Dark Christianity
dark_christian
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May 2008
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A critical look of the A-Beka dominionist curriculum, part 1

A few months ago, I posted a discussion of the specific ideology taught in dominionist curricula, including the A-Beka curriculum program used in many dominionist private school and homeschool communities.

This particular thread has gained a bit of new relevance, between California officially disallowing admission of students solely educated using A-Beka curriculum due to its educational content being below state minimum standards and a legal case involving groups trying to push a textbook commonly used in A-Beka biology courses.

Hence, I'm going to post my own little analysis of just WHY California would find it unsuitable for kids entering college level courses (I actually stated in the original thread this was likely to happen) and how this could hurt Pennsylvania students in the long run if dominionists get their way.



The following material that will be quoted and analysed will be from A-Beka's own advertising material, specifically from the website at http://www.abeka.com/Distinctives.html and via descriptions of course material from websites catering to dominionist homeschoolers. I will be interspersing this with my own observations, and links to relevant sites where necessary (yes, this is going to be good and long and proper, which is why it's behind the LJ-cut).

A fair amount of the analysis is also courtesy of two specific articles at Rethinking Schools, which were noted in my original post on dominionist school curricula; however, in particular with the subjects of maths and sciences, I will also be making my own commentary in addition.

Anyways, let's start with the first:

Bible

From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures.—2 Timothy 3:15

The clear teaching of the Bible is the foundation for all other learning.

Since the Bible is the most important subject in the Christian school, it should be taught specifically and systematically. The A Beka Book Bible Program presents the Bible in the narrative style in which it is written. The stories of the Old and New Testaments in the lower grades lead up to a presentation of the profound truths of the Gospels, the Epistles, and the other portions of Scripture for older students. The lessons flow from the Word of God, through the heart of the teacher, to the heart of the student. The curriculum has been planned so that students going through the A Beka Book Bible Program will become thoroughly acquainted with the basic portions of the Scriptures.

“Never underestimate the power of God’s Word. As you study it and as you teach it, allow it to speak for itself. A faithful teaching of the Word of God, unmixed with the systems of man, will provide the receptive hearer with a firm foundation for life and a shield against error.”



Okay, there are a few dominionist "weasel words" in here, but I do think it's important to note some things here.

a) It is stated very clearly here that Biblical teaching--and in particular, the sort of biblical innerancy believed in by dominionists--is quite literally paramount over anything else taught in the program--anything that disagrees with a specifically literalist reading of the Bible is to be rejected.

b) The bit on "unmixed with the systems of man" is the specific "code phrase" for dominionist/literalist content.

I'll give a bit of background here: Most mainstream Christian denominations now advocate an "interpretive" approach to the Bible that not only teaches the Bible largely as a moral code but also includes instruction in the social context of things. In many churches, it even notes there are varying interpretations of a specific lineage, and multiple English translations are welcomed as it is realised that many of the concepts in the original Hebrew or Greek may not translate entirely well (or may be reinterpreted as research continues in Koine Greek and ancient Hebrew).

Interpretive approaches tend to see things like the creation story of Genesis as an allegory or as the best explanation that people had at the time for how God created things, and emphasize living by the spirit of the Law rather than the letter of it. Interpretive approaches also see the Bible as an inspired work of God that was written by falliable men.

Fundamentalist denominations--of which very nearly *all* dominionist groups qualify as--emphasize, instead, a *literalist* approach in which every word of the Bible--unless the Bible makes it clear that it's an idiom--is seen as quite literally true. Interpretive approaches to the Bible are generally dismissed as being "mixed with the systems of man" and corrupting it; in fact, interpretive approaches are seen as well-nigh blasphemy and "attempts to rewrite the Bible in the image of man". (This was part of the sad story of how the Southern Baptist Seminary's School of Social Work was destroyed; much of the "purge" that ran out all the non-dominionist members was based on nearly all the members of the school taking an interpretive approach to the Bible emphasizing Jesus' call to social work--something that did NOT set well with the fundamentalists who took it over and largely have converted that denomination to a bona fide dominionist group.)

