Many moons ago, during my undergraduate days at a state university, I decided to discuss my Creationist views with my chemistry professor. After he informed me that I was brainwashed and headed for a dead-end career if I didn’t accept evolution, he asked me how I defined science. I repeated the answer I had been taught, that science is the study of observable and reproducible phenomena in the natural world. To this answer he laughed and said I was, “so 19th century.” This answer entirely befuddled me…wasn’t he the Darwinist? Wasn’t he the one who was “so 19th century?” I spent 20 year
In my previous two articles I discussed narration as a tool of learning and as embodying the classical principle of self-education. I bemoaned the departure from this principle in much of modern education. At the same time, it’s worth recognizing the value of modern research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, especially where it is confirming the validity of traditional educational practices like narration.
I live in two very different worlds. On one hand, I am a father of four who supports and helps in the homeschooling of our children with a Christian and classical approach. On the other, I have spent my entire professional career in public education as a K-12 teacher and university professor. Perhaps because of this immersion into two very distinct settings, I have been able to bring them to bear on each other. I want to share in this short article one of the wonderful overlaps that few may have seriously looked at.
My family and I just enjoyed a week on Cherry Grove beach in South Carolina. A November beach trip means deserted beaches and a far more relaxed tone to an otherwise hectic touristy area. We took a riverboat ride down the Intercoastal Waterway, learning about erosion between cheesy live renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs (which should never be played in sub-70 degree weather).
I am a Challenge III Director for Classical Conversations. My class of eight and I spend one day together per week going through all six academic subjects. Yesterday in Chemistry, we performed Experiment 3.2 from our textbook which uses a white sheet of paper and a red magic marker to experience the effects of rod and cone activity in the human eye.
“The good thing about science is it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” With this statement, the man 60 Minutes describes as “Carl Sagan’s successor,” “the country’s most captivating scientific communicator,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, begins a lecture. His audience greets these words with applause.
As a physics teacher, I get to play with toys as part of my job. Physics labs give me the chance to dig out classic favorites such as Slinkys and Hot Wheels cars and put them to educational use. Occasionally I get catalogs from laboratory equipment manufacturers full of strange and sterile contraptions, but I find that students learn better when they personally connect the lessons to familiar things, and the more nostalgic the better. And so, where I am able, I make the childhood playground my laboratory.
IV. Mastery, Meaning and Mystery
III. Basil and the Hexaemeron
Now let us turn to S. Basil and his Hexaemeron.
II. Are we talking science or philosophy?
Now, this argument will not impress the non-Christian or “secularized Christian” for whom science, not Holy Scripture, is the final authority and for whom Nobel prize winners, not Church Fathers, offer the best answers to the cosmogonic questions. So it is not enough for us to have a good grasp of Scripture and the way the Fathers interpret it. We must also understand science and the built-in limitations of its methods and the knowledge it affords.