Countering evolution in the classroom
Published: 24 January 2015 (GMT+10)
R. R. from the U.S. wrote in to ask for advice on how to counter evolutionary ideas and stand up for biblical creation in the classroom.
I’m a Christian in 10th Grade. I have just started to learn about evolution in my High School Biology class this past week. I have been writing notes throughout class trying to figure fact (real evidence that the Bible doesn’t refute) to fiction. After class, I go up to her with my questions. I would like to be able to ask my teacher questions that will stump her (help me?). The ones I have been asking were simply ones that would help me understand what exactly she’s teaching since it’s not how I have viewed Evolution in the past. She said that she doesn’t believe evolution says that we evolved from apes and such ("and that’s why so many people don’t believe") but, instead, she says it says that we just change over time. I thought that was called adaptation or natural selection. Also, will you please send me something I can use to explain that the Earth isn’t m/billions of years old but simply thousands. She presented that as fact in class and everyone seemed to agree. Thanks!
CMI’s Keaton Halley responds:
Hi R. R.,
I’m so glad that you are trying to be a good ambassador for Christ in your biology class, and that you want to learn more about how to defend your Christian convictions. We have plenty of material on creation.com that can help.
Let me encourage you to approach this with the right perspective. First, make sure you are being respectful of your teacher. Even though she does not have a biblical perspective, she is in a position of authority over you and so it’s important that you engage her from a posture of submission and humility. You can ask her challenging questions, but don’t try to embarrass her or attack her personally. I think it’s good that you are talking to her after class instead of turning it into a debate during class, for example.
Second, learn more about both sides. Study up on our website so you know the best arguments for creation (and which arguments you should avoid). Also, try to understand your teacher’s perspective. It’s good to know what your opponents actually believe so when you offer a critique it’s not misguided. Your teacher will not be persuaded if you fail to understand her point of view.
Third, recognize that there is no knockout punch that will necessarily win your teacher or your classmates over. People can fail to appreciate even good arguments because of biases, peer pressure, and all sorts of things. Remember, this is a spiritual battle as well, so pray for your teacher and fellow students.
Now to help you with the specifics. Your teacher says evolution just means “change over time”, not “that we evolved from apes”. The problem here is that the word ‘evolution’ can mean many different things. Nobody denies that things change, and it’s legitimate to call that ‘evolution’ in one sense. But then we should not confuse this with the other definitions of ‘evolution’, like the idea that all living things descended from a common ancestor—which would mean that people are related to apes. It sounds like your teacher is mixing up these definitions. Surely she is teaching you more than just the idea that things change, or even that natural selection occurs. Creationists have no problem with biological change, adaptation and natural selection, but we are opposed to the general theory of evolution which does teach that humans are descended from apes. The following articles should help to clarify: Muddy Waters, Natural selection ≠ evolution, The evolution train’s a-comin’ and Refuting Evolution chapter 2: Variation and natural selection versus evolution.
I also recommend you read through Refuting Evolution to learn how to critique evolution effectively. You might glean some questions to pose to your teacher from there, or you could use our 15 Questions for Evolutionists.
As for the age of the earth, you could choose from our list of 101 evidences for a young age of the earth and universe or the Q&A page on the same subject. But I recommend using the dinosaur soft tissue discoveries since they are simple to present and easy to understand. It may be that your teacher is not even aware of such things and you never know what kind of powerful impact this information might have.
Well, I hope that’s enough to start with. Remember, we have lots of other great resources in our webstore, and you can use the search engine or topics button on our site to find more answers and advice.
Thank you CMI for all your great work as led by The Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches us that persecution will increase with time and the Apostles remind us that believers are to stand strong in our faith no matter what. Thank you for leading in this area, as evolution is out front in perpetuating persecution. Praise to God for this ministry and for all our great Christian leaders who teach/preach The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I find it confusing that both sides believe in "evolution". The Darwinists all too easily focus on the parts that are obviously true and discredit the Creationists as unbelievers for allegedly not accepting the obvious. It might be disambiguousing(!) to avoid 'evolution' altogether and use "Darwinism". The Darwinists have hijacked evolution to mean science - but the real battle is between the Creationists and the Darwinists.
We can focus the debate on Natural Selection and Abiogenesis and Young Earth evidences free of the anti-science slur.
Just a thought.
Yes, 'evolution' can be a slippery word. That's why we regularly define what we mean when we use it, with adjectives like 'molecules-to-man'.
Greatly encouraging to hear of a good soldier out there.
And the *Father`s* promise of wisdom ,offered to all, makes it a mandatory start to ask *FATHER* first,and wait Isaiah 34:16,face to face Psalms 105:4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. for *HIS* best.Phil 1:10 We saints knowing we are in training for ruling above finally.
Luke 12:42 GBU
X Pastor/missionary E.M.
Your response is good. Having taught Scripture in public schools for years I have come to appreciate that, thanks to us Christians not upholding the authority of Word of God, the 'fact' of evolution is now firmly embedded in our western society. This calls for humility on our part and understanding that teachers are under strict obligation to toe the line or their peers will reject them and their career is over. All we need to do is research scientific and biblical truth then share it. The Lord does the rest.