Literalist approaches generally see the Bible as being literally dictated by God to the scribes and thus infalliable. Some dominionist branches (in particular some pentecostal sects) go even further and claim only particular *translations* of the Bible--usually the King James version or New International Version (the latter of which is essentially a modern English version of the King James version and which contains some of the same errors along with a few new ones specifically from the dominionist translators)--are valid translations for use as the others are claimed to have "liberal" biases.

Dominionist groups, by and large, consider the use of the "interpretive approach" by mainstream Christian denominations as a reason they are "lukewarm" or "worldly" or otherwise "not really Christian" (they have a mess of other criticisms targeted at Catholics and Orthodox, but I'm talking mainstream Protestant groups for the most part here).

In other words, it's being fairly explicitly marketed to dominionists as promoting Biblical inerrancy.

Now to the next part of their marketing spiel:

History

History is for time, what travel is for space; it is an intellectual journey across oceans and continents of duration, and of ages both remote from our own and vitalized and enriched by stupendous events. —Moses Coit Tyler

Students need a realistic view of history, government, geography, and economics based upon the foundational truths of the Scriptures.

Ever since H. G. Wells published his Outline of History in 1920, the theme of world history texts has been man's supposed progress from savagery toward socialism, from tribal religions toward one-world government. American history is usually presented as a series of conflicts-rich vs. poor, black vs. white, North vs. South, labor vs. management, male vs. female, etc.

Our A Beka Book texts reject the Marxist/Hegelian conflict theory of history in favor of a truthful portrayal of peoples, lands, religions, ideals, heroes, triumphs, and setbacks. The result has been positive, uplifting history texts that give students an historical perspective and instill within them an intelligent pride for their own country and a desire to help it back to its traditional values.

We present government as ordained by God for the maintenance of law and order, not as a cure-all for the problems of humanity. We present free-enterprise economics without apology and point out the dangers of Communism, socialism, and liberalism to the well-being of people across the globe. In short, A Beka Book offers you a Christian and conservative approach to the study of what man has done with the time God has given.



Here's quite a few dominionist "code phrases" here, and a few very explicit phrases espousing dominionism, but we'll start on the blatant stuff first and get to the code phrases and other weirdness as we progress.

Firstly, it claims flat out that government is ordained by God for the maintenance of law and order. This is one of the bedrock statements of Christian Reconstructionism, as well as a platform for the more "Avengelical" sects of dominionism.

It also touches on an interesting, recurrent bugaboo in dominionist circles--the fear of a "one world government" not run by the dominionists. In the more Avengelical circles this is literally equated with Gog and Magog in Revelation (and that the "one world government" is to be lead by the Antichrist); for something over sixty or more years the Red Scare has lived in dominionist churches far after the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Even political calls to pull out of the United Nations are part of this; it's a popular urban legend in dominionist circles, and often taught in textbooks, that the United Nations is part of the Satanic Conspiracy.)

I will note from the following article how this tends to work in actual practice:

This is in regards to A-Beka's curricula on African history and how indigenous religious are demonised:

In general, A Beka's history textbooks emphasize Africa's need for Christian evangelism.  In addition to derogatory comments about the religious beliefs of non-Christian Africans, the textbooks assert that their religious beliefs have been the major cause of the continent's lack of cultural and material progress and political instability and repression.

In A Beka's fifth-grade text, students read that traditional African religions were "false religious beliefs."  In one text box, students are introduced to a Christian convert, Chief Khama, who successfully ruled his people even though the "land was ruled by witchcraft" and the people drank their traditional corn beer which made them "lazy and wicked." While discussing the work of Scottish missionary Mary Slessor, the text uses the term "savage" on three separate occasions. The text also notes that " The witch doctors used many evil and cruel practices. Some of the people were cannibals."

Oppressive governments are ascribed solely to the influence of traditional African religions: "In countries where the people are still held in fear by witchcraft and spirit worship, [postcolonial] self-government soon turned into dictatorship."  A Beka's senior high text ascribes southern Africa's economic problems to the absence of Christianity: "For over a thousand years, there was no clear Christian witness in the vast heartland of Africa; the fear, idolatry, superstition, and witchcraft associated with animism (the belief that natural objects and forces are inhabited by mostly malignant spirits) prevented most Africans from learning how to use nature for man's benefit and thus develop a high culture like that of the other African empires."



