Posted tagged ‘creation’

Shormann Math is for Everyone

August 6, 2015

A Great Question

We recently received a great question about our new Shormann Algebra 1 course:

Are your courses best for mathy children, or can average students also complete them?

While “mathy” really isn’t a word, anyone with any teaching experience knows what this parent was talking about. Some students just “get” math quicker than others. They’re able to go farther and faster in math than most children their age. So, is Shormann Math mainly for these students, or is it more for students who are gifted in other, “non-mathy” areas?

An Illustration

The best answer is that Shormann Math is for everyone! To help me explain how, first take a look at this photo I shot a few months ago of a Hawaiian green sea turtle. The photo appears at the top of Shormann Algebra 2, Lesson 25. You’ll see what this has to do with answering the parent’s question shortly:

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 8.11.06 PM

Everyone loves sea turtles, right? I mean, do you know anyone who hates sea turtles? I don’t. There are some things in this photo that everyone can relate to, like beauty, design, color, and function, to name a few. There are also things that individuals gifted in certain areas would appreciate that others won’t. Photographers, for example, may be curious about what type of camera was used, resolution, lighting, etc. Everyone might notice how the magnified view of the eye is blurred, and composed of rows and columns of tiny squares. But only someone with a good knowledge of computers and/or digital photography could explain the “why” behind the tiny squares (called pixels).

Connecting Students to Their World and Their Creator

But what if your child is a future computer scientist, engineer, etc., and they just don’t know it yet? What if they, or you, haven’t already drawn the line between “mathy” and “non-mathy?” Well, Shormann Math is for you, too! Because everyone is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28), everyone is designed to be creative like Him, too. But while God can just create by speaking (John 1:1-5), we humans need tools. And mathematics is like a giant treasure chest of tools, waiting to be discovered and put to use.

But the primary focus of Shormann Math is not about math. It’s about relationship. It’s about using math to help a child discover more about God’s Word and His creation, and build their relationship with Christ.

If you study the greatest mathematicians in history, like we do in Shormann Math, you find that all their new mathematical discoveries were connected to their study of Creation. While not all of them acknowledged God, a lot of them did, and in doing so it allowed them to see farther and discover more than any of their predecessors. The rich Christian heritage of modern mathematics is not something to hide in the back of a dark closet, but, like a favorite painting, it should be placed in the right frame, with the right lighting, and set in a prominent place.

In a nutshell, here’s what Shormann Math is about:

Shormann Math is designed to connect students to their world and their Creator by using an incremental approach with continual review to teach 10 major math concepts from a Christian foundation.

But Does it Work?

But does this “incremental approach with continual review” work? Well, the results of our Shormann Algebra 1 beta-test say “yes!” Pioneered by the late John Saxon (1923-1996), his “incremental approach with continual review”  has achieved astounding results. The results of Saxon Math in a traditionally low-performing Dallas public school were highlighted in this 1990 interview on 60 Minutes.

If the 60 Minutes interview doesn’t convince you of the merits of John Saxon’s approach, then maybe this historic quote by President Ronald Reagan will:

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about that new math textbook. It’s by a fellow named John Saxon, that has average I.Q. students scoring above high I.Q. students and has Algebra I students who use this textbook doing better on tests than Algebra II students who use the traditional text…

(Remarks at a White House Reception for the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, July 29, 1983)

Even a former U.S. President saw the merits of a teaching method that could help the average student go farther in mathematics than they ever dreamed.

Scholars describe mathematics as “the language of science.” And what is a good way to learn a new language (or a sport, or an instrument)? Well, you learn some of the basics, practice for a while, and then learn some more. You use an “incremental approach with continual review!” And like a language, sport, or instrument, mathematics is not a passive, textbook-only activity. It’s an active, pencil and paper pursuit. The method is instrumental in making Shormann Math for everyone!

Click here if you want to learn more about Shormann Math, including pricing, sample lectures and homework, a detailed teacher’s guide, and more.

Jesus Christ, the Common Core of all DIVE courses

May 7, 2014

A Brief History of University

Late in the 12th Century, a phenomenon unique to Europe appeared, the university. University is actually a combination of two words, unity and diversity. Originally, universities were schools that owned no real estate, but were instead an association of teachers or students. Although not always theologically or scholarly accurate, what under girded the university was the unification of all subjects by an all-encompassing worldview. Christianity provided the unity that connected the diversity of courses offered.*

In other words, Jesus Christ was at the core of the worldview of original universities! Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, Christianity is no longer at the core of most educational systems. In the United States, the government’s new Common Core program has a godless, purposeless, evolutionary worldview at its core.

