The Joys and Challenges of Teaching Evolution to Christians—as a Christian

(system) #1

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Wm Dawit Wallace) #2

Somewhere between the start of grade 7 and the end of grade 9 I rejected the YEC position as we lived in the great rift valley not far from where the Lucy was discovered. I just could not believe that the Rift valley had been formed in 6000 yrs or so. Sure God could have created a grown up universe but I could not accept that HE would lie to us. It was only after I retired and had the time to read Christian and none Christian authors on the subject of evolution, that I accepted the fact of evolution. This statement by Dawkins had always made me profoundly uneasy: “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. My tendency is to be very suspicious of thought which is necessary for somebodies total world view.

(Robbie Andreasen) #3

I teach 9th grade biology at a classical Christian school in Orlando Florida. I use a narrative approach to teaching evolution. Before the invention of the microscope we only knew about humans, animals, and plants. So this is what I teach in the first semester. I teach about microscopes and microscopic life at the beginning of the second semester and then teach the theory of evolution as presented by Darwin in 1859. There is a compelling logic to it that always grabs students’ attention. We explore why descent from a common ancestor answered many of the questions of the time along with how Darwin completed the mechanistic model of the universe that started with Bacon, Descartes, and Newton.

Then we explore the big things not really understood in the 19th century, genetics and cell processes. We then can talk about the neo-darwinian synthesis and explore why some Christians feel it is the underlying cause for the effects we have studied, and why some do not. By exploring the issue through the narrative of discovery I have found there to be less heat and pressure regarding discussions. I firmly plant my flag that God is the creator, but the question of how God relates to his creation is a really big question. I want my students to understand that they don’t even know what all of the right questions are yet, much less what the answers all. I try to help them see that if they don’t have all of the answers to science and faith by the end of 9th grade, that it is completely okay. If they have a better sense of the big questions and issues along with some of the history behind it, then they are better equipped to understand where Christians of varying persuasions on the issue are coming from.

My two guard rails are 1. There is no reason to lose faith over these things, and 2. to avoid simplistic answers to big, complicated questions. With this approach I have not had any problems from either students or parents.