How Can You Talk With Your Children About Evolution?

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How Can You Talk With Your Children About Evolution?

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If you have school-aged children, they're probably being exposed to evolutionary theory on a regular basis, whether you like it or not. In most public schools, evolution is a major part of the science curriculum.

Of course, even if your children are preschoolers, they still may be hearing a lot about evolution. Just take them to a zoo, visit a natural history museum, watch a nature show on television or read a book about animals. Darwin's theories are promulgated practically everywhere.

That's exactly why you, as a parent, need to do some talking of your own on this subject. You need to counteract these ideas. Remember, when your children are at school evolutionary theory is most likely being presented to them as fact. They're unlikely to be told anything about the flaws with Darwinian thinking or about the existence of a divine Creator.

True, your children may go to church with you. They may know you don't believe in evolution. But they're not likely to really understand why evolution is wrong unless you talk about it with them.

This may sound like a tall order. After all, evolution can be a daunting topic. However, you don't have to be skilled in biology or paleontology to see the fallacies in evolution and explain these to your children. Here are some practical suggestions for doing this and, even more importantly, teaching your children what the Bible says about creation.

1. Educate yourself about the issues.

While you don't need to be an expert in biology, you should at least have a general understanding of evolutionary theory before you discuss it with your kids.

Know the basic terms like survival of the fittest, speciation, spontaneous generation, common descent, random mutation, natural selection, etc. You should understand what these terms mean and how they fit into evolutionary theory. This will allow you to discuss the issues on an intelligent level.

Also request from The Good News the two free booklets Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? Both include lists of helpful books, most written by scientists, that support the booklets' main points.

You can also find a lot of helpful material at Web sites such as www.answersingenesis.org and www.icr.org, as well as in books published by creationist publishing houses. But you need to be mindful of their varying views. Not all creationists believe the same thing. The majority consider themselves “young earth” creationists, meaning they believe that the stars, planets, earth and life on earth were created by God only about 6,000 years ago.

If you think otherwise—that the earth is older than that, perhaps even as old as most scientists speculate—then you will have a lot of material to weed through when reading books and articles written by young-earth creationists.

“Old earth” creationists, on the other hand, believe that the earth and the universe are billions of years old, as described by astronomers and geologists. Within this category is the view known as “gap creationism.” It maintains that the earth and life on it predate the time of man's creation and that the former world was plunged into chaos, necessitating a week of renewal in preparation for man's creation 6,000 years ago.

Also within the “old earth” category is “progressive creationism,” which contends that the six “days” of creation in Genesis do not refer to literal 24-hour days, but rather epochs that could be millions or billions of years in duration.

These are just a few of the ways that creationist groups differ with each other. There's not room to describe all the different views here. The bottom line is that while these groups can provide a lot of good information to help you understand the problems with evolution, they can also give you many additional issues to grapple with if you don't hold the same beliefs regarding the age of the earth or the timing of creation. You need to choose educational materials very carefully.

2. Address evolutionary concepts head on.

Once you have a good understanding of the issues, you're ready to have some discussions with your children. Plan a time to talk with them about this subject. Don't just wait for your kids to ask you a question about evolution, because they may never do that on their own.

If you have regular family meetings at your house, you could make evolution one of the topics you discuss then. Or it could be a subject you bring up with your kids every now and then when you're all sitting around the dinner table.

Either way, you'll want to find out from your kids what they already “know” about evolution, to what extent they're hearing about it in school and if they have any questions or concerns about what they're being told. Then you can explain some of the fallacies with evolution, based on what you've found from all your reading.

But don't do all the talking yourself. Try to get an interchange going. You might ask your children if they can come up with some examples from nature of obvious intelligent design or irreducible complexity (the latter referring to structures or systems that could not have evolved in gradual stages, as complete assembly is necessary to provide functional benefit so as to be passed on in the process of natural selection). See if you can get them really thinking about this subject.

You can also use specially designed family field trips to address evolutionary ideas. That's what Jack of London, Kentucky, does. He and his wife often take their middle-school-aged kids on fossil-hunting hikes to the creeks, cliffs and hills near their home.

“All of the bedrock around here is full of fossils,” he notes. “We'll show our kids the different fossils we find, and then I'll tell them isn't it interesting that we never find any fossils of transitional species (such as a fish with feet or a reptile with feathers), which would support claims of evolutionary change.

