Middle School Science Curriculum?

(Christopher Thacker) #1

I am a Catholic homeschooling parent. My oldest is about to begin 6th grade, and we are looking for a good middle school science curriculum. Many of the Christian programs we have found are expressly and aggressively young earth creationist. Do you know if any sound curricula that are both supportive of the approach to understanding evolution in the light of faith?

(Christy Hemphill) #2

Kolbe is Catholic and not young earth as I understand it, though I’m not sure how deeply they delve into evolution before high school. They use mainstream science textbooks.

I used CPO Life Science and added the “approach to understanding evolution in light of faith” on my own.

We also enjoyed this book, which is geared to middle school: https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/new-book-for-middle-school-students-science-geek-sam-and-his-secret-logbook

(Simone) #3

We also use CPO science for middle school. It’s the best I’ve found. I’ve also begun adding some Charlotte Mason / Waldorf style nature and art notebooks alongside it, so for example on one side my child will draw a diagram from the textbook in their own artistic style, and on the opposite side they can write a few notes (narrations) or vocabulary words. I don’t think there exists a curricula that will approach science in a pro-evolution way and also in the light of faith. There is certainly a need for something like that.

(Christy Hemphill) #4

The reason there isn’t one is because EC doesn’t propose a different take on the science. So there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to science textbooks. The reason YEC folks need to write their own textbooks is because they are making up their own science and editing out a good deal of consensus science.

For EC parents it comes down to teaching kids how to approach the Bible and its interpretation in a way that doesn’t set up an inherent conflict between scientific claims and theological claims. But that kind of thing fits more under a Bible class than a biology class. BioLogos is developing a worldview supplement to use with intro to biology in high school. I’ll keep everyone posted on when it becomes available.

(Simone) #5

Oh that is amazing to hear. I can’t wait for it to be available. There very much needs to be more for Bible/worldview from an EC standpoint. I myself am struggling, big time. With my faith and with how to teach my kids doctrine. There are some resources, but it’s still not quite enough… most of what’s available is too complicated or not the right format. I’ve been going through all of John Walton’s books but many of them go over the head of my friends/family and it’s hard to explain things to them. Things I don’t even fully understand myself, to be honest. It seems like every time I figure something out, there are two more obstacles in it’s place and just more questions. Being raised YEC I now find myself second guessing everything I thought I knew and understood about doctrine. One of our friends lost their young baby suddenly this week and they are Christians (I know most everyone at that church is YEC). They are so firm in their beliefs and on heaven and how things work, I wish I had that same assurance now but I’m just not sure about everything anymore. I am finding myself overwhelmed with grief and little hope. My faith used to be so strong and now I just don’t know for sure about a lot of it. I believe there are good answers out there, I’m clinging to that. I am trying to understand things. I could go on and on. Glad for BioLogos. I almost feel like there should be rehab for ex-YEC’ers or something. It has been quite a rollercoaster for both my head and heart so far.

(Christy Hemphill) #6

Praying for you. Hope is hard to cling to sometimes, for sure.

Pete Enns and Rachel Held Evans have a lot of good stuff on their websites for people reconstructing their deconstructed faith. It’s not for everyone, but it helps some people a lot. https://peteenns.com/


I would agree with you about the “rehab” thing. It can be so hard to figure everything out, especially when friends and family all around are still strongly YEC. It’s also hard to know which things I even need to figure out, and which I can just put on the back burner for now, and decide I’ll look more into them at a better time. I want to teach my kids correctly, but I also don’t want to overcorrect by being just as adamant against YEC as my upbringing was against evolution. It seems like YEC and related teachings encouraged simple answers for everything. We all do need something for our faith to cling to, but I don’t think it has to be our answers. Anyway, I’ll keep you in my prayers too. Hang in there – it’s not easy. I’ve been asking myself what it means for Jesus to be the foundation of my faith now, but it seems to be a long and involved question.

(Simone) #8

I will check it out. I’ve read some of Pete Enn’s books and while I found them very interesting, some of the stuff has actually made things harder on me. Created obstacles in places where there weren’t any before and left me with more unanswered questions.

(Simone) #9

I have one very profound experience from years ago that felt like rock bottom at the time but now is my one very strong faith experience I have no other explanation for. What happened in my life then can’t be explained away with psychology or as a coincidence. It had to have been divine intervention. I’m clinging to that, I hope to have more to cling to soon. You make some very good points. You are right, YEC had simple answers. Now I don’t have those easy answers, and I don’t know what to tell my kids because I myself don’t know. I have this burden of teaching them the right thing, and I just don’t know what the right thing is anymore. I don’t know what to tell them about prayer, about heaven, our purpose on earth. I don’t know what to say. Life is moving along too quickly, it just feels like so much pressure… still I’m hanging in there.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

Tell them that. Also tell them what you do know … that while we don’t have answers to all the things we would like to know, we trust in the one who does have all that in hand for us, and who can be seen in the life of Christ. That is what (‘who’ rather) all Christian believers have in common. Our true and only cornerstone is not what we believe about Genesis or science or all our own clever, intelligent (maybe even sometimes right) opinions about life and the bible, but in Christ’s love for us and saving work on our behalf. To know Christ, and him crucified, is really all you need to cling to – whether YEC, EC, or whatever. Everything else is just the details. I repeat this not just for you, but for my own self as well, as I need to be recalled back to my first love quite often.

