Without a worldview to tie it to, any discipline we choose to study has no real significance. Usually, we study things to support our own worldview or attack an opposing one; at the very least, we interpret everything in light of the presuppositions by which we seek to understand the world and which provide a systematic plan for doing so.
This is inescapable. Humans innately seek order and meaning, and we all want people to see things our way, so our most basic and deeply held beliefs become the foundation for everything we think and do. If you're a Christian who accepts the authority of the Bible, for example, God's Word will determine how you work, who you vote for, and where you send your kids to school.
It will also determine how you study and understand science. The belief that God created the world and everything in it, and that he made humans uniquely in his image, is essential not only to our doctrine but also to our ethics and morality. Replace the biblical story of creation with an evolutionary paradigm and you've got some serious problems to resolve.
That's why the authors of the By Design Series choose to look at scientific data through the lens of Scripture. This does not mean that they disregard the facts of science, but it does determine the way validity is assessed and how theories and hypotheses are tested and evaluated. In other words, they look at the world presupposing it to be the work of almighty God.
How Do These Work?
Each volume addresses a single topic (geology, human anatomy, astronomy) and is written by an expert in that field. These aren't just the ramblings of men who don't know what they're talking about: the author of Geology by Design, for instance, works for the EPA investigating methods of waste disposal.
The series is intended for high school students who've had some instruction in the topic being studied. No volume in the series is a complete course in its own right—rather, each book focuses on a particular topic to delve a little deeper and tie it directly to the creationist worldview of orthodox Christianity.
Books and chapters vary in length, but each text combines text and black and white illustrations (photographs, diagrams, etc.) to present science instruction that is self-consciously worldview oriented. Each book includes an index, glossary, and reference notes, as well as end-of-chapter review and critical thinking questions (only Universe by Design includes question answers).
Students should be able to work through each volume on their own, but because the content can be challenging and because there's such a worldview focus discussions with parents or teachers are encouraged. There is no teacher's guide, however, so you won't be able to help them understand concepts unless you're familiar with them yourself.
Our Honest Opinion
Attempts to use facts to prove one's worldview will often fall flat simply because one's worldview is the interpretive grid through which one understands those facts. This is circular reasoning and will convince no one. And there is some of that here: in Body by Design, Alan Gillen uses the fact that our bodies are complex to prove God created them.
However, there's also a definite need to be able to reconcile one's worldview with the facts of the universe. If we can't do that, it's probably time to reassess our worldview. The By Design books do an able job of showing that we can indeed believe that God created the world without dismissing the fossil record, ignoring evidence, or being "un-scientific."
This series is unique among science curricula. Many try to show kids the poverty of the evolutionary model from the get-go, and often confuse them before they've mastered the facts. These books allow students to really learn the data beforehand, and then to go deeper while tying that knowledge to their Christian worldview. They aren't perfect, but we do recommend them.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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