Last week, The Atlantic posted a very balanced online article, “Old Earth, Young Minds: Evangelical Homeschoolers Embrace Evolution.” The gist is that homeschooling parents are turning to mainstream science for their children’s science education and doing their best to take care of the theological side of things themselves.
Homeschoolers are not anti-cultural isolationists trying to protect their children from the bad bad world. Well, some are, but by no means all. Families homeschool for a variety of reasons, and many hardly fit the caricature.
They have been a growing market for some time, and the article’s subtitle asks whether religious textbook companies will meet the needs of that market, i.e., to provide science curricula that don’t have pictures of Adam standing next to a dinosaur, but that embrace cosmological, geological, and biological evolution.
The hard part will be taking modern scientific models of origins and bringing them into conversation with the Bible. I say this is the hard part because it will require not simply better scientific education, or more clever ways of grafting science onto familiar theological categories, but some type of significant biblical and theological re-orientation. That is the only way to form a theological and spiritual “base” from which evolution, etc. can be discussed and embraced.
That synthesis won’t happen if one is operating from a theological base that says the Bible, as God’s Word, must provide accurate or reasonably accurate scientific and historical information. At this point, to my knowledge, I am not aware of a Christian science/faith organization that is willing, or sees the need, to engage on that level of theological re-education. The thought is too daunting for Fundamentalism and most of Evangelicalism, and other iterations of Christianity aren’t in the game because they have gotten past that impasse a long time ago.
At the end, the shift for Christians on the more conservative end of the theological spectrum may happen in part because of market forces that lead book publishers to provide resources that attempt to bring Christian thought and scientific integrity to their textbooks.