Science: Carrying the Torch

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An increasing number of Americans are aware of classical education, but with a few misconceptions.  "Brand recognition" is increasing, but an understanding of its basic ideas still has a ways to go.  In an average conversation about classical education, most people want to know what careers are available to classically educated students, or whether science is taught effectively (or at all).  Common assumptions are that classical education does not teach science effectively, or that classically educated students rarely become scientists. These assumptions are unfortunate, because largely false, but we do need to understand that they are held for a reason. And the question is legitimate: “Where are our Christian scientists?”

Augustine Classical Academy heartily embraces the sciences as a crucial part of classical education, beginning in the Grammar School and continuing through our nascent Upper School. In teaching science, ACA is committed to the interconnectedness of knowledge and to the truth that all knowledge is God’s knowledge. Science, like Latin, is part of God’s truth. Science, like history, reflects God’s character -- and like all other subjects, it is necessary to know God as fully as we can.  Simply put, science education at ACA matures students into whole human beings who see a complete and beautiful picture of God’s reality.

At ACA, we believe that science classes are important – not just a necessary evil. God has given us two primary forms of revelation: specific revelation through the scriptures and general revelation through creation. General revelation is the physical world, and therefore general revelation involves the sciences. Can we know God fully by minimizing an aspect of his revelation? Can we expect to impact our culture for Christ and yet be ignorant of a large part of his character? Knowing God means becoming experts on the created order.

Second, we think science is beautiful. Students – especially young students – are good at seeing amazing and beautiful things. As they get older, they copy us and stop looking. We want to keep the glories of creation alive in science classes. As we move through the Grammar School and into the Upper School in 7th grade, students will begin studying basic aspects of astronomy, meteorology, geology, oceanography, biology, zoology, botany, physics, and chemistry. These are all worlds to explore, and everything to be seen is beautiful. Our goal is to cultivate a true appreciation of beauty that does not fade, but grows with age.

Third, we believe science requires hard work. The beginning elementary grades are no exception, so students may find themselves making an adjustment they’re not too fond of. There is lots of memorization and lots of detail. But we’re with them to show the way. The survey of science subjects is beautiful and rich, but it is difficult. Yet this prepares them for the rigors of biology, chemistry, and physics in high school and holds them to the high standard God has set for all of us in life.

Finally, ACA seeks to raise up godly scientists to live for the glory of God and the good of all people. We realize that science is not the most important subject by any means, and we realize that not all students are called to careers as scientists. This is good. But regardless of calling, we want to raise up students who know their science well, even if they are writers, attorneys, or pastors vocationally. Whether a student becomes a musician, a teacher, or a biochemist, we want them to be able to speak the language of science. Science is relevant. Who will carry the torch into the fray of stem-cell research, for example? Of drug development? Of human cloning? Of eugenics, euthanasia, and abortion? Of Darwinian Evolution and its consequences? Who will defend a creation account persuasively? Who will defend it on a legitimate scientific basis? And on a different note, who will continue to make brilliant practical advances like the light bulb, the vaccine, and the iPhone? Are we content to leave it to others?

And who will claim the beauty of things through all this? The matchless, unjaded wonder of things? If we are to truly influence our culture for Christ, we must know what God is saying about what he made, and we must love it. We must be as nimble navigating the sciences as we are Latin and Logic.  In short, we must be creators, like God.

Grace and Peace, Nate Ahern