“Every fossil we find is a fully formed and functional species. Then I tell them that professional paleontologists have not found transitional fossils either. It's really driven the point home.”

Obviously you'll need to tailor your talks to the age of your children. You can go into much more depth if you have a preteen or teen who is studying biology in school than you would if your child is much younger and hasn't learned about genes yet. With young children, you may just want to stress that there is no scientific evidence for the big changes from amoeba to fish to frogs to reptiles to mammals and leave it at that.

In addition to your planned talks, you should be ready to talk about evolutionary concepts whenever you encounter them. You might be at the zoo when a guide or sign states that giraffes evolved their long necks in order to eat leaves from the tallest trees. As soon as you can, take your children aside and remind them of why such concepts are false.

3. Familiarize your children with the biblical account of creation.

Not only should you be addressing what's wrong with evolution, but you should also be teaching your children about the biblical account of creation. Start this when they are very young. Read them the story of God's creation in Genesis 1 and 2 again and again until it is firmly fixed in their minds.

But don't stop with the book of Genesis. The Bible contains many verses that confirm the Genesis account of creation, particularly in the books of Psalms and Isaiah. Read these to your child too. Discuss these verses. Talk about what God did on each of the days of creation, and what it means for us today.

You might also want to take some family field trips to highlight creation. Take your children to a botanical garden and show them the intricate design in leaves and remind them again and again how unlikely it would be for such intricate patterns to occur by chance mutation and natural selection.

Visit a farm or petting zoo in the springtime when there are baby animals to illustrate the point that God created the animals and plants to reproduce each “according to its kind.” If you have a garden, you can show your kids that particular kinds of seeds grow into particular kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Point out what a perfect system has been devised—that it could not have happened without a creator. These kinds of hands-on lessons will make the creation story much more real to your children.

4. Develop a plan for confronting evolution at school.

Your children may be convinced that evolution is wrong, but how to deal with evolutionary teachings at school is another story. How, in good conscience, can they answer test questions about evolution? This is something you definitely need to address in your talks with your children.

First, explain that evolution is a very common belief in our society. For that reason, they need to know something about it. They need to know what people mean when they talk about evolution.

With that in mind, your kids can see tests simply as a measure of how much they know about this pervasive idea. When they answer test questions, they are not saying they believe in evolution; they are simply demonstrating their knowledge about the theory.

For example, with essay questions or if their teacher asks them a question in a class discussion, they could preface their responses with something like, “The generally accepted belief is …” or “Chapter 5 emphasized that …” These kinds of answers show that your children have done their homework and understand the concept of evolution, but without communicating that they believe in it.

5. Explain why it's important we do not accept evolutionary theory.

During your talks, you should stress why it is a big problem to accept the theory of evolution—that it is an attempt to explain away the existence of God.

If the universe and life on earth evolved by itself over billions of years, then the Genesis account of creation is pure fiction and God isn't real. That is exactly what many in society want to believe and promulgate. If there's no God, then there are no absolutes about right and wrong and people are free to do whatever they want to do.

Explain this to your children. They need to understand that there really is an agenda here; evolutionary theory is being pushed on society for more reasons than simply the pursuit of science.

If your kids are older, they may ask you if it's possible to believe in God and evolution. This would be the time to explain the fallacies of theistic evolution. This theory is an attempt to integrate creationism and evolution. Theistic evolutionists believe that God did indeed create the universe, but He did so by guiding the process of evolution over billions of years.

You could explain that the tenets of evolution and creationism are so strongly divergent that it doesn't make sense to believe in both. Trying to do so reduces the Bible to insignificance, and opens the door for wrong thinking.

The only kind of evolution that Scripture allows for is micro evolution—change over time within created kinds, not change from one kind to another. Again, the missing intermediate links in the fossil record fit with what the Bible teaches, not with atheistic or theistic evolution.

What we believe really matters

To sum up, it certainly matters a great deal what we believe concerning the origins of the universe and of life itself. Darwin believed that life began when chemicals in a pond somehow became mixed together to spontaneously create living matter, even though he admitted it could not be proven. Today evolutionists cannot prove how life was first formed either.

But we know the answer. We know that God created us in His image. We also know that He has a wonderful plan for us, intending us to be a part of His eternal Kingdom. This should be something we think about often and regularly talk about with our children. That is the only way they will learn to separate truth from fiction, and hold fast to God's precious truths! GN