October 22, 2017

Open Mic: Teaching about Creation

By Chaplain Mike

Internet Monk reader Ben sent in the following question, asking for counsel from our IM community.

Dear Chaplain Mike,

On Friday, I’ve got 30 minutes to talk to a group of 11-13 year-olds about ‘creation and evolution’.

They haven’t studied anything about either at school, and in the context of the church they go to, there isn’t a great deal of pressure for me to push things either way.

I’m a bit stumped about where to even start: creation/evolution, religion/science, Genesis/Gilgamesh?!

I may just be able to ask them questions and improvise from there, but I’d quite like a backup plan…

I’d be interested to know what advice Internet Monk readers might have.

Regards,
Ben S

Let’s help a brother out, folks.

How would you approach teaching these young people?

Comments

  1. I would stress the theological importance that if the Torah was truly given to Moses by God, then God created the world, and work through the implications of that. As neither a high level biologist nor hebrew poetry expert, I would not venture to make claims on how long he took or how he did so.

  2. Tell them the truth. The Bible tells us why God created the universe, and science tells us how. Encourage them to be open to all truth. Give them guidance on how to read the Bible without demanding they adhere to a single interpretation, and help them get a glimpse of how different the culture that wrote it is from ours, and how we mustn’t mistake the medium for the message.

  3. Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

    30 minutes, huh? That’s rough. Assuming the purpose of this talk is to educate these kids, I’d normally say that you ought to present a summary of the major positions and their arguments, discuss some implications of each, and frame the debate for them. If necessary, discuss why you subscribe to a particular view (assuming you have a particular position). If necessary, discuss why their church/denomination takes a particular view or what the church/denomination thinks are the important talking points of the issue (e.g. the Catholic Church officially takes a position that God created the universe, Adam and Eve were literal common ancestors based on the doctrine of original sin, and science is free to fill in all other gaps).

    Unfortunately, 30 minutes isn’t probably enough time for all that.

    Perhaps the time constraint and the age of the folks in question would then lend itself better for showing the kids how the creation story fits into the bible’s Meta-Narrative. And then discuss some of the implications that Meta-Narrative has for how Christians view and interact with science, evolution, etc. E.g. how the Creation story sets humanity apart from the animals yet makes him responsible for them means that even if we subscribe to the current model of human evolution, at some point humanity is more than just the “most fit” animal.

    • “if we subscribe to the current model of human evolution, at some point humanity is more than just the “most fit” animal.”

      nowhere in evolutionary theory is it claimed that humans are the “most fit” animal.

      How would one even quantify that assertion?

      • Isaac is not saying that Brendan. He is stating that that even if we subscribe to the current model of human evolution, the biblical meta-narrative points to a specific role for humans that goes beyond evolutionary theory.

        • Isaac (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

          Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. The biblical meta-narrative tells us that we’re more than the dominant species.

  4. Ditto on what Paul says above. I would also use a simple illustration of how a word or a phrase can have different meanings depending the context within which it is used as a way of showing that some of the biblical terms in early Genesis don’t necessarily have to be seen as meaning “one” thing. Though this is short notice, I would highly recommend the book by Sigmund Brouwer called “Who Made the Moon?” It’s subtitled “A Father Explores How Faith and Science Agree” and it is fantastic for parents of younger and even preteen kids inquiring about faith/science issues. It’s also accurate without being overly technical, since it is meant to be accessible to both a non-scientist parent and the child.

    Also a very important point when teaching and dialoguing with the kids. Listen to them! Respect their questions. And please don’t answer if you don’t know. They have a finely tuned BS detector that, I promise, will go off if you try to answer without knowing what you’re talking about. If they stump ya, admit it and tell them, if it’s at all possible, that you’ll look into their question more and get back to them on it. They’ll respect that honesty more than any false bravado. It might also be a good thing to point out a handful of devout Christians who have also been world renowned scientists, whether in biology, astronomy, chemistry, genetics, etc., so that they know that real people can and do live in both worlds without having to give up either. I pray it goes well for him!

  5. I would deal with issues of authority. The Bible is God’s word and thus authoritative. The senses were made by God to convey us perceptions of creation. The two ought not be in conflict. If the Bible says six days and empirical data says 6 gazillion years, discuss how those two realities might be harmonized. Above all, there is no conflict between faith and science. There are more ways that they can work together than there are for them to be mutually exclusive. Oh, and those pushing mutual exclusivity, or for one field to trump the other, are usually untrue to both.

  6. Christiane says:

    Hello Ben,

    Can you tell us in what capacity you are speaking to these young people? Are you a professional educator or a person who is responsible in some way for the religious instruction of these children? What ‘Church’ do they belong to and what is the teaching that they have been receiving from their Church and family as regards Creation ?

    Speaking with young people is always a great responsibility, and it is very wrong for anyone to place them in the ‘middle’ of the controversy that rages between ‘some’ Christian fundamentalists and the teaching of the theory of evolution.
    And yet, this has happened, and it is morally wrong to place them ‘in the middle’.

    I once tutored the daughter of a Baptist minister in math. One day she asked me if I thought people lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. I said to her that, for her since it might be a question of her faith, we should sit down with her father and discuss this together. We did. The child had been confronted by her eighth grade teacher, and it came out that he had humiliated her in front of the class over her beliefs. She was devastated. I asked the minister if he wanted me to speak to that teacher, and he agreed that it might help. I spoke with the teacher about not putting the children in the middle, as they couldn’t handle that kind of pressure, and that he should reconsider his approach and find another way to be a teacher with both integrity and a professional care for his students, even if their faith traditions were not in agreement with evolution. In short: teach evolution according to the curriculum, but maintain respect for the dignity of his students who, in faith, did not hold with evolution as ‘truth’.. He was not agreeable, I’m sorry to say, but the child did pass his class, I was told.

    Young people deserve better than what we put them through sometimes in our society, with its divisions. Please, whatever you decide, consider your capacity as a speaker to your young audience, and then place the children first..

    • Thank you so much for this Christiane. Very well put!

    • Christiane, good questions!

      I deliberately left my introduction vague, because I want to know what people think, rather than what they think I should think. I’m a bit worried that if I state my own position here, people will forget the original question and start telling me why I’m wrong.

      But, to answer your questions. The children are from several different churches, and different denominations, but all middle-of-the-road-professional-but-not-all-necessarily-highly-educated-evangelical.

      I don’t think any of the churches has an ‘official line’ on this debate; though I know that there are individuals from both extremes, and probably every shade in between. It’s not something that gets talked about very often. Basically this means that I don’t know what these kids believe (nor what they think they’re supposed to believe!).

      This is part of a series of ‘preparing for adolescence’ evenings, where they first do something practical (how to mend a bike, how to open a bank account etc.), followed by a ‘talk’ (Internet, identity, marriage, creation/evolution, etc). It works really well, the kids love it and it’s just the right age before their hormones kick in and turn their ears off!