This is what the A-Beka books have to say about Middle East politics, and  Islam in particular:

In A Beka's elementary world history text, fifth graders read that Islam is "a false religion."  Seventh graders read that although "over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus Christ, no one witnessed Mohammed's supposed encounters with the angels."

According to A Beka's senior high school textbook, Muhammad "combined elements of a corrupted and distorted Christianity in a legalistic religion." Islam itself is described as "a fanatically anti-Christian faith" that has resisted the efforts of Protestant missionaries.

The authors' theological difference with Islam is similar to one of their primary criticisms of Roman Catholicism. Because Catholics and Muslims both believe salvation can be achieved by the activities of human beings, (as opposed to salvation by grace alone), it falls short of Christian salvation: "External requirements," such as prayer, fasting, giving alms, and making pilgrimages "involve no true repentance or miraculous regeneration as does Biblical salvation."



Here's what they have to say about Indian politics in their history books:

Hinduism comes in for, perhaps, the strongest antipathy. In A Beka's texts, the term "pagan" is frequently used to describe the Hindu religion and the beliefs of its adherents.  The term "evil" is also used.

Its fifth-grade history textbook emphasizes what it considers to be the negative effects of Hinduism on India: "The effects of Hinduism have been devastating to India's history."

The seventh grade text quotes an unidentified scholar arguing that the Hindus are "incapable of writing history [because] all that happens is dissipated in their minds into confused dreams. What we call historical truth and veracity - intelligent, thoughtful comprehension of events, and fidelity in representing them - nothing of this sort can be looked for among the Hindus." 

Buddhism, like Islam, traces its origins to a particular individual and Buddha, like Muhammad, is denigrated in Christian school texts. Fifth graders reading A Beka's history textbook learn that Buddha's search for enlightenment involved "leav[ing] his wife and newborn son" and engaging in unsuccessful "self-torture."  The students are reminded that "we serve a living Savior, not a dead teacher."



Catholicism isn't immune, either:

Anti-Catholic bias is most prevalent in books published by A Beka. One particularly striking aspect of the texts is the sense that theological battles of the Protestant Reformation continue unabated to the present day. In the texts, bias against Roman Catholics and the Catholic Church is exclusively theological rather than socio-cultural.

Descriptions of contemporary life in European countries that are primarily Roman Catholic frequently include derogatory statements about the Church: "Almost all the children of [the Republic of] Ireland grow up believing in the traditions of the Roman Catholic church without knowing of God's free salvation."

A Beka's seventh grade world history book, for example, describes the early Roman church (before 500 A.D.) as "a monstrous distortion of Biblical Christianity."  Speaking of the Crusades, the text speculates that "if Christendom had succeeded with its crusades, distorted Christianity might have been imposed on all mankind."  In the chapter titled "The Age of Darkness," which is subtitled "Distorted Christianity, Holy Roman Empire, Renaissance," the author writes, "The papacy had always distorted Christianity. ·"

In all, the seventh grade book uses the term "distorted" or its variants 28 times in the six chapters in which its discussions of the Roman Catholic faith are most concentrated.

Tenth graders using A Beka books are taught that "the doctrines and practices of the Roman church had digressed so far from Scripture that the church was compelled to keep its members from reading the Bible and discovering the truth."



(Yes, you read that right. Apparently Catholicism is the cause of all of Europe's problems and aren't really Christians anyways. No matter that Irish monks are known for having saved some of the last copies of classical works (see the book "How The Irish Saved Civilisation") or how the fall of Communism in Poland is largely attributed to the assistance of Pope John Paul II (Poland, unlike most of Eastern Europe, is heavily Catholic and it was largely the Catholic population who overthrew the Communists). No matter that the Catholic Church was the first group to compile a "canon" Holy Bible (one that, ironically, is not accepted as legitimate by dominionist groups in large part even though the Septuagint still used in the Orthodox church post-split is the closest we *have* other than the Dead Sea Scrolls or Ethiopian Coptic versions of the Bible to the original scripts of the New Testament).)

