In light of the symposium this weekend, I have been thinking about the question of whether Christian educators (including homeschoolers) should use or avoid secular biology textbooks at the high school level. Here are 5 reasons why I think (my opinion) they should use standard textbooks:
1. The University of CA system has already questioned whether the science textbooks published by Bob Jones and A Beka contain inaccurate science and don't expose students to enough information about evolution. They are threatening not to grant credit to those students who have used these textbooks in their high school science classes. Using a secular text by-passes this problem. And to be perfectly honest, I agree with the UC system's concerns about BJUP and A Beka.
2. Students are required to know a certain amount of evolution in the standardized tests. Using a secular text solves this problem.
3. At some point, students are going to leave the safety of their Christian "bubble" and go out into the world. If they attend a secular university, and possibly even a Christian one, they will be confronted with evolution. And chances are, it won't be a friendly confrontation. How will they respond? Using a secular textbook in high school will expose students to the standard arguments for evolution ahead of time. Isn't it better to help young people think through thorny issues before they leave home than do damage control after the fact?
4. I think it sends an unproductive message to Christian young people when we act like evolution, or people who believe in evolution, are an enemy to be conquered. The fact is, there are perfectly devout Christians who hold to thesitic (God-directed) evolution. And God loves scientists just as much as he loves everyone else. But Christians don't always act very graciously toward the scientific community.
5. Students in general need to be taught more evolution, not less. They need to really understand the arguments - on both sides - and make up their own minds on the matter. Isn't the development of critical thinking skills part of what science is all about? We already expect teenagers to be able to make all kinds of complex decisions about abortion, sex, drug use, and religion. Surely, we shouldn't shy away from discussing the complexities of evolution with them as well.