Evaluating Kurt Wise's Devotional Biology Textbook

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Kurt Wise tends to be one of the more knowledgable and honest YEC’s out there.

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The Filthy Monkey Men article is a little bit misleading. I checked out the study of the book effectiveness and found this description:

In the 2013/2014 academic year, Truett McConnell faculty adopted a general education program with BI 101 as its only science course (and Devotional Biology as its only science textbook). At the end of the Fall semester of 2013, KPW included a question on the final (essay) exam in his sections of BI 101 that provided student evaluation of the course and its textbook. The students were asked “Imagine that you encounter an entering Truett student who is disgruntled about having to take BI 101 (because he or she doesn’t like science and/or he or she ‘can’t do science’). Compose an essay that encourages such a student to see the advantages of taking BI 101.” All the questions on the exam, including this one, were provided to students one week prior to the exam.

As an undergraduate educator, I am rather shocked to see that the Final Exam, even for a non-majors course, was comprised of essays given 1 week prior. Once I got over the initial shock, I noticed that the “36% learned something about biology” is taken out of context. The essay question was:

“Imagine that you encounter an entering Truett student who is disgruntled about having to take BI 101 (because he or she doesn’t like science and/or he or she ‘can’t do science’). Compose an essay that encourages such a student to see the advantages of taking BI 101.”

Out of the 305 students that were given the essay over the course of several semesters, 36% gave a response that included something to the effect of “I learned more about biology”.

The study shows that a different university using the same textbook gave a survey (rather than an open-ended essay question) to students over several semesters. I’ll copy and paste some of the report here:


This survey shows that 85% of students agreed/strongly agreed that through the textbook, they learned biology they didn’t know before. If broken down further, only 45% strongly agreed that they learned biology through the textbook.

In my opinion, these numbers are still rather sad, but not quite as bad as portrayed.

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@cwhenderson, thanks for doing the background work on this. It is really important to be fair when we engage with others. Just because Kurt Wise is a YEC doesn’t mean anything goes when critiquing him. I don’t know why people overstate the evidence against this book either. There is no need to be unfair to make the case against this. So why bend the truth?

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I invited the filthy monkey men to stop on by and discuss!

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I’ve received a response from the filthy monkey men. It as follows: “Thanks for the tip, I did pull the statistics out of the wrong table in both cases! Corrected this mistake and added a bit more detail to the discussion of results too”

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Here is a video review of the Top 10 Biology Textbooks of 2018. Where would you put Wise’s textbook compared to this list? What textbook do you want your children and grandchildren to have in college freshman Biology?

With the changes made by filthy monkey, do you think that PS should change title of topic to “Evaluation of Kurt Wise’s College Biology Textbook”?

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Given the context here, with Wise being one of the more honest YECs, I’m curious how he represents evolutionary science. If he explains it accurately, in a manner similar to Todd Woods, this book may not be all bad. Remember the audience buying this would usually get zero exposure to evolutionary science, as most are not even biology majors.

@deuteroKJ and @Joel_Duff do you know how to get a copy to look at? As profs would the publisher send us a review copy?

The discussion here has been unsatisfactory. I agree that if we want to evaluate it, we would need to review the book itself.

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I am only interested in the educational value of the textbook. Even Community Colleges have to get accreditation for their science classes. 4 year Colleges and Universities certainly do need to have accredited science courses for their degrees to be accredited. The question that I have is: “Does this textbook meet accreditation standards in Biology?”

Probably not.

I’ve seen the book. Each chapter is structured around God’s attributes. A few years ago Bryan College started using it for their Bio classes. Other depts were not happy (Education, Psychology, Excercise & Heslth Scirnce), even to the point of changing out the Bio class for something else as the required science class for certain majors. Since I left BC over two years ago I don’t know the state of affairs. But I can guess.

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Why weren’t they happy?

Go for it. Guess.

They thought the restructured BIO class (with textbook) could be bad for their students either for grad school or passing basic credentials in the field.

Even a few years ago, several universities said they refused to accept science classes from BC after the blowup in 2014.

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The ideology and posture of the school, and particularly the Bio dept hasn’t changed. So I assume they’re still using the textbook.

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What blow up?

Wow long story. Had to do with change if doctrinal statement (on creation), partly due to my BioLogos grant with a biology colleague. Many many scattered , including Faculty, VPs, and Board members. It was in CT, Workd, NYT, and of course BioLogos. Wher have you been? :slight_smile:

The fact is, the real poison/trouble was/is much worse than the headlines.

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Post some links?

Sitting in airport working on iPhone so not so easy. But start here: https://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/the-controversy-at-bryan-college

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