Hello, all! My husband and I homeschool our three girls - ages 12, 10, and 8. We started out with Sonlight and, since I love to research, have branched out into quite an eclectic mix of resources. I'm drawn to classical and Charlotte Mason methods. I'm drawn to unschooling and child-led learning. I feel like I'm in a constant quandary!
We are not science people. We are musical, artistic, English/History, book lovers, so it's a bit intimidating to be posting here. My science education was abysmal, as was my husband's. So far, our kids' science education has been reading tons of "living" books, doing occasional experiments (when they plan it and get all the materials ready!), watching science videos, and studying the lizards/grasshoppers/butterflies that they see around the house. I've tried various curricula, but it always flops because I lack motivation. The older two are constantly spouting off random "Did you know....?" facts, nobody hates science, and my oldest wants to study chemistry this year, so I guess it could be worse.
I was raised with a YEC perspective. I don't think I ever discussed it with my parents, but I specifically remember spending a whole lot of time in my Christian high school with a science text that was entirely about disproving evolution. All I remember now is talk about a missing link and something about Lucy, ... I'm sure most of what I was taught is now debunked. When I began homeschooling I found the Sonlight forums to be so helpful. One day I wandered into their Lifelong Learners forum (I think that's what it was called) and found philosophical discussions about faith, atheism, how to read the Bible.... I was intrigued. I would find myself agreeing with what one person said, then reading the next post (from the opposing side) and thinking, "Oh, ...well, ok, yeah I guess that makes sense. I guess I agree with that." And so on, swinging back and forth, giving myself intellectual whiplash. I had never learned to think for myself. I'm pretty sure that was my first exposure to any views that weren't predigested for me.
The topic of creation/evolution was brought up frequently in many of the discussions. That was my first exposure to Christians who didn't believe everything was created in six days. On one side seemed to be the AiG types who had an answer for everything. On the other were people saying that the YEC "evidence" was often completely false and that the amount of evidence for evolution was gargantuan. Then the YEC people were shouting that it was all a conspiracy by scientists who hate God so don’t trust what they say. How on earth was I to know what to believe?! Supposedly, experts on both sides were insisting they were completely right! I wasn’t about to go out and get a college level education in some science field. I was completely overwhelmed. Was I supposed to just have blind faith in the YEC view since it was the truly biblical one? Was I a terrible Christian for questioning? Was I making science more important than faith? I had no idea what to do and actually began spiraling downward spiritually and emotionally.
I found that the party line from AiG/YEC, instead of boosting my faith and bringing me closer to God, did exactly the opposite. They insisted that if Genesis wasn’t “true,” then the rest of the Bible would be untrustworthy. The slippery slope argument. I believed that, and when I started doubting the “literal” interpretation of the Genesis account I also began questioning everything else. It has been ten years of spiritual and intellectual struggle for me, mostly in the dark because who could I talk to about it? Everyone was threatened by my thoughts. Even my husband could only handle a short amount of discussion on the topic because, having no knowledge or interest, he had no way to “fix” it for me. Everywhere I turned, communication was shut down. I was very alone.
Then, three years ago, I read The Language of God. I remember feeling such strong relief, almost joy, as I read it! But I happened to be reading it at my mother’s house. She asked about it. I gave her a synopsis. She warned me that Satan wants to deceive us, and that lies can often look like truth. She said I should be very careful what I let into my mind because that is the battlefield where the devil works. Etc. Etc. And I spiraled downward again. But in the end it was a good thing. It was the last straw and I saw it for what it was - a fear-based control tactic. I finally saw that I had never been trusted to think for myself, and I was ready to move forward - with or without everyone else.
Fast forward two years. I was in the counseling office where my counselor and I often discussed theological issues since I was constantly questioning, doubting, struggling. I sheepishly admitted that I wasn’t sure whether I actually believe in a literal six-day creation. This precious woman (who always pushes me to think for myself, ask the questions, and read the side I’m afraid of) suggested that I read John Walton’s books on Genesis. She said she’d had similar questions and his work had settled a lot of things for her. What a God-send! Reading about ancient near eastern culture has helped bridge the gap for me because ultimately my deepest questions are theological and philosophical, not scientific. HOW to interpret what I read in the Bible has been the crux of the matter for me, or, if not the center, at least very near to it.
I now see the problem with the term “literal” as it relates to biblical interpretation. We don’t realize that people in other cultures and especially in other eras actually THOUGHT differently than we do. Just because I read the same words as another person does NOT mean we understand them to mean the same thing - even if we are both taking them at face value. The culture and worldview we live in practically seeps through our pores, affecting how we interpret anything we hear or read. The issue is not as simple as literal vs. figurative, fact or fiction, true or false. That is a modern way of viewing these things. Ancients didn’t have the same patterns of thought. Often our “literal” interpretation would be nonsensical to them.
So, with that understanding I feel much more settled. I don’t have to read the Bible as a science textbook, and, with some study, I can still read it “literally” (meaning how the ancient Israelites would have heard it). Thankfully, my husband has joined me a bit in this journey over the last two years, so he is on board with this new way of reading the Bible. And, since we are not held to a young earth reading of Genesis, then it seems to make the most sense to be evolutionary creationists. Though we hold that with a loose grip. (Remember, we’re not science people!)
I still have ten million questions and doubts, but at least I’m a few steps away from the cliff instead of hanging off the edge. And I’m no longer (as) afraid of my children’s questions. In fact, we now have a “Question Box” where they can write down anything at all and we discuss it during Family Time. Some of the questions have been profound…
“Scientists believe in different things. Which should I believe?”
“How did it take a whole day for God to make light if He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light? What about the rest of the day?”
“How do we know God is real?”
“Do scientists believe in ‘supernatural’?”
“Why don’t scientists believe that God created science (because He did) and everything?”
“How did God come in the universe alive?”
“How were we made in God’s image if God is a spirit? Spirits can’t be seen.”
“When can I have my door back?” (Hehe… ok, so they’re not all profound….)
It’s been a journey, and I feel like I’m barely past the beginning. I still feel fairly isolated, but I have my husband and my counselor and my internet friends. It’s enough for now.