The 2015 Southeast Homeschool Convention

This is the TD convention center, where the Southeast Homeschool Convention was held.  (click for credit)

This is the TD convention center, where the Southeast Homeschool Convention was held. (click for credit)

This past weekend, I was one of many speakers at the Southeast Homeschool Convention, which is part of the Great Homeschool Convention series. These conventions are always enjoyable, because they are well attended and run smoothly. I gave a total of five talks: Creation versus Evolution: Religion versus Science or Religion versus Religion?, The Creatures and Biological Structures Evolutionists Don’t Talk About, What I Learned by Homeschooling, College and Faith: What’s The Real Story?, and Reasonable Faith: The Scientific Case for Christianity.

Unfortunately, I was about 15 minutes late for one of my talks, because I got involved in a very interesting conversation about Cartesian dualism and lost track of time. Nevertheless, many of the patient conference attendees were still there waiting on me when I ran into the room, huffing and puffing. I apologized profusely, of course, and they readily accepted my apology. After that, the talk went fairly smoothly.

This conference was the first one I have done since deciding to write a new high school chemistry course so that homeschoolers have a better option available to them than the new edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry. Many of the people who came to my booth had heard that news, and they wanted to learn more about my plans regarding the course. Because of the interest expressed at the convention, my publisher set up a website where people can sign up for updates about the course. If you sign up, you will get notified when things like the table of contents and sample chapters are available to review. I know of one online school that already plans to use the course for this coming academic year.

While I was at the convention, the publisher of Exploring Creation with Chemistry posted an article regarding the course. In that article, the owner of the company makes it clear that he will not sell the old edition of the course. I was hoping he would, but now that I know he won’t, I am glad that I decided to write a new one.

One of the reasons I really enjoy the Great Homeschool Conventions is that a group of classical educators always attends, and there are some seriously good philosophers in that group. We usually go out to dinner at least once and have the kind of conversations that make my head hurt, but in a good way. Well, this convention was no exception. We all went out to dinner, and we discussed a wide range of interesting topics. At one point, Bill Nye’s thoroughly awful book came up, and I discussed some of the more egregious errors found therein.

A philosopher at the table said he wasn’t surprised that Nye’s book was filled with errors. I said that I was, because he is supposed to be “The Science Guy.” If that’s the case, shouldn’t he at least know the science behind his positions? The philosopher then said this:

In the U.S. today, you cannot champion a cause if you waste your time knowing what you are talking about and presenting it in a nuanced way.

Obviously, that’s a bit of an overgeneralization, but at the same time, I think there is a lot of truth to it. Bill Nye champions evolution, but as his book demonstrates, he doesn’t seem to understand it very well. He also champions anthropogenic global warming, but he doesn’t seem to understand the physics behind that either. Then I got to thinking about other “champions” of causes, and many of them seemed to fit this statement as well. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson champions the idea that religion is the enemy of science, but he doesn’t understand the history involved, which demonstrates precisely the opposite.

Of course, there are people on my side who are the same way. Rather that looking deeply into Scripture, some young-earth creationists dogmatically state things that aren’t certain, such as there was no animal death before the Fall. In the same way, rather than looking deeply into science to see the nuances there, they state things that are categorically false, such as The Second Law of Thermodynamics forbids evolution (see here and here). This is all very unfortunate. Regardless of your position, if you are going to champion a cause, you should at least understand the details of the cause and see that there are nuances involved.

Of course, nuances don’t work well in a 30-second sound bite, on Twitter, or in a Facebook meme. It’s a shame, but that seems to be the way the world is going.

11 Comments

  1. So Apologia wants the customer to buy the 3rd Edition book and self-correct the mistakes while their editors work to fix the problems in the 2nd printing? Will the purchasers of the 1st printing get a revised copy? Red Wagon Tutorials provides revisions for five years post the copyright date of anything we publish digitally. If we find a mistake, we fix it and redistribute free of charge. We don’t ask the customer to fix it and live with our mistakes. Yes, mistakes happen in publishing, but to expect the customer to shell out money for a defective product, self-correct it, use a copy with factual errors in it, and then expect a customer to purchase a 2nd corrected printing really is pushing the customer service line in our opinion.

  2. Zorcey says:

    Dinner and philosophical discussion? I envy you; that sounds amazing. It really is too bad religion and philosophy are taboo in most social circles – maybe if people would stop being so afraid such subjects, we wouldn’t have people like Nye spouting off blatant falsehoods.

    1. Zorcey says:

      Whoops, forgive the typo.

    2. jlwile says:

      I suspect falsehoods would still be spouted, Zorcey. However, if more people engaged in such discussions, they would be more likely to spot the falsehoods for what they are!

  3. Tim says:

    Dr Jay,
    I would love to see a video of these talks you give. Any chance you might, or have, video taped them?
    Thanks
    Tim

    1. jlwile says:

      Tim, I really don’t have any videos. When I give talks at the convention, they are usually recorded by the convention, but typically for purchase at the convention and nowhere else. I am sorry.

      1. Anthea says:

        Dr Jay has some videos posted on the HEDUA website. They are short, because each one is quite focused. Some are interviews with Dr Jay, and some of them are presentations on certain aspects of science or notable scientists.

        Hope this is helpful.

  4. Randi Sanders says:

    Hi Jay, We are so happy to read that you are writing a Chemistry for high school.Currently I have 2 daughters using your Biology text and a son in Physical science. I am using your Science in the Beginning for our younger kids and I love it!!! I cannot say enough about it. I have used another science curriculum that is very popular for elementary ages and was always frustrated that the text was beyond them. Thank you for breaking it down and making it fun. Recently I read about another Chemistry program I was not familiar with and it will be part of a curriculum for high school. I had never heard of Mr.Q science. Do you know anything about it? I know a lot of people who are interested in using the History Guide that will be using this science in the teacher guide and I would like to have a better answer than I don’t like the looks of it. 🙂 Thanks, Randi

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks, Randi. I am familiar with Mr. Q science. It is a bit more basic than the second edition of Exploring Creation with Chemistry. I would compare it to a typical public high school chemistry course, except for the experiments. I find them mostly useless. They are heavily oriented towards cooking, and they give the student little experience with the kinds of experiments done at university.

  5. Anthea says:

    Please note that this comment is not on the topic of this post. If you don’t want it to appear on the blog, I will understand.

    Today, on a home education forum, someone posted a link to a newish Science curriculum which seems to have been written as an ‘old earth’ alternative to Apologia. It dismissed YEC in its philosophy page without saying *why* the earth is old. Pretty much it was suggesting that everyone thinks so … I find this interesting, since you came to faith later in life, didn’t you, Dr Jay? It’s only in the last 12 years or so that my husband and I have begun to question evolution and old earth.

    It also has a chapter on Climate Change in the Earth Science textbook. PS My husband says that Climate Change should be called ‘weather’. Mind you, we live in England, where you can have ‘all four seasons in one day’.

    Anyway, I suppose that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’.

    1. jlwile says:

      I honestly am glad that such a program exists, Anthea. I wish it would address the YEC view seriously, of course, but since real science is built on the competition of ideas, an old-earth-based science curriculum done from a Christian perspective can only advance science in the long run, assuming it is accurate and rigorous.