I just found a book that tells that wolves are 50 million years old and “evolved” in my children’s Christian school library. When I took it to the principal she started throwing out phrases like “teaching opportunity” and “learning discernment.” I do not believe it has a place in a public school. I have your books; I agree 100%, but I do not know how to counter her “teaching opportunity” stance. Any suggestions?
Thanks for your email. We appreciate your desire to teach your children the truth about the past and to see them grow in an understanding of the Bible. However, our answer to your question may surprise you a bit—we actually agree with your school principal. Books such as the one you describe do indeed provide great opportunities to teach your children discernment. Let me explain.
AiG’s philosophy of teaching children (and adults) can be summed up with the adage, “give ‘em the old one-two!” No, we’re not advocating that you punch or hit anyone. Instead the one-two punch informally refers to an “especially forceful or effective combination of two things.”1 Notice what Paul wrote to the people in Corinth:
We Are All Evangelists
I wanted to let you know that your ministry is an answer to prayer. Our pastor, just this morning, taught like you that we are all called to be evangelists. Wer, or we may be the waterer. But it is God that does the growing!! I am convinced that God is really using you to speak truth to a nation that is drowning in untruth. My daughter was using a “solid” homeschool curriculum, K-12. We were overwhelmed with disappointment that it was from an evolutionary point of view. I was frantically searching for something to counter what she was being taught. A Google search brought us to your website, then your magazine, then your conference. I see God’s hand all over my family finding your ministry. I hope to have a homeschool co-op next year using your curriculum. Thank you so much for following God’s obvious call in your life and using your gifts to not only glorify Him, but also to edify the misled masses! Prayers are with you.
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For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).
Paul exhorts his readers to cast down false arguments and build up the true knowledge of Christ. Elsewhere he continues this one-two punch approach when he encourages the Christians in Ephesus to “put off” sinful behaviors and “put on” Christ-like behaviors (Ephesians 4:21–31).
The first “punch” comes when we show the problems with “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” Rather than shielding our children from what the world teaches, we need to point out what’s wrong with such anti-God philosophies as evolution, humanism, materialism, naturalism, and long-age ideas. Children need to be taught the difference between facts and interpretations.
As we read the book on wolves, for example, we can discuss with our children why we know the statement “wolves are 50 million years old” is wrong. We can point out the difference between the operational science (e.g., “wolves live in many different places around the world”) given in the book and the origins science (e.g., “wolves have been around for 50 million years”)—in this case, the story of origins is based on circular logic and faulty understanding. However, being “anti-evolution” or “anti-millions-of-years” isn’t enough. In addition to tearing down, we also need to build up.
The second “punch” comes when we build up the biblical worldview. We need to carefully explain what the Bible actually teaches, and then what we would expect to see as a result of this teaching. With the wolf-book example, we might say something like:
We know wolves haven’t been around for millions of years because the world isn’t that old! From studying the Bible, we can figure out that the world is about 6,000 years old. In the beginning, God created the various land animals “after their kind” on Day 6. This included lots of different kinds of animals such as a dog kind, a cat kind, and even dinosaur kinds. From that first dog kind, which may have been something like a wolf, came all the different varieties of dogs that we have today. Dogs have changed over time into other dogs, but they haven’t changed into a different kind of animal. The Bible tells us the true history.
See? Not too scary. And we’ve used the statements in the book as opportunities to teach our children to be discerning.
If, instead, we were to completely shelter our children, never allowing them access to what the “other side” teaches, how will they react when they stumble upon an anti-God message when we’re not around? It’s easy to underestimate the subtle messages they get from other sources when we’re not around to “protect” them. You may have prevented them from seeing the millions-of-years message in this book, but what about the other countless books that contain the same message? What about that catchy tune on Go, Diego, Go! that promotes the idea that dinosaurs have turned into birds? What about the conversations they have with their friends?
Take, for example, the situation my four-year-old friend Sarah found herself in. According to Sarah, “My friend told me that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, but I told her that wasn’t true.” Even at four years old, Sarah was able to pick up on a false view because her parents had instilled in her the difference between what’s wrong and what’s right. Or consider the six-year-old boy in my workshop on dinosaurs who recited to me the biblical and scientific problems with the big bang idea—and emphatically stated that God created in six days just 6,000 years ago. Just as we use the Bible to teach our children morality (e.g., it’s wrong to hit, but right to be kind to our siblings), so we need to use the Bible to teach our children history by tearing down for them the wrong view of history and building up the right (biblical) view of history.
A few simple questions can help when you come across false teachings: what’s wrong with this statement? How do you know? What does God teach us in His Word? What’s the truth about the history of dogs?
The writer of Hebrews knew that discernment comes through training and exercising the senses.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:13–14)
Who better to train these young minds than their parents? Why not use the opportunities you’re presented with to teach them discernment?
This, of course, requires parents to become educated on the basics of biblical authority and simple Christian apologetics. That is why Answers in Genesis and other apologetics ministries exist. We cannot realistically demand that unbiblical ideas be removed from all books, television programs, museums, and curricula, nor can we realistically demand that any book that teaches anti-biblical views be removed from school libraries (only a handful of books would remain!), but we can equip the saints to train their children to be discerning. It is inevitable that our children will be exposed to ungodly and flawed ideas, and it is the responsibility of parents to train their children to respond in a God-honoring manner.