In 1997, Marilyn Durnell and I published Exploring Creation With Biology, a college-preparatory biology course designed specifically for home-educated students. Because the science of biology changes over time (especially when it comes to classification), we published a second edition of the course eight years later. Unfortunately, we never got the time to write a third edition of the course, but the publisher did eventually use a different author to write a new edition, which was definitely needed. While the content of that new edition is solid and I think it can be used in a setting where there is a teacher who is knowledgeable about biology, I don’t think it is useful in most homeschool situations. As a result, I have teamed up with a different author, Dr. Paul Madtes Jr, to write a completely new biology book, Discovering Design With Biology. You can see samples of the book here (just click on “Product Resources”), but I thought I would use this post to answer the question that I have already been getting: “How is this book different from the second edition of Exploring Creation With Biology?”
Most importantly, Dr. Madtes is the first author. Thus, all the major decisions about the book (what would be covered, how it would be covered, etc.) were made by him. This is important, because he teaches biology at the university level, so he knows what will best prepare high school students for that experience. As a result, the “voice” of this book is different from that of my other books. It is still written in first person in a very conversational style, but the style is that of Dr. Madtes, not me. For example, I rarely include Bible verses in my books unless they relate directly to the material. However, Dr. Madtes thought that the best way to keep students focused on the Creator would be to start every chapter out with one or more verses. Thus, that’s what you see in this book.
Unlike the second edition of Exploring Creation With Biology, this book builds biology from the ground up. After an introductory chapter, we start with molecules, then we discuss cells, then cell division, then genetics, then biotechnology, then single-celled organisms and fungi, then animals, then plants, then environmental science, and then biomes. Within each topic, the focus is also quite different. In genetics, for example, Exploring Creation With Biology, 2nd Edition concentrated on Mendelian genetics and only briefly mentioned non-Mendelian genetics. In this book, we discuss the non-Mendelian mechanisms in more detail. We also discuss the different types of mutations that can occur and how they affect the organism.
Evolution is handled differently as well. In this book, the design you see in nature is stressed. In fact, that word appears on 92 of the 512 pages that make up the 16 chapters of content. However, evolution is only discussed in the final section of each chapter. The last section of the first chapter, for example, deals with natural selection. We discuss how it works and how it ends up being a necessary component in any scientific treatment of origins. Indeed, we discuss how anyone who believes in a Global Flood (which we both do) must use natural selection as a means by which to understand the diversity of life we see today. In other chapters, however, the final section is devoted to explaining how the material that has been discussed demonstrates that there is a limit to the amount of change natural selection can produce. As a result, a recent, supernatural creation followed by a Global Flood is the scenario that best fits the current data.
One other notable difference is our treatment of human beings. Exploring Creation With Biology, 2nd Edition did not discuss human anatomy or physiology at all, but this book devotes almost an entire chapter to it. We also discuss how and why biologists classify people in the same biological order as lemurs, monkeys, and apes, and why there is no problem with that approach. However, we also discuss how humans are unique in creation, since we have been given the Image of God. Thus, while we have several physical characteristics in common with many mammals, we are something wholly different from any of them.
As was the case in the second edition of Exploring Creation With Biology, there are three kinds of laboratory exercises in the course. There are 17 experiments that use household items. These include extracting DNA from fruit, determining the effects of temperature and pH on proteins, exploring reflexes, and exploring the effect of surface area on diffusion. An additional 14 experiments use a microscope kit, and they include identifying different stages of mitosis, examining bacteria cultures, studying blood, and studying invertebrates. The other seven experiments use a dissection kit. In those experiments, students dissect an earthworm, a crayfish, a fish, a frog, an egg, a feather, and a flower. In order for this course to count as a laboratory-based, high-school biology course, students must do all of at least two of those three types of experiments (household and dissection, household and microscope, or microscope and dissection).
Most importantly, we give Glory to the One who created it all. In the book’s introduction, we quote Carolus Linneaus:
I saw the infinite, all-knowing and all-powerful God from behind as he went away, and I grew dizzy. I followed his footsteps over nature’s fields and saw everywhere an eternal wisdom and power, an inscrutable perfection. (Peter Whitfield, History of Science, Scholastic Library Pub 2003, p. 23)
At the end, we quote John Ray:
There is for a free man no occupation more worthy and delightful than to contemplate the beauteous works of nature and honor the infinite wisdom and goodness of God. (Charles E. Raven, John Ray, Naturalist: His Life and Works, Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 83)