Approaching Adam: Talking with Kids about Human Origins and the Bible

@Christy shares some helpful tips around how to approach the Adam and Eve conversation with children. Which have you employed? Is the explanation daunting to you, as well?

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Very encouraging – thank you, Christy!

Some may even dread the day when their kids put two and two together and ask how what they have learned about Adam and Eve from the Bible fits with what they know about Neanderthals or wooly mammoths from their library books.

Yep. :raising_hand_woman:

However, your children might not process their questions the same way you did or feel the same emotional reactions, because they are growing up in a different environment.

This is a great insight, and something I’ve been struggling with in other areas as well (feminism, “purity culture,” etc.). So often it seems the natural parenting approach is to say “I want to make sure my kids don’t make the same kinds of mistakes I did,” or just generally to try and prevent them having the same struggles as us, but I have to realize that they will have struggles either way – so how to be there to help them without projecting my struggles onto them is hard.

Make sure you spend more time talking about, marveling at, and helping your kids internalize those things than you do dwelling on the “problems” with the text or the errors you see in other people’s interpretations.

This is a great point as well. It’d be easy for me to say “The Bible’s not a science book” but then treat it too much like a big data set to analyze and systematize and “explain.”

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I also think we take what were our elder’s fears for us and want to do better, not realizing that there may well be other “worse case scenarios” for our kids that we don’t see coming. I’ve tried hard to let my kids know that if they get pregnant, or come out as gay, or get addicted to drugs, or deconvert and become a Druid priestess, that we will always love them and they can talk to us about anything. It’s like I have emotionally and psychologically braced myself to do better than my parent’s generation on these issues. But I joke with a friend of mine that I am totally unprepared for my daughter to come home from college and tell me that she is marrying the Neo-Cal president of the Young Republicans, and that she intends to drop out of college to bear as many children as God will give her since she doesn’t believe in birth control. That would be hard for me. :slight_smile:

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The generations do seem to go from one extreme to another. That’s why as much as a part of me wants to just teach my kids about all the holes in YEC teachings from the get-go, I have a feeling that would end up backfiring.

But yeah, it’s funny how our ideas of “the worst beliefs for my kid to hold” (outside of something really heinous like terrorism) can change dramatically. And my own acceptance of evolution continually reminds me that it’s possible to spend years and years of life teaching someone (either directly or indirectly) that a particular idea is wrong, backwards, immoral, anathema, and have them eventually accept it anyway. Someday I could be on the other end of that. :unamused:

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I heard on the radio yesterday discussion about this survey recently taken about whether people think they are better parents than their parents…and also whether they think parenting now is harder than before. It was really interesting. (this is just the first link i found that talks about it)

I wonder if they also think they were better kids than their kids.

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How often our recently-motivated “openings” in various directions then become effective or at least partial foreclosures against something else. But that said, the fact that you can name it means that you are at least somewhat prepared for such surprises from life. If all the other stuff won’t cause them to be jettisoned from the family, then the politically obnoxious boyfriend probably won’t either.

It would be interesting to see a poll on “How many Americans who are grandparents think they are better parents than their kids?” The comparison would be interesting. I bet it is over 70% also. (disclaimer- my kids do a great job. Of course, I am afraid if I complain they may not pick up the grandkids when we keep them…)

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My parents were terrific. In contrast, I am planning a fund to put my kids through counseling at age 18 for all the things I have done to them!

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Any kid of yours will grow feeling like their dad was Mr Rogers.

@Christy, “neo-cal”? I’m guessing a typo but I catch the overall direction.

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Neo-cal refers to New Calvinist. It is a brand of Evangelical I have some ideological points of contention with and whose public spokesmen (emphasis on men because they don’t let women talk much) sometimes give me hives. Some of the young ones or recently minted ones can be pretty obnoxious. I have a couple friends who are all in, so I try to remember that you can’t judge the whole group by a few negative examples.

