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Creation and evolution are old foes, but are they as opposed to each other as we’ve made them out to be? And is the debate even important for children’s ministers?
In a world that’s increasingly hostile to biblical truth, there are fewer truths more profound than that of where we came from—creation or evolution. Television’s most popular sitcom is full of “smart” people who reject creationism—and the Big Bang Theory is right there in its title. Bill Nye the Science Guy—once a staple on kids’ afternoon TVs—now argues that teaching kids creationism is creating a generation of kids who “can’t think.” But is it even important to tackle this debate at all? Does this subject matter to kids today? Do they care or have an opinion? Can a Christian believe in evolution and still be a Christian?
Definition of Terms It’s helpful to first define the word evolution.
- First, there’s evolution as a biological process, by which we mean “change over time.” This can show us changes in a kind of creature; for example, dogs, wolves, and coyotes all came from a common ancestor.
- Some evolutionists also see this biological process as a way to explain human nature and behavior—that everything has a natural, scientifically explainable cause. It also suggests that there’s no reason to believe in God because humans can’t scientifically prove his existence.
The Oxford dictionary defines the Creation as “The bringing into existence of the universe, especially when regarded as an act of God.”
Kids and the Debate
How do kids themselves feel about this debate? For the most part, their reaction is, “What debate?” I asked numerous kids about their thoughts on evolution, and only a couple of them even knew what evolution was—and their knowledge of it amounted to the fact that evolution says, “We came from monkeys.” They all believed God created everything—the church is very good at teaching kids that truth. But the topic of evolution wasn’t even on their radar. Two older kids had seen the show The Big Bang Theory, but neither of them knew what the Big Bang Theory is, exactly.
So if kids don’t seem to care about evolution and creation, why bring it up with them at all? Can’t we just focus on the creation aspect at this age?
Nathaniel Jeanson is a research biologist with a Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University and is on staff at the apologetics website Answers in Genesis (answersingenesis.org). He believes it’s never too early to start teaching kids about theology.
“Since Genesis is foundational to the gospel (the Fall of Man in Genesis 3), I would contend that teaching creation is critical at an early age,” he says. Jeanson also argues that if we lived in a country in which the predominant religion was Muslim, we’d likely begin teaching doctrinal differences at a young age, because kids are immersed in a viewpoint that’s contrary to Christianity. That’s how he sees it here in the West with evolution contrary to Christianity. “My wife and I have a 2-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter,” Jeanson says, “and we’ve already discovered evolutionary and millions-of-years teaching showing up on the Dinosaur Train series on PBS, as well as on Sesame Street.”
“I do believe, more because of science than in spite of it, but ultimately just because I believe.”
Can we know everything? Should we know everything? The Bible never says we’ll have all of the answers—in fact, it says the opposite. “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much” (1 Corinthians 8:2). Richard Rohr, author of Falling Upward, says, “My scientist friends have come up with things like ‘principles of uncertainty’ and dark holes. They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution, and clarity, while thinking that we are people of ‘faith’! How strange that the very word ‘faith’ has come to mean its exact opposite.” As the author of Hebrews put it: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1).[end of article preview]
Thanks for checking out this special sneak peek of a featured article in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine.
Subscribe today and get more great articles like this one—delivered to your mailbox and tablet—all year long!