Who Interprets the Facts Matters

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), author of Essays on Christian Education, made the wise statement that, in this world, there exists a whole collection of facts. Would you rather have those facts interpreted to your child through a Christian or a non-Christian worldview?

For Christians, the answer should be simple. Jesus Christ is, or should be, the common core of all the subjects we teach our children. To the extent that we are able to, we should try to use curriculum taught from a Christian worldview. But that also doesn’t mean we need to fear books and courses that are taught from a non-Christian, or even anti-Christian worldview. We just need to train our children how to think critically about these things. If we teach them the Truth, they will be more capable of detecting false “philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2:8)

Pray that more Christian families will realize the problems of sending their children day after day to be taught in schools where Jesus Christ is not the common core. Pray that we can find new and creative ways to help those who, for various reasons, it would be extremely difficult or impossible to home school or attend a private Christian school. Pray for Christian families in countries where homeschooling and Christian schooling is illegal, that they will be able to help their children test everything they are learning, holding onto the good (I Thessalonians 5:21).

If you are interested in learning more about DIVE Math and Science courses, where Jesus Christ is the common core, click here.

*Paraphrased from Mathematics, is God Silent?, by James Nickel.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ham, and Nye

February 15, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do chocolate chip cookies have to do with the recent Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate? Well, you’ll see shortly! First though, one conversation the debate stirred up among believers and unbelievers alike relates to differences between what Mr. Ham referred to as observational science and historical science. This is an important distinction, which I think becomes clearer if we refer to the two as scientific research and natural history research. Dr. Mortimer Adler described natural history research in the 1960’s. His ideas have been developed further by Dr. John K. Reed and others, and their efforts help us better understand the limitations of scientific research. More importantly, they help us see the real battle is not “science vs. religion” as some falsely claim, but Christianity vs. naturalism. Naturalism is basically the idea that nature is all there is, and there is no God who created everything.

Papers like this one describing natural history research are helpful, but complex. While thinking about an easier way to explain the differences, I realized cooking might serve as a useful explanatory tool. In what follows, I will use chocolate chip cookie recipes as an analogy to help discern between scientific research, natural history research, and futurology claims.

Scientific research: Like a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, scientific research involves developing a testable, repeatable method that others can follow AND produce similar results. A good recipe produces good cookies for everyone who follows the directions.

Example: The cadmium reduction method is a common procedure used to measure the concentration of NO3 (nitrate) in water. Nitrate is an important nutrient, but can be a pollutant when concentrations are high. If I collected a water sample from a river for nitrate analysis, I should be able to send it to any laboratory in the nation and receive similar results.

Natural History Research: This is like the scientific method in reverse. You have the cookie (the result), but you don’t have the recipe (the method). So, you decide to try and use the cookie to figure out what the recipe is. At present, a Google search for “chocolate chip cookie recipe” yields 49,600 results! Which recipe is the one used to make the batch of cookies shown above? How will you know? Well, you probably won’t know for sure, but through chemical analysis run on your cookie, plus other research including reading historical documents like cook books, you can eliminate a lot of the possible recipes.

Example: Historical documents and eyewitness accounts show Novarupta volcano’s lava dome formed in 1912, about 100 years ago. I had a sample age-dated using the Argon-Argon method, and it showed the lava dome was up to 5.5 million years old! Both methods (historical records, Ar-Ar dating) have the same material evidence, but the massive time differences result because extremely different procedures were used to interpret the data. It is also obvious that, for this example anyways, one interpretive framework, or “recipe” (historical records), is clearly better than the other. They’re not equally valid.

Futurology claims: This is like having an untested chocolate chip cookie recipe. You think it will make good cookies, but you’re not sure yet, especially since your recipe is quite a bit different from some other recipes. Some are more skeptical of your recipe than others.

Example: Confusion over what future climate will look like. Will it be warmer, cooler, or the same? The data show warming in the 80’s and early 90’s, but no warming for 17 years and 5 months now. Nevertheless, media and many scientists continue to paint a grim futuristic story involving catastrophic global warming resulting from carbon dioxide emissions linked to human activity.