This further firms up, as an aside--the anti-Catholicism, that is--that A-Beka is heavily based on a dominionist, literalist interpretation of the Bible and very likely also approving only of the two most commonly used versions (the King James Version and NIV) in the dominionist community. (Even the Revised Standard Version is rejected in many dominionist circles because some of its texts are based on the Latin Vulgate.)

Now, of course, I did say there was blatant dominionism being taught in A-Beka, too. Here's some on that, with American history, from the other article at Rethinking Schools:

In A Beka's world history textbooks, the term “liberal” is tied to, among other things, the belief in evolution - and both are thoroughly castigated. In the eighth grade U.S. history book, a liberal is defined as: “a person who believes government should have more control over people's lives, that government through taxes should provide for more of people's needs, and that Biblical traditional values are not strong considerations.” 3 The authors acknowledge that liberals and conservatives exist in both parties, but point out that liberals are more likely to be found in the Democratic Party and conservatives in the Republican Party.

The publisher's 10th grade text defines a conservative as “a person who wants to conserve a standard [that] is desirable if the standard is good (the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, Judeo-Christian ethics) and undesirable if the standard is bad (Marxism, false religions, immorality).”

The text also emphasizes that “American and other Western conservatives believe there are eternal values that need to be preserved in human thought and action; they also seek to preserve the Judeo-Christian heritage that has made the West great [emphasis in the original].”



Yes, you read that right. A-Beka promotes a particular canard in dominionist circles--that somehow the Founding Fathers in fact intended the United States to be a dominionist theocracy.

Needless to say, this is false; most of the Founding Fathers were Deists and some--Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, among others--were avowedly *not* Christian. (If anything, the Unitarian Universalists are closest to any religious ideals the Founding Fathers held.)

Deism is a living philosophical movement, and Deism.org has excellent material on the subject; it includes multiple quotes from almost all of the Founding Fathers that not only speak to the fact they were religiously inclusive (Moslems, referred to by the term Mahommedan, and Hindus were explicitly referred to) but that they actively feared theocracy. The first capital of the US was even in Philadelphia, which is not coincidential--Pennsylvania was one of the few states not set up as a restrictive theocracy (the state's first European-style government was formed by Friends and Deists fleeing persecution in the other colonies, and was the first colony explicitly set up where all religions were free to practice).

More on the decidedly peculiar view of American history, per A-Beka:

Another pattern in the Christian school textbooks is that conservatives are cited and quoted with approval, while liberals are given less coverage, omitted, or treated in a critical fashion. A Beka's fourth-grade history text, for example, includes a color photograph and 22 lines about conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. “Through his own hard work and God-given ability,” the book says of Thomas, “he earned a law degree and achieved several important government positions.” Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American appointed to the court, is not mentioned at all.

The books thoroughly castigate socialism and Communism, and present theocracy as the ideal form of government. The A Beka civics textbook begins by noting that “All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy.”



Yes, you read it right--the books, flat out, ADVOCATE THEOCRACY and in particular theocracy run by dominionists. (This is completely aside from the whole "Christian Nation" canard taught--they're saying there should be one anyways!)

Needless to say, it should be obvious why the state of California thought this might not pass muster. And how the dominionists intend to get a theocracy is probably something that all the readers of this community are all too familiar with at this point.

The use of the terms “socialism” and “socialistic” in connection with Democratic presidents and their policies is particularly problematic. For example, in A Beka's senior high school world history book, the authors state, “A serious flaw developed in American culture during the Cold War period as America began to drift away from the institutions and heritage that made her great. For example, the U.S. government continued to move toward socialism following the ‘New Deal'; under the Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter administrations, government spending grew enormously as welfare programs sapped the economy and resulted in a heavier tax burden upon the American people.”



This involves both the use of "code words" and blatant demonisation.

