Kids representing mainstream science in church

Hello! Understandably, we’ve been attending church from home for the past 10 months. Our kids haven’t had interactions in their Sunday school classes so we haven’t had to discuss this, but I thought I should be prepared for when we do begin to meet in person. I’ve brought up with my 7 yo that some people in church believe God made everything 6,000 years ago, but I haven’t spent too much time on it. When we talk about science regarding things that happen in the past, I frame it as how God made things to work. Probably because of the childlike regurgitation factor, I haven’t been big on explicitly saying “evolution” to the kids (I talk about it around them though) since if they repeated it during their Sunday school, it might be distracting for some Sunday school teachers.
How have you prepared your children to engage with a science vs. faith scenario at church if it ever comes up?

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Good questions, and I’m pretty much in the same boat as you are – I have an 8-year-old and 5-year-old in Sunday school (or did in the spring), but it’s the 8-year-old that’s most interested in “evolutionish” things like rocks and prehistoric creatures. I enjoy following his interests with him because those are topics I feel undereducated in myself.

My church uses AIG curriculum (which has included things like having a 6,000-year-old birthday party for the earth), so I’ve had to think a lot about it, but I haven’t talked to him much about it. I think you’re wise in avoiding common buzzwords for now, at least when directly contrasting the different views on origins.

I have a couple times told my son that if his teacher says anything that he’s not sure is right (about dinosaurs or the age of the earth, etc.), it would be best to not contradict that during class time, but instead ask me about it later. I’ll have to give him a refresher before we go back to Sunday school, whenever that will be. So that might work for a young age, but as he gets older it will probably have to be more than that, which is the part I’m not sure about. But I like how he doesn’t seem to experience much in the way of conflict right now about God creating vs. things evolving. We did have a conversation about Adam and Eve recently, but his big takeaway from it was something like, “Wow, God is very patient when he creates.” And that made me glad.

I do try to emphasize to him that different Christians believe different things about origins sometimes (and many other topics, for that matter), so I hope that will help him remember that if something comes up during class, it’s not the end of the world and not something to argue about.

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That’s gotta be hard for any kid to hold his tongue if he privately has it “on the good authority of his own parents” that the teacher may be saying something wrong. Don’t get me wrong - I sympathize and would probably be telling my own kids, if I still had any that age, the same as you. But it does make me wonder, does this help set them up to be a little too good at avoiding conflict later in life? I.e. - even as an adult, I may prefer to hold my tongue than to publicly challenge somebody else who is quite publicly spreading misinformation. I know adults should carry some weight here that shouldn’t be dumped on kids to carry. It shouldn’t be dumped on them as their job to be correcting authorities over them. That said, there are some kids who would be more than happy to function exactly in that oh-so-annoying way - and perhaps that shouldn’t be altogether discouraged? I would always want to be reflecting: “just what all are they learning from this?”

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Good question. However, it is difficult for kids of a certain age to question adults and not look impertinent or unsaved. In our church, I have suggested to my 13 and 10 year old that their teachers would not understand the disagreement. It is a hard one. It may be better to invite their teachers to meet with us (with the pastor) privately, so as to not appear to be disrespectful in front of others, as time goes on. I look forward to seeing what you all post.

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I agree with you, and I’ve had to ask those kinds of questions too, but this bit sums up why I’m hesitant to encourage him to engage at this point. Perhaps I’m trying to recover a bit from the smug self-satisfaction that is often encouraged by some YEC speakers when encountering alternative viewpoints. And since children often have a much more black-and-white, concrete outlook, asking them to challenge authority at a young age may backfire. Also, I feel like I’m only just getting to the point where I might be brave/knowledgeable enough to challenge YEC assumptions, but I’d want to be careful of when and how I do it, and I know my child isn’t ready to think through all the nuances of that yet. Of course, he doesn’t have my baggage, so maybe I’m overthinking it. :slight_smile: I do appreciate hearing what others say here, because of course the “don’t challenge authority” can’t and shouldn’t apply forever.

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The current scenario I have in mind is that if dinosaurs come up when the kids are talking about creation and my daughter mentions “millions of years”, specific teachers I know of would be very concerned! Dinosaurs literally aren’t in Genesis, but with the current emphasis on tackling evolution in churches and the favouritism for AiG curriculum, it’s easy for me to imagine that happening. I appreciate the input!

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Well, I tried to give my kids exposure to science through museums, and pbs shows like Nova, broadening their experience and showing my acceptance of different views and giving them the evidence of those views rather that rote teaching. When their youth minister showed a horrible Mt St. Helens YEC film, I just grimaced but didn’t say anything negative and let them judge for themselves. It is a tough spot as you don’t want to undermine their authority if good leaders otherwise, but want to give them a mind open to other ideas.