      Why me? Because the first person they asked said, “oh no, not me, try Ben!” 🙂

      Am I a professional educator? No. Nor a professional scientist. Nor a pastor. I do have a technical background, and I do ‘know my stuff’ sufficiently to know that I have way more questions than answers. As this is ‘preparation’, my main aim is to ‘prepare’ them for these questions, not ‘indoctrinate’ them with anyone’s answers.

      Thanks to all for your answers here, it’s really helping.

      • Christiane says:

        Ben, you might speak honestly to the young people about the ‘range’ of viewpoints in our society on this issue, and then discuss, with them, some of those viewpoints as objectively and respectfully as can be managed.
        They likely will want to talk about what they know, what they have heard others say, and they may have questions about dealing with issues that divide people.

        This could be a wonderful opportunity for them to work with a controversial subject in a ‘safe’ setting, where respect for one another is encouraged. Good luck to you, with your task. God Bless.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’d skip town before Friday.

        With that amount of prep time, and the church diversity of your audience, and the hot-button subject, I don’t see any way you could get through this without SOMEBODY turning you into a pile of rocks.

    • If you find yourself in the position of trying to help a teacher to negotiate the “E” issue, I can highly recommend the book ‘The Missing Link’ by Lee Meadows. It gives excellent guidance on teaching all students about evolution in a way that allows them to explore its validity for themselves without judgement or letting the student off the thinking hook.

      All teachers should have enough respect for students not to behave in this way but it is worth keeping in mind that they are human and being attacked constantly by parents, employers and students, over something that they may have spent years studying and pondering gets VERY old.

    • “Please, whatever you decide, consider your capacity as a speaker to your young audience, and then place the children first..”

      I’d like to add to this that I *really* wish, when I was 12 or 13, that someone I trusted had told me the truth about science and that evolution (and astronomy, and geology, and palaeontology) wasn’t an evil conspiracy to discredit Christianity. It’s often a lot harder to come to grips with the truth when you’re older.

  7. Keep in mind that kids that age are “fact”-sponges and aren’t real good with nuance. Don’t get too gray-area with them.
    Still, I like what Paul said about creation epistemology in Romans 1:20-25, esp. v25. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a hard liner on the hows, so much. After all, the purpose of creation mythology is to define our place and our purpose, right? Something the evolution mythology doesn’t do so well. Or…. Maybe it does for those who follow it religiously. Looking pretty gray……
    I hope this was more help than not.

  8. Start with God as Truth. He doesn’t lie or deceive us. As creator He has shown us his desire to be in relationship with us. On the basis of this truth and love there is nothing in God that contradicts His creation and nothing in His creation that contradicts Him.

    With this in mind, the creation/evolution dichotomy is a false one that they should not worry over. They should however, follow that wonderful curiosity that God gave each of us, and the amazing mind in their wonderful skull to explore His creation as an act of worship!

    PS Tell them that if they were to ever find themselves in my Biology class (unlikely as it is), they would leave with a realisation that God is far to big for the boxes we would like to put Him in.

  9. If you are not a scientist, or educated in science, or a science teacher, DON’T DO IT. You will almost certainly leave the kids with some misunderstanding about science that a science teacher will have to correct at some point in the future.. and the fact that they learnt this misunderstanding in Church, a place they believe they can trust, that will make it all the harder to teach them the real understanding of science.

    • I would disagree to a certain extent, you should certainly do the talk. However, as you aren’t a scientist or particularly educated in a field like biology/geology/astronomy (stuff learned from the Internet doesn’t count, it REALLY doesn’t count), then don’t cover the science except in very broad passing strokes.

      Stay focused on the Bible, history, and teaching them about what various churches/individuals teach about the topic. As Donalbain said, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll get the science wrong if you start going into the science in depth.

  10. Teach the controversy. Note that “creation” involves not only the origin of life and humanity, but also the world and universe, which involve us in fields other than biology (such as geology and astronomy). At the same time, consideration of the Bible and Christianity naturally leads to other modernistic challenges, such as biblical criticism. Since I am not a scientist, I would take a more historical approach, along these lines:

    *some of the attempts of the church fathers to calculate the age of the universe (Wikipedia has an article giving various suggested dates)

    *the impact of 19th century science on religious thinkers and intellectuals (reactions include fundamentalism, Social Darwinism, and Theosophy as well as more accommodationist interpretations)

    *a quick survey of representative modern religious responses, stressing the preponderance of accommodationalist views within Judaism and Christianity

    *the dilemma faced by U.S. public schools (I assume you are American) of how to balance respect for parents’ values with the need to teach generally-accepted science and avoid religious indoctrination (sex education being another, similar issue).

    *The social and political pressures brought to bear on all this, including the circumstances which led to your talk.

    *a reminder that other religions often have their own rival creation stories. Should schools teach the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    *If the speaker is capable, and time permits, the question of “What is science?” and its application to such controversies as Intelligent Design.

  11. Cedric Klein says:

    One thing I would definitely say-

    There are good & godly totally devoted Christians who believe that God created through Evolution over billions of years.

    There are intelligent, rational & educated Christians who believe that God created everything in six literal days about 6000 years ago.

    There is a whole range of ideas between these two options that intelligent devout Christians have explored for the past 200 years.

    And then explain what you think is important for them to understand & why.

    • Cedric Klein says:

      Oh, one more thing, make sure they know that if any fringey Creationists tells them there were never really dinosaurs & that the fossils are just tricks planted by Satan or tests planted by God, that’s just crazy. Now, I’ve never run into any such Creationists. But I keep hearing reports from people who’ve claimed to have encountered them. One thing I’ll say for ICE & The Creation Museum people- they love dinosaurs!

      • Add me to your list of people who have encountered those types of YECs. It’s absolutely mind-boggling to have a conversation with a person and she tells you to your face that dinosaurs never existed and that all the fossils we have today are either modern animals grown super-large, or were put there to humble us and confound the wise.

      • I’m on the list of people who have encountered this as well. My mother in law told me with a straight face that dinosaurs never existed, and that scientists could just dig up any bones and put them together to look like anything they wanted. I didn’t argue, as really… there’s no arguing with that.

  12. Remember to keep it age appropriate. When I was in middle school, most kids didn’t have algebra – much less exponents. Science was basically a general overview. I doubt that has changed much.

    So you don’t want to start talking about evolutionary exponential advance, geological decay, statistical analysis of genomes or anything like that.

    Since it’s a church, you should focus on the Gospel – why are we here, what is wrong with the world, how do things become made right.

    When you come at the issue from this point of view, I think the old earth story falls apart. Evolution says everything is getting better, that death is our creator. That everyone today is just like they were when the first humans came about (morally). That humans are only different in degree from animals.

    The Biblical story is 180 degrees different. Death is our enemy. Humans were once good, but have become bad. That even the animal world has been broken due to sin (animal (mis)behavior reflects our separation from God).

    • I don’t think the purpose of the day, as it was described above, is to be a preaching of the gospel (mending bikes and opening bank accounts, remember) so much as an educational experience similar to school. Sure, it’s being put on by a church, but a church service isn’t the goal.

  13. I am the mom of a 12 year-old and a 13 year-old. Ironically we just spent the week at the College of Charleston’s Darwin Week and then on Friday when the older went to youth group, the topic was “Where the World Came From.”

