The ministry of teaching

Let me take the opportunity to share a bit on the inspiration for Reasonable Answers, as well as some background on my own journey into becoming a teacher. I will eventually transfer this into the "About Me" link in the sidebar, but I hope this helps put a personal side to this blog.

From all the way back in junior high school, I knew I wanted to do something involving science. I credit my 3 junior high teachers: Mrs. Miller, Mr. Sweeney, and Mr. Steele, for being so contagious in their enthusiasm for science. When I entered high school, my own faith journey started in earnest, and I received the calling to serve as a witness for Christ within academia. It was my conviction that I was to get a Ph.D in Physics, become a professor at a college, and make an impact for God in that role.

Things seemed to start on the right track as I was accepted to Harvey Mudd College as a physics major, and for two years I received a challenging education in the math, sciences, and humanities. But due to poor choices on my part, I took myself off the track that God had placed me on and made what I thought was a cope-out decision to transfer to Biola University (long story, which I may tell someday).

Someone once said (I believe it was C.S. Lewis but I can't find the quote) that when we sin, the good that would have been is lost forever, but then God does something even greater. And though I thought I had failed God's plan for my life, God showed me that He could bring about something greater.

At Biola, I began taking physics classes under Dr. John Bloom. Dr. Bloom initially arrived at Biola seeking a position in the theology department, but when the admins saw that he had a doctorate in Physics in addition to his doctorate in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, they asked if he would be willing to teach physics instead. He showed me how the study of physics didn't have to be simply a means to an end (ie. a professor position) but that the study of science itself could be a means of glorifying God. The lasting lesson I learned during my undergrad days at Biola was that God's glory and majesty was revealed in what He had created, and the more that I learned about the intricate workings of the universe, the more awestruck I was at how incredibly God had orchestrated everything together. During this time, God gave me my new purpose and calling, to share with others the glory of God through science through the ministry of teaching.

After graduating from Biola with a degree in Physical Science, I went on to receive a Masters in Theology from Talbot School of Theology, during which time I was serving as a youth counselor and pastor. Then, I heard about a new Masters in Science and Religion (MASR) program that Dr. Bloom had created and I was one of the first to sign up, as it was the perfect preparation for the purpose that I was seeking to fulfill.

After receiving the MASR degree in 2005, I accepted an opportunity to continue to fulfill my calling as an equipper of young people by becoming a science teacher at Maranatha High School, a private Christian school in Pasadena, CA, teaching AP and Honors Physics.

At Maranatha, I saw how many of our students were woefully unprepared to handle the potential attacks on their faith that they would face when they entered the naturalistic world view environment dominant in the colleges and universities they would be attending, mainly due to the lack of teachers knowledgeable in this area and a pertinent curriculum that they could learn from. There was a great need for a class to help prepare these students to understand and intelligently address the issues surrounding the interchange between science and faith, and to learn how to apply critical thinking skills and the wisdom of a wide range of thinkers and writers to develop a rational Christian thought framework capable of handling these critical issues. Last year, in response to my petitions to school administrators, I was given the privilege of creating a new elective Senior Theology course aimed at equipping those who will be pursuing degrees and careers in the sciences. Thus was born the class: Biblical Revelation, Scientific Revolution.

My experience in the MASR program was invaluable in the development of this course. In fact, it is fair to say that I would not have even considered creating this course had it not been for the conviction and knowledge that I acquired as a student in the MASR program. As a result, my students have deeply engaged and learned how to address issues such as the relationship between the revelation of Scripture and the natural world, the supposed “warfare” between science and faith, the characteristics of “fine-tuning” in the universe, the debate regarding evolution and Intelligent Design, and the moral and ethical issues surrounding current scientific technologies such as stem cell research and cloning.

Here is how one of my former students described his experience in the course:

One of Jesus' final commands to his disciples was "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). I believe that the new BRSR class at my school is a great help in fulfilling this command, as many atheists need to see scientific evidence for God before they will believe. As a likely future student at a secular school, one of my biggest fears about college was that science professors would harass me about my belief in Christianity and that I would be unable to stand up to them, giving those around me a negative view about Christianity. However, after having taken almost a full year of BRSR, these worries have been greatly alleviated because I now know how to argue against the naturalistic view that many scientists have today. The ability to defend my faith with reason will break the unfortunately common stereotype that Christians are ignorant and resistant to science. This will hopefully cause some other students in the class or maybe the professor to consider the possibility of Christianity being true. Therefore, the BRSR class will be a great help to me witnessing to people when I go off to a secular college. (Michael Bowerman, MHS class of 2009)
The class has been very well received in the two years since its inception, and the response from both students and parents has strongly affirmed my belief that this is a much needed class. In the first year, the two classes of this course that I taught were filled to capacity. More than 80 students (over half the senior class) registered for the class this year, even though I was limited to only taking a maximum of 50 students due to my obligations as a Physics teacher as well. The enthusiasm for the course is evidence I believe of how important an understanding of how faith and science interact is to these young people. If this hunger for understanding is not filled by a rational and faith-affirming framework, it can potentially be overpowered by the seemingly compelling arguments of the naturalistic scientific worldview. I have seen far too often how some of our best and brightest young people end up with their faith shattered after going through college, all because they did not realize that there were reasonable answers to the critical questions—especially those raised in their science classes—directed against their faith in God.

We need ambassadors who will directly impact the scientific establishment for Christ, and we need teachers who desire to reach the world by equipping the hearts and minds of our young people with the means to make a difference. It is my hope that more teachers and leaders will find opportunities to equip themselves in order to prepare students for an encounter with the mainstream scientific establishment. May Reasonable Answers (the blog) provide you with useful and relevant material to equip you for this purpose!

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4 comments:

  1. Daniel said...

    Thanks for sharing Ken. I'll be following your blog.

    As I read the accounts of Jesus' ministry I see him constantly breaking down the perceptions people have of him.

    I believe the church also has a calling to break down the constructed stereotypes of Christ and Christians.

  2. Alex said...

    Ken, this is great. We got to get together sometime soon. I'd like to share this with our JH/HS Fellowship at church and perhaps get you to come as a guest speaker during my next series.

    Alex

  3. Christina said...

    If I haven't been told a thousand times, I know that you are probably one of the nicest teacher I have. You have a really big heart and its great that you reach out like this. You know what your goal is and you seem to really try all you can to get the points across as well. Don't get discouraged when people go other ways, some people have to search differently, thats how we teenagers grow.

    -Christina Lopez

  4. Terence said...

    Wow Mr. Yeh, I never knew all of that about you. Your class sounds interesting and I want to take your class in order to be ready to respond when someone attacks my faith.

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