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Yeah, that’s true – it’s not just a case of the teacher bringing it up and the child challenging it, but also just the child mentioning it offhand simply because it’s normal to them. Honestly, I’m more concerned about my kids doing that around my parents, but that’s a different problem. :wink:

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With my niece and nephew who i am fairly active in their lives I openly talk about evolution. But their dad , my brother, is an atheist. But I know way more about science in general and so when me and my niece and nephew goes hiking I talk about it. I’ve also told them I believe that the Bible contains fiction and nonfiction to create a beautiful story about truth. They get the concept because often I read them fairy tales and we talk about the ethics and morals within it and we talk about real life things and so they are use to fiction and nonfiction being used to convey truth. They are 9 and 13.

My step niece is 7 and I’m in her life a lot as well. It’s my sister in laws daughter she’s Native American and so I often talk with her about various things form books I’ve bought about indigenous tribes to North America and many span back earlier than 6-10k. She also comes on many of the hikes.

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To be honest, I haven’t given my kids instructions about this. I guess I figure we’ll jump off that bridge when get to it. :laughing:

I think the most likely scenario is with my daughter who is about to turn 6. Her class is in the New Testament this year, but next school year they’ll do the Old Testament. When they do creation week, if any of the kids mentions dinosaurs being made the same day as man, she very well may say that there’s 65 million years between non-avian dinosaurs and man, or that dinosaurs are still alive today - we call them birds. The likely teacher of that session knows what I believe and would probably be good about handling it in a proper way. I’ve been pretty open to the elders of my church and adult class teachers, plus several of the moms of kids in that class, that I accept old earth and evolution and that I’m teaching my kids about those things. So it won’t be a surprise. Thankfully, we use homegrown curriculum, so no AiG influence.

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That’s a good point to consider, having a relationship with the adults so they know your background already! We haven’t lived here long, and we definitely let those differences slide when they come up on Sundays. When we move again next summer, we have an idea of where we’ll attend church so I can read up on their beliefs and curriculum in advance, and be prepared to have these conversations of need be. I love the BIG Story Bible curriculum that our church uses for the kids programs, but I’ve also seen evidence of the use of AiG too.

it’s not science vs faith but good science vs poor science. If you explain to your kids that evolution is the modern scientific description that explains how God created life on earth without having to think of him sitting by the riverbed making mud pie humans it might ease the tensions a bit.
And if the principle of evolution comes up with regards of how evolution works you can explain to the kids that survival of the fittest is not the survival of the ones who are the biggest bullies of the fastest eaters, e.g. the ones that kill or outcompete others, but the survival of the most useful for the project Genesis, e.g. those who love ones neighbours like their own lot. Altruism, as it is referred to, is not a consequence of evolution but its driving force which makes it an integrative system forming complex networks. If your child explains evolution to its Sunday school teacher in that way it might breakdown the barriers between science and faith as science does not disprove God but explains how the reality works that he placed us in.

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I did role plays with my kids.

What would you do if your teacher said anyone who accepts evolution is an atheist?

What would you say if your friend told you your National Geographic book about dinosaurs was full of lies because it wasn’t a Christian book?

What would you say if your friend’s mom asked you what you learned about prehistoric creatures in homeschool?

What would you do if a teacher used the Bible to teach you about science?

Asking them to act out different situations brought up some interesting stuff I wouldn’t have found out about otherwise. In some cases they had already been in situations where this was somewhat of a social issue. Plus if gives you a chance to talk about when it is best to just keep your mouth shut, and when it’s best to say something, and how to say that something respectfully. I taught them to say, “in my house we learned that scientists think…” if they were asked what they personally thought about things or to repeat back stuff they knew was factually incorrect, because that kind of takes the pressure off them and puts it on me and my husband. If people have a problem with what I’m teaching my kids, they can come to me about it, and I found teachers were less likely to contradict the kids if that’s how they prefaced it.

I also did not use “evolution” for a while. (Until it came up explicitly in their science books) When they were really little we talked about animal species changing over time to adapt to their environment. So by the time evolutionary theory was explicitly taught they were already familiar with the idea of natural selection and adaptations.

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This is exactly how I’ve been describing it :slight_smile:

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I just tell my daughter (10 yo) to not contradict the teacher in class but if asked about it not to lie either.

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Sometimes the simplest advice is the best.

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We were blessed to not have excessive young-earth endorsement, so there wasn’t a problem when my son’s kindergarten Sunday school drawing on the theme of creation was the creation of the Moon via Theia smashing into Earth. But it can be a serious problem. Carefully bringing up theological issues is probably the best start, for example a “testimony” saying “I was an evolutionist but now I’m a creationist” is missing Christ and repentance.

“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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