Again, as I've noted...the Red Scare has lived in dominionist denominations (in particular the pentecostal-derived dominionist churches) since practically their founding. In many churches it still lives to this day (moves to unite countries under the European Union are seen as Russia trying to use this to take over the world; many dominionist churches explicitly both preach and sell books claiming that the Russians are faking the entire fall of communism; entire libraries have been published during the Cold War itself of claims by dominionist groups that the head of Russia was literally the Antichrist, and even in modern "antichrist conspiracy theories" Russia is STILL seen as the Main Bugaboo).

Even the United Nations has been historically seen as suspect due to "Russian influence" and the EU are seen as decidedly evil now both due to criticism of US foreign policy and due to those countries generally having more of a socialist (*not* Communist) system where more government support for necessities like housing and healthcare is available.

In fact, here's some more of that:


Not surprisingly, the texts devote a great deal of space to the issue of Communism. While virtually all government intervention in the economic sphere is described in negative terms, the coverage of Communism and socialism is distinguished by its depth, frequency, and extreme hostility. The authors' rhetoric can best be described as passionate, and their depth of feeling is matched only in their more abbreviated discussions of abortion, prayer in the schools, and the dangers of religious and political liberalism. The end of the Cold War does not seem to have affected their stance toward Communism and socialism.

The texts also express a substantial degree of animosity toward the United Nations. The A Beka senior high school world history text contains some of the harshest language: “Contrary to the basic Judeo-Christian concept of law which places limits on government, the UN charter laid the foundation for one-world government with unlimited power. ... The UN founders envisioned an all-powerful, global authority with power to bend nations into conformity with its plans for the ‘world community.' Given the radical agenda and the totalitarian philosophy of the UN, one can quickly discern the threat of its plan for world government to the political, religious, and social liberty of all free peoples. It is a collectivist juggernaut that would crush individual freedom and force the will of an elite few on all of humanity.”



Again, lots of dominionist code phrases in regards to the Antichrist being a communist (apparently they've not realised that the Russian Mob is rather capitalist) and the UN being the literal Spawn of Satan.

So, in other words...to put it bluntly...in dominionist circles, liberals and Democrats are literally being equated with the Antichrist and thus as devil worshippers.

Now, more info on A-Beka and its peculiar look at history (and yet more advocation of dominionism):

Criticism of contemporary culture focuses on alleged breakdowns in social order and family values during the 1960s and 1970s. Eighth graders read that “although the United States has been a sinless nation, conditions of the 1960s and 1970s saw much open defiance of God's standards” with the result that “hard rock music, drugs, and open immorality continue to plague America.”  A Beka's high school world history book argues that even after the “hippie” decade of the 1960s, “America's immorality grew worse as abortion and immoral life styles were considered ‘normal' by many people.”



Yes, apparently, it's the hippies and metalheads who are the reason America is going downhill, according to A-Beka. No matter that hippies did things like making sure that one could legally vote at the same age as induction into the military, no matter that women's rights substantially improved thanks to hippie protests.

They aren't all that fond of women being all that outspoken to begin with:

The importance of the family is underscored again and again; however, the family must conform to God's mandate, which is linked, in turn, to the proper relationship of human beings to government. “ The A Beka civics text notes, “Governmental authority flows from God to human institutions and to the individuals responsible for ruling others within those institutions [according to] a definite order of command from God to human leaders to their followers. For example, the husband is the head of the wife and the parents are God's representatives to rule their children. Individuals obey God when they submit to and obey the God-appointed authorities over them.”

 



This is actually a combination of three very interesting things here:

a) The "thou shalt not judge men of God"/"thou shalt not touch my annointed" canard.

This is a very common tactic among "Bible-based cults" and among coercive religious groups in general--that the leaders of a group are explicitly blessed by God, are capable of taking or revoking that blessing, and to criticise them courts literal damnation.

I myself have had personal experience with this--one of the times my mother attempted "exorcism" on me with a bottle of Wesson oil was when I noted that TV preachers were not behaving in that much of a Christian manner and I thought our preacher was emulating TV preachers a bit much. The rant of "thou shalt not touch my annointed" and "thou shalt not judge a man of God" quickly followed.

