What Parents Can Learn from the Creationism vs. Evolution Debate
- Brent Rinehart www.apparentstuff.com
- 2014 2 Feb
Like more than 750,000 others, I tuned in to the recent “Creationism vs. Evolution” debate. In case you missed it, it pitted Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) against Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham, and of course, Nye sported his signature bow tie – something I've loved about him since my youth.
This age-old debate had the feel of the Scopes Monkey Trial, or at least how it was depicted in Inherit the Wind (1960): small town location, massive amounts of attention and media coverage, and high-profile representatives arguing the case. The battle lines were drawn. Modernists versus fundamentalists. Science versus religion. Darwin versus God. Us versus them.
As I followed the conversation on Twitter, most of it disparaging from one side or the other, I couldn't help but feel this great amount of concern about the world my children are growing up in. There's no civility in our debate anymore. If you base it all on social media, there is no doubt less tolerance for traditional Biblical views in our culture than even a few years ago. How can you possibly prepare your children for this?
Back in Kentucky, the conversation was mostly cordial … and entertaining. But, despite the entertainment value (I’m largely referring to Nye's discussion of "traditional fish sex"), the debate predictably did very little to advance either side beyond its traditional adherents.
No strict evolutionist would be persuaded by “the Bible tells me so” answer to most seemingly unanswerable questions. Likewise, it's unlikely any creationist could be persuaded when Nye's answers to the same questions were repeatedly, “It's a mystery.” It's that answer that gets little publicity in all of the post-event media coverage, but it's important. That's the admission that even science can't answer the most important questions in life: where did I come from, or why am I here?
I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of the debate. I’m not a scientist, debater, theologian or apologist. I’m a dad. And, that’s why the most interesting part of the debate came at the end of the event when each gentleman was asked to answer questions submitted by the audience. My favorite question (besides “What is your favorite color?) was the final one: “What is the one thing, above anything else, upon which you base your belief?”
I loved the answers from both, in different ways. I thought about my responsibility as a father as I listened. Each answer has applications in how we should prepare our children for the culture they are sure to encounter.
In the course of Ham’s answer, he said, “If you search out after truth, you really want God to show you, he will reveal himself to you.”
Nye referenced a quote from a college professor, “When you are in love, you want to tell the world.” He loves science and he loves discovering new things about the world around him. “It fills me with joy to make discoveries every day of things I had never seen before. It feels me with joy to know we can pursue these answers,” he added.
Though coming from a completely different place, their answers aren't all that different. Both men spoke of the importance of not sitting idle and waiting for answers or knowledge. While the ultimate source of that knowledge might be different for each man, they each emphasized our need seek it. And, it's our responsibility as parents – not the school’s, not the church’s – to teach our children to seek after truth and knowledge.
Proverbs 4:7 says “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment” (ESV).
Our children should be taught to have a love for the world around them and discovering things about it. They should also be taught to have a love for truth and deciphering it.
As Christians, we can argue about nonessentials. But, I believe when we are active in this debate, and when we are active in this process of discovery, we are holding true to the greatest commandment, found in Matthew 22:37-38, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”
We might not be able to use words to describe how to love someone with all of hearts and souls, but we can feel it. We know it when we see. Loving something or someone with all of your mind is different. It’s your consciousness. It’s where you focus your brainpower.
Like most men, memorizing song lyrics or movie quotes comes naturally. In the middle of a conversation, I can whip out a quote from a movie faster than Doc Holliday drawing his gun at the OK Corral. “I’m your huckleberry.” (There, I just did it.)
But that’s always convicting to me. Why can’t I recall Scripture the same way? Maybe I’ve got the heart-love and the soul-love, but could stand to work on the mind-love.
We need to teach ourselves – and in turn teach our children – to seek after truth diligently. Don’t be satisfied believing what you are told to believe or what the culture around you pressures you to believe.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NLT)
The “Creationism vs. Evolution” debate proved several things to me. Faith is required on either side; we don’t have all the answers and that’s okay; and despite what people might say, science and religion don't have to be mutually exclusive.
But the most important thing it proved to me is that, as parents, we need to encourage our children to seek after knowledge, wisdom and most importantly, their Heavenly Father.
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Publication date: February 7, 2014