    Regarding their thoughts on youth group:
    1. Call things by their real name; define first but use real terms. Andrew was miffed that the youth guy knew about the Anthropic Principal but didn’t use its name.

    2. Provide a spectrum of ideas. Cover all the bases. Inform in a non-biased way.

    3. Let them know that science overtakes other science and disproves itself all the time. It isn’t just science disproving the Bible. This goes a long way in allowing the teen to keep things in perspective at school where, in certain groups and settings, any form of faith can be disavowed, dismissed, or subjected to a diatribe. One day maybe the teens will discover things to help us understand the universe better.

    4. I echo the guys who said not to get into science unless you are a scientist. Stick with principals.

    I asked Andrew what he would want you to say. Here are his thoughts after a week being immersed in the discussion: “Science tells us the what, but God tells us the why.” “We don’t even know what gravity is much less understand it. There is a lot more to learn. Nothing is set in stone. Understanding gravity may change everything from Sella-neucleosynthesis to the formation of ice ages to M Theory. Don’t believe the scientists who act like they know it all.”

    As a parent in a divided family – my husband is a young earth creationist and I am not –

    • Oops something happened and I lost my thought. Nothing new.

      The last sentence should conclude: don’t undermine the family’s belief structures. At this age kids are figuring out what they believe about the world outside of their family; but they still need to have a space to come back to with their ideas.

    • EV, thanks so much for taking the time to answer and ask your son. Thank him for me. That is the kind of ‘hard data’ which will help me.

      From me to him “Don’t believe anyone who acts like they know it all” 🙂

  14. Teaching kids how to fix a bike is probably way more important than anything you can teach them about the creation/evolution controversy. And this is coming from a public school science teacher who has spent a lot of hours agonizing over how to handle this at work (to bring glory to God without losing my job) and at church (to bring glory to God without being told I cannot possibly be a Christian because I haven’t shut my brain off).

    Honestly, the best thing you can do is tell them that we don’t really know exactly how God did it, but science gives us some really cool clues that give us a glimpse into how amazingly creative and fun-loving God is. If you have some time to read, Francis Collins’ little book The Language of God is a great start. If you have less time, go to Biologos.com and search around for basic conversations. They recently posted a series of lectures from John Polkinghorne (Anglican vicar and former Quantum Physicist) that are great non-technical introductions to the idea that creation, as explained through science, magnifies God and becomes a vehicle for our worship of Him. Be careful over at Biologos, though, because if you are interested in this topic, you can waste a LOT of time 🙂

    • I talked to a Christian science teacher here who said that the greatest fear of his non-christian colleagues was to have a hard-line creationist student monopolize teaching time.

      • all of us have been taught to regurgitate data fed to them as knowledge or truth. can be religious indoctrination or it can be scientific indoctrination…

        many YEC families are not rabid Ken Ham robots spewing forth the company line. many families do not have a scientific understanding of the more complex components. it could be those kids are from supportive families that do want their children to gain an appreciation of varying opinions without risking their faith in a God of goodness, light, love…

        although the creation debate a hard line drawn by some, that is not how it needs to be presented. the insensitive type that simply monopolizes time to spew forth their company line as it has been drilled into them is to be pitied & controlled as not to allow a soapbox to be established in the name of civility/niceness. no need to treat them as a threat, just don’t let them run the show…

        kids will be kids. no one delivery approach will ensure the topic will be understood & appreciated for what it is. but with any good teaching technique, establishing a sense of wonder & awe at the immensity of what we all perceive as physical reality enough to get my heart a-thumping. i like science. i like that God is so creative & detailed & sometimes funny in His end result. there are some funny looking critters that can be used as an illustration in such creative diversity.

        anyway, blessings on your efforts. i do not envy you, but on the other hand, i do not fear for you either… 😉

  15. I’ll second the advice on Collins’ book. Polkinghorne may seem a little heavy, but then again, I’ve only read his books; I haven’t viewed the lectures.

    Meanwhile, for a bit of Church history on the matter, here are some quotes I keep handy for this subject:

    “In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side, that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.” – Saint Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, i.41, quoted in Francis Collins’ The Language of God

    “I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree: ‘That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.'” – Galileo Galilei, quoting Cardinal Baronius (1598) in a letter to Christina of Tuscany

    “Those who believe the Author of Nature to be also the Author of Scripture must expect to find in Scripture the same sorts of difficulties that they find in Nature.” – Origen

    “If something looks implausible, it probably is. Evolution writ large is the belief that a cloud of hydrogen will spontaneously invent extreme-ultraviolet lithography, perform Swan Lake, and write all the books in the British Museum.” – Fred Reed

    “Ironically, members on both sides of the debate do agree about one thing: big bang cosmology puts their position in jeopardy. The big bang poses a problem for young-earth creationists because it makes the universe billions of years old rather than thousands. Such an assertion undercuts their system at its foundation. Big bang cosmology also presents a problem for atheistic scientists because it points directly to the existence of a transcendent Creator – a fact they dare not concede.” – Hugh Ross, (BSc Physics, University of British Columbia; Ph.D. Astronomy, University of Toronto), discussing the Big Bang

  16. I don’t envy your position, but if I was in it, my lecture would probably focus on the importance of asking questions to find the truth, and the corollary of not saying you know all the answers if you don’t. It’s OK to ask questions and you’re not less spiritual if you’re not certain of things you don’t know, etc.

    – The Bible says, “God created the world.” Science asks, ‘How does the world work?” and tries to discover the answer. Thus there is no inherent conflict between the two.

    – A given scientist might be antagonistic to God and use evolution to argue against theism (e.g. Richard Dawkins), but then another given scientist might be a believer and use evolution to argue for God’s existence (e.g. Hugh Ross). A third scientist might be a believer and also reject evolution . (Are there any non-believing scientists who reject evolution? I’ve got no examples…) Put them all together and there’s your matrix.

    – On the assumption the Bible is the Word of God and that Science is the exploration of God’s creation, if a given scientific theory seems to contradict the Bible, then either the scientific theory is wrong or your interpretation of the Bible is wrong. There are of course plenty of precedents for both. It might be fun and instructive to trot out some examples. (Piltdown Man hoaxing the scientific world, Medieval exegetes arguing for a geocentric universe…)

    Of course this might be disastrous given kids or a church with different emphases. That’s just the only way I’d be able to teach it myself without causing my brain to do violent contortions.

  17. Vickie Jacobs says:

    Evalution says the world was created over a long period of time and that man had to evolve.
    Creation says that man was formed in a perfect state from the dust of the ground and didn’t evolve.
    Evalution does away with the perfect creation of man by God.
    Genesis 2:7; “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life(gave him Spirit); and man became a living soul (body +Spirit =soul). Man’s soul then is in charge. Does he want the Spirit to take control of his life or does he want to remain earthy?
    Genesis chapter 1 is the blue print. (think of house plans)
    Genesis chapter 2 and on are the building of those house plans.

  18. My approach would be to present these as two competing narratives, stories that seek to explain who we are and what our destiny is.

