Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How's the View?

In our country, around age fourteen to fifteen, kids (especially boys) start thinking about least in my part of the planet. Instead of the latest video games, the focus moves to car makes and models, and driver's ed road rules. It's a rite of passage (though we make sure our kids know that driving is a privilege, not a right) in American culture for teens to get a learner's permit at age fifteen, then take driver's ed and get a license at age sixteen.

Those are the laws of our country. I ask you, have you considered what are the laws of your household?? What do you require of your students to earn the privilege of driving lessons and a license? I know some parents who insist on their students maintaining good grades. I agree with that, but then again, I insist on good grades, driving or not, so that's nothing new. I also know some parents who practically throw the keys at their teens, they are so glad to have someone to share the driving with and who can drive to the corner store for milk at the last minute.

I really do think this is an important consideration. I want my kids to see driving as something they are allowed to do when they show that they are responsible. One way they show responsibility is to maintain good grades. Another way is to model good behavior in the home and to keep up with chores. But there is more than that. A license bestows upon its holder a measure of freedom that was not present before, in many cases. A freedom of movement and choices that reflects a new level of responsibility and accountability.

That is why Hubby and I decided that in order to earn a driver's license in our family, each of our children would have to do two things (aside from the already mentioned good grades, good behavior, and the required passing of a driver's education class) to earn the privilege of being allowed to drive our cars.

The first thing we require is that they must show the ability to maintain a vehicle (cleanliness, basic fluid and tire air level checks) and perform basic repairs (such as oil and tire changes, replacing burned out headlights, changing filters and windshield wipers) by taking on responsibility for one of the family's vehicles for a period of six to twelve months. (You can see the benefits to mom in this one, eh?)

The second thing they have to do is to complete an apologetics course we approve of in the year preceding driver's education class. You are wondering what apologetics has to do with driving, I am sure. Well, here's our thinking: If you are going to be out there in the community, potentially responsible for yourself, my car, and maybe even some other folks (including siblings), then you had better know one hundred percent where you stand concerning various issues.

Since we are Christians, I think our opinions on various issues need to be based upon the Bible, and all of our choices should reflect our choice to identify with and follow Christ. If you don't know what you stand for (or who you stand for), you can often be talked into doing stupid things and making poor choices. I want my kids to make wise choices, and I believe that in order to do that, they need to be well-grounded. Solid Biblical teaching in Apologetics is one of the best ways to get grounded (other than daily Bible time and prayer) that I know.

Years ago we attended several Worldview Weekends over the course of a few years. If you've never attended one as a family, I highly recommend it. We purchased some of the worldview resources they offered, and have enjoyed listening to and reading them over the years. A few years after attending my first Worldview Weekend seminar, I heard about their online classes, and was thrilled. This would be an excellent way to round off the worldview education we desired for our oldest son. Unfortunately, the seminars aren't held near enough to our current home to make attending them a part of our yearly schedule, but Tex still plans to do the Worldview Academy three month class as part of his schoolwork next year. However, that leaves at least a half of a year of Bible study what do you do?

Wouldn't you know, God always offers a solution if we are listening closely enough...When we were asked to review I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, my radar went wild because Norman Geisler is one of the speakers on our set of Worldview Weekend resource tapes. I remember him to be one of the more technical speakers (as opposed to informal and chatty), but I also remembered him to be very detailed and convincing.

We decided to review the book and workbook, and had initially planned to use it as our summer Bible study, to count for a semester of worldview study towards our year long requirement for Tex to be eligible to take driver's education training when he's fifteen. However, sometimes things happen, and Tex had his accident at church camp (and subsequent hospital stay), so not as much of the study was gotten through as planned. However, I studied the book myself while sitting by Tex's bedside for two weeks, and found it to be excellent and am enthusiastic about working through it in the fall with him for his first semester credit, then doing the online worldview course together for the second semester. Then by next summer, oh my goodness, he will be eligible for that permit and all I can say is that I am so not ready for this!

Back to the book. Can I tell you my favorite part so far? The title. I know, that sounds I haven't read any more than that (I have), but it is true. I love the title. I like it because it is one of my favorite fall back lines when folks who are non-believers start arguing against a loving Creator.

