Don’t raise uninformed children by always opposing or ignoring evolution.

Dec 29, 2010 By Abraham 61

John McIntyre writes,

Basic evolutionary theory, with some quibbling over details, has widespread acceptance in the scientific community. So do the theory of relativity, the theory of gravitation, and the theory of the heliocentric solar system. If you have taught your children otherwise, you are curtailing their ability to operate in the world as informed adults.

His last sentence is true whether evolutionary theory is or not.

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Update: 41 comments in and everyone is being very nice. Thanks and keep it up!

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61 Comments

  1. ryan says:

    For once I disagree with you. And strongly. I would say “Don’t raise uninformed children by ignoring evolution.” Unless you mean something other than evolution as it regards origins – then I could ride along with your statement. My children will be no less informed as adults if I teach them a biblical view of origins as opposed to the theory of evolution.

    1. Charles says:

      Ryan,

      Will you teach that only the 6,000-year “biblical” view of origins is correct? Will you teach that evolution is impossible? Will you teach that evolution is heresy?

      Might you try to distinguish between an evolution worldview and evolution as science?

      Please don’t raise uninformed children.

      1. ryan says:

        Yes. Yes- with regard to origins. And yes.

        The science of evolution is spurious – but yes.

        I am not and will not.

        Your error is in equating “uninformed” with instilling a biblical worldview – in teaching them what I believe to be right. Somehow people, even those who would take the title ‘Christian’, think that all options must be presented as valid. Frankly, that’s rubbish.

        1. Charles says:

          It was previously believed as truth in Christian consensus that the Earth was the center of the universe, that the planets and sun and stars revolved around Earth, as part of an androcentric worldview.

          If you believe in heliocentricism, I would find it strange that you are so quick to agree with that science but you are so quick to dismiss evolutionary science.

          It doesn’t make you or your children any less Christian to accept that God created everything and that he used certain means to bring about humans (means which are not enumerated specifically either way in the bible).

          The bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs at all, but we (at least most people) accept that they existed millions of years ago. Do you think dinosaurs are fiction?

          1. ryan says:

            I’m not going to enter into a debate with you here but your equating heliocentrism with evolutionary THEORY is laughable. Let’s leave it at this – you raise your children (if you have any) as you believe God would have you and I’ll do the same.

          2. Charles says:

            Ryan,

            Heliocentricism was also a theory several centuries ago. The fact that it was called a theory back then does not change the fact that today we observe it as reality.

            It is quite obvious just how valid the article from Abraham is for the Christian church today, because it is this kind of refusal to debate that turns kids into uninformed adults.

          3. ryan says:

            It’s not that I’m not interested in debating/discussing – but not in this forum. I have yet to see a debate in a comment thread go anywhere other than downhill.

          4. Charles says:

            If going “downhill” means it turns to name calling, I promise I won’t curse or call you names. :o)

            If going “downhill” means the discussion illustrates the shortcomings of your currently held position, then, well, I can’t make any promises. :o)

            I really am curious about your response my comment: “Heliocentricism was also a theory several centuries ago. The fact that it was called a theory back then does not change the fact that today we observe it as reality.”

          5. sarah says:

            there is no biblical basis for believing that the earth is the center of the universe. there IS a biblical basis for believing that God is the creator, and not through evolution. and though dinosaurs are not directly addressed, some do believe that things such as the biblical leviathan in job refer to dinosaurs.

            and there are some things that are just not in the bible because they aren’t important enough or necessary. surely jesus used the bathroom, but it doesn’t impact salvation so it’s not there.

          6. Charles says:

            Sarah, there is as much of a biblical support for geocentricism as there is for evolution. After all, if man is created in God’s image, and the earth was created for man to live in, how could God possibly have designed the universe so that the earth, the only planet containing Man, is the least significant object, just the third planet revolving around a sun in a galaxy of hundreds of billions of stars revolving around the center of the galaxy, in a universe of 80+ billion galaxies?

            God marvelously created all things, indeed. Does that exclude evolution as a means? Certainly not. However, evolution as a Grand Theory of Everything worldview is certainly wrong, and the bible is strictly against that. How can that be? This will help: http://www.biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf

          7. sarah says:

            and just a small “aside” – job is chronologically before most of genesis (i was surprised at that) so it would make sense that the mention of dinosaurs was in job.

          8. sarah says:

            charles, there is some danger in putting words in God’s mouth. you are using some sort of reasoning to say that the bible supports the view of the earth as the center of the universe, but that reasoning doesn’t make sense.

            God does everything for His own glory, not for man’s.

          9. Charles says:

            Sarah,

            Indeed, there is danger in putting words in God’s mouth. When speaking about heliocentricism vs. geocentricism, the church made the mistake of doing such a thing. I think many in the church today are making the same mistake with evolution: the bible does not specifically rule out evolution as a means, but many do today because they claim to know extrabiblically what God originally meant.