    Creation is the first part of the biblical storyline, which goes from creation, to fall, to redemption, to new creation. There is a catastrophic movement downward before it moves back up again and restored.

    The evolutionary story, however, is very different. It starts at the bottom and gradually progresses toward the goal.

    If we see ourselves in the story that begins with creation, then our problem is clear: rebellion against our Creator. And the solution is likewise clear: Christ.

    If we see ourselves as the products of evolution, then our problem is very different. It is not that we are fallen but that we are not yet evolved enough. The solution is for evolution to bring us to a higher kind of life.

    In spite of attempts to harmonize these two stories, I do not believe they fit together very well. I realize there are sincere believers who see harmony between them (I think of Bruce Waltke and Tim Keller as two prominent examples), but my reading of these narratives is that one view presents us with a biblical storyline, and the other presents us with a Darwinian storyline. To my mind, they are mutually exclusive metanarratives.

    • you don’t really understand evolution.

      It has no goal. There is nothing toward which it progresses. One generation is not an “improvment” in any sense over another, and a human is not more “advanced” than a housefly, evolutionarily speaking.

    • No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

      If you ever use the word “goal” in a discussion on evolution, you Fail Biology For Ever. There is no “goal”, no target, no aim, things. There is no such thing as “evolved enough”. There is no such thing as “more evolved”.

      THIS is why people should not be in a position to teach kids about science, unless they are VERY well versed in the science at hand.

      • Thank you for that clarification. Strict Darwinism would be ateleological, which further demonstrates its incompatibility with the Christian faith. I don’t mean to suggest otherwise.

        But I was thinking about utopian ideas that have made use of the Darwinian story as a way of providing a philosophy of history. Assuming a teleological orientation (which I think all people do intuitively), Darwinism leads to a kind of story that is at odds with the creation-fall-redemption-new creation narrative of Scripture. The movement is incremental and progressive rather than catastrophic.

        • “…utopian ideas that have made use of the Darwinian story as a way of providing a philosophy of history”

          Historically, those attempts have turned out really, really badly.

          There is no connection between the science of biological evolution explaining human history. Don’t go there.

  19. Randy Thompson says:

    This is a variation on what’ s already been said, and said well, and from a minister and an ex-English teacher. Assuming the kids have a sense of basic grammar, I’d talk about God and evolution in terms of how subjects and predicates relate in a sentence. Think of God as the subject, and evolution as the verb.

  20. One more Mike says:

    I applaud you for taking on this challenge and you’ve gotten some good advice (as always) from the iMonk community. I will warn you though that the “middle-of-the-road-professional-but-not-all-necessarily-highly-educated-evangelical” community is eat up with YEC’ers, and you won’t be able to approach this subject rationally without controversy. While you may not think there are a lot of YEC’ers in this faith community, you will unearth (sarcasm deliberate) them and it won’t be pretty. It could be quite harsh. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you wherever he may send you, Ben S.

    • I’d agree with this; the YEC crowd is a very vocal minority, most have heard repeatedly that there is only ONE biblical position. They will defend that position when push comes to shove.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Especially when through the chain of “if anything in the Bible isn’t 1000% factual than anything — including my salvation — might be false” their own Salvation/Eternal Destiny/Afterlife might be up for grabs. At that point, it literally becomes a matter of life-or-death personal survival and all bets are off.

  21. Don’t forget to have them watch the Ken Hamm video!! 😀 Is a field trip to the Creation Musuem possible? Along the way maybe it could include picketing an abortion clinic or pornography shop. We have to train these kids to inherit the culture wars and carry them forward. 😯

    Man I just realized…Pat Robertson has been quiet lately….

    On a more serious note I’d stress the science. And I think the farther you keep them from the culture wars and emphasize how THEY can be a Christian AND believe in evolution; the healthier off they will be.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Along the way maybe it could include picketing an abortion clinic or pornography shop.

      Does that include picketing a Jesus Junk store with all those “pornography for church ladies” Christian Romance Novels and End Time Prophecy Series?

  22. Being the mother of a 9 year old and 11 year old, I have these suggestions.

    First, 30 minutes translates into not really needing more than 15 – 20 minutes worth of ‘talk.’ They will ask questions if you spark their interest. If you don’t you’ll fill the remaining minutes waiting for them to settle down from fidgeting.

    Second, as mentioned earlier, don’t dumb them. But accept that at their age they have a stronger grasp of ‘facts’ then they do of abstract concepts. This is the age when they start to gain understanding of the abstract but they’ll likely go with a literal understanding first and then have to be walked into an abstract. ie: mother tells son to look at that sign… he’ll keep looking and wonder what the sign is going to do and not realize that mother meant, that’s an interesting sign!

    Third, you will have a range of understanding. So be prepared with simple definitions but ask if they want clarification. ie. clarification = explaining things differently for better understanding

    Fourth, you will have a range of maturity. So give yourself flexibility in your prepared talk. Be prepared to leave a thread of the talk quickly if needed!

    Last… I led several groups of this age in discussions on similar topics. I found the best approach was to present options. In this case, presenting creation and evolution and noting that equally intelligent people strongly believe that one is correct and the other isn’t and that an equal amount believe that they don’t know which is right or that both are correct. Suggest that they can study further themselves and come to their own conclusions and that their parents and (insert other sources) would likely enjoy helping them study this topic themselves.

    In fact, I’d lead with an appeal to their intelligence, “I’m going to touch on a topic tonight that has left adults in turmoil and confusion for centuries. In history, wars have been fought over who is right and who is wrong when it comes to …. (er, catching the young gentlemen’s attention) After tonight you’ll have a chance to make your own choice (appeal to hubris, works every time 😉

    Anywho… that’s my quarter’s worth of suggestions, lol!

    • Excellent suggestions, pitched just at my level 🙂

      Thanks very much.

      @All, I will carry on watching this thread over the next few days. And I’ll post back after Friday to let you know how it went.

  23. I would read the first few verses in Genesis 1 and then probably hold up something simple…maybe an apple. In asking them to look at the apple, I’d then ask them to also consider how such a simple thing is actually incredibly intricate and I’d spend a great deal of time there. For example, the deeper we look into the apple the more complex it becomes. We drill into the molecular, the genetic and the atomic until we find ourselves incredibly hard pressed to justify the leaps of logics it takes to embrace the macro evolutionary theories that bring us from the goo to a golden delicious.

    Of course, any discussion on this topic is moot and a waste without showing how loving and thoughtful our Creator is and how in his love and thoughtfulness he sent his son to die on our behalf.

    • That doesn’t actually teach them anything about the Creation/Evolution discussion, though. It just shows that you have a great deal of personal incredulity about the likelihood of a series of events ever occurring.

    • So, basically you would lie to them. Excellent move. That way, when they get to college and learn about the evolutionary processes from actual scientists, and they see that they make sense, they will associate Church with liars and be pushed away. Is that REALLY what you want?

  24. Craig Bubeck says:

    Lots of good perspective here…very encouraging.

    My field of expertise is literature and language (English), though I have a good deal of background in biology too. Genre is important when you study the truth of the Bible.