[The song “Lofty Words” by Bryan Suderman (itinerant preacher and guitarist from Ontario) is based on 1 Corinthians 2, and he sings it in that same spirit that Paul speaks of in that chapter. It really is quite something to hear and very poignant on the guitar, but I’ll have to content myself with linking to the lyrics here. Read them, but then also read 1 Cor. 2. I think we often don’t appreciate the significance of what Paul is saying there. Bryan’s CDs can be purchased at his site smalltallministries.com but I got to hear him in person. --a great subject for another day. But this particular song (titled “lofty words”) is what I had in mind as I wrote what I did above.]

(Simone) #11

Thank you. I guess one of the big things I’ve been struggling with, is how it all started in the first place. YEC has simple answers… Adam, Eden, sin, Jesus. It makes sense. It’s linear, everything fits together. Now with EC, there are much more complicated approaches to sin and therefore Jesus as well. I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around it. Also if the story doesn’t really start with Genesis 1, but more realistically with Abraham… so he just heard God talking to him and that was it? That’s a lot harder to believe for some reason. Also despite what I was taught, it’s clear Christianity and morality don’t always go together. There are incredibly moral and upright people who are not Christians. Then all the psychological explanations for behaviour and experiences… sorry these thoughts aren’t very cohesive, but this is what I’'m struggling with. If some of you have prayed for me, just wanted to say last night after I posted some of these things I had a moment where I felt God’s presence again. It’s been a long time since I felt that. I keep thinking about the verses “Seek him while he may be found”, and “Draw near to him and he will draw near to you”. For many years I’ve been in a frozen state, not sure how to move forward in fear of taking a misstep. The last thing I want to do is turn away my kids from God. I am afraid of making the same mistake as YEC, or that my kids will be influenced by YEC from church groups etc. and then be so confused by the apparent contradictions that they just give it up all together. My kids are incredibly bright and very rational human beings. Contradictions are a huge red flag to them. Both of them have strong scientific minds. This just makes me even more cautious. They are getting to the age where they can see through things. It’s made me so nervous to approach spiritual matters. It was easier when they were younger, but things are changing now. We haven’t gone to church regulary for years and I’ve been hesitant to use the resources I have because I don’t know if the doctrine is right, so they haven’t been exposed to much. Last night I had a talk with my husband about this and I think we just need to go back to the church we used to go to when the kids were toddlers. I think I need to stop trying to have things figured out and just go and trust that God will reveal himself directly to them.

(Phil) #12

I think you are correct about putting it in God’s hands. I will say that the most influential thing you can do for you kids is to live a life of faith. It really does not matter so much what curriculum you teach or even if you are YEC ID RTB or EC, as kids will see through it if your life does match your teaching. That does not mean you don’t have doubts or questions, but you continue to be faithful despite the doubts.

(Christy Hemphill) #13

This is beautifully expressed and something I have to recommit myself to all the time. God’s grace is big. It meets us in the middle of all our inadequacies as parents and as followers of Christ. But it is so hard to keep falling back on it when we can always imagine there is something else out there that would be so much more solid or comfortable or safe.

(Christy Hemphill) #14

If Peter Enns isn’t your cup of tea, you could try Philip Yancey. He lands in a more conservative place and personally, I find him more edifying. He also comes out of a fundamentalist/conservative evangelical background but doesn’t leave it all behind, just has a more grace tempered, gray-infused instead of all black and white, view. Disappointment with God is a great book.

(Simone) #15

Thank you, I actually just bought one of Phillip Yancey’s books… I think it was called “What good is God”. I don’t have ill feelings towards the faith, I’m just looking for clarity and wanting to understand doctrine. Despite growing up in a Christian environment, for some reason the importance on teaching doctrine seemed lost on just about everyone around me who was in a leadership position, including my parents. I just got another theology book by Alister McGrath, he’s one of my favourite authors so far on the topic.

(Simone) #16

I agree with you and see what you are saying. I think I’m scared to focus on the faith aspect as much, because of how I was raised. You see my mother seems to equate just piousness with Christianity and she is very low IQ… most of her “faith” seems more like superstition to me. My dad is an addict, violent and psychopathic and had been that way already through most of my childhood. So it’s not like I have the best role models when it comes to figuring out how to parent in a Christian way… my husband doesn’t either, so we often feel a bit lost when it comes to knowing what to do and how far our responsibilities go as far as our children’s faith journeys go. We really don’t want to screw this up, but at the same time I know God’s grace is sufficient and He will guide our kids too.