Science for Christian Schools Grade 5

Author: Joseph Henson, Ph.D; George Mulfinger, Jr., M.S.; Emmett Williams, Ph. D

Date: 1977

Publisher: Bob Jones University Press . . . Yes, that South Carolina college that demands its students “abstain from lust and immorality” yet still goes by the initials BJU.

Discovered at: Relic, the great junk shop at 8311 San Fernando Road in Burbank

Representative Quotes:

“We know the bible was not written as a science book, although whatever it says about science is true.” (page 60).

“Vultures serve as 'God's undertakers,' living off the flesh of dead animals.” (page 188)

The quickest way to test a science textbook's godliness is to crack open the glossary to the E's. Let's see:

“An imaginary process,” just like alchemy or Jedi training or looking for a job in America today! From this we can tell that Science for the Christian Schools is a pioneering work in purporting to reconcile articles of faith with the scientific method, which is something like like reconciling virginity with going Greek at USC, by which I mean it misses the point of both.

Here's how it twists both:

“We have to be careful not to say that the fossil record proves the Bible is true. God says His Word is Truth, so we know that Bible accounts of it are accurate.”

Science, you see, is not the process of testing hypotheses to discover what is true. It's instead more about pretending to show the work on a test where you already have the answers.

The book isn't pretty. Sometimes the artwork looks less like it came from Bob Jones University than it does something scribbled on the back of a menu at the Bob Evans Steak House:

In ancient times, mustaches had legs. Or maybe this is early concept art for McDonalds' Fry Guys.

That's from a bone-picking chapter that assails the depiction of primitive man as “a hairy creature” with “animal skins,” “a small head” like an ape's and a “stupid look on his face.” The authors argue that the fossil record can't possibly show us how well furred our ancestors might have been or what expression they might have worn.

They argue:

“We can assume that he had a good brain and was skilled with his hands. He did not have the advantage of our resources (electrical power, transportation, libraries, and so forth) but was capable of surviving in a hostile world. Unfortunately, he grew proud and sinful and had to be destroyed by God.”

They dismiss this image as an artist's fancy:

And they propose this one as a more plausible alternative:

Wait, haven't I seen this cro-magnon hunk someplace before?


But he's so proud! Why hasn't God destroyed him yet?

The book is feisty throughout. Here's the main text's only mention of the mother of all process imaginers:

“Charles Darwin published a book in 1859 that described how he thought plant and animal life might have evolved. Since then his ideas have been proven insufficient, but many modern scientists still accept his views and refuse to believe the Bible account of Creation.”

Note that “modern scientists” are brushed off here as stupidly defiant sorts who “refuse to believe” what is apparent to everyone else. They're like flat-earthers or the record business.

The authors scoff at the idea that life might have cooked up on its own:

“Was anyone present to observe what supposedly happened in a pool of warm water millions of years ago? Of course nobody was. Therefore this evolutionary explanation is not scientific.”

So, if nobody sees it, science can't prove it existed. I think this also means most Tweets are merely theoretical.

In between easy science projects and admonitions to take the claims of scripture as a self-evident given, the book covers weather, fossils, oceanography, and — gently — the reproduction of animals and plants.

Again and again, the authors use science-book topics to create opportunities for evangelizing. Some choice examples:

“God gave us our marvelous senses for His glory. Be careful about the kind of things you listen to or look at.”

“As you study about the circulatory system, you will find that it is probably the most complicated system ever made. If man could make such a system (but he cannot) it would cost millions of dollars. God gave it to us free so that we can enjoy His creation and glorify Him.”

“You are in school to learn. Weather is something you should know about. However, do not be like the Pharisees that Jesus talks to in Matthew 16: 1-3. He rebukes them because they know about the weather – a red sunset means a fair day tomorrow – and know nothing about Him.”

In a concluding chapter, Science for the Christian School compares “spontaneous generation” – “the idea that life life happened to come forth from a collection of dead chemicals” – to the ancient superstition that a thunderstorm “simply showed that the gods were having an argument” and the modern one that the wooliness of a caterpillar's coat can predict the severity of the winter ahead.

The authors conclude:

“All three kinds of error, then – ancient mythology, false theories of science, and superstitions – are related. In all of these, the beliefs are based neither on Scripture nor on observations.”

It's encouraging, I guess, that they dismiss the idea of weather as the whim of angry gods, especially considering that a recent Religion News Service poll claims that 38 percent of Americans today continue to believe that God punishes the world through weather. But just a couple chapters earlier Science for Christian Schools gives kids this instruction:

“Make a list of biblical references to storms or unusual weather occurrences. Classify these into those which were used to defeat God's enemies, those which showed God's power, and other kinds of classifications.”

To review:

Believing gods chuck lightning bolts when they're pissed = superstition.

Believing God does so = science.

Shocking Detail:

An intriguing photospread traces the history of communications technology. First its humble origins, where the spreading of information was incidental to the sharing of gum wads:

And then to communication's terrifying endpoint from sometime far in 1977's idea of the future:

Too bad the smiling creep screensaver never really caught on.


“Since almost three-fourths of our planet is covered by salt water, that much of our air is being cleaned all of the time. This is a happy fact that many people who predict we will all die of air pollution fail to remember.”

Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.

LA Weekly