Protecting our Children

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October 5, 2009 Tags: Education

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. You can read more about what we believe here.

Protecting our Children

Recently BioLogos received the following comment from a visitor to its website:

"I am a Christian and have come to believe in evolution. However, I struggle with how to teach my children to approach science and the Bible in a way that doesn't retard them intellectually or destroy their faith in the accuracy of the Bible. As you likely know, children are much more concrete than adults and see things in black and white terms. Additionally, they have already been exposed to the Creation/evolution debate in terms of Christian/atheist. I see that you are working on curricula for Christian schooling. May I suggest in the meantime you write a short article on the subject above. It would be greatly helpful for many parents, I would think."

The BioLogos Foundation exists to bring harmony between science and Christianity. The real victims of the current disharmony are often young people. Most evangelical Sunday Schools and Christian schools teach that science is mistaken about evolution. According to this teaching, that which is at the very foundation of the entire discipline of biology is wrong. Many parents and grandparents love almost all that evangelical Christianity stands for, but are deeply concerned that their churches are teaching their children concepts that will eventually bring spiritual discord into the lives of their children.

We want our children to be brought up with respect for the Bible as the Word of God. We want them to enter into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We want them to believe in a God who intervenes in history, illustrated most poignantly through the resurrection. However, we also recognize that the science of biology is not out of touch with reality. Scientific data helps inform us about the appropriate interpretation of certain scriptural passages.

We don't want our children to grow up misinformed about creation. We want our children to know about the truthfulness of evolution, but we also realize we are in the minority in our churches. Because our position is the minority view, books, videos and websites abound which teach children that biology, at its very roots, is wrong. Curricula teach children things we parents and grandparents know to be untrue. Our concern is that as our children come to independence, as they learn the earth really is billions of years old and life has been evolving from the beginning, they will discard the faith of their youth. If that faith is interwoven with anti-scientism it will be nearly impossible for some of our young people to rebuild the fabric, when they find that many of the threads within the fabric have to be removed. Augustine, 1600 years ago, said it best. In reading the following, simply substitute the word "child" for his word "infidel."

"It is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, while presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense...If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves [come to] know well and hear him maintain his foolish opinions about scriptures how then are they going to believe those Scriptures in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven?"

One option of course, is for us to take our children away from evangelical churches and Christian schools. However, this is not something many of us want to consider. Our church is our family. We are brought together by our love for each other and leaving our churches is not an option. There are many wonderful things that our churches bring into the lives of our children. We don't want to sacrifice that which brings such joy into their lives for the sake of something which ought to be a side issue in the kingdom of God. We want to stay where we are. We love that God's Spirit is alive in our churches; we love that our children are brought up to believe in the power of prayer; we love that our children are taught that the Bible is the Word of God and that one can base their life in the Christ who is revealed through Scripture and experience. We don't want to move on. We just don't want our children to grow up having been told something which we know for certain is not true. The earth is old and God created it over time through natural processes.

So what do we do? How do we protect our children? How do we prepare our children and, especially, our teenagers, for the day when they will find out that science really does have it right after all? There is no simple answer to that question. After all, many parents have chosen their churches or Christian schools for the express purpose of protecting their children from that which they consider to be the harmful influence of science. Injecting the concept of harmony between science and faith is the very thing from which they want their children protected.

So how can we proceed? First of all, we must be respectful of those who think differently about this issue. From a lifetime of experience in evangelical churches and colleges, some of the most beautiful, Christ-like individuals I have ever known believe that the earth is young and that Darwin got it all wrong. We do not want to remove ourselves or our children from the influence of these godly people. They have too much to offer us, even though we won't learn our science from them. Having said that though, I need to be quick to add, maintaining the status quo is not an option. We cannot lie to our children. We cannot keep pretending something is true when we know it is not. We owe it to the most precious trust that God has given us--our children--to help them understand that science and the Christian faith are fully compatible.

So although change is needed it will need to be through evolution and not revolution. For most of us, it will need to start in the home and not the church. If done correctly, it will gradually spread to churches and Christian schools. Indeed, some are already calling for help. We need the best and most creative Christian minds working on books and developing curriculum. It will take years, perhaps decades before the project is complete. It will come about because very talented individuals will start to care about this issue. They will start to write and they will team with others who are artists, web-designers, and curriculum experts. They will identify individuals and foundations that will provide the all-important funding to bring all of this to pass. If we do it well, even parents who think that science has it wrong will eventually gravitate towards the material.