  2. stevi says:

    I’d say the same when it comes to other religions also. Children who are raised not to at least acknowledge and understand other people’s perspectives will find adult life very difficult. I work with college students, and so many who were raised in Christian homes find university a difficult adjustment because the bubble they’ve existed in their whole lives has not prepared them for a world in which their beliefs put them in the minority. I don’t think that means you have to dilute your children’s faith. Just teach them to understand where the rest of the world is coming from.

  3. Lindsey says:

    I don’t see why children can’t be taught both. I don’t recall being confused as a child when taught that God created the world at home/church, and learning evolutionary process at school. In fact, the science books at my fundamentalist high school were laughably erroneous, and watching videos purporting that The Flood created the Grand Canyon didn’t cement creationism further into my mind. There is always more than one way to look at things. Science and faith are not mutually exclusive. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We know this to be true. But exactly how and when it all took place, is I think, up for discussion.

    1. Charles says:

      Exactly.

      I think these types of creationist propaganda, if I may use that word, are laughable by the standards of most reasonable people, including both Christian and non-Christian people. It is unfortunate that those who tow the party line about the 6,000 year earth now view any criticism of their worldview as heresy within the church and persecution from outside the church.

  4. jennapants says:

    I daresay our children will be MORE informed than the average kid (or adult?) on the subject of evolution. There’s an underlying assumption that those who do not believe in evolution as a means of origins are the ones not informing their children. Weird. We’re the ones talking about it.

    It’s tragic to me how many Christians do NOT critically think through evolution as it relates to origins, but rather accept it based on the fact that it’s “widely accepted”.

    Just consider for a moment how much BS has been widely accepted over the years. First thing that came to my mind was slavery. Is this a good basis for judging what we believe? We DO teach our children what is widely accepted and we also teach them to think critically.

    I absolutely love engaging in discussion and debates about this very subject in person, but I’m going to have to avoid your blog for a few days as I anticipate this getting ugly.

      1. ryan says:

        But seriously… I think it’s good to put this out there – my only issue is tying together ignoring and opposing. One (ignoring) is the putting your head in the sand type of Christianity I grew up with. The other (opposing) is the natural outworking of having a certain worldview and understanding and, if necessary, disagreeing with others.

    1. Charles says:

      Thinking critically is indeed critical for a healthy Christian mind. However, when teaching critical thinking, make sure you actually teach that, rather than equating critical thinking with the rejection of evolution as a means God used to create. In essence, equating critical thinking with a pre-supposed acceptance of a 6,000 year earth, in reality, is the opposite of critical thinking.

    2. Lee Shelton says:

      “There’s an underlying assumption that those who do not believe in evolution as a means of origins are the ones not informing their children.”

      Exactly. I would submit that the vast majority of those who believe in evolution are as uninformed as anyone else on the subject because it’s simply discussed as fact with absolutely no qualifications or disclaimers. Just turn on any nature show on TV and you’ll see what I mean.

    1. Holly says:

      Lesson 7 Ruth 3:1-7

      Thanks Charles, Excellent paper from Keller. This is an issue that I’ve finally decided must be dealt with in my life. My husband and I have come to pretty much the same conclusions as Keller over the past few years. I homeschool a 9 yo and a 5 yo and teach them at the very least that the earth and universe are ancient and that we do not know the how of God bringing about life on the planet. We also go to a fundamentalist church and our pastor preached a series on Genesis 1…sorry, he preached a series on MacArthur’s Battle for the Beginning. Needless to say that was painful.

      1. Holly says:

        ha ha. I had cut and pasted this into a Word document I had open to see if I could get it to strike through “Genesis 1″ and now see that when I pasted back here the title for the Bible study lesson I’m writing today came with it. Sorry about that..the comment had nothing to do with Ruth =)

  5. Josh S says:

    I believe you just opened a can of worms, and I approve sir, I approve.

    It’s another one of those posts where it’s hard for me to read the comments without wincing, though.

  6. NatMc says:

    Can of worms indeed.

    Did you know that earthworms in Minnesota are an invasive species? Can we trust anything our parents taught us?!

  7. JoeS says:

    I agree with the main point that we need to acknowledge that evolution is widely accepted in the scientific world, whether we believe it is true or not. But I am always amazed at the condescension I observe from conservative Christians toward those who believe in a young earth. Thank you Charles for continuing the condescension.

    1. Charles says:

      JoeS, it is not condescending to point out the factual areas where a 6,000 year old earth is wrong. As Megan below says, we don’t know everything, and we shouldn’t claim that we know everything. I think it is more condescending for Christians to say evolutionary science is “spurious” and unfounded and no basis in reality and the only true view that Christians should teach their children is that the 6,000 year old earth is right and any disagreement is heresy (as Ryan above has said).

