@Homeschool_Forum I have a deep thinking, questioning 13 year old here. He takes after his mom. In fact, his questions as a young kid started my search into evolution.
While I’ve taught my kids about evolution and told them what I believe about the bible and science, he gets a lot of young earth input in our community. The other day he mentioned that it’s hard to know what to think when the bible seems clear that evolution isn’t true or something of that sort.
He’s at an age where he wants to think for himself, not just accept mom and dad’s thoughts as true on face value. I told him I would try to find a book. I was wanting something engaging and clear showing that following Christ and accepting evolution aren’t incompatible. Or maybe I need one to show the evidence? Both? I don’t know! I think his thinking is more about Christianity’s compatibility than the science. I looked on Amazon and got overwhelmed.
There must be a book that emphasizes God’s role in the natural world…
How God brings us Rain…
How God brings us the fruits of agriculture …
How God can harness tides and currents to make crossing a part of the Red Sea possible!
I mention the last sentence because there is a famous incident where Napoleon and his cavalry body guard actually planned a trip to the other side of a bay in the Red Sea - - based on the calculations of a local expert - - where they crossed the bottom of what was normally covered with water.
But they tarried too long on the other side, and part way on the return trip … Napoleon and his other men almost drowned. It was the cool head of Napoleon himself, that saved him … AND his men.
Certainly the historical events of such a thing would impress any young person… and show that perhaps the most amazing miracle described in the Bible (well I suppose the Flood is the big one!) is actually something that regularly occurs in that part of Egypt!!!
I look forward to reading what someone recommends as a general book for your family !!!
Maybe a good one would be “The Lost World of Genesis One” by John Walton? You probably know about that one already. It does not speak directly of evolution but I think his approach to the Scriptures is quite useful in general. The level of this book may be a bit too high for a 13 year old though.
The Language of God would be fine for a bright, inquisitive middle schooler. Another great choice is Origins, by current BioLogos president Deb Haarsma. They would need to be guided through parts of it, but if they are willing to think deeply about this issue, the reading level should be no problem. There’s more information on these books and others on our Recommended Books page: http://biologos.org/resources/recommended-books/
I agree with Brad and think Origins would be a good choice. Then you can talk about what other people your son interacts with believe and why. It is very respectful of other Christian viewpoints, and honest about their strengths and weaknesses. Plus the book is designed for small group study so there are discussion questions with each chapter that you could use with him to help him process things. There is supplemental material available at the Faith Alive website and an accompanying book club blog series here. That book club series was what originally sucked me into the vortex this crazy forum.
I would agree with all of the above choices. Origins, Language of God, Lost World of Genesis One.
I also read through Genesis: A Commentary by Waltke and distilled it in discussion for my kids. Because we are in the same situation with the homeschool community, I found it was very important to focus on both the science AND the faith pieces in tandem.
Now that my son is in high school, he gets emailed links from his friends on why YEC is “right”. I have found that I need to sit down with each claim and walk him through it. The last one was on the spiralized star issue. I had to find two other articles on the subject and have him read them. Then, we went back through the AiG article and critiqued it. There were quotes taken out of context, loaded language, unsourced claims, refuted info mixed with correct info, etc. I know this sounds time-consuming, but it has been worth it. Not only is he learning more science, lol, but he is learning what proper sourcing, etc. looks like from a reader’s perspective.
I have also had to take the bigger YEC “creations”, such as “historical” vs “observational” science, and “there is no evidence of major transitions in evolution” and expose what this means in true scientific terms. The Great Courses - Major Transitions in Evolution has been incredibly helpful in this… and in my own understanding as well. It is probably 25 lectures long, but very worth it. It really helps refute the “how did the trait know how to do that?” question because it helps the viewer see that that isn’t really the question. I don’t recall any anti-religious sentiment at all. It is really just the science.
Knowing scientists as friends has helped as well. People often fear the foreign. It is crucial that they see scientists in an everyday, just people, context. It is much harder to villianize a group when it contains one of your mother’s best friends who treats you like gold, lol.
The Reason series is pretty good as well as the book by Catholic priest, Chance or Purpose. I am not Catholic, but these are well written and accessible.
I am sorry this isn’t just a book to read, but I have found that because our homeschool community is so rooted in YEC, I have had to come at this often and from many angles.
Lots of great ideas. One thing that also helped me and my kids growing up was travel. In most areas there are wonderful examples of fossils and and old earth nearby, and learning about them and holding them in your hands is a great way to make it real. A trip to the Grand Canyon beats Disney World.
I am fortunate enough to live in the Llano uplift area of Texas, and within miles of here you can see ancient seabeds with trilobite hash in the road cuts, along with granite outcrops and limestone caves. One of my favorite books is a layman’s guide to roadside geology of Texas, and it is fun to look for ancient formations and imagine what has been.