When I noted that I didn't think the TV preachers were particularly "men of God" to begin with, that's when she really flew off the handle, claimed I was possessed by a "demon of rebellion" (or rather, she refused to speak to me at ALL and started screaming "DEMON OF REBELLION GET OUT OF THIS CHILD", as is per usual for dominionists into "deliverance ministry", and got out the Wesson oil. :P

At any rate, it is such a common tactic in coercive religious groups that the vast majority of tests of "coerciveness" of religious groups, including the ABCDEF (or Advanced Bonewits') Inventory, the BITE Model and many other checklists consider this a "red flag warning" of a potentially coercive group.

b) The "Leaders are annointed by God" canard.

This is a common theory in dominionist circles--that God specifically "chooses" certain people to lead. King David is particularly mentioned in this regard, as are the Mosaic priesthood; Katherine Yurica has written a number of excellent articles on this in relation to George Bush (and dominionist imagery he uses) in particular.

Yes, many dominionists are quite convinced that Dubya was specifically annointed to be the leader of the country; this, in combination with a) and c), is why they will defend the present administration no matter how many foot-bullets they may shoot. They literally believe that to question authority is to damn themselves to hell in this regard.

Mind, they don't find Clinton particularly "annointed"; only "born again Christians" can be "annointed" per their own theology.

c) A very specific bit of dominionist theology--popular in Avengelical churches as well as in "Christian Reconstructionist" circles--that men are meant to be the ruler of the household (as God rules everyone), women are meant to submit to their husbands as their husbands submit to God, and children are meant to submit to both parents in similar fashion.

Yes, the coerciveness extends to the family, and dissent is considered literally satanic in those households (in the case of those groups into "deliverance ministry" or "spiritual warfare", such as what I was raised in, they go so far as to claim women who assert themselves in the home or children who "act out" are possessed by "spirits of rebellion"). As noted above and in...well...pretty much most of the posts I've made to this community, I've experienced this firsthand; in the case of kids, this is why things like Dobson's books (one of which details him literally beating the hell out of the family Dachshund for "rebelling" as a defense of violence against children as an acceptable method of childrearing) and "chastening rods" and "Christian boot camps" are so popular in dominionist circles.

One of the better-known groups that also promoted this is Promise Keepers. PK is dominionist and itself is linked to coercive religious practices.

In other words, kids are being educated via these textbooks into a coercive mindset--the only education being received is what is delicately referred to by sociologists as "thought reform" (and by the general public as, well..."brainwashing").

Public schools, not terribly surprisingly, are condemned:

A Beka's senior high school United States history textbook presents public education as suffering from a process of deterioration: “Because basic phonics, traditional math, drill, and repetition had been virtually eliminated from many school curriculums, students were not learning. Grades fell, and a reliable study classified thirty percent of all public school students as ‘learning disabled.' As the federal government began to hand out large amounts of money to educate these ‘learning disabled' students, critics suggested that some educators labeled students ‘learning disabled' in order to qualify for more government aid.”


(Sort of makes you see those "Hooked on phonics worked for me" adverts in a new light, doesn't it?)

In other words, tough cookies if you have a legitimate learning disorder, or even a different style of learning, you will memorise or burn in hell.

(This shouldn't really shock people. One of A-Beka's largest users is the Assemblies of God, a blatantly dominionist denomination, in their own schools; AoG also runs the largest "Bible bowl" competition called "Bible Quiz" which is essentially a contest on how many Bible verses one can learn via rote memorisation.

(And yes, again, speaking from experience, their Sunday schools tend to frown upon one paraphrasing a verse (I myself do tend to think oddly and "visually"--whether I'm reading or speaking to someone I tend to think of a concept visually and have to "translate" it to words--and have always been horrid at rote memorisation and better at remembering facts for this reason. Multiple people have told me I'm probably a textbook case of Asperger's Syndrome, but I don't know how much of how I think is semi-autism and how much is the fact my home environment SUCKED for the first 26 years of my life. *laughs*) No matter that converting from word > mental image and back again (mental image > word) is how I friggin' THINK. I had the same damn trouble in geometry with proofs (skipping steps that were extraneous because I didn't "see" them in my head). :P I am thankful to this day my folks were too poor to attend "Christian" schooling :3)

And speaking of the poor, the ones Jesus said were supposedly blessed in the Beatitudes, let's see what A-Beka has to say:

Unemployment also is caused by personal weakness or the actions of government. The market, unencumbered by the restrictions of the minimum wage, is the best solution for unemployment. A Beka's eighth-grade U.S. history text, speaking of welfare programs during the Kennedy Administration, argues that “because it is human nature to try to get something for nothing, many people took advantage of government handouts.”