      1. JoeS says:

        So calling creationist teaching “laughable” isn’t condescending? Saying that teaching your kids that a young earth is correct will make them uninformed isn’t condescending? You’ve missed the whole point of the post, which is about letting your kids be informed, even if we disagree. But you have chosen to put a LOT of effort on this blog into making sure that young earth creationists know they are not worth listening to.

        1. Charles says:

          I said creationist propaganda like the teaching that the Grand Canyon was formed because of the Flood and not because of millions of years of a river eroding through the various layers of rock was laughable. Would I laugh? No, I don’t, because I am very concerned about what Christians in this country are focusing their time on. Non-Christians are laughin. As was said by that same poster, credibility to non-Christians is lost on inane topics like the history of the Grand Canyon when instead the focus should be on the Gospel.

  8. Megan says:

    I am a scientist at a secular university AND a Christian. One of the professors I work with has a PhD in biology and is also a pastor at a local church. We both agree that we (as scientists and Christians) don’t have it all figured out and we probably never will. Our faith is strong in God’s creation, we just don’t know his methods. I think Einstein said it best: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

  9. Ben says:

    Young Earth Creationism has long been associated with the fight to keep Christendom alive in the West. Christendom being a religiously Christian centered culture exemplified by certain establishments like prayer in schools, 10 Commandments in the courtroom, religion in politics, and YEC taught in schools.

    The problem is that Christendom as we have known it is dead. We no longer live in a Christianized culture but some of us haven’t gotten the memo.

    So, when the evolution thing comes up, some of us defend YEC as if we are trying to defend all of Christianity – a feeble attempt to rebuild Christendom. I believe this completely clouds the debate and ruins our credibility to those outside Christianity.

    In fact, it is possible to reconcile many parts of evolutionary theory (excluding evolution as a world view) and not violate a conservative view of scripture. It won’t make us atheists, so we need to relax about that.

    My point: until we all learn to disconnect evolution from Christendom (and a panicked attempt to rebuild it) the debate will get buried in straw men and bad argument.

    1. brooke says:

      Well, I see what you mean … except that the YEC have been taught that Christianity really does rise and fall on Genesis. If death came before the fall … then it all falls apart.

    2. Jared says:

      Ben, you hit the nail on the head.

      A couple of years ago I realized that the real debate isn’t between YEC and evolution, but between secular materialism (a belief that physical/observable matter and energy is all that exists) and a worldview that allows for belief, God, and supernatural occurrences. If evolution was disproved tomorrow, it wouldn’t result in people turning to Christianity. Those who can’t abide a universe governed by God would simply create a new theory that excludes a Creator.

      Also, YECs need to get over their opposition to the Big Bang. Read any writings by atheists or secular materialists and you’ll soon find that they HATE the Big Bang theory and very begrudgingly accept it given that The Big Bang, at its core, closely mirrors the Genesis account. In fact, many scientists throughout the first half of the 20th century continued to hold to the Steady State Theory due to the fact that they viewed the Big Bang to be too religious. This is why you see the multiverse theory gaining so much traction these days (ex- Hawking’s new book).

      Personally, I gravitate towards a theistic evolutionist understanding for creation. I believe evolution is the creative process by which God created the universe. I could be wrong, but I don’t think my view is inconsistent with Genesis 1.

      P.S. All informed Christians should read, “Big Bang”, Simon Singh’s very readable history of Cosmology: http://tinyurl.com/2e7cas6

  10. Kimberly says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Abraham, but aren’t you simply saying that we ought to teach our children that “basic evolutionary theory…has widespread acceptance in the scientific community”? It seems to me that this post really has nothing to do with whether evolution is right or wrong, nor is it about whether or not we should teach evolution to our children. Oh well, people love a good controversy!

    1. Charles says:

      The premise of the “teach creationism in public schools” movement is that evolution and geology are not scientifically correct and thus the “correct” truth needs to be taught. Included among the disputed facts are that the Grand Canyon was formed because of the flood and not because of a river carving through it over millions of years, as was mentioned in a previous comment, or that the earth is only a few thousand years old and not a few billions years old.

      If parents and teachers are trying to promote creationism, you can bet they will probably not mention the scientific consensus, which is that the article’s author was talking about.

      1. brooke says:

        Beg to differ … those who argue for intelligent design merely want schools to acknowledge that there are other thoughts on origins.

  11. Steve says:

    Two points: First, this is a matter of “To raise in a bubble, or not to raise in a bubble, that is the question.” Yes, teach a Biblical worldview (or do even better and actually live it out), but also raise informed children. A strong, enduring faith must deal with doubts and opposing ideas. We must not be afraid of presenting the Truth claims of Christianity along the truth claims of the world (I’d recommend the Truth Project as a terrific way of doing just that); and may I add that we ought to do so in a respectful manner.

