Asking advice for countering your kids' unexpected anti-evolution attitudes

Hi, everyone! I’d appreciate your input: What general advice do you have for responding to your kids’ anti-evolution comments?

Just recently we were talking about animals at the dinner table, and two of my kids (11, 9) suddenly blurted out comments about how ridiculous it is that some people think that animals and people had evolved (though they didn’t use the word “evolved”). It caught me by surprise (especially the disdainful attitude), and not wanting to make it worse or discourage dialogue, I didn’t have much of a response in the moment.

There’s no way they got that sentiment from us, and due to living as foreigners in East Asia they get relatively little exposure to American evangelical media and culture. We don’t know where they picked up these ideas/attitudes, and can only think of a few possibilities. We’re not wringing our hands or anything, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to tap the experience represented in these forums!

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I think it might help to be aware of one particular reason why anti-evolution attitudes are popular.

A lot of people don’t reject evolution because they think it’s unbiblical. They reject it because they are proud. (This was the case with me, for starters.) It takes a certain amount of humility to acknowledge that humans and animals must be related, and I’m pretty sure some people just use the Bible as a peg to hang that particular coat on. But here’s something that the Bible itself has to say that must surely give us pause for thought:

I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21

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I remember being appalled when my brilliant biology teacher said that male sex was a specialized form of female. Y is a withered X.

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How interesting! I know my younger brother picked his up at his Christian school, as he wasn’t inquisitive about it at home. He rolls his eyes and says “ugh there’s just not any good evidence for that.” He’s 18, so still impressionable…maybe I can sway him :wink:

I think just encouraging them about how the world was made, etc. that may open them up to asking more questions going forward. There is a great kids picture book series from Faraday Institute that has all the science and God in it as well.

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Greetings, @Taiwan_J. I run into the same thing–thought it’s through my YEC church and Christian school for the kids (7, 10 and 13). With time, my older boys have come to accept evolution is compatible with Christianity, but I think my 7 year old still parrots what she hears. This has been a good book for me to re read–my older son has read some of it.

New Book for Middle School Students: Science Geek Sam and his Secret Logbook - Blog Posts - The BioLogos Forum

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I would just phrase things as “Well, scientists say…” and model accepting scientific consensus and respecting reliable sources. Kids pick up very quickly on who their parents trust.

My son went through a brief phase where he thought his creationist friends were making better points than me and his science books, and I just encouraged him to keep learning and thinking about it and tried to communicate that he was free to make up his own mind.

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Children are rather concrete thinkers, and evolution requires abstraction, so it is not unusual for younger children to understand creation on a concrete level. My approach with my kids was to stress the underlying theological themes in Genesis as the true meaning, teaching them to see beyond the literalism and letting them see that there are layers of meaning in scripture. Even when they are in the concrete thinking stage, that gives them the idea that there is more there. Eventually, they learn Santa is not a jolly old elf that comes down the chimney, but is still real.

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I would start to get them involved in events at your local nature preserves and state parks and learn about the local flora, fauna and fungi. Maybe get some ID books on something y’all are passionate about and start to find them on hikes. As you learn to ID them, look up their evolutionary history and how they serve ecological purposes. While talking about that, also bring up things about how great it is that Gods creation is so beautiful so they don’t learn to keep them separated. Talk about the goodness of God and the goodness of nature at the same time.

You don’t want them to create boxes though where science goes in one and faith in the other. Just do your best to make it fun, and not a chore.

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If I were you, I would start with the attitude. Explain that people understand the world differently and then discuss why some people think that people evolved and other people do not, but it is really not nice to make fun of people because they think differently from you, particularly if you are living in the midst of a different culture.

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Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the encouragement and input. I’m sending this thread to my wife.

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I’d show them history. Luckily the UK is full of it. How the built environment has changed. I’d show them historical movies. I’d take them to museums. Especially natural history museums with dinosaurs. I’d take them to caves, like Kent’s Cavern in Torquay, and cliffs like Hunstanton’s and Dorset’s, and gorges like Cheddar and Dovedale, all fossiliferous, and mountains like the Peak District and show them geological processes and discuss formation rates and deep time. I’d show them the Milky Way through birding binoculars, hazel flowers through a hand lens. Which I did. Like my parents did me. And we’d walk in parks and gardens and the countryside every week and marvel at biodiversity, supplemented by David Attenborough. And we’d look at books, especially field guides at the same time. And I’d get them to refine their story. And be robust under peer pressure.

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In one the early posts, it was noted that children tend to think in the concrete rather than the abstract, and creation is a more concrete position while evolution is more abstract. That is similar to theism and atheism. Justin Barnett, PhD, wrote a book named “Born Believers.” In it he asserts that children innately believe in God, even if they are born into a family with atheist parents. So children need to be educated out of their innate theism to become atheists. Similarly children need to be educated out of their more concrete and innate creationism to become evolutionists.

For example, we took our children to Mount Rushmore and they immediately inferred design, as the images there fit a pattern–pictures they had seen of people and specifically the four pictured presidents. So too when we look at life, we immediately infer design, because living things have the appearance of being designed. But as Richard Dawkins sagely advises, we must constantly remind ourselves that life is not designed, but evolved. Abandoning design is not easy–we need to work at it, and be in a community that supports us in that decision.

Those pesky creationists keep pointing to the complexity of life, and ask questions about how this or that feature or organism could have possibly evolved in a slow, step by step process, while being non functional in the interim. They also ask how the instructions for life can arise from molecules in motion. And although evolutionists often have difficulty explaining these in specifics–yet, they can rest assured that since evolution is true, the answers will arise as research continues.

Here’s a concrete idea. You could take a creationist book like Have You Considered. Your children will love the color illustrations, and each day will learn a lot about various animals, geology, biology, paleontology, botany, etc. Then you can also show how easy it is to refute the creationist misunderstandings in the book. Kind of a two for one educational experience.

And of course, that is major fallacy of that statement. I could go on, but perhaps better to just sit back and enjoy the sarcasm.

You got me there. Of course, for example, the cell that could sense light was functional. It retained its original function. But in evolutionary terms, the light sensing ability gave no selection or survival advantage until it was able to respond to the light one way or another, for example, by moving away from or toward the light source. So a lot more than light sensitivity alone was needed concurrently for the organism with the light sensing cell be selected because of a survival advantage.

Brought a smile. I actually thought it was pretty good!

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