Have you ever been told that your children are Christians only because you brainwashed them? Have you been accused of keeping your children from understanding “real” science by brainwashing them with the Bible?
Educators and other “experts” who embrace evolution declare that children taught to reject an evolutionary worldview will never understand the world around them. Many say that such children will be academic failures. Children will grow up to be unproductive citizens of the modern world, these experts warn, if they do not accept molecules-to-man evolution over millions of years as fact.
Secularists often claim that children who reject evolution have been “brainwashed.” Is this really true? Are some children being brainwashed? If so, is it Bible-believing Christians who are doing the brainwashing?
What Is Brainwashing?
According to Webster’s Dictionary, brainwashing is “a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas.” The term is often used synonymously with terms like conditioning, reeducating, propagandizing, and indoctrinating. All of these terms make our blood run cold, suggesting a methodical manipulative approach to molding a mind in a way that prevents the brainwashed victim from objectively examining other views or making informed decisions.
Do Christians intentionally do this to their children? Do they purposefully hide the truth of supposedly “real” science from their children to promote biblical beliefs? Of course not.
Christian parents are responsible for bringing up their children in the truth and “in the training and admonition of the Lord,” according to Ephesians 6:4. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:15–17).
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
Clearly we see that God wants children taught to believe and understand His Word. When a person—child or adult—believes that the Bible is true from the very first verse, he or she has a framework from which to understand and evaluate the claims of scientists, philosophers, theologians, and teachers of all sorts. Teaching a child to trust God’s Word is a righteous action and, above all, is not brainwashing. Instead, it is equipping him or her with completely reliable biblical truth by which all other claims are to be evaluated.
For example, the secularist wants to take Christian children and teach them the religion of humanism with its many tenets like materialism, atheism, evolution, the big bang, and millions of years. Naturally, they get upset when children are taught the true religion found in the pages of the Bible.
His Word is to be the foundation of our thinking.
Our Creator God has given us a true account of our origins, our sinful nature, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and our eternal destiny in His Word. His Word is to be the foundation of our thinking.
The foundation of evolutionary belief is that matter/nature is all that exists (e.g., materialism and naturalism). Secularists claim that matter and eventually all life came into existence on its own, even though no one saw any of it happen, has no ancient witnesses of it, and has ever repeated it. Yet this story is presented by the secular world as fact. Absolute fact.
But if you doubt evolutionary claims, you will be called “unscientific.” If your children question the secular story, many will say they have been brainwashed.
So are Christians unscientific? Is it brainwashing to teach children the truth about God and the Bible? No.
What we have is a battle over starting points (or worldviews/religions). The Christian starts with God as Creator; the secularist starts with matter (usually dodging the question of how it got here). They further ignore the question that, if all things are matter, how can logic, truth, knowledge, conclusions, and reason exist? They are not matter! Then the materialistic starting point is used as a basis to interpret and evaluate the things seen around us. The issue that so often confuses people is that the Christian and the secularist have the same evidence. However in drawing conclusions about origins, they differ in how they interpret the evidence.
Here are a few examples.
Look at the Grand Canyon. The rock layers there and the fossils in many of the layers are often used as “proof” that the earth is millions of years old. The creationist comes to an entirely different conclusion.
What we actually have to examine are the rocks and the fossils themselves. They don’t come with labels saying how old they are. We weren’t there when the rock layers were laid down. No scientist has seen the creatures, now fossils, evolving slowly over millions of years. We must “interpret” the fossils and the rock layers to make our conclusions. Our starting point determines how we interpret the evidence.
The secularists claim that it took millions of years for the Grand Canyon rock layers to be laid down slowly and for the fossils to form (assuming also that no major catastrophes occurred there in the past like major earthquakes, floods, and so on). But this is based on assumption and not on direct observation. The interpretation is based on the secularist’s worldview.
The Bible gives an account of the catastrophic global Flood of Noah’s day. Thus, another interpretation is that most of these rock layers were laid down rapidly, as the result of a massive catastrophe. From the massive amount of sediment, the rock layers we see today would easily have formed. Furthermore, the billions of creatures we see in the fossil record would have been trapped in this sediment, accounting for the fossils we see in the rocks. (Of course, there have been rock layers with fossils formed since the time of the Flood, but the majority are from the Flood.)
We only have rocks to examine in the present. These two different conclusions result from two different starting points.
Here is another example.
See all the animals in the world? How did they get here?
According to the secularist, over millions of years, simpler types of creatures slowly evolved into more complex types of creatures. They believe that fossils are proof that simple creatures ultimately evolved into more and more complex creatures, and ultimately into the animals we see today. They persist in this belief even though not one instance of one creature evolving into another type of creature has ever been observed.
The Bible tells us that God created the living things “after their kind.” Then they were told to reproduce and fill the earth. That is, dogs produce dogs, cats produce cats, cattle produce cattle, and so on. This is exactly what we see in our world today. Most of the fossils are just preserved animals and plants that once lived and were buried in the Flood the same year; only the evolutionary imagination sees them caught in the act of evolving. What we directly observe in our world confirms what we are told in God’s Word.
Consider the secularists and their view as being unscientific. Science is observable and repeatable. Yet millions of years, big bang, evolution, and so on are not observable and not repeatable. So their attacks are misplaced in light of the failures of their own position.
We are told that we must accept the secular world’s interpretations or else we are considered unscientific or unlearned.
But we are told that we must accept the secular world’s interpretations or else we are considered unscientific or unlearned. If we don’t teach our children to believe what the world believes, we are brainwashing them. How ironic that they impose their religion on unsuspecting kids and force them to believe their worldview without question.
What the Secularists Fear
There is something that the secular world seems to fear in this debate. That something is simple questioning. You see, the secular world goes to extraordinary lengths to keep children from questioning the evolutionary worldview.
Evolution is declared to be absolute fact. Yet any attempt to critically evaluate evolution is suppressed swiftly. Many teachers fear losing their jobs if they criticize evolution or discuss creation with students. College professors avoid mentioning their concerns about evolution over fear of losing their jobs. Any attempt to teach children to think critically about evolutionary claims is usually met with a flurry of threats, lawsuits, and opposition.
It should be obvious that those who actively promote evolution as fact are the ones who wish to brainwash our youth. They seem to live in fear of children questioning evolutionary claims. Whereas Christians, like those at Answers in Genesis, are happy for children to learn about the evolutionists’ origins story; however, we couple that teaching with a refutation of their false worldview.
If evolution is true, why do so many secularists fear it even being questioned? Why do they so vigorously attack those who question them? Perhaps they are still trying to convince themselves that their worldview is more than just wishful thinking—trying to find a way to explain how they got here without God.
We should heed Colossians 2:8:
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Do Christians Fear the “Why?”
Parents who desire that their children come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and serve Him as the Lord of their lives have a great responsibility. They must not only teach them to trust God and His Word but they must also answer a lot of questions. First Peter 3:15 says,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
We must not shrink from our children’s questions. Why is the Bible true? What about the millions of years? How do you explain dinosaurs? If God is good, why is there death and suffering? Where did Cain get his wife?
Giving children biblical answers is not brainwashing—it is far from it. Biblical answers equip them with the tools to understand the world and the God who made it.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10)