Hi folks, I'm new to the forum and have a very particular topic I'm interested in, but first a bit of history:
I'm mid '50s in age, was raised in the south in extreme bible belt conditions (Seventh Day Adventist Branch Davidian cult stuff). Private bible/home school my only education, and with an almost cartoonish rule set (no secular music, no dating, no TV/radio/newspapers, etc.). Other than the bible, education was literally evil. I got absolutely zero science, no math beyond simply addition/subtraction/multiplication/division, no history (other than the bible version), on and on. I was a curious kid and LOVED anything related to how things work and was SO frustrated when not allowed to explore.
Short version: Left home at 15. Estranged from most family. Educated myself. Ended up spending more than 30 years in high tech in the silicon valley in various engineering and management capacities where I was fortunate enough to hang out with some of the brightest minds doing freaking amazing things with cool science. Due to family reasons I returned to the South a year or so ago and am momentarily semi-retired (or underemployed, depending on how you look at it).
I guess the bubble of the Silicon Valley skewed my perspective because I have been absolutely STUNNED at the level of science education I witness among friends and family back here in the South. I guess because I saw science education highly valued amongst my peers and their kids I assumed that real progress had been made country wide. Of course I'm sure it has in some sense, but not amongst the demographic I have returned to.
While the old guard are as stubborn as ever, I do notice a shift with the younger crowd. They are starting to question (perhaps not openly) an entire layer of nonsense fed to them and are carefully open to hearing new things. I have been successful in raising the curiosity level of several of the younger family group by simply showing them how totally and completely false some of the things they have been told and accepted as fact (Darwin converted on his deathbed sort of nonsense).
Now those of you who have followed the history of the creation 'science' movement will know that the fundamentalist side of the Seventh Day Adventists practically invented it. ( BioLogos - Not Found (404) - BioLogos). Price and Clark (both SDA) started it off before Henry Morris based much of his work on the Price 'model'. SDA fingerprints are on practically every hoax and shyster artifact referred to by the Hovinds, Baughs, Steins and Hams of today. Burdick (Paluxy), BF Allen (ark), Wyatt (kitchen sink of nonsense), ICR, AIG, CRI, all indelibly fingerprinted. This is all the stuff that this younger generation has been force fed.
I have a passion for educating (always have). I'm told I have a knack for educating and explaining things. Though deeply experienced with science, I have never been educated or particularly well versed in the earth sciences. I have spent the last months boning up as fast as I can so I can answer questions accurately and fairly. Talk Origins and EvC have been two excellent sources for me.
So here's my question: If you had a nephew or niece (we'll call the age group late teens, early 20s) who was both open and interested in spending say an hour a week on the topic of creation vs evolution, what sort of 'curriculum' would you attempt to put together for them? I have actually said give me an hour a week for a year and I'll think you'll find you are able to make better decisions for yourself in these areas. Keep in mind that if you rock their world too hard, they turn you off so you can't blast in with cog dis sermons and the like (though it's the truth).
Currently, where I've had success is in merely showing them the absolute false information they are being given. When Doug Batchelor (SDA tv preacher) in the process of mocking evolution crows about how if you take the current population growth and work it backwards to the flood it works out to precisely 8 people, I just say ... Ok, let's do that math shall we? with predictable mathematical results. The more I do this, the more they seem to trust me and not him/them (but it's a slow process). I'm trying to challenge them without being in their face about it (though I want to just scream much of the time).
My thoughts are this:
1: Initially forget anything related to billions of years — that just blows their minds. I just need them to question 6,000 years. If I can get them to consider 20,000 years it blows their familiar model to bits and that's all I need — the sky is the limit after that. I really think dendrochronology may be the key to this, followed by C14 (I can hear them howl already lol), varves and ice cores. I actually am asking to open this thread because of the apparent emphasis and knowledge of some of the active EvC members on these dating sciences.
2: To get past the biblical flood notion, education on how geological layers form starting with the dramatic examples (chalk, etc). You don't get the White Cliffs of Dover by mixing everything up in a flood bucket and letting it settle out. Then perhaps the fossil distribution throughout the layers sorted by complexity .
3: Since no science or scientist is perfect (and this is the wedge they have been hammered with all their lives), I need to develop ways to help them understand the consilience of evidence. All they've heard is they use carbon dating to prove the age of a tree and the age of a tree to prove carbon dating. or they date the fossil by the layer and then the layer by the fossil. I need to be able to show them how sciences like dendrochronology and radio carbon dating are complimentary, not circular.
4: I have to be the absolute opposite of the Hovinds and Hams. When I say something is proven science, I have to be able to produce it, document it and explain it. I can't just want them to believe what I say as truth, I want them to become convinced of it because they have seen it with their own eyes, processed it and understand how it works. I want the opposite of accept, accept, accept (which is all they've known in their force fed version of science), I want question, discover, experiment.
In the end, I would like to hone and produce something that is far more scalable than just for my family. I would like to come up with some series or something that is aimed squarely at the younger offspring of the last generation of fundamentalists. I know them. I've lived among them (now I sound like an anthropologist). I'm not a product of the public school system (brainwashed as they would say), but rather I came to my conclusions from the obvious strength of the evidence and I understand that mental process.
Every heard of the Khan Academy? (Google it if not) It started merely as an effort by Salman Khan to encourage and tutor his young cousin remotely and he has ended up making a difference in the educational lives of many. Ultimately, I would like to aim at something like that (one step at a time) for fundamentalists who are becoming interested in spreading their science wings.