The texts, especially those from A Beka, view taxation, especially the progressive income tax, as a necessary evil.



Apparently, the official Christian thing to do--a la A-Beka--is *not* to render to Caesar what is his, and Jesus would say "screw the poor".

And now you know why people in the hurricane-hit areas of New Orleans are having an absolute bear of a time getting help.

(Whew! And that was just the HISTORY section!)

Anyways, let's go on through the A-Beka Catalogue's advert to see other...*interesting* perspectives (which I may have to end up taking a second post on!):

Mathematics

Mathematics is the language God used in His creation of the universe, and thus it is logical, orderly, beautiful, and very practical in science and in daily life.

No subject matter better reflects the glory of God than mathematics. To study mathematics is to study God's thoughts after Him, for He is the great Engineer and Architect of the universe.

Unlike the “modern math” theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, we believe that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute. All of the laws of mathematics are God's laws. Our knowledge of God's absolute mathematical laws may be incomplete or at times in error, but that merely shows human frailty, not relativity in mathematics. Man's task is to search out and make use of the laws of the universe, both scientific and mathematical.

A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory. These books have been field-tested, revised, and used successfully for many years in Christian schools. They are classics with up-to-date appeal. Besides training students in the basic skills that they will need all their lives, the A Beka Book traditional mathematics books teach students to believe in the absolutes of the universe, to work diligently to get right answers, and to see the facts of mathematics as part of the truth and order that God has built into the real universe.



This is where I start getting into some minor maths geekery; I apologise. (I, alas, was an Engineering Maths major, before they had separate majors for the computer sciences, and as a result I fear I am permanently warped. Especially in the dominionist view :3)

Anyways, some interesting history regarding mathematics for starters. Some of our first records re maths are from the Sumerians, the Greek (via the Egyptians) then took off with things re geometry. The Pythagoreans actually made a bit of a religion out of geometry, including both the pentacle and--ironically--the "ichthus" (known as the vesica piscis (in fact, it's actually now thought the ichthus symbol was originally borrowed by the Christians from Pythagoreanism, as the number of fish Jesus catches is equal to one of the two numbers in the ratio formed (using whole numbers) in the vesica piscis and is thought to be a hidden reference; this is a pattern that would be repeated in alchemy years later). Much of the Pythagorean work (again, likely via the Egyptians, based on both historical records and traditions from alchemists) ended up as foundation for the principles of sacred geometry in alchemy (and I know there are practicing alchemists on here who can give much better insight on that than myself, so I will leave this for followup with them) as well as sacred geometry in Islam.

After the fall of the Roman empire, mathematical study was kept alive by the Islamic empires, and algebra was invented by them. (Interestingly, Spain--which would suffer a horrifying progrom that we know now as the Spanish Inquisition only a few hundred years later--was, under Moorish occupation, one of the leading centers for mathematical study in Europe!) Moslems also extended our knowledge of geometry. Info was shared also with other cultures, in particular Hindu and Buddhist nations, including the invention of the zero and positional notation (aka listing tens, hundreds, etc. as 10, 100, etc. rather than as X, C, etc.)

Around the 1500s--the time of the restoration--alchemists such as a certain Isaac Newton were doing their own researches on sacred geometry and figuring out how God built the universe in the purpose of their own spiritual refinement (often from substantially pre-Christian sources, and couched in a great deal of Christian imagery to avoid being burnt at the stake). Mr. Newton incidentially invented calculus in this, and his work as well as those of other scientificially-minded folks helped spawn the birth of Deism as a philosophical movement.

(In other words, the very *foundations* of theoretical maths were set far in the past, and things like set theory are part of a progression that has gone pretty much uninterrupted for several thousand years--only having had to be rediscovered after the Dark Ages and carefully hidden away by other nations, monks and alchemists till then.)