Maybe in this case you should not focus on what is wrong with her world-view but on what is the truth. You can present to her the creation theory and the message of salvation, and then ask her if she agrees.
The creation theory is that aound 6000 years ago God created the earth and all the kinds of creatures, about 4000 years ago there was a flood that killed all living creatures except for a few. Those few creatures bred to give rise to all creatures alive today. Through natural selection (also artificial selection, random selection ect) and mutations, the various kinds of creatures have been split up into various species. Natural selection and mutations still happen today.
The message of salvation is that our sins separates us from God. God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died and rose again so that we can be re-united with God. Jesus Christ is also God. If and only if we believe on the Son to save us from sin and if we repent, then do we become re-united with God. If you truly believe on Him to save you from your sin, then you will also repent from your sin; if you do not regret your sin, then you will not want Him save you from your sin.
Equivocation in the classroom is navigable. RR, CMI has great free resources, you can research questions your friends and teachers have, but you are going to be on a learning curve. I personally feel that Genetics and information Science has totally destroyed the chemical evolution along with other evidences like bio-genesis. In short, you have to ignore evidences in order to embrace the theory of evolution.
Biology contains code. Code, where ever it is found only comes from intelligence. Code IS what life cannot be without. Dr. Sanfords book "Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome" is an excellent source for learning a geneticists perspective. Then, Dr. Gitts' "In the Beginning was Information" is an excellent primer on the science of information, what it is, and where it originates.
We know God through faith, but the evidences of Creation speak clearly. It is in the darkened mind only that chemical evolution or even the theory can be deemed rational. Other arguments can be made in fine tuning... But the point is there is some things we can easily understand. Build on what you can see and understand, then as you learn, you knowledge will grow to confidence! God Bless your desire to be light in your classroom!
Bless you, R. R. -
One other thing you might consider as you prepare to ask caring and respectful questions of your teacher is that her saying "we just change over time" might mean that she does not accept the standard evolutionary pattern either. So the question that would seem reasonable would be "if we didn't evolve from apes, when did the original human form come into existence, and what was it like?" She may have Christian beliefs but is forbidden to express them in the public classroom.
But I love your hunger to confront the issues, especially since I was a completely indifferent "out the window" secularist in the 10th grade - and for a long time afterwards - till I was nearly 30. So bless you and bless those who have helped you see Christ and the Word of God for the ultimate truth They really are.
Dear R.R., Also safeguard your thinking re. your biology textbook, and the flaws in its pro-evolution argumentation.
I remember my Grade 10 biology textbook. In its introduction, it mentioned (real) progress in biological investigation of ideas--such as getting rid of the wrong concept of Spontaneous Generation of lifeforms. Then, it its next breath, it touted evolution and abiogenesis as true established facts. (The textbook mentioned Pasteur's experiments that killed Spontaneous Generation, but it never mentioned that he was an arch-enemy of evolutionary thought.) It took me a couple of weeks before I could say, "Hey! Wait! Isn't abiogenesis the same thing as Spontaneous Generation?" (It is.) It took me most of the course before I was able to develop a conviction on this--so powerful is the prestige of a science textbook.
Another (my) textbook fast-shuffle to look out for: Evolution is true. (Hypothetical) natural selection proves it. Here are some (real) examples of (real, culling-only) natural selection. Thus, (hypothetical, fitter-lifeform-collecting) natural selection is true, and so is evolution.
Please be on the lookout for such flawed argumentation, full of equivocation. Keaton has dealt with only one example of this. Please check out other CMI articles dealing with flawed evolution-promotion argumentation. This empowerment will let you trust Christ / the Bible more and will help you better delineate between hard facts and speculation. It will also increase your resources when talking to your teacher. In addition to presenting counter-evidence to her, please gently ask her 'viral' questions that will help her critically examine the faulty argumentation into which she has been conditioned. Blessings and prayers on your Godly endeavor.
I think you've missed a great opportunity here by not sending the student the material you recommended, rather than asking him/her to pay for it.
Actually, the vast majority of specific resources I recommended were free articles on creation.com. Our site contains over 9500 articles, plus a few online books and study guides, and tons of videos—all free! So we actually give away quite a lot.
Our ministry is geared toward helping students like R. R. overcome the evolutionary indoctrination they face. But if we gave away absolutely everything, we could no longer exist. Please remember we are faith funded mostly by small regular donations from faithful supporters, but we would not be able to produce the resources we do if we made it all free.
Also, resources are sometimes devalued if they are turned into freebies. Sending someone a free book does not guarantee that they will read it, but if someone cares enough to invest it is more likely they will benefit.
Finally, we could churn out more resources and even give away more if more Christians would contribute to the cause. If you do not currently donate to the work of CMI, perhaps you could consider doing that, or raising your level of support. And if you want to earmark a specific donation for R. R. in this case, I'd be happy to send her some of our resources on your behalf.