    As has been mentioned repeatedly already, you don’t have much time. So I don’t know how much you’d want to go into this. But I do think it is important for people to understand that comparing the Bible to a scientific text book is illogical and false. The Bible is actually an anthology of various writings from many authors, spanning centuries. It’s way to easy for people to simplistically think because it is uniquely inspired of God, God is basically the author of it all. We can grant that “inspiration” can be a tricky theological understanding, and you likely wouldn’t want to go there. But I think that it is helpful to emphasize that the Bible not only has histories, but it also has poetry and proverbs, as well as lots of figurative language (Jesus wasn’t literally a door nor a vine), and Jesus himself told fictional parables. So you have to read any given portion of it in its context and try to understand what the original author meant when he wrote it anywhere from 2,000-3,000 years ago in a totally different culture and a totally different language.

    It can be helpful to illustrate by pointing out that even when we say, “the sun rose at 7:35 this morning,” we all know it actually did not literally rise. Rather, the earth turned on its axis in such a way that the sun shown upon our particular location at that moment. So are we wrong or lying when we say the sun “rose” at that moment?

    When I have these discussions about creation, I like to point out that our God could have created earth in six days, in six billion years, or in six billionths of a second. So whether the Genesis account of six days creation literally happened or not, why did God have the story told that way (or actualize the story that way, if you need it so)?

    An important message of Genesis 1-2 is of course that God created all, but also that he purposefully created by way of a process. God basically describes and models a work week, and that the process of developing, growing, creating is good. For people who think God should be doing things instantly, God is clearly saying (and this is before the Fall, mind you–so process and incompleteness are not consequences of sin)–it is good to be creating and developing through time in the rhythm of days in a week. God did this not because he needed to, but because we need the model of progressive developing and creating. For kids, I’d emphasize that God made us to be creators, and its good to take time to develop ourselves and our creativity . . . because we are created in God’s likeness that way.

    But also–the Sabbath is a key component in our rhythm of developing creation. We should regularly (weekly) break from doing, and take one regular weekly day to “be” and to focuse/contemplate/worship in relationship with our God. Even though we should be relating to God throughout the week, there is a holy day (set-apart day) where we give God our focused attention and intimacy.

    The likes of that, which is explicitly in the text, is far more obviously what Genesis 1-2 is about than scientific explanations or apologetics.

    Significantly, I think, theistic evolution actually could accommodate the progressive/development of creation theme. God’s approach throughout Scriptures seems to be much more about developing things rather than snapping things into existence with his figurative fingers. Instead, he speaks, and things begin and grow.

    So when pressed as to whether it took place in six 24-hour days, I honestly argue that it doesn’t matter–that’s not God’s inspired point. And I want to know God’s point, not man’s distracting minutia and nitpicking.

  25. What Roberta said.

    Possible outline to fill in from all the good advice:

    Intro: This is a controversial topic for some people.
    Definitions of “creation” and “creationism”, and “evolution” and “evolutionism”.
    Brief description of the problems for those who cannot reconcile the two; brief description of how those who can reconcile the two do so.
    People argue about this because of what they believe is true about “how the world works” – leading to your remarks about how to treat people who disagree with you, seeking help for understanding from parents, etc.
    Questions.

    Dana

  26. I’ve always liked to distinguish between “myth” and “theory.” Both can be denigrated as “that’s just a myth (or theory).” Both, when properly oriented toward their appropriate magisteria, yield truth.

    Gilgamesh is a myth, in the same way the Ptolemaic system of epicycles is a theory. Gilgamesh is to the Bible as the Ptolemaic system is to the Copernican system.

    Not sure how easy that would be in front of middle schoolers in 30 minutes, though!

    • Craig Bubeck says:

      Though I wouldn’t “go there” with kids in terms of myth, evangelicals have been too prone to object to the concept because of its popular misrepresentation and misconception as false or “fiction” (as if fiction and myth need be false).

      In fact, it is entirely reasonable to believe in the truth of myths in the truest meaning (dictionary definition, even) of the word–truer to the original sense, and the literary meaning to this day.

      Bottom line . . . believing in portions of the Bible as myths doesn’t need to compromise in the least its inspiration and infallible truth. God inspired mythmakers as much as he did historians and poets in Scriputre. Beware of being conformed to the modernist ways of this world.

      The difference between Gilgamesh and Genesis 1-2 is that the latter was uniquely inspired of God, not historicity.

  27. Hello all, I found this post via Evolving Christian via James Mcgrath.

    I teach elementary school through high school students at my church. I would like to second Roger’s statement that these kids will not pick up on nuance very well. Your best bet is to come up with a position that you think most likely and teach that. You can admit that not everyone agrees with you and that there is a controversy but if that’s all you leave the kids with they won’t feel like they’ve learned anything. Here is what I would do based on my experience teaching and my understanding of Genesis.

    I would spend a little time on a disclaimer explaining that not everyone agrees with me but this is what I think is most likely. I would also explain that there are certain basics of the faith of Christianity but outside those basics (your church will tell you what it interprets these basics to be if you are unsure) it is okay for Christians to disagree.

    Come up with two or three questions you want the students to be able to answer by the end of your lesson. Ask them these question at the end.

    Have some kind of group activity the kids can do together. If you just talk to them for 30 minutes they will go to sleep. A child’s attention span is usually around his age in years minus one. If you have 11 year olds you want to switch gears every 10 minutes.

    Genesis as I understand it is a revisionist work taking local traditions (like the Enuma Elish) and replacing the pantheon with God and his divine counsel of angels. They got their basic cosmology from these stories and assigned God as the creative agent. Students should understand that the important part of this is that God gave everything meaning, even if the details of how they came to be and cosmology are wrong.

    You don’t need to teach students evolution here, just explain that they can replace the how given in Genesis with the modern scientific account. Let their school teachers explain the whole process to them.

    A nice group activity you can do is pretend that you are all authors of Genesis today and you want to teach people the story of God creating and assigning meaning to everything. What kind of story would you tell based on current cosmology and biology?

    Hope this helps.

  28. My suggestion is to first determine how you want the general feel to be: educational, practical, convincing, etc. Then what aspect of the topic you think is most important.

    One could teach the Church’s history on the topic. (which, if you want to really get into it, starts way back with Jewish teachers who had both literal and figurative views of Genesis)

    One could go over the current streams of argument on the topic and how those side approach it.

    One could present your view with a disclaimer that it is your view, and give reasons why you hold your view and not other views.

    After you’ve determined the broad approach to the topic, then the details start falling into place a lot more easily. Make sure you stay on the topic though – you don’t want to start rambling off somewhere.

    Lots of good suggestions made above. You can’t apply them all, but pick some that seem like they will fit with your overarching goal for the half hour talk.

  29. Ben, you said they are having other talks on marriage, identity, etc. that are more detailed than what they’ve previously heard. For example, perhaps they will have a more explicit talk on “where babies come from”. This explanation will be much more detailed than the answers they were given as little children (“babies happen when mommy and daddy love each other very much”). That doesn’t invalidate what they learned as children but the answer was appropriate to their level of development.

