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"Learning" from Liars

By Andrea G. Schwartz
April 28, 2009

Many homeschool graduates venture into the world of college and university. For a variety of reasons, they often do not end up in Christian colleges. Finances, distance,or career focus issues send them to secular settings.

A walk through college bookstores reveals that, for the most part, they are religious bookstores thriving because of a monopoly over customers (students) who have to pay outrageous sums for indoctrination materials.

Take, for example, biology texts. One example with nearly 1000 pages “connects the concepts” for its students:

Before the 1800s, most people believed that each species had been created at the beginning of the world, and that modern organisms were essentially unchanged descendants of their ancestors.
… Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle….had ample time during his five-year voyage to reflect on the ideas of [various] authors…. From them collectively, he built a framework that helped support his theory of descent with modification.
One aspect of scientific genius is the power of astute observation – to see what others miss or fail to appreciate. In this area Darwin excelled… [emphasis added]
…The theory of evolution has quite rightly been called the grand unifying theory (GUT) of biology….*

The Bible has this to say about Darwin’s astute observations:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23)

Christian students, rightfully, are dismayed at the prospect of going through science classes forced to “learn” and “spit back” concepts they know are false at their root. So, what should a student do who feels called into a specific profession that requires a college diploma?

First, it is important to view these classes as comparative religion rather than science. As I said to one student, “You wouldn’t take it personally if you were studying Islam and discovered that a Muslim’s faith and practice were different from yours. You would be studying to understand its theology and application. Likewise, you should view a required science course as a religion course in the belief and practices of secular humanism.”

In order to help this student further, I contacted a number of graduates of secular colleges asking their advice, based on their experiences. Here are some of their answers:

From a woman with a BS in Biology who is currently working in veterinary medicine:

Been there and loved it! It just gave me greater ability to counter evolutionary theory. During my courses, my professors were very open about stating that there are areas requiring further study and/or theories that were proving incorrect based upon new research. In essence, they were furthering my knowledge regarding the fallacies of evolution because their theories were not holding valid. Student truly only have to regurgitate what they are being asked for, and use the scientific information to support discussions about Creation. They can always preface their answers with "according to evolutionary theory..." rather than agreeing with the professor or otherwise stating evolution as fact.

Another student who recently completed a masters program in nursing said:

The first advice I would give would be to be scrupulous in doing the homework required. Go above and beyond what is required. Read every assignment and be able to discuss it fully. Never be faulted for incomplete work. That should also take care of any problems with a grade in the class, if the instructor is fair, and it will prepare the student to discuss and refute the material. Most professors just want to have the material repeated back, so students should be prepared to do that.

Then I'd suggest books like Ken Ham's The Lie and Bahnsen's Always Ready. These will suggest key questions to ask the teacher and challenge the material. In addition, students should be studying the Bible so it is fresh in their mind.

Also, remember that God created the world to run on orderly principles -- principles that can be discovered through scientific study. Students should view a biology class as a means to acquire the tools of beginning scientific inquiry and not consider it a total loss. But over all, going to a humanistic school will require self study if one really want to learn anything in that subject.
I faced almost complete opposition philosophically in school and used these techniques to survive. I even received an A + in one class where I completely disagreed with the instructor and told her so. Nicely, of course.

Another student who is currently attending law school suggested:

Think of this as an opportunity to learn the other side. Looking at the class as a way to bolster one’s own position by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the other side might help with the mental hurdle of actually learning the material.

I suggest a student change his frame of mind about the testing situation. Is the test really an attestation of belief or is it a demonstration of knowledge about a particular subject that he has been taught by the professor? If he looks at it as the latter, that might help.

Take advantage of office hours. Go to office hours and talk with the professor. The time to discuss in great depth personal issues about class material is definitely not during class and I would be careful to not use the office hours as a time for debate, but rather use it as a time to learn. A good professor will be open to teaching and answering questions if a student comes in with a genuine desire to learn. Office hours are an appropriate time to discuss things like this. A one-on-one discussion alerts the professor to the fact that this is not just a sassy college kid wanting to talk in front of a class, but rather this is an important issue that the student feels strongly about and wants the professor to know that his personal beliefs differ from the class material.

Another graduate who now works in the dental field had this to offer:

Oh the joys of secular education! It has been a while since my science classes, but I approached it in the following ways:

I maintained a high level of respect for my instructor, regardless of our differences...Meaning, that I never "confronted" her in class or belittled her in any way. There were a few outspoken creationists in the class, but they were annoying and disrespectful, and very poor testimonies to Christianity. I made it a habit to thank instructors after their lectures.

I strove to be the best student that I could, so that the instructor would respect me for my efforts, and consequently, respect my differences of opinion. This is not as much about getting an A or B, but rather, that the teacher notices that the student is doing his best. I would encourage other students to humbly go to the teacher with questions, so that the instructor knows that they truly wants to do better...that they’re not lazy, etc. I made it a point to go to office hours, even when I wasn't struggling, because I became a face to the instructor; it allowed for a relationship, and he knew that I was interested in his class (and in him as a human being too).

If the exam/homework were in essay form (not scantron, where you cannot write on the paper), I would write, "The BOOK says..." etc. I would sometimes write a little something in the margin as well, such as ..."I do not agree with this, however" ...but always in a respectful way.
I used these approaches in my bio class, and because of the respect that my instructor had for me, it opened up doors for deeper conversations...including creation, God, etc. One of our last written assignments was something about evolution, and I chose to go out on a limb, risk my grade, and write my opinion. Again, I maintained a respectful attitude throughout the paper, and I had already established a friendship with my instructor. She ended up giving me an A in the class, despite the paper, and she and I maintained contact even after the class was over.

These suggestions are offered in the hope that those confronted with similar situations can learn from the experiences of others. However, this should never cloud the reality that evolutionary scientists are suppressing the truth of God’s creation more than most other people, in spite of the fact that their profession is about investigation and observation. As Psalm 19:1-3 proclaims:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

God’s call to dominion and the Great Commission is operative in the secular realm. Christians called to battle in this realm need to connect daily with their Savior and make use of Christian mentors who will help them through the morass of these “academic deceptions.” In addition, they would do well to recall daily:

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
(Romans 3:3-4)

* Mader, Biology (McGraw Hill, 2010).


Topics: Education

Andrea G. Schwartz

Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven FamilyThe Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your HouseholdEmpowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom ServiceWoman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected]

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