How should this all important task begin? It begins with you. If you care about this issue I encourage you to share your thoughts in the space below.


Darrel Falk is former president of The BioLogos Foundation. He transitioned into Christian higher education 25 years ago and has given numerous talks about the relationship between science and faith at many universities and seminaries. He is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.


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Albania Schneegans - #28070

September 3rd 2010

I’m not sure why this post has not received any comments in the past.  It is one of the most important issues for people of faith and for any parent.  It was about 5 years ago, around my 30th birthday that disillusionment with evangelical theology and later Christianity in general.  Reading Dr. Collins’s book gave me hope that I can continue to be a believer and not throw my brain out the window.  But I find that I cannot believe and trust as Dr. Collins eventually came to do.  God’s hand is not evident to me in our world and that makes it difficult to believe that God’s activity in the Bible is real and not the supposition of the men who wrote the texts.  Non of this would bother me too much, except that I have four sons ages 16, 10, 8 and 7.  How can I tell them what the truth is when I don’t know it myself?


nedbrek - #28104

September 4th 2010

Albania, I’m sorry to hear about your struggle.

This post makes the mistake of many posts here at BioLogos.  We do not become Christians because of how we think.  Nor do we remain Christian by our own strength, or by what we are taught, or what we believe…

Why do you believe anyone should be a Christian?  How does one become Christian?


Albania Schneegans - #30457

September 16th 2010

Nedbrek,

I know what you want to tell me.  That being a Christian is about a relationship with the living God.  The problem is that after many years of believing that, I find myself very empty.  Because I see no evidence that the thousands of hours of my life that I spent on my knees in prayer were heard by anyone.  That there is actually anyone on the other end of the relationship I thought I had.  It is like sending love letters to someone who never bothers to write back.  If I am to continue doing it, I need a reason.  I cannot continue doing it “on faith.”


nedbrek - #30470

September 16th 2010

We must hunger and thirst for righteousness (being right with God).  This only comes from conviction of sin.  Do you believe you are a sinner?  That you have violated a pure and good God?


gingoro - #30474

September 16th 2010

Albania Schneegans

After I finished university in 1965 I went through a period somewhat like what you are describing.  I doubted all that I had been taught as I found little reality in the churches surrounding us.  One help for me was that I had read a great deal of C S Lewis writings.  If you have not read any of his work I could look through my library and recommend a couple of titles.
Dave Wallace


gingoro - #30555

September 17th 2010

Albania Schneegans

I think you are looking for objective reasons to believe in Christ and accept the Bible as God’s word rather that subjective personal experience which can be very dry as you have experienced.  Please correct me if I am wrong in that assumption.

My take is that as finite human beings we never have absolute proof of everything and that all of our lives are lived based upon faith of some kind or another.  Every glass of water that I drink is an act of faith that the properties of water has not changed over night or that someone has not introduced a foreign substance into the water supply.


gingoro - #30556

September 17th 2010

contd
IMO the kind of reasoning that we do in coming to believe in Christ is of a different type than we use say to “prove” one of Euclid’s theorems in geometry.  In a theorem proof we use what I think of as chain logic in that if any of the steps (chain links) is shown to be in error the whole proof fails.  Motivations for Christian belief are more like a cable that a chain.  In a cable no single strand can take the weight but collectively the cable can lift a great deal of weight.  Think of the Golden Gate bridge.  Thus in motivations for Christian belief no single line of thought or reasoning is adequate but for me at least, the ensemble of motivations are adequate. 
Dave


gingoro - #30558

September 17th 2010

Albania Schneegans

Two of the best arguments for Christianity have to do with:

1. The accurate description of humanity that I find in the Bible especially the evil that is written about and that I find in my own being.

2. The change that occurred in the disciples from prior to Christs resurrection and how those same disciples behaved after.

If either of these topics are of interest or what I wrote in my previous note, please respond and I will write more.
Dave


Albania Schneegans - #35886

October 22nd 2010

Dear Ned and Dave,

Thanks for your concern and your posts.  Your points are well taken.  I was rereading Mere Christianity this Summer.  I don’t think I finished it all the way, but I read “The Great Divorce” for the first time.  C.S. Lewis is always worth reading. 