The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye was an origins debate. It was not a “Science vs. Bible” debate as some may claim. It was about how the way we view things influences our perception of reality. It was a battle between Christianity and naturalism. So, the next time you hear someone describe Christian and conservative people as “anti-science,” understand that it has nothing to do with scientific things. Christians, as Mr. Ham mentioned during the debate, are not anti-chemistry, anti-physics, anti-technology, etc! That’s irrational, but then so is unbelief, so Christians shouldn’t be surprised when unbelievers say irrational things. God has to change their heart and mind. Only then will they see more clearly.

The “anti-science” mantra is a straw man argument by dogmatic, and often bigoted individuals who want their naturalistic story of the past, present and future told, to the exclusion of other stories. Especially the story found in Scripture. Pray that God will turn the hearts of unbelievers to Him, and that they would trust His story of Creation, Fall, Redemption through Christ alone, and Restoration, which is the greatest story of all! Pray also for Christians who are confused by naturalism, and erroneously seek to find a “middle ground” between Christianity and naturalism in places where it doesn’t exist.

Journey to Novarupta Audio Adventure

January 25, 2014

Journey to Novarupta

By God’s grace, we are in the production phase for the new audio adventure, Journey to Novarupta! We thought a film by this title would be produced first, but Providence is guiding us in a different direction right now. We are so grateful to have Pat and Sandy Roy at the helm, with their 15+ years of experience producing radio dramas (Jonathan Park).

The audio adventure is based on the true stories of Dr. Robert Griggs 1915-1919 expeditions to the Novarupta volcano, coupled with two expeditions I led in 2009 and 2011.

Listen to the intro, as Dr. Griggs and his time are caught in the middle of a pumice storm, at night, while surrounded by thousands of steaming, toxic fumaroles: Journey To Novarupta Opening Scene

Free thinkers to protest the freedom to think?

July 13, 2013

Really? People who tout themselves as “freethoughts” activists are going to protest free thinking? Where? When? Why? How? What should I do?

Where: Outside the Texas Homeschool Coalition’s annual homeschool convention in The Woodlands.

When: August 2 & 3, 2013. The protesters (atheists) are planning an orientation meeting Thursday, Aug. 1 from 8-9 p.m at the Bayland Community Center.

Why: The freethoughts activists are protesting the freedom of Americans to trust God’s word as true in every aspect, including historically true. For some reason, they are particularly concerned about dinosaurs. They are upset with how Christians like myself interpret dinosaur history!And historical interpretation is what they are protesting, not testable, repeatable science.

The fossil record shows many things lived at the same time as extinct dinosaurs, including extant (meaning still alive) starfish and coelacanths. Apparently, the so-called freethoughts activists say we’re lying about the human-dino coexistence thing because we have yet to uncover a fossil of a human riding a dinosaur while holding a coelacanth that ate a starfish. Unless this fossil grouping is found, then atheists will claim the Bible is a book of lies and Christians who believe it are liars. Therefore, since freethoughts activists apparently never lie, and possess a perfect understanding of history, we can trust them over God’s word! And if we don’t buy into their belief that freethoughts activists are the source of historical truth instead of God, they will make laws to suppress our skepticism. Of course, I’m joking here, but are the atheists? Unfortunately, I don’t think so.

How: So how did all this come about? Well, it started when some Houston-area atheists realized that Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis would be a keynote speaker at the THSC Convention. Because Mr. Ham trusts the authority of Scripture, he trusts the Bible’s account of history over other versions that attempt to insert evolution and millions of years to the story. Mr. Ham blogged about the atheists intolerance to Christianity, as well as their unprofessional debate challenge.

What should I do?: First, pray! Then, do! Pray that if the protest actually happens at all, that it will be peaceful. Pray that all Christians (including you!) will make an effort to show the love of Christ to the atheist protestors, and engage them in thoughtful discussion. And bring your friends who may be considering homeschooling, too!

Pray for opportunities to kindly show atheists the folly in their reasoning about so many things. Using reason, the law of non-contradiction (a law of logic created for us by God) states that you cannot be “A” and “not-A” at the same time. You cannot promote yourself as a “freethoughts activist” or a “skeptic” while at the same time protesting someone else’s right to think freely and be skeptical about the way you think yourself. You can’t be “pro-freethoughts” AND “anti-freethoughts”, “for skepticism” AND “against skepticism”, “pro-science” AND “anti-science”. Only an unreasonable fool would think they could.

