Seminar on Origins (Haarsmas) for my CC group, need advice!

@Homeschool_Forum We participate in a Classical Conversations (CC) group and like several others on this board, are struggling with the view from which the Challenge levels (grade 7-12) are taught. Some of the curriculum/resources they use include It Couldn’t Just Happen, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, and the Apologia science texts (Physical, Bio, Chem). So it’s a mix of YEC, ID with some token mentions of OEC. There is a strong anti-evolutionary tone.

My son will be going into Challenge A (7th grade) next year and I’ve been mulling over how to address this issue without it feeling as if I’m constantly bashing the “Christian” books he’s reading for class. I decided to use Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Haarsmas) this summer as an overview of how Christians view this topic. Then as we come to each resource in Challenge, we can read it discerningly and evaluate the perspective of the author and try to understand why they approach issues of origins the way they do. This may be reaching a little high for my son and ideally I wouldn’t really get into these topics till he’s done Earth Science and Bio (so more like 9th-10th grade), but since CC pushes the issue, it needs to be addressed now.

Then, since I’m going to cover this book with my son, I thought it would be a good opportunity to invite our CC group to join us on the journey. Due to time constraints of when Challenge classes finish for the year and other commitments within the group, we will meet for three 90-min sessions. At this point I am planning to cover chapters 1-10, but because of limited time and the complexity of the topics, we’ll skip chapters 11-12 (historical Adam issues) though I might be able to have an additional session on those at a later date. The group will likely include kids in grade 7-10 and some moms. I don’t think it will be a large group, probably <12 people.

Since most of the participants will be largely unfamiliar with an OEC or EC view, I need some advice on how to approach this. The book does a great job of presenting the different views fairly and giving strengths and weaknesses of each view, but I think some will still find it shocking. I’ve watched several presentations on YouTube by various Biologos speakers in which they’re presenting these topics but it’s usually to college students or adults.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to tailor this material for kids that haven’t even taken Earth Science or Bio but have been exposed to a lot of YEC thinking? What would you focus on? What would be your goals?

I applaud your willingness and courage to step out and lead in your group. I am convinced it is something we should all be more open to doing. I was just thumbing through the copy of Origins I bought this past weekend (it is my third, the first two have already been passed along to family and friend, and I needed another copy to gift my pastor or youth minister) and can see the challenge of making it understandable and relevant to the age group you are targeting, but agree that now is when you need to do it, and my impression is that kids know more and understand more than we as adults give them credit for.

In looking over the material, I think Ch. 11 something to include, and agree that ch. 12 is something to cut since you have to cut something. Starting at the first, I think ch. 1-4 are great, perhaps 5 and 6 are a veer a bit far from your goals though I hate to cut anything from this gem of a book (those are the concordism chapters.), 7-11 get to the meat of the issue. I note while ID is discussed in 10, little is said about YEC, (Perhaps there should be a short chapter on YEC, the complete text of which is: “Really?” But perhaps my bias is showing, and you should avoid such shameful snarkiness…) In any case, it appears that YEC is covered well by your fellow presenters.

You will have to just hit the high points, and give plenty of time for questions and discussion to guide the direction. In any case, you remain in my prayers and we would love to hear how it goes.

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I don’t know if there would be anything helpful here, but BioLogos ran a book club blog series on Origins a while back.

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The advice I have picked up from a number of people who teach science to students coming from homes/churches that are very skeptical of consensus science is that it is less threatening if you frame the discussion as “We are not trying to get you to believe in evolution. We are just trying to help you understand better why lots of Christians in the sciences think it is the best scientific model.”

If people don’t feel that their beliefs are under direct attack, they can hopefully pay attention to the evidence with a less defensive and dismissive posture. If you look at the goal as being convincing people that the spectrum of Christian belief is bigger than they might have assumed instead of the goal being convincing people to accept evolutionary creation, then it is easier to maintain a tone that invites dialogue and exploration.


Another thing that was pointed out to me was first to affirm the things you have in common, find those things you can agree with, of which I am sure there are many, from the creeds to affirming God as creator and sustainer of all creation. Also, it doesn’t hurt to bring donuts. Breaking bread can take many forms.


