Evolutionising the young1
Published: 8 December 2016 (GMT+10)
According to the Bible, the truth of there being a Creator God is self-evident. Hence, the Bible begins, not with any argument for God’s existence, but simply an assertion that ‘God is’ and ‘He created’ (Genesis 1). Similarly, the apostle Paul taught that the reality of God is clearly perceived in the world around us (Romans 1:18–20).
Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that children have a natural tendency to believe this. A report by Dartmouth Medical School (USA) concluded that “Human beings are biologically primed to seek moral and spiritual meaning” and children’s “capacity and desire for spiritual experience are, to some degree, hard-wired.”2 According to Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at Oxford University’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, young children have faith even when they have not been taught about God by the family or at school. Even those who grew up alone on a desert island would come to believe in God, he suggests.3 Psychologist Dr Olivera Petrovich noted that Japanese children spontaneously attribute the natural world to the work of a creator God, even when this is contrary to the beliefs of their parents and teachers.4
A recent article in The Guardian, authored by Nathalia Gjersoe, reported some new research into the beliefs of young children.5 Scientists noted two very specific views, held instinctively, which help explain why children have a natural tendency to believe in creation. The first is that different kinds of plants and animals are distinct from one another and that one kind will not change into another. The second is that everything in nature has been designed for a purpose. Significantly, these views are equally common in children from religious and non-religious backgrounds.
A secular agenda
According to Gjersoe, however, this situation requires a solution. Such beliefs, she says, “become increasingly entrenched, making formal scientific instruction more and more difficult as children get older.” Astonishingly, she implies that the belief that a ‘supreme being’ played a part in producing the natural world—even if this involved an evolutionary process—is detrimental to society. Indeed, she wrote, “It is critical that the voting public have a clear understanding of evolution. Adaptation by natural selection, the primary mechanism of evolution, underpins a raft of current social concerns such as antibiotic resistance, the impact of climate change and the relationship between genes and environment.”
Gjersoe’s article is so full of misunderstandings and confusion that, in making a response, it is difficult to know where to begin. The idea that recognising design in nature obstructs one’s ability to learn science is plainly contrary to the facts of history.6,7 For example, many of the founders of modern science were biblical creationists who wrote about how their belief in the creation inspired their scientific work.8 At the same time, belief in evolution appears to have contributed nothing to scientific progress. According to Dr Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, “over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”9 Natural selection does, indeed, play a part in bacteria acquiring resistance to antibiotics. However, Gjersoe’s confusing natural selection with evolution is a fundamental error that we have addressed on numerous occasions. Natural selection cannot turn ‘microbes into men’ because it is not a creative process.
Indoctrinate them earlier?
Gjersoe believes that the solution to the ‘problem’ of children naturally believing in a Creator is to teach evolutionary concepts at an earlier age. Until recently, evolution was not taught in UK schools until around year 9 (age 13–14); however, following lobbying by the British Humanist Association, it is now covered in year 6 (age 10–11). Gjersoe suggests that this is too late and quotes psychologist Professor Deborah Kelemen who argues that, by age ten, a child’s creationist worldview has “coalesced into a coherent theoretical framework that then gets in the way of contradictory scientific explanations and may remain the default, gut reaction, even in adults.” Hence, they conclude that it might be appropriate to begin ‘corrective education’ as early as year 1 (around age 5). For some time, this is exactly what Richard Dawkins has been pushing for.10
In Proverbs 22:6 we’re told, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” There has, perhaps, never been a time in history when this admonition has been more urgent. Secularists are determined to steal the minds and hearts of our children. Initially, they sought to indoctrinate through the media and the universities. They then progressed to secondary schools. Now they want our kids from their earliest years. There is, however, no need for this to happen. In Creation magazine, we provide a continuous stream of up-to-date information challenging ‘evolutionary science’ and supporting creationist beliefs. This enables parents to counter the lies continually fed to their children and to establish them in a godly, biblical worldview.
References and notes
- First published in CMI (UK/Europe)’s CMI Extra, June 2016. Return to text.
- Bavolek, S.J., Hardwired to connect: the new scientific case for authoritative community, Dartmouth Medical School, 2003; authenticleadershipinc.com/pdf/Hardwired_to_Connect.pdf Return to text.
- Beckford, M., Children are born believers in God, academic claims, The Telegraph, 24 November 2008; telegraph.co.uk. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Children see the world as ‘designed’!, 16 July 2009; creation.com/children-see-the-world-as-designed. Return to text.
- Gjersoe, N., Evolution makes scientific sense. So why do many people reject it?, The Guardian, 31 March 2016; theguardian.com. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., The biblical roots of modern science, 29 September 2009; creation.com/biblical-roots-of-modern-science. Return to text.
- Stark, R., How the West was Won, ISI Books, USA, ch. 15, 2014. Return to text.
- Jaki, S.L., Science and Creation, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, ch. 12, 1986. Return to text.
- Dizikes, P., Missing Links, Boston Globe, 23 October 2005. Return to text.
- Allen, E., Teach five-year-olds Darwin’s theory of evolution, says Professor Richard Dawkins, dailymail.co.uk, 1 September, 2011. Return to text.