    Likewise, the creation account is Genesis is the Creator’s poetic way of explaining to his creation that did not yet have access to scientific tools and knowledge, at a time before humanity comprehend particle physics, DNA, etc.

    Having said that, I would open the door for epistemology: I would add that God continues to reveal to us new ways of knowing, that go beyond even scientific explanations, so that we can glimpse a much bigger picture than our scientific minds can grasp on their own.

  30. To be honest I think you might be walking into a buzz saw. And maybe the people who asked you to do this have the best of intentions but still ….

    Kids from multiple churches? And parents from various situations? Ugh.

    I came from a church (2000+ each Sunday) where we thought there was no official position on this subject. Turns out there was and it was being taught to the kids but not detailed to the parents. We thought it was just some of the Sunday School teachers giving their own views. Turns out the church leadership was deliberately quiet on this issue so as not to run off adults who disagreed.

    As some of us in our Sunday school group started having out kids run into a hard line YEC teaching we decided that the adults would talk about this over an 8 week period in our Sunday school class. I personally voice my opinion this will likely not turn out good but was overruled by the folks who couldn’t imaging our friends not discussing things in a thoughtful “Christian” manner.

    WWIII erupted after a few weeks. Turned out this was an issue that many didn’t talk about much but their beliefs rand deep and hard. All directions. Friendships ended. “Are you really a Christian” was mentioned at times Or those “stupid idiots”. Etc. This was the start of a discussion over lots of issues that led to many of us and others leaving this church.

    Anyway, my point is that I firmly believe that it is the job of parents to direct their kids through life. Even if I feel they are doing it badly (but not physically so). And many parents who hear about you saying anything that goes against their beliefs will be up in arms. Nearly literally. I’ll discuss this issue with parents but rarely broach it with kids under the age of 16 or so.

    Are you sure you want to teach this class beyond a very broad overview of “there are differences of opinion”? And even this will bring out the fire in some adults.

    Sorry for this downer post but I and others have scars. Heck I know kids who express “science” views less strident than other comments here who got tossed out of Sunday school classes.

    To me this is a no win situation for someone trying to give a fair overview of this subject to kids.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      To be honest I think you might be walking into a buzz saw.

      MIGHT BE?

      Evolution is right up there with Homosexuality when it comes to calling for Christian Jihad! I was on a list that got killed by a Christ-vs-Darwin Celebrity Deathmatch that just wouldn’t end until there was no more list except for the Screaming YECs, and look at the explosion you get on IMonk whenever the subject comes up!

    • “To be honest I think you might be walking into a buzz saw.”

      Yes you are. Not to brag, but to make a point. I agree with Apostles’ and Nicene Creed, study the Bible several times a day, 365 days a year. Prayer is a constant part of my life. I constantly study 2000 years of church history. I enjoy going down to the homeless camp in my city. I enjoy leading small groups.

      To make a long story short, I refused to attend a Ken Ham propaganda class and I don’t go to that church anymore.

      And I have family members who insinuate I am not a Christian.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Because nowadays God’s Litmus Test of Salvation — and the entire Gospel — is Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles.

        Christ got thrown under the bus long ago.

    • One more Mike says:

      You’ll have better luck reasoning with a buzz saw. At least a buzz saw has an off switch. The creation controversy doesn’t. It only has screaming matches, scarred victims and insures the evangelical wilderness never runs out of wanderers. You’ll do well here Ben.

    • It ought to be possible to focus on facts that are recognized by all.

      • That’s the problem, isn’t it? One person’s “facts” are another person’s “difference of opinion.” Some of the commenters mentioned knowing people who said dinosaurs didn’t exist! Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts, as a U.S. Senator (Pat Leahy?) said a few years back. But the opinions are so strong, and the worldviews are so entrenched, sometimes people will reject facts outright if that’s what it takes to avoid the cognitive dissonance.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        What if there are NO “facts that are recognized by all.”

        We’re into Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory Logic here, where all “Facts” that argue against The Conspiracy are automatically Disinformation Planted By The Conspiracy To Deceive Even The Very Elect. (“Could it be… SATAN?” — SNL)

        The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

      • “It ought to be possible to focus on facts that are recognized by all.”

        If you have any Ken Ham YEC adherents and OE folks the facts that are recognized by all are few and far between. Radioactive decay isn’t reliable, the speed of light may have changed over time, etc…

        Basically this is a dead end with many people.

        As the one who started the buzz saw comments, I’m basically saying this can easily be a lose-lose situation. You really need to poll the parents and if they have divergent opinions on this topic, you need to walk away. Or you might be preceived as spreading heresy by some of the parents.

        Just say no. 🙂

        • By “facts” I’m not thinking so much of scientific facts, as statements of what the various sides believe and argue about, for example, the age of the universe, the nature of the Bible, and so forth.

          • Beliefs are not facts. Facts are data about things that can be proven. It is a fact that I am between 5’8″ and 5’9″ tall. We can all get out our rulers and test this fact. Now someone who sees me walking down the street next to a friend of mine who’s about 6’3″ may think I’m about 5’6″ tall. That’s a belief/opinion/whatever. But not a fact.

            The age of the universe is not a fact to anyone on the old earth side. Radioactive decay rates, the light spectrum of our sun, the measured red shift of objects, etc… are facts. These can all be measured. How you interpret these facts is where the, shall we call it “debate”, occurs.

  31. donald todd says:

    You noted in the beginning that the church where you are to make the presentation doesn’t seem to have an opinion about your topic. While it might not be regularly espoused, perhaps the pastor can specify what he / the denomination believe, which will give you a point of departure.

    Lacking that kind of backing at the pastoral level of the church, you’ll be superfluous at best since no one will be following up on your initial effort; and once they get back to their public schools, you’ll be undermined because God is not permitted to participate in public education.

  32. Knowing that these kids are not as mired in conflict about the subject as they may be one day, you might focus on the beauty and the mystery. You can tell them that perhaps the greatest scientific mind of the last century was left with more questions than answers.
    Einstein ( at the graveside of physicist Rudolph Ladenberg) – “Brief is this existence, as a fleeting visit in a strange house. The path to be pursued is poorly lit by a flickering consciousness.”
    Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled said, “The understanding of basic reality is never something we achieve; it is only something that can be approached. And, in fact, the closer we approach it the more we realize we do not undersatand – the more we stand in awe of its mystery.”
    Einstein in a similar vein – “It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving and every man may take comfort in the fine saying that the search for truth is more precious than its possession.”
    I’m not suggesting the kids could or would appreciate these quotes, but only saying that really, really smart guys have trouble getting their arms around the fundamental structures of reality and the universe so they need not feel bad if it takes them the rest of their lives to sort it out. Sound thinking and informed opinions, the ‘how’ of their discoveries, are as important as ‘what’ they discover, because in the end it is love for our Creator and not the reams of info about Him that is critical.