My son is currently in CC ChB and recently announced in class that he is leaning towards evolutionary creationism. Interestingly, the students’ only concern was whether he believed God is the divine creator but the director was extremely concerned/upset. We live in an area of the country which many, if not most, have made belief in YEC a salvation issue. Belief or “leaning towards” another model of creation is cause for alarm and praying for your soul. My oldest was told by one youth leader he would go to Hell if he considered evolution as a means of creation and another told him merely asking questions regarding the literal biblical interpretation meant he was not saved. I could tell many other stories…

I think it is fantastic you are bringing this information to the CC community. It would not be so well attended in this area. To my knowledge, there is only 1 other family, possibly 2, that have concerns over the science curriculum and are looking for alternatives/supplementation materials. I have talked with a few parents that have graduated children using Apologia and they did very well on the ACT/SAT. So, I’m not as concerned about it and will supplement with our own materials as well. I hope for our son to be well versed on all creation models, but of course our family is EC.

Thank you for sharing this book. I’ll be ordering it today!

Hi, I would talk about big picture things that everyone can agree upon before then asking how we address areas of disagreement. I used an outline form of Loren Haarsma’s “Where Science Meets Worldviews” PPT slides in a Sunday School class for college students as an introduction to science and where it meets faith. This might be a bit much for your group but look at his PPT and the other one (Where is God in Science?) at the top of Loren Haarsma’s web page:

:scream: Oh my. Hugs to you and your kiddo.


Wow, what to say? Hopefully that experience wasn’t too damaging to him. Even Ken Ham agrees that this is not a salvation issue.


Unfortunately, he didn’t tell us for nearly a year and it was quite a difficult time for him. He no longer attends church, except on holidays to make his mama happy.

Wow! Do I feel for you! That youth leader is going to lead kids right out of the church.

I’m so sorry to hear this - what a false dichotomy that he was presented with. :cry:

Hi Diana- Your first priority as a parent is to make sure your kids learn to follow Christ with all their hearts and souls and minds and strength. Of course church leaders make mistakes that we need to live with; but if the alienation is so great that that your son just doesn’t feel like being in fellowship, then you should seriously consider finding another church for your family. Have a heart to heart with your son, see if he would consider trying out a different congregation.

Perhaps I put that too strongly. This Papa Bear would not stay put if that had happened to one of my cubs, I’ll put it that way.


Thank you for your reply. Actually, the two events happened at 2 different churches. After the first incident, we switched churches. However, this view is so prevalent in this area he met with the same response when asking and posing questions in a respectful manner. We now go to a church that isn’t as legalistic, which has been a relief for our youngest.
Our son that had the negative experiences is in college now and looks forward to moving to a different part of the country. I’m hopeful he will eventually return to church.

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I am very encouraged to hear about the concrete steps you have taken…accompanied no doubt by prayer to our great high priest. I shouldn’t have been so blunt; clearly you are doing a terrific job under trying circumstances. Please forgive my lack of grace and tact. And know that I am joining my prayers to yours.

No need to apologize as I was not offended in the least. Thank you for your prayers.

@DiDove I’m so sorry your older son had that experience, that’s just awful.

I’m glad to hear that at least the kids in your son’s ChB class were ok with his views. Our group is similar to yours in that no one else really seems to find the science curric concerning. I know that is unlikely to change, but what I can at least do is offer this discussion and let them know that should they ever look into the science and find the evidence compelling for evolution and/or an old earth that it is not necessary to throw out Genesis and the rest of their Bible as they may have heard (not from CC, but from Ken Ham who has spoken at the church where we meet). I think though, that I can show them how it’s possible for a Christian to see things differently from the YEC view and still be fully devoted to Christ. They all know me and I think know where my heart is in this, that I don’t want to be divisive or lead people astray but actually want to pursue unity in Christ even when we have different views.

Thanks for all the encouragement and ideas! I think I will offer an extra meeting to cover those remaining chapters for anyone that wants to continue (and food…yes, I should definitely have snacks…these are the practical issues that I forget)!


LOL. Now that is one for the hall of fame. Martin Luther approves: :heresy:

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@Lstrite - it was great to meet you tonight. Thanks for making the trek to SEBTS!

@DennisVenema Glad we could come! Perfect date for hubby and me…science, Chick-fil-a and we discover an issue even more contentious to YECs than evolution itself: Todd C Wood. Awkward! You handled it well BTW :slight_smile: