Teaching my children about evolution and creation

January 6, 2006

Flying Spaghetti MonsterMe: Trevor, I’m curious about that paper you wrote. It looked like it was about creation vs. evolution? Are they teaching you creation but not evolution?

Trevor (age 12): Not exactly. We watched a movie about how certain animals could not exist through evolution.

Me: Hrm. I find that unscientific.

T: The teacher said we could choose and write that we believed in either creation or evolution. She just said you couldn’t believe both.

Me: Well I believe both. I don’t see why it has to be either-or. I find that kind of thinking to be too simplistic.

Erin (age 8): What’s evolution?

Shelly (age 10): That’s where monkeys become humans, and lizards become snakes.

E: Daddy, what about Eve? I thought God made her from the rib of Adam. That’s what my Bible says.

Me: That’s a good story, and it’s important because it teaches us things. But the Bible is not a science textbook. Science didn’t exist then, we invented science only recently. So it doesn’t make to put science onto the people who gave us the stories; it’s not fair to them. There are questions religion can’t answer, and there are questions science can’t answer.

S: Well, it doesn’t really matter how everything was created because that was a long time ago. Who cares?

Me: Ha ha, that’s exactly what mom says: We have to deal with here & now. She’s very practical.

S: Do you think dinosaurs existed?

Me: Of course. Where did we get all those bones?

S: But where did all the names of the dinosaurs come from?

Me: We made them up, just like Adam naming the animals. We give names to things; it’s a powerful idea.

E: Daddy, you know the long-necked dinosaurs? My teacher says they were plant-eaters. Were they?

Me: I think so. I’m not sure. Plant-eaters are called herbivores. Meat-eaters are called carnivores.

E: What about us?

Me: We eat both plants and animals, so we are omnivores.

E: Did dinosaurs exist with Adam & Eve, or before?

Me: Before.

S: Sure, lots of stuff existed before. Because when it says “one day” it could mean a thousand years.

E: My Bible says God made Adam from the dust of the earth.

S: How do we know whether a dinosaur was an herbivore or a carnivore?

Me: By studying their teeth, and the fossilized remains of their stomachs. Say, we get energy by eating plants and animals, right? Where does that energy come from?

S: I don’t know.

Me: From the sun!

E: The sun?

Me: Yes, plants get their energy from the sun. So the energy we get from eating them comes from the sun.

S: That’s weird.

Me: And you know what Erin said about God making man from the dust of the earth? That’s true, if you just look at the earth and its stuff. But science says the earth was made from star-dust, so we are made of star-dust.

S: I thought the earth was formed from nothing.

Me: Star-dust came together to form the stars and the planets.

S: So where did the star-dust come from?

Me: Einstein showed us that matter can be turned into energy, and energy into matter. So the star-dust could come from a lot of energy. And where would that energy come from?

S: God.

Me: Exactly. So everything and everyone has part of God in them. And that’s why we need to treat everything and everyone with great respect.

S: Can you stop talking? I’m tired, and this is making my brain hurt.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

5 responses to Teaching my children about evolution and creation

  1. I felt compelled to relay part of the conversation on my blog. Hope that is okay.

  2. In Marcus Borg’s book about Jesus he mentions a native american story teller who always begins his stories with – “Now I don’t know if it actually happened this way… but I know it is true.” That is how I would begin the Genesis story.

  3. Cool. I like the chapter in A Generous Orthodoxy entitled “Why I Am Mystical/Poetic” which starts by quoting the movie Contact: “Indescribable… They should have sent a poet.”

  4. Sometime, you should read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown – it’s the same character who was in the DaVinchi Code, but this happened before that. Anyway, one of the concepts that a physisist in the book provees is exactly what you said about all the energy coming from God. The “prove the existence of god” through science. There’s some actually pretty interesting stuff in there about the co-habitation of science and relgion. I have it, if you’d ever like to borrow it.
    Oh, and you should give your kids the TMBG song “the Sun”. Mostly because I started singing it when I read this 😉