Reader Terry Egolf has left some interesting and well composed comments on the Tusk lately. As I say on my “About George” page, I am not a creationist and hardly a student of the good book. My church in Raleigh is an overwhelmingly social affair that I find spiritually satisfying nonetheless.
That said, the Tusk is a big tent and I welcome folks who try to weave the old tales with the modern evidence — including older Christian and Jewish tales. So, below is a reader spotlight of nuclear engineer and veteran sumariner, Terry Egolf:
What do the Navy and BJU Press science textbooks have in common? Terry Egolf, secondary author for BJU Press.
Majoring in zoology with a geology minor; longtime ocean-lover; 20 years of Naval service as a submarine officer, nuclear engineer, and intelligence officer; Christian school science teacher; and Christian textbook author. Yes, Terry Egolf has pretty much done it all.
But his years in the Navy did more than just equip him with the knowledge, teaching, and writing skills that would one day bring him to BJU Press. As the class officer in his nuclear power school class, Terry didn’t know that the man who would have the greatest impact on his life was the annoying classmate seated next to him—the annoying classmate who wouldn’t stop talking about Jesus Christ. Several months later, his classmate’s outspokenness took root, and the Easter morning sun rose on a former agnostic, born-again Christian.
Ten years into his Navy service, a dear friend alerted Terry to the need for science teachers with a biblical worldview. So when he retired from the Navy in 1993, his experiences in nuclear engineering and crew training made him a perfect fit for the science teaching position at a Christian school in Vermont. Then a new and unexpected opportunity arose. The school traveled to Bob Jones University campus for its annual American Association of Christian Schools (AACS) competition, and Terry took the opportunity to visit the BJU Press facilities. While touring through the secondary authors department, his guide pointed to an empty desk. “If we had a science author, this is where he’d be sitting.” Turning to Terry, he asked, “Would you be interested?”
Now, years later, Terry’s main goal in writing Christian science textbooks has not wavered. He continues “presenting science as a study for glorifying God” in the hope that young people will see the need to hold on to their faith. He wants to “show them their faith is more relevant than they might think.”
Q: What project are you currently working on?
A: A substantial revision of the Space and Earth Science textbook that will include a chapter on map mechanics and cartography.
Q: Practically speaking, how do you feel your naval experiences helped prepare you to write textbooks?
A: The person I am today is very significantly dependent upon my naval career—particularly my specific naval career (as a submarine officer and nuclear engineer). My responsibilities demanded extensive training, clear communication, and thinking ahead, while the integrity implications of managing nuclear energy and weapons were unimaginable. If you “fudge” on a report, people’s lives could be endangered because “every person in a sub depends on every other person for his life. You have to be able to know what to do and trust the people you’re shipmates with to do the same.”
Q: Do you have any advice for the teachers and parents who will be using your textbooks?
A: Yes, three things specifically.
Don’t feel you have to teach everything! We purposefully include more information than is necessary!
Learning the terms for their own sake isn’t the objective of the textbook. Learning theconcepts to which the terms relate is the goal.
Pay special attention to the biblical integration in the textbooks. If that means taking longer to work through the first few chapters in order to lay a solid biblical foundation, do it! The glories of God are revealed in His handiwork and that’s what makes science worth studying; it is a means by which we can exercise good and wise dominion in the earth (Genesis 1:28).
Terry keeps a quote in plain sight on his desk to remind him daily of the responsibility he undertakes in writing textbooks: “Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out.” ~ Thomas Cardinal Woolsey (1471–1530)