Evolution at The Smithsonian

“In seventh grade, however, the teacher presented the theory of evolution, and like the clear-sighted child in The Emperor’s New Clothes, young Patrick immediately recognized that it contradicted all his prior religious teaching. “I stood up in class and asked the nun, If Darwin’s theory is true, then how can the creation story in the Bible be true?” The poor nun was flummoxed…and thus the seeds of doubt were planted.”

This quote is from Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth. Did you ever have a moment like that? When the pieces of the puzzle slipped together and you thought “wait a minute…?” In today’s culture most teenage Christians will face a moment of crisis similar to Patrick’s above.

When your teenagers do, how will they react? There appears to be a couple of options.

1. They ignore it. If they shut off their brain, put their fingers in their ears and hum, they won’t have to think about whether science and faith can coexist.

2. They privatize their faith. It is popular today to make science the ruler of the intellectual, public, and factual part of our lives, and relegate faith to the emotional, private part.

3. They punt their faith. They put more stock in what their teachers say than what their parents and the church has said.

4. They strengthen their faith. The hard work of deep thought makes them believe in the God of the Bible’s existence even more.

Which option they choose will be at least partly determined by how you’ve prepared them. Have you simply fought against the teaching of evolution in schools? Or maybe fought for the teaching of Intelligent Design alongside evolution? If this is all you’ve done (notice I said all…) it might look like we, as Christians, should be afraid of evolutionary teaching because it will disprove Christianity.

That alone won’t do, we need to be educated. We don’t need to have all the answers, but when your 13 year old asks you how evolution and Genesis 1 can both be true, your answer will have some effect on their life of faith.

I bring all this up because I visited the Smithsonian Natural History museum last week. There was a whole wing devoted to evolution…and the whole wing was designed for kids to participate. 7.4 million people in 2009 toured that museum.

I was struck by how matter-of-factly the theory of evolution was put forth. It was simply assumed. Here’s an example:

Followed by this (our relative):

Now let’s not start a debate on evolution vs. creationism. There are many positions that Christians can and do hold. My point is to remind us how evolution is assumed today, and how many will also assume that faith and science are simply incompatible.

I’d recommend the following resources on the topic (now I’m not agreeing in total with everything said in these books…but it will help you think):

Atheism Remix by Albert Mohler
Science and Faith by C. John Collins
The Language of God by Francis Collins
Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe
Five Arguments for the Existence of God” by William Lane Craig (30 page essay downloadable at link)

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