Sorry for the personal note, but I actually ran over a dead armadillo on a motorcycle between Kerrville and Fredericksburg. You probably know the road. Haha. It was like hitting a speed bump at 60 mph. I flew up in the air and landed luckily right back on my seat, never letting go of the handlebars. Texas hill country! Go Horns!
As usual, I am late getting in on this discussion, but I’ll add some thoughts. I’m in a similar situation with my thirteen year old son, with the difference that I am trying to counter the anti-evolution propaganda he has picked up through reading It Couldn’t Just Happen for his Classical Conversations program this year. And the stress for him (and me) comes from knowing that his parents aren’t in accord in their thinking on this.
Several people recommended the Haarsma’s Origins. I haven’t read that, but I’ll add to the recommendation with a twist. A few weeks ago I stumbled on a YouTube series that the Haarsma’s did on origins, and I thought, “this would be a perfect, gentle introduction for my wife and son to the ways that faithful Christians think about this topic.” So if the book seems like too much for your son at this age, this video series may prove more helpful.
I’ve proposed that my wife, my son, and I watch the videos together, but so far we haven’t. My wife says she wants to watch them with me before including my son, but I’ve no idea when we’ll ever have time for that. I know some people on these boards make it a point to pray for others as we learn about what we’re all going through. I welcome any to pray that my family would make time to watch the Origins series soon and begin to have some more productive conversations about these matters. The past several weeks have been quite difficult.
One other book I’ll recommend that has not been mentioned here is The Language of Science and Faith, co-authored by Francis Collins and Karl Giberson. I read it about four years ago—the first book I read specifically on science and faith matters. I think the writing is above the level of typical 7th graders, but it is pretty accessible. The chapters are organized in a question and answer format, as the book has its root in the FAQ pages from BioLogos’ early years.
May God honor your son through his inquisitiveness, as well as all of us who seek to love God with our minds as we celebrate the wisdom, beauty, and grandeur of God’s creation!
I will be praying for your family to come to a place of peace and unity on this. Discord over this topic in the family can be painful because the rhetoric that your wife and son are probably hearing from CC and others in the homeschool community so often stems from the same rhetoric on YEC sites. And, sadly, that rhetoric relies on that discord. Plus, those people are her support system, siblings in Christ, and parents of her children’s friends.
I don’t think my husband would mind me sharing that, although we agreed to disagree at the front end of this, he gets it now. (We are both still growing as people and always will… it doesn’t always work in tandem, though, so we exercise generosity of spirit when we are out of sync.). He gets it because he has worked to understand the science. He would be the first to say he is no scientist. (He has many other gifts in business, marketing, etc. Anything he doesn’t get, he looks to an expert in their field, just as he would expect a level of trust afforded to him based on his expertise and credentials.
And he saw enough of the tactics employed by YEC groups that their credibility was seriously damaged in his eyes. He believes very strongly - as do I - that, although we are called upon to defend why we believe, God is not so small that we have to manipulate information to protect Him from the world.
We talk about these things in our home now, and our spirituals lives (ours and our sons) are so much richer for working through hard things together. Working together to tie back to theology has been vital to our family in this walk. And, if we got stuck, we always brought it back to Jesus. We are husband and wife and children of the same awesome God. That trumps everything else.
I hope this encourages you and your wife. And if I can gently add, please have patience and don’t be discouraged. If she is homeschooling, she probably is finding that there are stresses that she didn’t expect. No one can explain how everything your kids believe, how they turn out, their foibles and failures, reflect so directly on the homeschooling parent. The rest of the world gets to spread the blame, lol. And since she is the primary (or so I assume), her shoulders are likely heavy right now. Especially if she feels that changing her stance would result in disunion with her support system.
Again, I don’t know either of you, so take these words with a grain of salt and the knowledge that they are offered with good intent.
Time and information are key and if she ever starts to question and needs shoring up from other homeschoolers, she can certainly find respite here with Christy, me and the others on this board:-)
Cartophile, I will pray for your family to find peace and wisdom as you work through this issue and guide your son. Thank you for that youtube suggestion.
I picked up an additional book that came up when I was searching for the books mentioned here–Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes by Denis O. Lamoureux. Cartophile, If your wife is open to reading, it might be a good suggestion. It is a quicker read–more succinct. It’s clear the author has a high view of scripture, he even uses words like inerrency, and explains that in his mind the evolution doesn’t lessen God’s creativity and agency, but shows it even more. If I had the courage to recommend to some of our young earth homeschool friends, I would pick the Lamoureux book. It’s similar in many ways to the Origins in coverage, but with less depth in the science (it’s there, but less detailed) and as much if not more emphasis on the scriptural and theological aspects of what he terms evolutionary creation.
