Monday, August 04, 2008

I Think The Correct Term is 'Standards'...

Apparently, in Outer Wingnuttia, they think that the University of California is discriminating against "Christian" courses.

As WND reported earlier, the University of California system adopted a policy last year that basic science, history, and literature textbooks by major Christian book publishers wouldn't qualify for core admissions requirements because of the inclusion of Christian perspectives.

Yeah, well if the books they are talking about are as horrendously badly written as Darwin's Black Box, I'm not surprised.

"Christian schools will have to decide: teach from a Christian worldview and eliminate your student's ability to attend a UC school, or teach from a secular worldview, so that the kids can enter the UC school system," he explained.

"Essentially what's happening is the UC has to pre-approve courses taught in high school," Tyler said. "It's pretty shocking, because in depositions UC reps made it clear: whether it be English, history or science, the addition of a religious viewpoint makes it unacceptable."

Ummm...not quite. There's a couple of points to be considered here. Public school curriculum is visible to the University structure, and they know what they are getting. Many of the so-called "Christian" private schools are quite deliberately off the accreditation radar so they don't have to be accountable for their courses.

I don't know about you, but anytime someone says that they refuse to participate in the formal structures established for inter-college credit sharing, I have to be somewhat skeptical of both their motives as well as the veracity of their academic courses.

After reviewing textbooks from major Christian publishers Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, UC officials deemed them insufficient, specifically because the books supplemented the basic material with a Christian perspective.

Burt Carney, an executive with the Association of Christian Schools International, said he's met with officials for the university system, and was told that there was no problem with the actual facts in a BJU physics textbook that was disallowed.

The question I would have to ask is just how much of that book presented the facts, but then couched them in scriptural terms or contexts that made the resulting presentation sound like the science was incomplete or otherwise ambiguous - the usual half-baked horse apples that are often used to justify the "debate" around evolution.

It may well be that the facts were fine - there just weren't enough of them to constitute an adequate text in the field.

"Here's the very university that talks about academic freedom," Carney said. "It's very discriminating. They don't rule against Muslim or Hindu or Jewish (themes) or so forth, only those with a definite Christian theme."

I don't know about anyone else, but I've never encountered science texts with religious themes except for cases where 'Christianists' pop up and start trying to spin the facts to match their scriptural interpretation.

Digging around, I found a few interesting bits and pieces on this lawsuit. First is a PDF from the Calvary school that is one of the plaintiffs, which provides some more concise insight into why some of the courses were rejected.

The second is an article published in a UC Berkely publication on the subject.

UC also disallows science courses that rely solely on BJU and A Beka Books textbooks. At issue, the fact sheet says, "is not whether they have religious content, but whether they provide a comprehensive view of the relevant subject matter...." In the BJU Press and A Beka Books science textbooks, it goes on, "the publishers themselves acknowledge that the primary goal is to teach religious doctrine rather than the scholarship that is generally accepted in the relevant fields of study."

The introduction to Biology for Christian Schools (2nd Edition, BJU Press) clearly states, for instance, that students' conclusions must conform to the Bible and that scientific material and methods are secondary: "The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second.

Somehow, I think I can understand why the UC organization is hesitant to accept these books and courses as valid foundations for study in established fields. This isn't discrimination against Christianity - it's called academic standards - UC has a right to insist that its students enter their courses with a reasonably known and consistent foundation. If you want to teach a course on biology and derive it from scriptures, that's fine, but call it that (e.g. 'Scriptural Biology' or some such) and admit that outside of a very limited subset of the world, very few people are going to accept the course as being representative of modern science.

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