Do I think I am a sinner?  The problem with that question is that I have been reminded incessantly since I was a little girl that I am a sinner.  My parents did not let me forget it, but never provided any useful instruction on how to navigate through this world and stay away from sin.  We women are always reminded in the church that we aught to follow the leading of our husbands and are looked down on for not being “submissive,” no matter how much is done to put that infamous word in the “correct” context.  The statistics have consistently shown that 50% of men who attend church view pornography on a regular basis.  I know this firsthand.  These things may seem unrelated, but its been my observation that we make a big deal about people being sinners (something that very few human beings will deny, since no one is perfect) who are going to hell for “all eternity” ( a horrendous concept to begin with) and prescribe the answer as Christ with this result:


Albania Schneegans - #35891

October 22nd 2010

We think we’ve escaped the fires of hell, but we know that we are still sinners and can’t seem to be able to avoid sin, but we know that we are supposed to, so we hide it from everyone else and we don’t stop to think about the fact that everyone else is hiding something too.  The reason pornography is so rampant among Christians is because we can sin in private without anyone else knowing.  This, of course, is always explained by summoning “free will,” as is all suffering and evil on the earth. 
In short, I know that I am a sinner, but I am frankly tired of being told that there is something wrong with me and I am doomed to hell simply for being a fallible human being, especially when recognizing the disease and appealing to Christ for a cure doesn’t seem to help very many people. 

I agree that the Bible is a special book that describes humanity as it is which ads to its credibility and I do understand that its claims can never be proven with absolute certainty, which does not diminish its credibility any more than many a scientific theory, but at this point I am not sure where to go from there.  I also admit that there is not religion or world view superior to Christianity.  But I have no assurance no wonder no joy.


MajLen - #35977

October 23rd 2010

test message


gingoro - #35986

October 23rd 2010

Albania
I’m glad you read Lewis.  I have most of his published writings and reread him from time to time as I find him helpful.

Too many men and churches only express part of the scriptural information when they talk about wives being submissive.  I tend to get very angry when only part of the story is told.  If both husband and wife are Christians then they have a mutual duty to be submissive one to another.  Also the husband is told to love his wife as Christ loves the church.  To my mind that command to the husband is a very demanding one that few husbands, if any, can fulfill. 

As I see it, the wife being submissive does NOT imply that she is a servant or slave of the man!  Now I well know that some men do interpret it in that fashion and I see that as sin.  I view the wife being submissive as an ultimate tie breaker when a strong disagreement occurs.  Many disagreements are not important enough to force a decision one way or the other.  In fact the vast majority of disagreements need not invoke the submissive scriptural command.


gingoro - #35992

October 23rd 2010

In the case of important disagreements where a decision is really necessary a strong commitment needs to be in place to find a compromise solution and come to a consensus.  In almost all cases, each side needs to be willing to give up some points to the other.

Only when consensus utterly fails, and the issue is of extreme importance should the husband decide and the wife be submissive in this sense.  The husbands authority is of course limited as he is not to attempt to force his wife into immoral acts.  An abusive husband is not to be obeyed if his order heaps more abuse on the wife.

My wife MajLen has read your posts and we discussed responding to you.  Our opinion is that it would be better if she carries on this discussion.  (her name is a Scandinavian contraction of Mary Helen)
Dave W


gingoro - #35993

October 23rd 2010

Albania
If you want to discuss via email rather than online then I can give you an email address to send an email to and my wife can then use your return address to communicate with you.  She had written a comment but for some reason it did not post so she will have to retype it in.  I also had a number of failures to post when I sent the last comment.
Dave W


Albania S - #41553

November 27th 2010

Dave and MajLen, you may e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Thanks.


Melissa Richards - #70051

May 22nd 2012

I do not yet have children of my own, but am already thinking about how I want to structure their education when I do have them. I really like the “University-Model” schools, where children are only in school 1-3 days per week (depending on age), and are at home the remaining days, learning from their parents. So it is a supplemental school for homeschooled kids. However, I am really frustrated that most of these schools teach young earth creationism. I really hope that BioLogos can put out some kind of curriculum by the time I have kids going into school (maybe 7 yrs or so?) - I will especially be praying that something like this is available, I think it is a fabulous idea!


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