical Methods - Scientific Research

This brief article is another example of a Biblical method of instruction. Before describing the Biblical method, readers should know that in the available research on home education, home educated students seem to do very well in science. Research to date does not offer any explanation. We have two theories (only theories) which are relevant to Biblical method.

  1. Most home educated students are in Christian families and are learning science starting from the foundation of God as Creator rather than depending upon the false god of evolution. God intends science as an orderly study of what He has made whereas students subjected to the lies of evolution are distracted from true science thus destroying their interest and accomplishment.
  2. Students educated at home perform far more experimentation than students learning in an institutional setting. Even though statist educators try to tell us about the need for expensive school science labs, the truth is that students in most schools spend very little time in the lab, and most of that time is consumed following rote directions with no time for free experimentation. Students at home, often using only commonly available materials, have time to extend written experiments. Furthermore, they engage in a great deal of experimentation outside any formal science curriculum due to the richness of the home environment versus the sterile school environment.

    For example, a school bound student studying plants in biology lab may have one lab session with one kind of flower. The home educated student (with planning for the correct season of the year), having read in his book about how plants are structured, can go outside and examine many, many flowers. He gains the habit of applying his knowledge and using investigative methods in the world around him.

The Biblical method we describe below applies to making new scientific discoveries. We need to be careful not to relegate scientific research to university and commercial laboratories. To a child who does not yet know many scientific principles, much of his learning is really making discoveries which are new to him. Also, we want to teach our children the principle of turning to the Lord for wisdom. Who knows - perhaps the Lord will choose one of our children to find breakthroughs leading to important changes in energy production, transportation, agriculture or medicine.

The Biblical method for scientific research comes from two passages of the Bible . The first is Jeremiah 33 :2-3 which says:

Jeremiah 33:2
2. "Thus says the Lord who made {the earth,} the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name,
3. 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

and the second is the 38th chapter of Job. We encourage readers to read the entire chapter - several versus are printed below.

Job 38:4
4. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell {Me,} if you have understanding,
5. Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?
6. "On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone,
7. When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8. "Or {who} enclosed the sea with doors, When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
9. When I made a cloud its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band,
10. And I placed boundaries on it, And I set a bolt and doors,
11. And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop'?

The passage in Jeremiah clearly tells the scientist that it is the Lord who made the earth, and that the way to find out things "which you do not know" is to call to the Lord! A child with an inquiring mind would be led to discuss his questions with God and develop a "listening" ear for God's wisdom.

Job 38 is God's answer to the discourses of Job and his so-called friends. God comes down and informs Job that He (God) is the one with answers. He demonstrates this by the series of questions reminding Job that the Lord God is the one who knows how He made the entire creation, not man!

We have read biographies (e.g. Sower series published by Mott Media) of many scientists and have been impressed with how the faith of a man affects his attitude towards science. It is exciting to read how men have persisted for a lifetime with faith that there is order to be discovered because God is a God of order.

While some areas of technology have advanced rapidly in our day (especially electronics technology), new basic discoveries on a par with electricity, the airplane or the role of germs in disease have stalled. Could this stagnation arise from atheistic scientists who believe that the road to new discoveries is in the use of aborted babies for "scientific" research? God is the God of the living. His wisdom is not available where His principle of abundant life is not sanctioned and protected. We pray that the Lord will give wisdom to His children as they mature and call on His name. Our job as Christian parents is to train our children to know the One who has created the world and who holds all of the answers. Throughout history, scientists have put in years of hard work to unlock mysteries of God's Creation, but those who knew the Lord pressed on in confidence that God would show them keys to His world.

Examples

This section lists several examples which demonstrate this Biblical method.

Isaac Newton and Voltaire

Isaac Newton, noted for his work with the laws of gravity and one inventor of the calculus, was a devoted Christian. In his consideration of the following Scripture,

Daniel 12:4
4. "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."

Newton said,

I honestly think that some day as we come to the close of time and when Christ comes back, we will see knowledge expand at a tremendous rate. ... I think we will see men travel at rapid rates of speed.

At that time, speeds of 30 or 40 miles per hour were considered "rapid". To us today, we can clearly see Newton as a man of God who sought the wisdom of God and looked to the Creator as the source of new discoveries and knowledge. We know that Newton made many significant discoveries himself.

In contrast, the famous anti-Christian skeptic, Voltaire, said of Newton,

See what a fool Christianity makes of an otherwise brilliant man such as Isaac Newton. Does he not know that if a man traveled at forty miles an hour he would suffocate and his heart would stop?

Just as we observe today, the man who assumes that there is no God cuts himself off from true wisdom and becomes the fool.