Pray for opportunities to show atheists that their protest is not about scientific things, but about historic things. Christians are not anti-science. In fact, click here and watch how to start a Christian homeschool science co-op. Or click here to learn more about my company and our goal to encourage homeschoolers to finish calculus in high school, and add a few science and math CLEP and AP exams to the transcript along the way. Our goal is to raise the standard in math and science education, not lower it to government school levels or worse.

Pray for ways to show the atheists that they cannot be pro-science and anti-science at the same time. Science confirms human life begins at conception. Therefore, in order to protect all human life, we need to protect all babies in the womb, from the moment of conception onward. Anything less is murder. To defend the right to murder a baby in the womb is anti-science and just plain wrong.

Also, in the 21st century, high school and college biology textbooks are becoming bloated monsters. Something has to go to make room for teaching 21st Century advances in biology, including epigenetics and bioinformatics. Many chapters have way too many pages devoted to speculative historical claims about origins, dogmatically asserting only one interpretation (evolutionism). A pro-science person would want to reduce or remove the history to make room for 21st Century science. An anti-science person would reject the 21st Century science in favor of page after page about origins. Ask the atheist which they would choose to include in an already oversized biology textbook, new science or history? If they would rather keep the history, then they are anti-science, which contradicts their claims of being pro-science.

A great analogy I read recently said “To use science to promote atheism is like using a man’s child to prove he does not exist.” Only a fool would say Christians are anti-science. One of God’s first commands to Christians in Genesis 1:26-28 was to think scientifically. Do we have different interpretations of history than atheists? For the most part, yes. But even Christians don’t all have identical interpretations of history, and neither do non-Christians for that matter. Natural history research is not the same thing as scientific research, and not discerning these two is what generates most of the anti-creationism hysteria.  Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method and a young-earth creationist, warned us to be careful about muddling the two. The way we each interpret history is something to discuss, not protest. 

Finally, pray for repentence! God changes hearts, and He can change the heart of the most hardened anti-Christian activist. Remember what He did with Paul, a man who was wise in his own eyes until God opened his eyes and allowed him to see the true Source of everything, including reason. Simple logic reveals you cannot claim to be a freethinker, while at the same time protest the rights of thousands of Christian parents to freely consider the best educational options for each of their children. Pray that God will use the THSC convention to remove the blinders from many.

How to start a homeschool science co-op

February 15, 2013

Here’s a video I made about a typical day at my homeschool co-op science classes. I hope this video will encourage others to start a homeschool co-op in their town. I hope too that it will help skeptics see that Christians are not “anti-science”. And we aren’t against having fun while we do science either!

Novarupta documentary coming soon!

May 24, 2012

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Scripture tells us that about 4,500 years ago, the ground split open and the “fountains of the deep” erupted (Genesis 7:11), flooding the entire globe with water. Today, about 70% of the earth’s surface is still covered by water, averaging over 2 miles deep, and giving us a watery reminder of the year-long, global cataclysm.

One of the best ways to understand more about the global cataclysm described in Genesis is to study volcanic eruptions. And the bigger the eruption, the better! This is why Novarupta is so important. Latin for “New Eruption”, Novarupta burst forth for over 60 hours on June 6-8, 1912. The 3rd-largest eruption in recorded history, Novarupta caused tops and sides of mountains to collapse, deposited up to 700 feet of finely-layered ash in places, plus much, much more.

Since 2008, I’ve been studying Novarupta and the surrounding Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. I’ve been blessed with two opportunities to explore the area with family and friends, once in 2009 and again in 2011. I’ve also published a research paper on Novarupta in the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ 46(1), leave a comment if you would like a pdf copy).

During my explorations, I was able to collect a lot of photogeologic data, taking photos and videos of places only a handful of humans have ever visited. Wanting to share this footage with as many as possible, Providence led me to CreationWorks! The CreationWorks Media Team is made up of a group of 12 – 18 year olds whose goal is to share, “the truth of the Bible through the media, with an emphasis on Creation.”

So here’s what’s happening. I donated my footage to CreationWorks, and they are going to use it to make a film about Novarupta! This is their first film project (they have done some radio projects in the past), which they plan to enter in the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. But they need your help! They are hoping to raise $5,500 to cover expenses of producing and distributing.

Watch the Novarupta trailer

I think the story of Novarupta is worth telling! If you do, too, then please consider making a donation to the project. Click here to watch CreationWorks’ Novarupta trailer. I think you will see that they are off to a good start! To donate to the project, click here (or go to http://www.kickstarter.com/ and enter Novarupta in the search box).  And please pray that God world be glorified through this project. Thank you!