I mean, if you want to believe that some random particles in vast amounts of space (and where did that come from?) randomly managed to randomly come together at just the right time and in the right amounts to make the first organized group of particles which somehow ran into other particles of a similar sort (or managed to figure out how to replicate)...and all this in vast amounts of space over billions of years...and then they all got together and created a big BANG which made lots of space, the final frontier, and then these bits got together and somehow made stars and planets...and then on these planets somehow these random bits made land (primordial sludge) and from this same stuff randomly came one celled organisms which somehow found similar random organisms (or learned to replicate) and from there somehow managed to become multi-cellular organisms, which developed (over millions of years) the ability to reproduce and somehow developed the ability to breathe air and also developed legs and at least two of these random things happened in the same place at the same time and they figured out how to get together to reproduce and all of their offspring survived and from all of their offspring developed all other things (or else all of what you see today on our planet came from a series of parallel random events occurring simultaneously and similarly...but randomly...LOL). Well then, I've got some land on Mars that's really pretty and we are starting a colony and it's a very exciting place to visit. Would you like to buy a share? 

I dunno. It just sounds so improbable and I don't have that much faith that I could believe all that random stuff happened in an orderly enough random-chancey way that we have all of this...

and this...

and this...

And this...

And this...

 And this...

and this...

and this...

Also, if you've ever seen the pillar at the Smithsonian where they show the timeline of know the one that shows billions and billions of years they think it took to go from nothing to us being ape-like creatures. Then the tens of thousands of years it took us going from ape-like creatures to primitive man. Then suddenly it was like BOOM!!! In just a few thousand years (instead of billions), we go from drawing on cave walls to designing atom bombs and the Internet. Do you really believe that timeline? Does it even make sense?

Maybe you are thinking, "Well, yeah. That's what I was taught. That's how things happened, isn't it?" Or maybe you are telling yourself that sure, you believe that God created mankind, but maybe He used evolution to do it. Or perhaps you are on board with a creationist view, but if asked to defend your stance, well, you'd simply say, "Well, I have faith," or you'd mumble "I haven't really thought about it," and walk away hurriedly with your head down and hands in your pockets.

Having faith is great, but honestly, you need to be able to defend your views. Most folks are not going to say, "Oh, well if you believe it, then so do I." Most folks these days are going to question you, ask for some sort of evidence. With some people, that evidence can be our (or their) experience of a miracle or other life-altering event. With others, they are going to want facts, more information, evidence.

The Bible tells us to always be ready to defend what we believe in. That is not a call to be able to say why you are a die-hard Redskins fan, folks. That's a call to be able to say why you believe God is real, why you believe that He created life, the universe, and everything, and why you believe that a God that powerful sent his son to die a horrible, undeserved death on a cross to pay a penalty for our sins. That's serious stuff. 

Can you defend why you believe? Can you even clearly state what you do believe? Because if you don't know what you believe, then you don't know what to base your decisions upon. Without God, what is your standard? 

I think an ability to defend your faith is a necessity in life. With that in mind, in my mind, if you can defend your views on all of those things, and you can learn to use those views to make your decisions, THEN I will trust you with not only the keys to my car, but I will also trust that you are well on your way to being able to navigate through this very challenging thing we call adulthood. I'd much rather feel I am lending my vehicle, a potential weapon of mass destruction (in the wrong hands) to an adult, wouldn't you? You're potentially going to be in a car on the same roads as my kids, so this involves you, too.

In any case, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is a 447 page, fifteen chapter comprehensive treatment of to defend your faith. It is engaging, with many stories and personal encounters shared by the authors. It is not as easy to read as some apologetics books I have read, but it is not too difficult for a high schooler or adult to understand or to enjoy. As a young earth creationist, I disagree with the author's unwillingness to take a stance on that position, however, their essential treatment of why a belief in Intelligent Design requires less faith than a belief in evolution is thorough and well-laid out.

Other chapter topics include: Christianity vs. other world views, Can Truth Be Known? Can All Religions Be True?, Divine Design, Micro vs. Macro Evolution, How Do We Know Moral Law Exists?, Absolute Morals vs. Situational Ethics, Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?, Reliability of Scripture, Eyewitness Testimony (about Jesus), divergent details in Scripture, Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Jesus: God vs. Great Moral Teacher, the historic and scientific accuracy of the Bible, and If God, Why Evil?.