    Second, evolutionary theory is just that, theory, and today’s version is highly speculative and takes the idea places that Darwin never intended to go. Darwin himself admitted that his theory is based upon the assumption of the existence of a simple cell. We now have microscopes and can clearly see that the simple cell doesn’t exist (see http://www.jameswatkins.com/simplecell.jpg). Problems arise when science takes theory and turns it first into Truth and finally into philosophy. If we could just leave the conversation of evolutionary theory in the realm of science then I think we all, Christians and non-Christians, could get along.

    1. Charles says:

      Science doesn’t take theory and turn it into philosophy. Some scientists do. Some non-scientists do. Science is not the evil here, it’s the philosophy, the idea that evolution is the Grand Theory of Everything. That is simply wrong by biblical standards, but not because of the underlying science but because the philosophy is contrary to the truths of scripture. Science shows us what we observe and seeks to quantitate it, to describe it, to model it. Science can never and should never explain the metaphysical why.

      When Christians rail against science as evil, non-Christians see an attack on observable reality. Christians are able to see the unseen reality, that which science could never possibly describe. Why is the american church so hung up on not talking about the unseen reality that Christians are blessed with seeing with spiritual eyes and focusing instead on coming up with extrabiblical explanations for observable physical reality that are simply wrong in light of the overwhelming physical evidence?

  12. Lowell says:

    “STATEMENT X”, with some quibbling over details, has widespread acceptance in the scientific community.

    I could fill in dozens of things for STATEMENT X, but that has little or no bearing on what I teach my children.

    I teach my children how to think, what other people think, why I may or may not disagree with them, how to react to those I disagree with them, etc.

    But the opening statement is NOT how I decide what to teach my children.

  13. Steve says:

    Charles, I think I’m with you, but by far this theory dominates the secular culture and it is consistently used to attack Christians or to portray them as primitive. No doubt Christians do the same to scientists, which is part of my point when I mentioned the need to present Biblical Truth alongside worldly truth in a respectful manner. People often feel attacked when their personal faith tradition is belittled – Christians at least are mostly honest about their need for faith, scientists should be equally honest about their faith in evolution.

    Josh S., the problem with science isn’t gravity or germs, but rather the problem is with Haekel’s faked embryonic drawings and many other desperate attempts by some scientists to, again, take evolutionary theory to places that Darwin never intended. It seems that in order to place evolutionary theory alongside established scientific realities, like the existence of gravity and germs, a good amount of speculation, or faith, is required.

    Thanks for the comments guys. Enjoying the discussion.

    My simple cell link didn’t work. Here it is again: http://www.jameswatkins.com/simplecell.jpg

  14. Myrddin says:

    Abraham,

    Though I haven’t been able to follow your blog since taking my new job, my wife forwarded this to me. While I know for some this does open the proverbial “can of worms,” both as an issue in, and of itself and as a representative of all the worms IN that can, this is critical.

    Great job raising it.

    One of my biggest concerns as an Evangelical is not the debate itself, but the fear of reasonable discussion … the “sanitizing” of kids books, the “dubunking” of museum exhibits, the slippery slope arguments, the demonization of science and scientists, and so forth. That will come back to seriously haunt us in the form of our most reflective young men and women throwing the baby of a clear gospel out with the bathwater of these anti-intellectual cultural crisis issues. It nearly happened to me as I saw that everything I had been tought on THIS mattter I had been taught through the lens of an absolutely naive strawman presentation of the other side. So what else were they hiding from me if they wouldn’t even accurately represent their opponents’ positions???

    Full disclosure: I am a former “young-earther” turned “old-earther” turned Christian proponent of a fully evolutionary view of our biological origins. I now teach at a christian school that and, for what it’s worth, I think this whole issue is not chiefly one of science versus the Bible or a problem of a Christian worldview versus secularism.

    It its battle for one Christian world view versus another and it will absolutely set the tone for our engagement with the world on thousands of ways. At one point Islam faced this crisis on a massive level and took one direction. I pray we take the other.

    Come Holy Spirit and give us wisdom!

  15. Lisa says:

    Aren’t you guys supposed to say everything in 22 words or less? It’ll help focus your thoughts, make it less rambling, and easier to read.

  16. Sean says:

    Children taught creationism (properly taught creationism, that is, by informed, reasonable parents) understand evolutionary theory much better than those who are solely taught evolution. If you are teaching creation, you HAVE TO deal with the elephant in the room, evolution.

    So, when I entered high school from a creation-taught home school background, I scored the highest in the class on the evolution pre-test our honors biology teacher gave us before we covered the topic. I understood it better than anyone else in the class, and I strongly disagreed with it.

    I still think young earth creationism best deals with the science and the Bible concerning the issue (though I went through a long phase questioning that conclusion during college at a Christian university, but finally arrived back at it).

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