By Ashlea Reinsch
Donald DeYoung, a soft-spoken Grace College professor, has spent the past three summers teaching astronomy after spending the day rafting down the Colorado River. It’s something he’ll do again this summer, teaming with Carl Kerby, a founding board member of the creation group Answers in Genesis, to teach “Geology by Day, Astronomy by Night.”
The rafting trips are just one way DeYoung, who has taught science classes for more than 35 years, teaches people about his faith and God’s creation. He has also written more than 15 books, including three geared toward children.
“Dr. DeYoung’s faith stands behind his whole professional career,” said Kip Cone, proclamation pastor at Winona Lake (Ind.) Grace Brethren Church (WLGBC), where DeYoung attends. “He is a scientist committed to understanding creation and discovering the glory of God in creation. He publicly states his belief in God as the Creator of the universe and then backs that up with clear evidence.”
However, DeYoung has not always had a strong Christian faith.
Raised in a reformed Dutch home in Michigan, DeYoung did not become a Christian until his college days.
“A pastor took me under his wing,” he recalls, noting the minister explained Christian ideas to him which he had not previously comprehended. The clergyman also introduced DeYoung to other Christians on the college campus.
“He made me excited about putting science and faith together,” DeYoung stressed. “These people influence your life and make you want to pass the faith on to others.” Through the pastor, he connected with other Christians and learned more about his faith.
“The Lord brings these people into our lives at interesting times,” DeYoung added. Though he attended his church youth group during high school, he says it never “clicked” with him in a personal way, though the Bible verses he had to memorize “came in handy.”
DeYoung joined the Grace College faculty in 1972.
“The thing I like best … is how excited he is about what he is teaching,” said Beth Hardy, a Grace College freshman who is enrolled in DeYoung’s geology class.
Complex Becomes Simple
That excitement creates a love of learning.
The professor likes to introduce an idea and then have the class apply it, say his students. In one session, he showed a diagram of how to make a simple motor from commonplace materials to his classroom. Then, he asked the students to build it.
During the fall of 2008, DeYoung taught a six-week course on creation science at WLGBC which complemented a sermon series in Genesis. “His lectures were very well attended and very much appreciated,” said Cone.
“He obviously loves students and loves teaching,” says Bruce Barlow, lead pastor at WLGBC. “He is so natural, well-read, and common-sense in his approach. Barlow remembers traveling to Israel with DeYoung and his wife, Sally.
“One of my favorite memories with them is being alongside the Dead Sea in Israel. [DeYoung] offered to give us an astronomy lesson that night, pointing out many of the constellations that we typically cannot see from our part of the world!”
Ever the prolific writer, DeYoung, with Grace College alumnus Derrik Hobbs, is working on Discovery of Design. The book, scheduled to be released in the fall, gives hundreds of examples of how God’s creation has inspired designs in technology, including sonar, train engines, and Velcro. A corresponding Web site, discoveryofdesign.com, is updated monthly to feature a product inspired by nature.
He is also revising Astronomy and the Bible. This book includes more than 100 questions about astronomy with answers from the Bible. (The book is scheduled to be reprinted this year.)
The professor has published several articles in various publications, including the Creation Research Society Quarterly, published by the Creation Research Society, which DeYoung currently serves as president.
DeYoung was the impetus of the Creation Center, a mile-long trail through woods behind the Grace Science Center. The trail, which is open to the public, encourages visitors to look for designs in nature. DeYoung continues to oversee the Center, updates the brochure, and organizes the spring cleanup day, something he has done for the past ten years.
No matter where he goes, DeYoung tries to teach people about God and environmental stewardship. He wants people to see God in everything around them and to take care of creation, man’s original purpose in life.
“Through his books and lectures, I think Dr. DeYoung has considerable influence on the thinking of others in relation to creation science,” Cone says.
Editor’s Note — Ashlea Reinsch, a freshman at Grace College, is majoring in journalism. She calls Garrett, Ind., her hometown and she hopes to work at a small town newspaper someday.