  33. Vickie Jacobs says:

    Jesus showed us the proper way to confront any argument and that is found in Luke chapter 4. Always have an answer when confronting Satan. If one does not have knowledge of God’s Word you go into nothing more than the diletic and that is exactly what Satan wants. Jesus told Satan “it is written” not “here is what I think.”
    Young people are at an age when they are looking for answers. If they are just given opinions they will venture off later to find their own God. Go directly to scripture. I have not seen anyone quote any scripture here.

    • But here’s the problem Vickie: look at Psalm 93:1. “The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.” John Calvin used this verse and others like to defend the position that the sun revolves around the earth. Clearly, Scripture says here that the earth cannot be moved. But astronomy tells us, and has told us for centuries, that the earth does a whole lot of moving. So either the Bible is wrong, or the point of that verse isn’t to tell us about the earth’s movement, but God’s sustaining hand. And that does require a bit of “here’s what I think.” There’s a difference between saying that the Bible is wrong, and saying that our understanding of the Bible has been wrong.

      • So all Ben has to do is teach about epistemology, philosophy, literature, interpretation, church histroy, oh – and sceince and creation, all in 30 minutes.

        If he is walking into a buzzsaw, better to change the subject to something broader, like “thinking about how to think”.

        • Steve, but thinking about how to think is epistemology (or pretty close) 🙂

          • Yeah, that’s what I meant. Focus on epistemology (whch has been my bandwagon lately : )
            Do the Stanley Fish exercise: tell them to close their eyes for a couple of minutes, feee their minds of all constraints and see where their thought takes them. Then ask them, for example if they thoughts were formed with words in the english language. Show them how even trying to start with a clean slate (no language) is impossible, and thus “reason alone” is impossible… everything starts with a preconception… and the scientific method is itself based on preconceptions of how to think, what is the nature of reality, how it can be measured, percieved, etc., and attempts to explain everything about existience via reason alone will be self-refuting. Then explain that everyone need something greater than reason alone to provide a starting point in which to percive our universe… we need revelation.

            Explain that God revealed himself as “I AM” in scripture, that no word or thought could fully define or contain or emasure Him.
            The go to Genesis and emphasize how important it is that God SPOKE the universe into existence; that Jesus is referred to as the WORD of God, and that it takes revelation by God for us to understand what he intended via creation.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      If they are just given opinions they will venture off later to find their own God. Go directly to scripture. I have not seen anyone quote any scripture here.

      Because only doubleplusgoodthinkers doubleplusduckspeak. I’ve had “Christ As Party Line” quoted mindlessly to me (“SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”) to the point I just puked it all out. So has Eagle, but with a more intense allergic reaction. There’s supposed to be a difference between a Christian and a Communist other than quoting different Party Lines, isn’t there?

      • I’ve had “Christ As Party Line” quoted mindlessly to me (“SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”) to the point I just puked it all out.

        usually the SCRIPTURE, SCRIPTURE, SCRIPTURE cry from those that will only agree with or tolerate those that tow their company line interpretation. that will draw the line-in-the-sand for YECers vs all other alternative viewpoints…

        [sigh]

        using either the bible as science book or accepted scientific theories and/or conclusions as gospel a misuse of both. are there areas where they will be incapatible? certainly. will there be areas where there is no disagreement? are there areas where one does not claim to be the other? yes. will middle school age children be able to rightly discern & actually appreciate those differences? not sure that can be done in a 30 minute presentation. however, one can emphasize that yes, there is a very creative Creator. yes, He is the source of all things seen & unseen (Col 1:16) & that we exist because of Him (Acts 17:24-28). how He did it can be explained in a compressed timeline (6 days, 6 seconds, 6 billionths of a second) vs. long timeline (6 billion years) & these can be appreciated for what they are without being considered wrong compared to any of the others. emphasizing the more gracious inclusive viewpoint much more honest than saying one viewpoint only is the one ‘true’ one while all these other ‘false’ viewpoints are only being mentioned to help identify ‘truth’ from ‘error’…

      • My my, HUG, you are on a roll aren’t you. My mother got permanently placed under suspicion when someone asked her her opinion of the goings-on within the fundy sect she still belongs to. Tact not being her strong point, she compared it to Maoism….

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Tact not being her strong point, she compared it to Maoism….

          Probably because the “First Emperor of the Red Dynasty” used a LOT of the same group dynamics and true believer behavior as Fundagelicals. Let’s ramble a bit re the most extreme action of Mao’s reign, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution:

          What was the Cultural Revolution but a Dominionist-style Culture War, “Taking Back” and Cleansing the Land of the Ungodly Heathen (i.e. “Bourgeois Counter-Revolutionary Attitudes”) in the name of Universal Truth (i.e. Maoism) and “Establishing a REAL Christian Nation” (i.e. Perfect Socialist State)?

          What was the Red Guard but a highly-motivated “Joel’s Army”/”Youth For Mao” youth group, enthusiastic about their holy mission? Complete with Revival Meetings (i.e. Political Ideology Rallies), Studying and Quoting SCRIPTURE (i.e. Quotations of Chairman Mao, “The Little Red Book”), sniffing out the Ungodly (i.e. “Bourgeois Counter-Revolutionaries”) in Revival Meeting-like public confession/repentance rituals (i.e. “Enlightened Self -Criticism Sessions” — don’t remember if they had an equivalent of the Altar Call) and punishing All Heretics and Apostates (i.e. “Re-Education”)? All justified (with the additional Power of the State) by the Righteousness of The Cause?

          There was a LOT of common group dynamics and behavior going on. And an illustration of what Fundagelical Christians can slip into. Like the Nazis did with Eugenics, the Red Guard took the Dominionist idea to Make a REAL Purified (Maoist or Christian) Nation and followed through on it to the max. And look at all the eggs they broke to make that Pure and Perfect Omelet…

    • One more Mike says:

      Oh yeah, I forgot, Ben if you quote scripture, quote only from the KJV; that will confuse the KJV-only crowd and split them off from the YEC’ers long enough for you to escape.

  34. Maybe the safe thing to do would be to just read aloud all these blog responses for 30 minutes, then sit down.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      If so, make sure you read some of mine. Knowing what boys in that age group are like (Bart Simpson Syndrome), I’m sure they’d get a kick out of some of my stuff.

  35. I’m impressed. Day 2, 80 responses, and everything still friendly and benign – with THIS topic.

    Are we growing up or something? 🙂

    But I have to say, the “buzz saw” comment could be quite apt. Prepare your self to be ostracised by at least one group, possibly more. Not everybody is as nice as a bunch of Imonk readers…

  36. Vickie Jacobs says:

    Genesis 1:1; “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. He is still creating. Nothing has stopped. The sun does revolve around the earth but the bible has a purer language that goes deeper than literal.
    Zephaniah 3:9; “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”
    I Corinthians 15:39;40,41; “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. (40)There are also clestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celesial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.(41)There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”
    We have to go deeper with this language than the literal. There is also a medafore language.
    In Psalms 93:1 one can read it on a literal plain or one can dig a little deeper. The Hebrew and the Greek can be compiled with many different meanings for just one word.
    “World” in James Strongs Concordence(Hebrew) is number 8398 from 2986 and its meaning is not only the globe but it is also talking about the earth and its inhabitants of the world. Babylon. To bring forth, carry and lead forth.
    “moved” is Strongs number 4131. It means to waver, slip, shake fall, be carried, cast, be out of course, be fallen in decay, be removed.
    Revelation 18:2; ” And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
    When we go deeper we see this is talking about spiritual groups of people by just using the deeper meanings.

