Christian educators’ choices are expanding when it comes to science curricula with the recent release of The Crossroads of Science and Faith: Astronomy through a Christian Worldview.
This high school level text for homeschool or Christian school presents an ancient view of our universe and is the product of a collaborative effort between a professor of science education, a research scientist in planetary science, and a data analyst for NASA. The book succeeds in bringing much more than great astronomy to its students. Here are a couple of the top value-added components I’m particularly excited about.
Covers much more than astronomy
This is an astronomy text, but interestingly, the first five chapters (Part I - over 100 pages) of the text are devoted to discussing broader science and faith topics such as: what is a worldview, scientific and religious searches for truth, avoiding a conflict mentality when students view faith and science, and how to use appropriate tools of logic in interactions with science and faith topics. Homework assignments allow students to interact with claims from numerous modern day thinkers including philosophers, theologians, and scientists. The authors encourage students to cover this material alongside of covering the astronomy material in Part II of the text but I could also see this material as a useful counterpart to other science curricula a student might be covering like biology, chemistry, or physics.
The authors also incorporate more opportunities to interact with science and faith issues within the astronomy content itself. For example, in the chapter on the history of astronomy, we get to read about civilizations’ early explanations for the activity of “the heavens” and the work of those like Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. At the end of the chapter, we find homework “exercises” as well as a separate “science and faith” section of questions directed at areas of overlap between the science that was just covered and Biblical faith.
These extra exercises do a good job of encouraging students to process what they’ve just learned in terms of their own thinking and commitments as Christians. For example, here’s one of their “science and faith” questions at the end of the chapter: “Do you find it interesting that today, even though we Christians see creation as the handiwork of a perfect God, that nobody gets caught up with the idea that perfection of the heavens has to involve spheres, perfect symmetry, and uniform motion [which is what people previously thought]? What does that teach us?” Questions like this can help students put current issues into perspective because they see how the church historically faced similar questions.
Includes interviews with working Christian astronomers
Another thing that sets this text apart are the numerous interviews they include of Christians working in astronomical sciences. These personal stories shed light on the challenges these scientists can sometimes face in their workaday lives. Students also see examples of committed believers engaged in scientific work as a way to honor God through their vocations. Astronomer Alex Storrs was asked, “Have you ever felt tension between your faith and science?” He answered, “...there is tension, but I feel that is largely imposed from the outside. The more I study both science and religion the more I come to understand how they support each other. I believe the main cause of this tension is Christians who don’t understand science. I have found the more I study science the deeper my faith becomes.”
Would BioLogos be in agreement with everything that’s presented here? Not necessarily. When it comes to refuting atheistic claims, the authors tend to rely heavily on Christian organizations that don’t uphold evolutionary science. But they are to be commended for their addition to the Christian curricula landscape.
At BioLogos, we look forward to highlighting more new curricula as they become available and to partner with new projects being developed so that Christians in the educational community have increased options for materials that uphold rigorous science.