Protecting your children in the battle of worldviews
Published: 30 May 2006 (GMT+10)
‘I did something really bad today’, a seven-year-old boy told his mother when he arrived home after school.
As the mother told me the story, I wondered what the boy could have done. It seems he attended a government school with a good quality teaching program, and his class was learning about minerals, fossils and dinosaurs.
That day the children did a test, and one question was on the age of the dinosaurs.
The boy knew the teacher wanted the answer ‘100 million years’, and he knew that was wrong because dinosaurs were created on Day 6 about 6,000 years ago. He was in a quandary.
If he didn’t say they were millions of years old he would be marked wrong and everyone would think he was dumb. If he did say they were millions of years old he would go against the truth. He decided on ‘100 million years’, but felt like a traitor—all this in the life of a seven-year-old.
He asked his mother, ‘Why am I the only one in my class who believes God created the world?’
This was a challenge in the life of this young man, and his mother was able to help him with his situation at school. She reminded him how Noah was the only one to believe God in his time, and how he built the Ark even when others made fun of him, and they had never seen world-flooding rain before.
Later the boy, who was now watching how others were answering, told his mum of another student who answered a question the same way that he would. ‘She believes the same as me.’
He faced another challenge when they visited the museum. The lady held up pictures of a dinosaur and a man, ‘Who thinks dinosaurs and people lived at the same time?’ The boy knew they did, once, but that was not what the lady wanted. He didn’t want people to make fun of him so he kept his hand down. Again he felt bad about it.
Another time the class visited a clay pit, and he was thrilled to bring home an armful of fossils. Of course they were told they were millions of years old, and his mum saw that he was impressed.
But fossils point to the catastrophe of Noah’s Flood. Their good preservation means they were buried quickly before they had time to rot away. And they found only leaves, twigs and small branches in the pit, not an entire ecosystem with tree trunks and roots. Again, this points to water, and its ability to transport and sort material.
I was encouraged to see the mother was so well equipped to help her children in this battle of worldviews. She was getting Creation magazine, which has articles on the topics that come up at school all the time—an excellent resource for projects. She also had books on dinosaurs like Dinosaurs of Eden, Dinosaurs by Design and The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible
But ten years ago she did not have answers.
‘I remember as a child when my father pulled a book off the shelves and showed me a picture of the evolutionary tree. It made such an impression.’
‘Even when I became a Christian I thought that God used evolution over millions of years. It is only recently that I have seen how the Bible makes sense of the world, just as it is written.’
How can we help our children survive this clash of worldviews—something that often surprises and distresses?
When your children face a situation they have trouble dealing with, give them time to talk it through. Conflicts like these are not confined to government schools, but can arise in church schools too. That is why increasing numbers of parents decide to educate their children at home.
Know what your children are studying and be alert to areas of potential confusion. Work through the issues yourself so you can give simple explanations to your children. Know, for example, how the Bible explains fossils, dinosaurs, Egyptian history, coal, vegetation, landscapes and indigenous history.
Get resources that your children can watch, read and quote. Today we have a wealth of creationist magazines, books, DVDs and web sites. Reference books are especially useful because you can use them with a number of children and a number of subjects.
Talk to your children about different ways of handling the situations they find themselves in. These sorts of conflicts are a normal part of Christian living and not confined to the creation issue (although creation is foundational to virtually everything). It may be as simple as your child beginning their answers with, ‘Most scientists believe …’ Look at examples from Scripture of people who remained faithful in difficult situations—Noah, David, Naaman’s servant girl, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, etc.
You may want to visit the teacher (or talk to them casually when you are at school). Don’t create a stir, demand your ‘rights’ or cause strife. If you do, you will make it tough for your child, because the teacher will not feel inclined to cooperate with you and could be less than sympathetic to your child. Thank them for their hard work, and find something specific to praise. Explain that the topic the class is doing is viewed differently by different people in the community. Offer to explain where some people in the community are coming from. Don’t be argumentative, but simply inform them so they can better understand their students’ background. Offer them resources such as Creation magazine, books, brochures and articles from the web. Try hard to avoid conflict but give support and encouragement. Approached with respect, you will find that many teachers will be prepared to listen and may well even thank you for enlightening them on a view of which they were uninformed.