At Christ Classical Academy, a group of fifth-graders recently completed a project called “Creation vs. Evolution.” They’ve been studying both creation and evolution, and they even studied portions of the DVD showing Ken Ham and Bill Nye debating the question, “Is creation a viable model of origins in our modern scientific era?” After studying both views, the students then created posters highlighting the differences between the two sets of belief.
Their teacher, David Brooks, explained the rationale for this project:
Christ Classical Academy is a biblically focused institution. Yes, we learned about evolution. These students need to know and understand it [evolution] and the arguments of the ones supporting it. One day, these kids will have to stand up for their [godly] beliefs, and that day is coming sooner rather than later. This project was a way to prepare them for that time when they are tested in life.
Should Christians Teach Evolution?
This school teaches students both creation and evolution, but some Christians avoid teaching their kids anything about evolution. We think that’s a mistake. Here are three reasons why Christian young people should learn about evolution:
- Eventually they will run into evolutionary teaching. After all, it’s everywhere. It’s better for them to learn about evolution from someone who will point out the weaknesses and inconsistencies than from someone who dogmatically teaches it as unquestionable truth.
- It’s important to understand and be able to articulate the opposing position. We can’t defend biblical creation if we don’t understand the evolutionary position. It also shows respect and intelligence when you understand your opponent’s position. If you are ignorant of what evolutionists believe, why should your children take your arguments seriously?
- It keeps you from making poor arguments. If you don’t understand evolution, it’s easy to make mistakes in argumentation. Here’s an example: we’ve heard well-meaning creationists argue, “If people evolved from apes, why do apes still exist?” But evolutionists believe we evolved from ape-like creatures and that apes are our cousins. So this argument is poor, inaccurate, and ineffective. (You can learn about more of these arguments creationists shouldn’t use here.)
How Should We Teach Evolution?
So if we should teach our kids evolution, how should we go about it? Here are some tips:
- Start at an age-appropriate time. Little kids don’t need to learn about evolution. They need to be grounded in the truth first and then start learning about what other people believe. However, many preschool programs and books do teach evolution (e.g. Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, etc.). If your children have access to these programs and books, you should explain the fallacies of evolution in light of the biblical truth you’re teaching them.
- Teach evolution—warts and all. Evolution has many scientific problems. Show how the millions-of-years paradigm fails to satisfactorily explain the origin of the universe, how life began from non-life, where the information for DNA came from, or how mutations can lead to new features in plants and animals.
- Ground them firmly in the truth. Spend time showing how God’s Word, and the conclusions we can draw based on the text, explain what we see in the world. When God’s Word is our starting point, observational science confirms the Bible. This is important for young people to know.
- Explain that it’s a difference of worldviews. Creation vs. evolution isn’t a matter of who has the most evidence. It’s a battle of two worldviews. Creation starts with God’s eyewitness testimony as the foundation. Evolution starts with man’s ideas about the past. We both have the same evidence, but our different starting points determine our interpretation of the evidence.
- Highlight the two different kinds of science. Observational science deals with the present. It’s what builds space shuttles, medical advancements, computers, and Wi-Fi. It’s directly testable, observable, and repeatable. Historical science deals with the past. It tries to answer questions like how different species developed or how stars came into existence. We apply scientific principles to understand the past, but it’s not directly testable, observable, or repeatable. So what you believe about the past will determine how you interpret the evidence. It’s not about the evidence—it’s about your interpretation of the evidence.
- Connect them to good resources. Make sure your children are aware of resources that can answer their questions. Websites like AnswersinGenesis.org are packed with free articles, and our online store features dozens of helpful books and videos.
Should Creation Be Taught in Public Schools?
So if evolution should be taught in Christian schools, should creation be taught in public schools? We don’t advocate mandatory teaching of creation in public schools for two major reasons:
- Teachers would be ill-equipped to teach it and
- Many evolutionists would likely misrepresent or even openly mock it.
Mandatory teaching of creation by evolutionary-minded teachers would probably do more harm than good. So we don't think Christians should push for it. But teachers should teach the problems with evolution. Evolution is based on a religious philosophy and has many inconsistencies that we shouldn’t hide from students. Teaching the problems with a model as well as acknowledging competing ideas builds critical thinking and a healthy atmosphere of inquiry. Isn’t that what learning is about?