James Burke show "2050"

We saw a program on US public television about the history and future of "global warming." We did not see the beginning but the title was either "2050" or else it was a regular series about "2050". James Burke was the presenter. The program attempted to convince the audience that because of our continued dependence on fossil fuels, the only hope for the earth to contain the evils of global warming was to establish a world government which would allocate rights to each nation for the amount of carbon dioxide they could put into the atmosphere. While the program was a slick presentation, it was full of bad science and bad morals. From a Christian point of view, a couple of problems stand out and serve to illustrate the theme of this article.

  1. The program contained an underlying assumption that Jesus would not return (or that any religion even exists). There was no understanding that the earth we now know will someday experience a fire so hot the elements will melt (II Peter 3 :9-13).
  2. The program contained an underlying assumption that there would be no new discoveries made which would dramatically alter energy usage. The program dismissed nuclear energy in one sentence. Mr. Burke discussed some use of windmills and solar cells but still assuming current technology. (No mention was made that the reason solar cells are not widely used is that they require more energy to manufacture than they will produce in their lifetime.). The Christian with vision and dependence on his Creator knows that only God holds the answers either with revival, the return of the Lord or with new discoveries.

    Remember that in the 1800s, there were those who predicted dire times when whale oil ran out. Men of greater vision discovered petroleum.

  3. The program assumed that the proposed world government would be the perfect intelligent distributor of "credits" for burning fossil fuels. Can you imagine the government bureaucracy that would be required within a country to distribute the fossil fuel burning "credits" to companies and individual households? Can you imagine the worldwide corruption? The knowledge that central planning has failed miserably in communist countries due to the immorality of man did not seem to affect the thinking of Mr. Burke. The Christian scientist knows that man's sin must be dealt with in order to overcome political/social difficulties.

Carl Sagan's definition of life

In 1974 I attended a lecture by noted pop scientist (and evolutionist) Carl Sagan. His topic was a Mars lander which had recently landed on Mars and taken pictures and run other experiments. Mr. Sagan had worked on defining some experiments, in particular those designed to detect the presence of life on Mars. I asked Mr. Sagan how he would know if something was alive. This is a difficult scientific question - a scientist cannot tell a living seed from a dead one except by planting it and seeing what happens. Mr. Sagan's answer astounded me, "It is alive if it evolves." By this definition, nothing on earth is alive because evolution (development of new species) has never been observed. This answer might be comic except that millions of dollars have been spent on experiments designed by men who do not know how to tell if they found what they were looking for. Perhaps even worse was the lost opportunity to replace those worthless experiments with ones designed by men seeking to know what the Creator would reveal to them about His Creation!

Voyager

When the Voyager spacecraft made its way through the outer planets of the Solar System, amazing discoveries were made about each planet. In fact, science books based upon information prior to Voyager were rendered completely obsolete. However, we see two important lessons when we consider the discoveries associated with the Voyager space craft.

  1. All of information which was shown incorrect by Voyager had previously been confidently presented in textbooks as certainties. Most textbooks, newspapers, and encyclopedias fail to be humble in their presentations of scientific information which is "work in progress", not certainty. This comes from godless arrogance of men who assume that they can fully understand the universe without knowing its Creator.
  2. Most of the reporting of Voyager was sadly lacking in information about what was actually discovered. Reporting continually focused on wild speculation about the "age of the universe" and "how the universe was formed", questions which will certainly not be answered by scientists who don't even know about the Creator. The 6th grade science text published by A Beka contains more information about the actual discoveries made by Voyager than were commonly reported in the press.
How tragic, that one of the truly great missions of discoveries of history was squandered by concentrating on mindless speculation. Rather, this was an opportunity for endless praise of the Creator as each exciting aspect of His Creation was revealed.

Lab Science at Home

Earlier in this article we said that research studies show that home schooled children do well in science. Perhaps one reason for this is that children at home do more practical science because they have access to "lab equipment" (which may be the kitchen) and time and freedom to pursue true experimentation beyond pre-defined experiments.

We encourage parents to take advantage of the excellent resources available for leading children into science experiments. To us, the characteristics important in books of experiments (and of experiments in regular science texts) are:

  1. The experiments work according to the instructions.
  2. The experiments can be done with readily available materials.
  3. The literature explains why the experiments work. This means that there is an explanation of the scientific principles and explanations of the observed phenomena. We have seen children's books with experiments but no explanations.
We have recommended Jane Hoffman's Backyard Scientist books (PO Box 16966, Irvine, CA 92713 USA)to parents in our FHC letters. Also, the "Good Science" program from Creation Research (Institute for Creation Research in USA and Creation Research Foundation in Australia) is designed to develop scientific investigation skills in children.

