Here’s the Problem with the Times

In tomorrow’s New York Times, there’s an exposé of sorts of the dangerous high school curricula published by Bob Jones University, my alma mater. The occasion is a lawsuit against the University of California that’s been meandering into the national news over the last few weeks. The plaintiffs accuse the UC admissions officials of discriminating against Christian high school graduates who took courses taught from a Christian perspective. I suppose the Times wants its readers to see for themselves what California’s censors find substandard. (I’ve quoted the article at length here, because online Times articles have a habit of disappearing a few days after their publication.)

Author Thomas Vinciguerra pairs a brief comment with a quotation from a Bob Jones University Press textbook:

Slavery, which most historians look at politically or economically, is seen as “an excellent example of the far-reaching consequences of sin.”

The sin in this case was greed – greed on the part of African tribal leaders, on the part of slave traders and on the part of slave owners, all of whom allowed their love for profit to outweigh their love for their fellow man. The consequences of such greed and racism extended across society and far into the future. It resulted in untold suffering-most obviously for the black race but for the white race as well. … The Lord has never exaggerated in warning us of sin’s devastating consequences – for us and for our descendants (Exodus 34:7).

Shocking stuff, that. Imagine: thinking sin might play a role in human affairs, instead of just politics and economics. To the flames!

Even the abstract laws of energy and matter, the authors write, reflect the hand of God.

You are about to embark on an adventure. The study of physics reveals the wonderful orderliness of God’s creation – so orderly that it can be comprehended in terms of relatively simple principles (mathematical formulas). … Physics is important because through it mankind learns how creation actually works. It satisfies our God-given curiosity about nature. Seeing that God does “great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number” (Job 5:9), men have dedicated their lives to unraveling the rich mysteries of creation.

Again, what horrors! The “study of physics reveals the wonderful orderliness of God’s creation”–where would Western Civilization be had, say, Isaac Newton thought such things? Someone please re-educate the poor dupes.

One Comment

  1. I worked at the Press on the Bible Integration Team when these books were revised. The Bible Integration Team helps authors communicate a Christian worldview in their textbook revisions, and often writes book introductions and notes to the student throughout each chapter.
    I didn’t write either of the statements quoted, but would have if my colleague hadn’t. But I’m sure I wrote similarly inflammatory stuff in my own introductions.
    It’s amazing how foreign some of this stuff can sound to some people.

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  • […] World magazine notices the same New York Times article I pointed out earlier, and Joel Belz also wonders what the author had in mind: The problem is that Mr. Vinciguerra is artfully ambiguous and doesn’t quite come clean with his readers. At first blush, any of three radically different possibilities might be in play: […]