Edited to add: I found a blog post that talks about the book, including some quotes: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/12/29/rejecting-eitheror-rjs/
To anyone looking for ideas:
My son said he would recommend the Lamoureux book first, and then if a person wants more in depth detail the Origins book. Of course, he’s 13, but I actually agree–The Lamoureux book would be less overwhelming I think, or more reassuring/comforting somehow theologically to someone just exploring the idea. At least that was my impression as I quickly read through before giving them to him.
Thank you so much for this message and for praying for our family. Though as usual I took a long time to compose a reply, your message was a godsend to me.
Yes, yes, yes! A few weeks ago when I sat down at our home computer, I noticed among the open windows a tirade published by CMI: “Evolutionary creation”, round squares, and other nonsense. I don’t know if a friend directed her to it or if she found it on her own, but it was really disheartening to read—the typical misrepresentations of science, sloppy reasoning, false dichotomies, and uninformed or mendacious attacks on evolutionary creationism. Over the past year or so that I’ve been reading the BioLogos Forum regularly, I’ve become so accustomed to the “gracious dialogue” that marks this forum that it’s jarring to read essays like this or what I’ve found in It Couldn’t Just Happen. But that is absolutely the milieu she is in, and, yes, those moms have been an invaluable support to her and our family the past few years.
I really appreciate your (and your husband’s) willingness to share this part of your story. It’s very encouraging!
Well, actually I take on a lot of the schooling responsibilities in our family. I handle basically all of the math, and because geography and history are shared interests for my son and me, I mainly handle those subjects as well. Honestly, I’m more involved in a hands-on way that any other homeschooling dad that I’ve met. There have been multiple times that I’ve been at a CC meeting that consisted of a bunch of moms… and me. I was more frequently the one to sit down with my son to edit his IEW papers, and I’m typically the one who composes a letter or organizes a portfolio for a homeschool review. I say all this not to toot my horn in some way, but because it’s quite relevant to the ongoing concerns I have in at least three ways.
First, I don’t know that I have the time or energy to continue all that I’m doing, especially if doing damage control on YEC indoctrination is an ongoing issue. One of the reasons I proposed to my wife that we step back from CC this semester was so that we could “table” this issue for while. I tried to explain to her that it’s not as though I’m trying to teach him EC ideas or that I think it really important that he understand evolution as a thirteen year old. I’m just reacting to what I perceive as very harmful messages, and as long as he’s being exposed to those messages, I’m going to be vigilant in countering them. Given that this is leading to much family stress, and that our family has plentiful other sources of stress, it seems wise to try to defuse this subject.
Second, though we are still a few years away from the heat of it, I am already looking ahead to the college application process. This past summer, I sent letters to admissions directors at several colleges that I thought could be appealing for us in a few years. I have no idea what class of schools our son will be qualified to gain admission to or what we’ll be able to afford, but set I set the mental bar high and contacted some top-notch schools. My intent was to learn what the expectations will be for an application package if we stick with homeschooling and particularly with CC. Along with questions about how the objectivity of grades and transcripts that are produced entirely by parents are assessed, I also brought up my concerns about science content in the program we are doing. I have thought about introducing college admission questions as a separate discussion here, and I may still get to that. But my point now is that I’m the one that’s going to be weighing these issues. My wife—as things stand now—is not. And I feel confident that if we’re still homeschooling in the high school years, I’m the one who is going to be authoring the syllabi and grade reports and transcripts. So I have a real concern when I think ahead to explaining an issue like, “this year our son studied biology using a textbook that insidiously disparages the unifying theory of biology because the authors believe said theory is the product of nefarious scientists who promote it as a way to undermine belief in God.”
Finally, in addition to the wonderful community of friends my wife has through CC, the concept of a “one-stop-shop” for homeschooling is very appealing to her. I’ve read many of you on this forum write about your time spent researching and evaluating textbooks and courses and methodologies and such, and frankly my wife is likely never going to do that sort of work. I’m at peace with that. My wife has had ongoing health challenges since I’ve know her—often quite severe. By God’s mercy and lots of effort and expense, we’ve found a lifestyle by which she can get through the week with relative normalcy. But taking care of her health is essentially her part-time job. So I can empathize with her dismay when she thinks about quitting CC and what that would mean going forward. As I’ve said before, and like Lisa and Sharon have expressed, I’m really torn about CC. Our is a beautiful community that has enriched our life in many ways, but they’ve staked their ground firmly in anti-evolution ideology, and thus I don’t know how sustainable an option for us it is.
Well, of my many tiresomely long messages, this may have surpassed all others. I didn’t intend for this to be so long, and honestly I’m still not sure whether I’m disclosing too much personal details here. But for better or worse, this forum is for now the place for me to find some understanding and support through a particularly stressful time.
Again, I appreciate all of you who are praying for me and my family.