Each chapter is 15-20 pages long and is preceded by an outline to lay out the plan of the chapter. The chapters range from pointed discussions of pertinent, detailed factual information to chatty renditions of conversations with people on a variety of related topics. They all wind up with a summary to help you wrap up each concept. The end of the book has a listing of extensive notes for further research. We liked Appendix One and Appendix Two, two hypothetical conversations with atheists about why there is evil in the world, and why Christianity is the right choice.

The folks at Apologia have also developed a 279 page workbook to accompany the book. This is what I think makes it an excellent choice as an apologetics curriculum. As with all their workbooks, they are interesting and illuminating. Each chapter begins with a hook to remind you what previous material you may have covered and to get you thinking. Vocabulary terms are covered, as well as anectdotes, questions, and biographies of famous thinkers. I found these biographies to be one of my favorite parts of the workbook. C.S. Lewis, Augustine, Nietzsche, and  Kant are covered in the first few chapters.

The next section takes you deeper into investigating the book and testing your comprehension of the material. It contains an overview, a biography, and more questions. Section three asks you to look at the information yourself by offering additional assignments and activities to enrich your learning experience. Completion of some of these activities can take a simple study from a week per chapter and turn it into an extensive research opportunity of two weeks or more. By doing the enrichment questions, the course becomes a full credit, year long study. If you omit these (or only choose a few), you might make it a half-credit, one semester course (this is the option we will take). 

Lastly, the final section summarizes the material and challenges you to think about what you took away from the chapter. It asks you to think about what you learned, then offers suggestions on how to apply the information as you witness in your everyday life. For example, here is a question from the introduction.

Humans have a tendency to adjust the truth to fit their desires rather than adjusting their desires to fit the truth. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul says we "suppress the truth" so we can practice unrighteousness. Give at least three real-life examples of people changing truth rather than changing their desires.

If you want to make sure your kids have a worldview that will carry them safely through adulthood, then think about trying an apologetics course like I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. You might try tying completion of the course to Driver's Ed, like we are, so you will be sure that when your kids have your keys, their hearts and heads will be full of the Word of God, and be overflowingly ready to share it, instead of the world suddenly opening up in front of them like an enormous vault ready to pour its empty values into a huge empty space. Pray about it and ask the Lord to search your children's hearts (and your own) and tell you what the "view" is from the inside...

If you'd like more information about I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist:

  • You can read the introduction of the book at the Apologia website, so you can see whether you think that this book is a good choice for your teens (or yourself).
  • You can view a sample chapter of the workbook to see how it is laid out.
  • I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist is available for $16.00 from the Apologia website. It is currently out of stock, but will be available again in September. I guess it was popular at the conventions this summer, huh?
  • You may purchase the workbook for $33.00. This may sound like a lot of money for a workbook, but it definitely makes the book into a full course...and it adds a lot of student-friendly content that all of us enjoyed. As with all Apologia workbooks I have seen so far, it is worth the investment.
  • You can read what others on the TOS Homeschool Review Crew have to say about this course on the Schoolhouse Reveiw Crew blog.


Disclaimer: I received copies of both the book and the workbook in order to complete this review. All opinions you read are my own. No other compensation was received.


Vickie said...

WOW! Very interesting! I had always wondered about this book.

What are you going to "label" this credit for transcripts?

I'm going to check out the links you provided. Thanks for a great, indepth review. I really enjoyed reading it.

God's blessings

Heather said...

Hi Vickie,

I am planning on labeling the bible component as Worldview and Apologetics. I will label the "take care of the cars" component "Auto Shop and Mechanics" and the driver's course will simply be "driver's ed." We plan to take Tex up the road to our mechanic and have him shadow him for a few days, plus we may use the BSA badge book to add a bit more to the auto mechanics portion. Our oldest had more credits than he needed to graduate, but the good grades on the extras only helped his GPA, and he'd done real work for them, so why not? Have a blessed week!

Unknown said...

Makes a person stop and think interesting. Love reading your reviews.

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