Now, as to set theory and their hatred of that. There's actually a logical (pun intended) reason. :3

Set theory is, in essence, an extension of work in regards to discovering that there are an infinite number of real numbers--thus a way was needed to sort infinities. (Yes, it is possible to have multiple infinities in higher maths. (This is one of the concepts that break people's brains.) A good example of set theory in action:

All real numbers (which is an infinity) are in set A. All real numbers that are divisible by 2 (which is also an infinitely long list of numbers) are in set B. All real numbers that are divisible by 3 (a separate, but also infinitely long list of numbers) are in set C.

Sets B and C will intersect; set A will include both set B and C, but there are numbers in set C that aren't in set B and vice versa.

You can even extend this--if number X is not divisible by 2, and is not divisible by 3, it goes in set A *outside* set B and set C.

One of the niftier things with this is that by doing this you can sort of "size" how big an infinity is. Set A is a huge infinity, B and C are smaller infinities. The intersection of B and C is a smaller infinity yet.

You can also sort stuff that's not infinite with this, too.

Set theory is, in essence, the basis of much modern logic and proofs, and is the foundation of a *LOT* of computer science (the whole and/or/not statements you learned in computer programming or that are on your scientific calculator are directly related to set theory).

Ironically, the symbol primarily used to denote infinities in set theory is the Hebrew letter Aleph (which was chosen specifically for its symbolism in Hebrew and specifically Quabalistic thought--the Quabalists did a LOT with number theory in their own extensions of sacred geometry and numerology)

In pretty much ANY maths above the pre-algebra level (including geometry, parts of precal, pretty much ALL of calculus, even forms of business math like finite math and such) you are going to HAVE to know at least a *little* about set theory. Needless to say, if you don't know about set theory, you...aren't really going to do well *at all* in college course material.

There's also very important research going on where set theory is almost a prerequisite to understand things--especially (keeping this nice and Internet related!) in regards to the fields of cryptography. (One of the big questions in set theory now--which directly relates to things like your browser's security, the security of your GPG keys and so on--is whether "P" equals "NP" (in fact, it's THE biggest question in computer science, and the person or persons who successfully come up with a provable proof either way will likely become a millionaire). Whether P=NP or not has huge implications for things like the security of cryptography--if P does equal NP, theoretically it is MUCH easier to crack a secure cryptographic key (such as used in GPG or the SSL in your web-browser used for secure web pages); some people even think the NSA has a proof of this but isn't willing to give it out for fear of people knowing they can crack PGP keys! So yes, there ARE practical applications for set theory)

Now, dominionists (to put it mildly!) probably don't like set theory and see it as absolutely evil for two reasons:

a) the whole concept of infinities within infinities (which doesn't set well, if you'll pardon the pun, with their concept of only one God, and two sets of humans that will never interact--the Saved and the Damned)

b) the entire concept of number theory and, for that matter, logical thought systems (in that entire systems of mathematics may be proven or disproven mathematically via logical proof; the entire idea of logic is frowned upon, partly because it encourages independent thinking and testing of a theorem (whereas dominionists are explicitly taught to trust their leaders and have faith, not thought) and in general doesn't work in a coercive society).

Needless to say, it is no shock whatsoever to me (again, as a maths geek and maths major) that California's state university system considers A-Beka's curriculum deficient as far as its maths go! Especially in such things as computer science, there is no way you can really go about it unless you've had at least pre-cal, and I ran into set theory in geometry and algebra in high school! Kids who are educated in A-Beka are essentially being sent to college with the equivalent of *pre-algebra*, if that. Most public school systems wouldn't allow you to graduate without at least learning algebra and geometry (both of which touch upon set theory, if in a basic form).

Also, regarding that whole "truth and order" bit: I guess they have not heard of, nor would be terribly comfortable with, the implications of chaos theory (aka "sensitive dependence on initial conditions").

I will continue this in a second post, as this is dangerously close to hitting Livejournal's limits of post length as is.

EDIT: As this is a two-part series, I'm including the link to part 2 here.

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