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When my kids were little, I was a YEC, but I did one thing that served them well, and allowed them to correct the YEC views, even before I did, at least with my oldest. While I told them what I believed about the bible and science (a totally erroneous view), I did one thing that made them better Christians. At dinner every night I would raise some theological/philosophical/scientific/historical issue and we would debate it. My oldest who is a VP now credits his first big career break on my teaching him to be confident about expressing a different opinion than the person in power (me when he was little). He interviewed with a VP at Bose audio, who asked him to tell him how he would go about doing something and Dan gave his opinion. The VP said he wouldn’t do it that way. Dan decided he didn’t have the job anyway so he proceded to tell the VP why he was wrong. He hired Dan and, now Dan is a VP at another major corporation. Dan became an evolutionist before I did. lol

My middle son became a preacher, but those debates when he was young meant that he was unafraid to address easily issues he doesn’t agree with.

I think it is more important to teach the kids to think critically, telling them what you believe about Adam but ultimately, they will make up their own mind, but critical thinking is by far the most important gift one can give.

My youngest, is said by my oldest to be the smartest. He had a rough start but now he has come from the furthest behind to do very well in a field he never took a class in. He learned how to learn.

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Yes. And parents can give them the space to use their own minds with no strings attached. I think the toxic thing about a lot of YEC subculture is not so much the bad science or simplistic theological answers, it’s the spiritual and emotional pressure to conform or else.

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I agree with you. I never did that with my kids. lol, sometimes as an adult when they disagree with me on politics or theology, I wish I had given them a bit less freedom. lol (not really).

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Yes. Which can lead a lot of us to think we’re really good at critical thinking, when that may not be the case. Sometimes it can be easy to get the impression that merely “going against popular culture” is a virtue in itself that must be some kind of proof of critical thinking.

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I’ll have to read the link to see what all advice it’s provides. Where I live in 6th or 7th grade evolution is taught in biology and other earth sciences.

It’s also something that routinely comes up on YouTube and tv anytime you’re watching videos about religion or science. We even had this bonded with 1-2 page pamphlets about dinosaurs and other animals that talks about it geared towards younger kids. Though my son won’t remember it, as young as 2 years old at the zoo I was pointing to chimps and mentioning how they are our “cousins” and that we shared a common ancestor and talked about evolution. His mom is on page with it too.

My nieces and nephews, all under 12, go through similar talks. My niece is 9 and has already been told that while the Bible is completely true it’s not completely accurate and some of it is like a fairytale where God uses a story with characters and a plot line to explain a truth.

They learned about evolution and how it’s a creation that keeps on creating through talking to them about native plants and insects evolving together.

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Have you ever used that book two homeschooled highschoolers wrote, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning? It seems like everyone recommends it. A bunch of the “exercises” on recognizing supposed logical errors deal with evolutionary science and Democratic politics. I tried to do some of it with my kids, but it just got laughable how sporadically the critical thinking they were supposed to be teaching was applied.

I have heard of it but haven’t used it – but that doesn’t surprise me. It’s no wonder some of us grew up thinking that being a critical thinker simply meant “strictly adhering to my parents’ political and theological views.”

“If you are one of the people who has experienced disillusionment because you felt deceived by people you trusted, or if you have experienced spiritual abuse or rejection for changing your perspective on human origins, it’s important to acknowledge that damage and hurt”.

Deceived implies malevolent intention.
A person may feel that emotion.
But the accusation appears to imply an evil intent for views outside of BioLogos worldview.
Can I read it any other way?

No it doesn’t. For example, many of my Evangelical friends felt deceived by the purity messages they received growing up that promised them awesome sex lives if they got married as virgins. That doesn’t imply their youth pastors and parents had malevolent intentions or even that those people who feel that way attribute malevolent intentions. “Feeling deceived” doesn’t even imply that the person you feel deceived you intended to be deceptive for benevolent reasons. It’s an emotional response. Emotions just are. People don’t need to defend them in court and prove they are warranted to admit they are there.

It’s not an accusation to admit people have a negative emotional reaction to things that have happened to them and no, it doesn’t imply evil intent. That’s just your emotional response. Similar to the case above, just because you feel accused, it doesn’t necessarily mean there was evil intent to accuse when I wrote the sentence that made you feel that way. Your emotional reaction is what it is. Maybe you can’t read it any other way because of your baggage with BioLogos people. I’m sincerely sorry you feel that way.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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