What if my child has to take a class on evolution?
I often have concerned parents approach me asking what they should do when their child has to take a class on evolution. I understand their concern, but my answer is frequently not what they expect. Many of them hope I can give them advice on how they can have their son or daughter “opt-out” of the class because of their religious beliefs. I usually tell them that I want my own children to know as much about evolution as they can, so that they are better positioned to also become familiar with the myriad of challenges associated with this particular worldview.
Too often we shelter our kids from views that are contrary to Christianity. There is certainly wisdom in protecting them from many details of other views and lifestyles, but I think we do ourselves a disservice when we shelter them completely. Complete isolation from the world is neither practical nor biblical. (e.g. be “in the world” but not “of the world”. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15)
One phenomenon related to “over-sheltering” is that when our children eventually are exposed to the teaching of evolution, they often react somewhat in shock. They wonder why no one told them about this before and it causes them to wonder if it was because their pastor or parents were afraid for them to hear about all this “powerful scientific evidence against the biblical account of creation”. They may also feel embarrassed in front of the teacher/professor and other students that this is all somewhat new to them. (Have they been living under a rock?) It can make them look extremely naïve and ignorant and no one wants to be perceived that way, so many of them fairly quickly shed their “antiquated and simpleton” view of the Bible in exchange for something that appears to be much more academic and respected… belief in evolution. Some parents do not discuss other views (including evolution), because they feel they don’t have answers to many of the challenges presented by these views. That’s understandable, because no one knows everything, but we make a big mistake when we avoid discussing things simply because we are not in a position to have well thought-out responses. It should actually be a great opportunity to take the time to learn together (parents and child), especially knowing how many great resources are available on a wide variety of topics. It just takes a little time, which many of us don’t want give up, because our priorities are often in other areas (many of which probably pale in comparison to mentoring our own children).
Add to all of this, the well-meaning intentions of other Christians (parents included) who occasionally respond to those who believe in evolution with statements such as, “If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys around?” Their point being that if we evolved from apes, why are apes still around (i.e. they should have all evolved into humans by now). The problem with this response is that it misrepresents what evolutionists believe and it makes Christians look ignorant. I do not want to get too far off topic, but evolutionists do not believe we evolved directly from modern monkeys and even if we did, they could still be around today (along with man), but I do not want to digress into that topic at this point. Another aspect to this response is that it is often said with an accompanying sarcastic, arrogant tone, as if this one argument will stop an evolutionist in their tracks. Unfortunately, it usually backfires and doesn’t do any service to the Christian making this statement or Christianity in general.
My recommendation to having to take a class on evolution is to do the following:
- Take the class and be a respectful student.
- Study hard and get a good grade, showing the teacher/professor you are paying attention.
- Be a Christ-like example so that your testimony is not tarnished.
- You may choose to let the teacher/professor know at the beginning of class that you don’t believe in molecules-to-man evolution, but you understand that it will be taught in this class.
- Rather than spending the entire semester trying to “prove” your view on creation, simply ask questions about what is being presented.
- Ask your questions privately outside of class, so that you do not put the teacher/professor in an awkward position in front of the other students, which would often evoke a very emotional response that may end up backfiring on you (or your child).
- Don’t try to debate the teacher/professor… simply ask for clarification on certain topics and then do some research to get back to them regarding whatever information was given. (You can contact our ministry for help with this!)
- Did I mention being a Christ-like example? (Yes, I did.) This should be the overall guiding principle.
You should stay in close communication with your child while going through this class to keep tabs on where they are with their thought processes. They may go through periods of questioning their faith, but when handled properly, this will produce an even stronger faith and one that is their own… not just one that was foist upon them by their parents. Truth is never afraid of scrutiny. God’s Word is trustworthy from cover-to-cover and the more it is challenged, the more it prevails. It’s been said that “the Bible is an anvil that’s worn out many a hammer!”
As with all of our other articles, much more could be said about this, but if you have any questions related to this month’s article or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!