Let’s Teach Our Kids to Discern

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It’s no secret that government schools in the United States and around the world mostly teach that the earth has existed for billions of years, that people evolved from ape-like creatures, and that human life has no purpose or meaning greater than the life of an animal. As Christians, we need to teach our children about God and His creation as the Bible declares it and the truth of the Scriptures from the very first verse.

Since most of our readers don’t get the American Atheist magazine delivered to their homes, I thought I’d share with you what atheists are saying about our coverage of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV series Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey. Claiming “Cosmos is far from controversial”* and saying “creationists are scrambling to create a monster to demonize,”**  the author of  “Preferring Fear to Understanding” zeroes in on a Bible-believing parent’s decision to opt out of showing one of the Cosmos episodes—“The Immortals” to his son. The article, like the episode, claims the Epic of Gilgamesh is the original flood story, differing from the biblical account of Noah only by being older. Here is what the author writes:
On the Answers in Genesis website is a “review” of each episode, where they attempt to debunk the science presented and claim that the Bible can explain everything Tyson admits to not knowing (answersingenesis.org/ creation-debate). In the episode entitled “The Immortals,” Tyson explains the origins of the human drive to tell and then later write stories. He recounts the Epic of Gilgamesh, the tale of a man who built a massive ark to protect two of every kind of animal from an impending flood. The flood ends when a dove is released from the ark and returns with a branch in its beak. Anyone familiar with Judeo-Christian myth knows that this is also the story of Noah's Ark. The only difference is that the Epic of Gilgamesh is thousands of years older than the Noah story.***
Now, obviously atheists don’t believe the Bible’s account of Noah’s Flood, but to equate the biblical account with the Gilgamesh epic displays an ignorance of both. For example, the animal-gathering activities in the Gilgamesh flood legend were quite vague. The Gilgamesh story doesn’t refer to pairs of animals or the reason for gathering them. But God’s Word makes it clear that God sent a worldwide Flood as a judgment for the overwhelming, widespread wickedness of that time. But in grace, God spared Noah’s family and representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals to repopulate the earth. (You can read more about the numerous differences in the epic and biblical history in “Cosmos Review: ‘The Immortals’” and in “A Comparative Study of the Flood Accounts in the Gilgamesh Epic and Genesis.”)

The author of the American Atheist article, Dan Arel, then accuses Discovery Institute’s David Klinghoffer of lacking confidence in the Bible because he chose not to show this particular portion of the Cosmos series to his child. Arel described in American Atheist how Klinghoffer used the Cosmos episodes to teach his son:

David Klinghoffer . . . proclaimed this episode to be the only one he wouldn't allow his son to watch. On the website Evolution News.org he said, “With past installments I had to pause now and then to point out to Ezra where host Neil Degrasse Tyson had stopped talking about science and switched to baiting Christianity. Last night’s episode number 11 [“The Immortals”] of 13 would make that procedure practical and tiresome.”

If Klinghoffer is so confident in his Bible, then why does he feel the need to shield his child from a science lesson? And with the word of god on his side how is it impractical or tiresome to defend Christianity?****

We applaud the approach David Klinghoffer has taken in using material like Cosmos as a tool to teach both biblical and scientific discernment. He did not simply abandon his child to be taught by the television and Tyson but rather guided him through the maze of observational science and evolutionary claims that are so interwoven in most Cosmos episodes.

Now, Tyson, like the American Atheist, asserts that because the distorted flood story in the  Epic of Gilgamesh was written down earlier than the Mosaic account, it was the source of the Old Testament account. However, the shared source was the historical global Flood—not a shared piece of literature. Moses, inspired by God (2 Peter 1:21), wrote down the authentic account of the Flood, as preserved in the book of Genesis.

Our research staff shared the following with me:

To say that “The Immortals” is “a science lesson” is an insult to the principles of observational science. That particular episode treats the biblical account as a metaphor, though it wrongly (even a bit comically) pictures the ark in the Epic of Gilgamesh much like the actual Ark of Noah. In reality, the epic’s ark looked nothing like Noah’s Ark. Then Tyson uses the Ark as a metaphor for countless rescued life-forms—including imaginary evolving ones blasting off of an ancient meteorite-deluged Earth and darting between planets and stars!

Because of this episode’s radical fictionalization of the Bible and Tyson’s flights of imagination presented as if they were reality, this parent judged that analysis of it at this time in his child’s life was not going to be helpful. Klinghoffer did not rob his son of a valuable “science lesson.” And a parent’s decision to take control of what his child watches is not an expression of fear that the truth cannot stand scrutiny. Rather, it is a responsible decision to avoid confusing a young mind with material he or she does not deem the child ready to understand or so polluted with deceptive falsehood as to be useless or dangerous.

The atheist author says, “As Tyson brings science into our living rooms, he is talking to the very children who . . . will go on to make discoveries that will forever change and enhance our understanding of the world.” Both evolutionists and Bible-believers wish to influence children. But biblical young-earth creationists want children to grow up trusting the Creator of the universe who loves them and understanding that, using science, they study what God made.

This is a good time to point out that Answers in Genesis has just published a book to help you teach children, youth, and even adults the difference between the observational science and the evolutionary claims that are taught in the Cosmos series. Questioning Cosmos: A Guide to Great Discussions is a collection of discussion guides designed for each Cosmos episode. Contrary to the atheist author’s claims, neither the online reviews nor these discussion guides debunks the science in the episode—at least not the observational science!

Presented in a handy question-answer format and lavishly illustrated in full color, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell (who also wrote the online reviews of each Cosmos episode) provides detailed, easy-to-understand explanations of the scientific principles in the series while exposing the worldview-based assumptions lurking beneath Tyson’s evolutionary assertions. The exciting new book is available now in the Answers in Genesis online bookstore and at the Creation Museum.

Atheists are becoming more and more aggressive in their attacks and our children need to be prepared with solid answers. I encourage you to prepare your family with the answers they need to understand both the Bible and science in a world hostile to our Creator God!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG's research team.

*Dan Arel, “Preferring Fear to Understanding,” American Atheist 52, no. 3(2014): 9.

**Ibid.,  8.

***Ibid., 9.

****Ibid.

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