We recommend the use of books such as those mentioned above in addition to regular science texts for two reasons:

  1. Most regular science texts have a fairly small number of experiments.
  2. Most regular science texts are geared towards a school science lab and often depend on specialized equipment. The principles being taught do not necessarily depend upon that equipment, but because the authors of the book are writing for a school audience, they make use of equipment found in school labs.

We have used books of experiments obtained from normal book stores and educational book stores which did not meet the criteria above - in particular they required materials and equipment not readily available.

Using the principles explained above, let us look at aspects of science at home according to different ages of children.

Very young children.
With very young children (ages 1-7), we encourage parents to have Christian (Creationist) books available for children to read and have read to them. An excellent resource is Discovery Magazine , published by Apologetics Press Inc, 230 Landmark Dr., Montgomery, AL 36117.

We advise parents to avoid secular resources such as Time-Life books and other popular books. These books are filled with evolutionary lies. Our concern is not primarily with our children learning evolution, even though that is a serious concern. Of greater concern is the lost opportunity to learn Godly approaches to His Creation.

We strongly recommend considering various scientific kits as Christmas and birthday presents instead of toys, which are all too often from the entertainment industry. Also, parents can recommend such gifts to grandparents. The suppliers (NASCO and Edmund for example) listed later under high school have many fine scientific "toys" in their catalogs. WARNING: While there are many fine scientific toys in these catalogs, there are also a lot of expensive gimmicks. Gimmicks tend to appeal to with words currently in vogue in school science like "computer" or "environmental". Also, gimmicks are prone to have video or audio tapes rather than actual equipment, machines, or supplies.

Elementary School
With children from 8-13 years old, many science curriculums have excellent experiments (e.g A Beka), many of which can be done at home. The Good Science materials available from ICR can be very helpful.

The greatest weakness of Christian science programs (e.g. A Beka) is that their lab experiments are still based on the assumption of the equipment found in school laboratories. This problem especially occurs at 6th grade and above textbooks. Still, with some creativity, many textbook experiments can be performed. There is a great opportunity for creative work to produce books of experiments which exploit commonly available, inexpensive equipment and chemicals (see Castle Heights Press later in this discussion for one example). The Good Science program (available from the Institute for Creation Research - address earlier in this pamphlet) also attempts to overcome this problem and at the same time concentrate on developing investigative skills, not just demonstrating scientific phenomena. However, in our experience, its experiments can be tedious. Attendance at a "Good Science Workshop" offerred by ICR may instill excitement for their other experiments since in the workshops they perform many experiments which may be difficult to perform at home and which demonstrate very important and exciting principles of creation science.

An excellent outside resource for younger elementary school children is Nature Friend magazine, a monthly 34 page magazine with articles, pictures, and activities (worthwhile but we would not go so far as to call them experiments). It is available from Pilgrim Publishers, 22777 S.R. 119, Goshen, IN 46526.

An excellent outside resource is Bible-Science News from the Bible-Science Association, PO Box 33220, Minneapolis, MN 55433-0220. This is a monthly 20 page magazine for older elementary to junior high age children. It is nearly all words, not pictures, and exciting reading for children interested in science.

There are many other books of experiments for children. Many available in secular bookstores are very weak on explanations. One exception is the set of "Backyard Scientist" books by Jane Hoffman (mentioned earlier) which are available from a number of home school suppliers. These books provide experiments which can be done with readily available materials and equipment and in general provide good explanations. They concentrate on demonstrating scientific phenomena , not on developing investigative techniques.

In our opinion, at this age, it is important to have a variety of resources available. This is more important than selecting a curriculum with a carefully planned scope and sequence - children learn at erratic rates and tend to disrupt the best planned curriculum.

There are sets of equipment and materials available for elementary science. In our view, these are seldom worth the price because so much of the equipment is not needed in a home environment where a kitchen and workshop already contain convenient (or superior) substitutes (e.g. lab tongs costing $10.00 can be replaced by kitchen tongs). For a family just beginning the adventure of home education, such sets may be justifiable because they will use it for several students and with this consideration, the convenience of getting a full set of supplies in one order justifies the cost.

Again for this age, scientific toys are an excellent gift! For example, gyroscopes, telescopes, microscopes, electronic kits, and building kits are excellent.

High School
In our view, the importance of high school laboratories is over-emphasized. Commercial labs have equipment far more sophisticated than high-school labs so children who go on to further study in science and work in labs will still need to learn new procedures and equipment. Also, as noted earlier, home schooled students have far superior opportunities for further investigations outside the confines of rote high school lab experiments.