    • Thanks Vickie.

      I’m guessing that some of the other posters’ reactions to your previous comment might have seemed incomprehensible to you.

      What they’re getting at is that the search for “deeper meanings” is often provoked by enquiring minds coming up and poking the hitherto-accepted-face-value-meaning and saying “boo!”.

      [Note to buzzsaw worriers: don’t worry, I’ll be fine. You’re all making a tacit assumption, that only one person has called out. (Ctrl-F “assume” 🙂 )]

      • One more Mike says:

        I’m assuming that since you asked for opinions on this forum that you’re not a YEC’er yourself, but you haven’t told us your beliefs or where you stand in the creation wars. We may be trying to save you from yourself, which we’re not above doing, but a little insight into where you stand personnally might help us out (he asked 100+ posts into the discussion).

  37. Sample speech:

    “I have been asked to speak about creation and evolution. (Creation VERSUS evolution? Hmmm…) As you may have heard, this is a controversial issue. People have different beliefs about this issue, and argue about them, and sometimes ask the government intervene. In fact, some people on the internet have suggested that by talking to you today, I am walking into a buzz-saw. (wait for laughter) But I will try to be fair, and stick to “just the facts.”

    “A good place to begin is the first few books of Genesis, where God creates the world in six days (and rests on the seventh). Evolutionary biologists, you may have heard, say that life arose over hundreds of millions or even billions of years, and that it evolved from simpler to more complex forms. In this view, humans appeared relatively recently (a couple hundred thousand years ago, in Africa), and are cousins of the chimpanzee (by a few million years). Oh yes–and death existed long before humans (not like in the Genesis story, where it is a punishment for the Fall of Man).

    “It is possible to accept evolution, and still believe that God created the universe (which is all that “Creationism” means). This is the position of most Catholics (including the pope!), mainline Protestants, and Orthodox. They usually say that the Book of Genesis was written by ancient people who could not have known what we know today. This does not mean that it is full of lies, just that its truths are not scientific truths.

    “Other people insist that the Bible is, in fact, scientifically true, and that all these scientists who disagree with it are wrong. When we talk about “Creationism,” we usually have these people in mind. I should emphasize that this is very much a minority view among Christians around the world, though it is popular among American Protestants.

    “Creationists of this type disagree among themselves about many things. For example, did dinosaurs exist? (Some say no, others say they died during the flood.) Did kangaroos once live in the Middle East, and then hop hop hop to Australia after the flood? (wait for laughter) And how old is the universe, anyway? How long ago was the story of Adam and Eve supposed to have happened?

    “The Bible gives the ages of various patriarchs at death, and if you do the math, you can try to calculate how much time elapsed between Adam and the beginnings of recorded history. Some of the church fathers did this, and arrived at various dates between five and ten thousand years ago. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_Creation). Astronomers, however, tell us that the universe is around 14 billion years old, and geologists calculate that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old. As you may have noticed, this is quite a different answer. So, who are you going to believe?

    “Another possibility–different from either of the ones I have just given–is to reinterpret the Genesis story in such a way that it agrees with science. For example, if the world was created in six days, how long is a “day”? The book of Psalms says a day of the Lord is equal to a thousand years.

    “Since this is such an important issue, which touches the religious beliefs of many people, schools face a lot of pressure over what they teach children. Of course, there are other religions out there other than Judaism or Christianity, and nobody talks about whether to teach Hindu creation myths. One wit wrote a U.S. court demanding the public schools to teach three theories: evolution, creationism, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster). After all, fair is fair.

    “So…questions? comments? buzz-saws?”

  38. Vickie Jacobs says:

    You’re welcome. Hope all here gave much insight to the little fellows you’ve been blessed to help.

  39. Brother Ben, here’s what I would do: don’t talk about “creation and evolution.” I know that’s what you’re supposed to talk on, but don’t. And for heaven’s sake, don’t indulge questions on dinosaurs and cave men, at least not initially. Save those for last.

    Here’s what you should do: dive into the text (Gen 1-3). Talk about what the bible intends to communicate and how it communicates what it intended to communicate. Show how superior Genesis is to the polytheistic creation accounts of the ANE (but don’t get lost in comparing and contrasting Gen/Gilga, as that can serve as a distraction!). Help them see the text on its own terms, as Moses might have. Make their concerns the texts concerns. Then, blow their minds by saying that it was all made by, through, and for Jesus. In other words, major on the majors bro!!!

    THEN, if there is time left over, answer the burning modern questions that some of them might have by prefacing your answers with something like “Now, the text does not intend to comment on this, nor is it equipped to do so in a manner that would satisfy out demands, and Christians disagree on how best to address that, but here are the options.” Then, reassure them that whatever the case may be, God is smarter than we are and has it all figured out. If we cannot reconcile what science and scripture appear to say, it is because we are fallen and finite, not because God’s word and God’s world don’t match up. In His mind, there is no final conflict. We have nothing to fear.

    Above all, increase their affection for and confidence in the bible and the God behind it to such an extent that those questions take their proper place alongside other doubtful questions that nobody really has a final word from God (or science!) on. Some of them might pursue careers in the sciences, so remind them that that is an admirable calling and one that is sorely needed among Christians; it can bring God much glory. Arouse Godly, special-revelation fueled curiosity for general revelation and try to avoid arousing fear, paranoia, and suspicions. Don’t place heavy burdens upon their consciences which the bible does not.

    God bless your efforts!

  40. Thirty minutes, eh? This stuff usually takes a semester or two! 🙂 I would start with the idea that science is a way of studying and knowing the natural world and that the Hebrew bible and new testament are about a way of living in the natural world. Scripture is not particularly concerned with our understanding of science or even history, but is rather a theological narrative and guide for following the teachings of Jesus. Thus the origin stories are not about how the earth and all of life came to be, but rather are about the relationship between creator and creation. Evolution, and indeed all of science, is agnostic and should remain neutral/silent regarding philosophical and theological reflections. It is correct to say that the evolutionary process does not require a creator, but it is completely incorrect to say that evolution proves that there is no creator. The former is science; the latter is theology.

  41. textjunkie says:

    I will be VERY interested to hear how it turned out. I hope you were able to convey that God created our minds as well as everything else, and they should not be frightened of using it. 🙂

  42. Herman Cummings says:

    Dear Ben S.

    You start by contact the world’s leading expert on the book of Genesis. End the controversy, and
    nail “evolution” to the wall. Have the “Observations of Moses” PowerPoint presentation hosted at
    your assembly. It removes all confusion between what is written in Genesis, and what secular
    science has discovered. No other terrestrial is qualified to teach Genesis.

    Herman Cummings
    ephraim7@aol.com

  43. And the result of this class was?????