I just returned home from vacation and had a wonderful amount of time to read each night after putting the kids to bed. I powered through seven books! After I finished the first four, I decided it was time to dive into an important faith topic I’ve avoided to date: views on creation and evolution.
To be honest, I’ve never felt this issue impacted my faith much. I knew very little about the competing views of origins other than that evolution was “man from apes” and creation was “man from God.” Last week I devoured three books by Christian authors on the topic and they couldn’t have reversed my previously passive interest more.
I was absolutely enthralled by the complexity of views discussed, from both a scientific and biblical perspective. I now feel the origins debate is crucial for Christians to understand, and especially for Christian parents to understand in order to proactively guide kids on these issues. Here are 3 big reasons you need to care too.
1. The origins debate is becoming the dividing line between Christian faith and no faith; it’s that important.
Unless you’ve been in a cave for the last few years, you’re probably aware that the media is increasingly portraying a world that is divided between faith and science.
The specific tension that is most commonly driving the faith/science wedge is the creation versus evolution debate. Overwhelmingly, mainstream science believes that the earth is billions of years old and that life was created from the process of evolution. The literal 7-day creation described in the Bible does not allow for either of these mainstream science views; a literal reading of time frames and genealogies given in the Bible results in an earth that is 6,000 to 10,000 years old, and a literal reading of the creation story says that God created man without animal ancestors.
It is these two views – atheistic evolution and literal 7-day (“young earth”) creation – that the media has used to portray “faith and science” as polar opposites. And it’s working.
Studies show that many people now believe a person’s position on origins is an all or nothing issue. It’s faith or science. Creation or evolution. Christian or non-Christian.
According to Barna Group researchers, of 18-29 year olds raised in Christian homes:
- 29% believe churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in.
- 25% believe Christianity is anti-science.
- 23% are turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.
These statistics are from David Kinnaman’s book, You Lost Me. The following quote from a young man interviewed in the book typifies the thought process driving young adults away from faith over this issue:
“To be honest, I think that learning about science was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew from church that I couldn’t believe in both science and God, so that was it. I didn’t believe in God anymore.”
This is a giant faith issue. If your kids graduate from high school without having been guided through reasonably detailed views on creation and evolution, they are actually quite likely to struggle with faith over it; possibly to the point of losing their faith altogether.
2. Christ-loving, Bible-believing Christians can hold varying and (possibly) legitimate views on creation.
The previously described findings suggest that when people hear scientific arguments that persuade them of views other than a literal 7-day “young earth” creation, they don’t just toss out a specific view of creation; they toss out all of Christianity. But is that necessary?
Here’s something that’s really important to understand: the idea of creation versus evolution is a major oversimplification. There are not just two views. There is a spectrum of views – six major ones – four of which are held by Christians: young earth creationism, old earth creationism, evolutionary creation and theistic evolution.
In my next post, I’m going to cover the basics of each. But for now, it’s important to know that a literal 7-day young earth creation view is not the only view that can remain faithful to the authority of scripture. This is not to say the view is incorrect, but rather that there are alternative views that are also based on a reasonable reading of scripture (especially as it relates to the age of the earth). In fact, more than half of all pastors surveyed recently by Lifeway believe in one of the alternative views.
We need to humbly acknowledge that, whatever our position is, there are other people who love the Lord and love the Bible while coming to differing conclusions on what the Bible says about origins. We may disagree with each other on the scientific and/or scriptural validity of varying viewpoints, but adherence to a particular view should not become synonymous with a required position for a Christian.
If you don’t discuss the spectrum of views with your kids, you’re missing a major opportunity to give them the tools they need to navigate one of today’s biggest faith issues (if not the biggest).
3. With 100% certainty, your kids will eventually hear about atheistic evolution; only you can ensure they’ll hear about varying Christian viewpoints.
Research conducted by America’s Research Group for Ken Ham’s book Already Gone found that:
- Nearly four out of five young adults had instructors in high school who taught them that the earth was definitely millions of years old.
- Three out of five had high school instructors who taught that life definitely evolved from lower forms of life to more complex forms (i.e., evolution).
- About 30% left high school believing that the Bible is less true.
Meanwhile, the Lifeway survey I referenced earlier also showed that only a third of pastors teach on creation and evolution more than once a year.
You can be sure that your kids will learn in depth about atheistic evolution. You can also be sure they’ll hear very little about scientifically and scripturally robust viewpoints for Christians…unless it comes from you.
Are you ready to gear up? In my next post, I’ll break down the basic views and give you an awesome flow chart I made to help you remember the differences (if I do say so myself)!
How familiar are you with the varying views right now? What do you believe and why?