Nonetheless, for the family who wishes to pursue lab work at home, there are ways to do so. We emphasize that it is not necessary to do every experiment in a lab manual which accompanies a high school science course. Some will require a very expensive piece of equipment used in only one experiment, hardly a wise use of money. Some are simply of no interest.

One way to pursue lab work is to draw on the expertise of a parent who especially enjoys science and pool several families together in order to make more use of expensive equipment and materials.

For those who wish to gather materials, there are several approaches. Comprehensive sets of equipment are available from Christian Light Publications and other suppliers. These sets usually include an elementary set and then additional sets for high school sciences. If you are just beginning with high school science, these kits, while convenient, are expensive because you need to buy the whole set of kits starting with elementary. Unfortunately, the elementary kit contains many items not needed for high school science. Castle Heights Press (see below for address) has a kit for high school chemistry which does not contain excess items not needed for high school level.

Castle Heights Press Inc, 5866 Hunter Rd., Enon, Ohio 45323. Castle Heights has developed lab manuals specifically for home educators. They have written lab manuals for high school level biology and chemistry which are well written. They have done a good job of selecting experiements which teach important principles and which can be done using a modestly priced set of equipment. Even better, they have packaged a set of equipment and chemicals which will allow the reader to perform all of the chemistry experiements. This package sells for less than $200.00. Write to them for more information about this and their other products (including books for younger children). Their lab manual and equipment can be used by parents who have minimal background in lab science.

For a parent knowledgeable in science, equipment and chemicals can be purchased from scientific supply houses. It is not practical to take the supply list from a high school chemistry lab manual (e.g. A Beka) and purchase everything in it. This would be prohibitively expensive and some very expensive equipment and chemicals are little used. With care, many instructive experiments can be prepared.

In following sections, we discuss requirements for different areas of science. Much equipment and supplies can be obtained from scientific supply houses such as:

The requirements for equipment and supplies differs by area of science. Much equipment and many supplies can be used with younger children as well as with high school age science students. Briefly:

Astronomy
The least expensive equipment for astronomy is a good star map to be used in finding the planets and significant stars. Good binoculars (16 power or more) or a telescope are wonderful toys to open up a view of the heavens. With them, you can see the rings of Saturn, the craters on the moon (best seen at half moon, not full moon), and moons of Jupiter. Local department stores and scientific supply houses sell telescopes adequate for seeing the rings of Saturn for $100-200.
Biology
For plant biology, the main equipment needed is a garden (or park) and a forest. For those interested in dissection (not required in order to be educated, but of interest to some children), scientific supply houses sell preserved animals such as worms and frogs.
Chemistry
The cost of equipment and chemicals to perform a variety of chemistry experiments at the high school level can be over $500.00. (Note Castle Heights Press above which can cut the price to $200). However, this will include quantities of chemicals sufficient to run the experiments a number of times. This allows free experimentation by students and makes it possible for several students to use the equipment and chemicals year after year. This is a lot of money, but less than a computer or trip to Disney World.

Often, chemicals can be obtained from hardware stores. For example, acetone is available from any hardware for far less than from a scientific supply house (where you will pay extra as a hazardous material). Propane canisters are available which are the same as used in the portable gas burners supplied by chemistry supply houses. Sulfuric acid is available at some building supply stores as a plumbing drain cleaner - look at the label to see if it is sulfuric acid.

Electronics
An excellent resource for electronics are kits from Radio Shack. They have kits called "60 in one Electronic Project Kit" up to "300 in one". These kits have excellent manuals with them. They provide hours of training and fun learning basic electronics. They are better value than electronic toys or electronic lab gear from scientific supply houses. Note that Radio Shack also has a Physics kit. This kit has a great set of experiments in the book - unfortunately the equipment is of poor quality and most of the projects and experiments do not work .
Physics
Physics lab equipment from scientific supply houses tends to be very expensive. The good news is that physics experiments, more so than chemistry, can be done using household items such as wagons and lumber and items readily available at hardware stores such as pulleys and rope.

For the student interested in performing experiments in optics, the scientific supply houses have a variety of lenses and related supplies including simple kits.

Some basic equipment is necessary which can be used in all sciences and for different ages. For example:

Conclusion

Because the theory of evolution has such a strong hold on science and related areas, many parents must re-educate themselves in creation science to regain their confidence and authority in order to allow true scientific investigation to occur in the home. We pray that this pamphlet is just the beginning of an exciting change in life style as you endeavor to train your children in the fear of the Lord with a humble dependence upon Him.

Footnotes

  1. Unless otherwise noted, All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1988, The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd