I’ve often said that we don’t give kids nearly enough credit for what they are capable of. As Barna’s research has shown, dumbing down the Christian message into a hollow, shallow, bumper sticker confession of faith is not making Christ’s Gospel “easier to understand” or “more relevant.” It is just making it irrelevant.
As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, kids can be very black and white thinkers. Encouraging them to stand up for what they believe in often descends into the well-meaning (yet still obnoxious) “you’re going to hell” syndrome. Teaching our kids to place a high value on truth while still being savvy to the psychology of others sounds like an impossible task, but it can be done Mama Bears!
One of my best friends posted on facebook this week about a letter her daughter wrote. We often jokingly (and yet not jokingly) refer to her oldest as “my daughter” because Evie is my mini-me. This was Angielic’s post:
Just learned that my thirteen year old daughter sent a letter to her science teacher questioning her teaching evolution to the class. Apparently, this letter was so well written that her science teacher showed it to several other teachers and they even commended my little up-and-coming defender and theology nerd. I knew nothing of this letter, before tonight. Within an hour of this conversation, I overheard Evie talking about her debate topic that she’s going to present to her class…Abortion. Recently, I noticed several books on abortion and apologetics gone from my library. I’m thinking that I know who took them.
And so it begins!😳🙌🙌🙌
I couldn’t be more proud of this child if she were my own. I of course immediately asked Angielic to send me Evie’s letter. This is the letter that Evie, an 8th grader, had written:
Dear Mrs. Wilson,
I’m not sure if you’re allowed to answer this, but I had a little bit of a personal question for you. As I get older, I do understand how science will continue to get more technical– when it comes to topics such as evolution and origin of the universe. When I saw those verses on your desk the other day, combined with some other subtle hints throughout the year, I assumed you were religious and it dawned on me; how might being an intellectual scientist, such as yourself, affect your beliefs, or even vise versa: how do your beliefs interfere with the science you teach? If at all.
I am very well aware that religion and science go hand in hand in some issues, yet completely contradict each other in others; some of the most controversial ones being evolution and universe origin. When I go to my mom’s, we study some heavy theology by some of the most credible Christian philosophers and scholars. I take pleasure in being educated on Christian apologetics, and am really intrigued by the study! Because I will most likely be attending particularly secular schools throughout my life, of course I’ll be consuming the areligious truth science has to offer, yet trying to compare that with my own truth that I’ve chosen to accept. But in reading all this, what is your view point?
If you aren’t allowed or just don’t wish to reply with a response, I do understand, especially since it’s not even really my business. However, if there is even a slight chance that you can, that would be great! Thank you for taking the time to read through my inquiry. It kept popping up in my mind, to the point where I felt strongly enough to email you for the sake of religious-science and my own wandering mind.
God bless you!
Eighth grade, people. EIGHTH GRADE!!!! Notice she didn’t preach. She didn’t even attack evolution. She recognized that there were areas where science and the Bible could agree, and areas it didn’t. All she did in this letter was ask questions – probing questions. There is no arrogance, there is no self-righteousness, but she made her point nonetheless. It was like the moment when Christ asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” From the pen of this young girl, the question to her science teacher was, “I see from your desk who you say Christ is. How does that impact the way you teach?” It’s a beautiful message from a beautiful heart. I see from your desk who you say Christ is. How does that impact the way you teach? Click To Tweet
Be strong Mama Bears! Be courageous! The enemy wants us to believe that our kids aren’t picking up on what we say. He wants us to believe that our kids aren’t ready for such deep thoughts, that they won’t understand, or that we’ll be embarrassed if we don’t understand. DON’T listen to him! Our kids learn how to engage respectfully by being prepared to engage respectfully. Our kids want something to believe in that is real, and not just stories. When they discover a faith with foundations that reach deeper than all the tough questions, they can be stronger and more gracious than anything we can imagine. Indeed, we could learn from them.
Just call me one proud Mama Bear right now.
Hillary Morgan Ferrer is the founder of Mama Bear Apologetics. She is the chief author and editor of Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies and Mama Bear Apologetics Guide to Sexuality: Empowering Your Kids to Understand and Live Out God’s Design. Hillary has her masters in Biology and has been married to her husband, Dr. John D. Ferrer, for 15 years. Don’t let her cook for you. She’ll burn your house straight to the ground.
This is awesome! It encouraged me more to teach the word of God to my kids on their early age. Kids sometimes have better questions than adults.
Ken, isn’t that the truth?!?! Asking questions is so natural for kids. It’s usually grown-ups who have made themselves entirely too comfortable with unanswered questions.
Very encouraging! Keep pressing on!
Thanks for always being an encouragement to this single mama bear. It helps me to keep going.
Well we sure love you and your whole crew Angielic! I’m so proud of my girl!!!
Thanks, great article.
Evolution is the scientific consensus. We laypeople have no choice but to accept it as the best guess at why life is the way it is that we have at the moment.
If you’ll accept a tip from an outsider, you’re doing yourself no favors by tiliting at windmills. “Because the Bible says so” has no currency in science or science class.
May I ask what gave you the impression that I would ever use “Because the Bible said so” in a scientific setting, or as valid reasoning? I didn’t have to appeal to the Bible once during my 3 years getting my masters in Biology. Neither did my ministry partner Rebekah in her 4 years as Biochemistry major or her 4 years as a research scientist in the UT Southwestern protein crystallography lab. However, I can tell you that if you think there is “scientific consensus” regarding evolutionary theory, then you are misinformed. There is consensus regarding some areas of evolution, but not all. (If you think it is all Christians who are struggling with the theory, you might want to check out the most recent meeting of the Royal Society in London last fall.) And nobody has even scratched the surface of the origins debate. If you are interested in actually discussing the evidence, then I welcome that conversation.
“I can tell you that if you think there is “scientific consensus” regarding evolutionary theory, then you are misinformed. There is consensus regarding some areas of evolution, but not all.”
I do indeed think there is a consensus in support of evolution. If your point is that there are open questions within biology and evolution, I agree. However, it sounds like your point is much more than that. Perhaps you can clarify.
“nobody has even scratched the surface of the origins debate.”
Abiogenesis isn’t evolution, and there’s quite a bit more than a scratch of evidence of potential avenues of abiogenesis. Yes, there is no consensus on this mechanism, which does nothing to challenge the consensus view of evolution.
Hillary: I’m interested to get your thoughts on my last comment.
Yes! Absolutely. I apologize. This week has been particularly busy. I have unwittingly allowed my two masters programs to overlap for a semester. I’m finishing up one and starting another and I have 3 speaking engagements in the next week and half. I apologize. Usually I am good about getting to comments in a timely manner. I have not forgotten you! Thank you for being willing to engage in dialogue. I will get to this comment. I want to give you a thorough, reasoned response.
BTW, you might see if your blogging tools allow you to limit the comment indenting to, say, 3 levels. That’s how I have it on my blog, and it avoids the super-narrow comments like that last one.
Thanks for that advice. I was able to find the place you were talking about and change it to maximum of 3. I think default had it set at 5.
So as to your question about why I think there is not consensus regarding evolution, I have a few points.
1) American is basically the only place where you can’t question the theory of evolution. I have friends in doctoral programs in (or from) Turkey, New Zealand, South Korea, Scotland, England, and South Africa. All of them comment on how odd they find it that you are basically not allowed to question evolution in America. The “consensus” we have here is not one of agreement. It is one where if you defect from the status quo, you will be run out of academia. Not so in other countries. The Royal Society in London just had a meeting to discuss what to do about evolutionary theory because it’s just not working. I have several friends who attended this meeting. The main crux was “We have to change this theory, but to what?” That to me is pretty solid evidence that the people who have been the nay-sayers weren’t just “inserting religion” into their science. They saw legitimate problems long before the dogmatists were willing to admit it. The dogmatists are finally willing to admit that there are major problems. America has not gotten the memo quite yet. (See add for meeting here. Notice the statement “Developments in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields have produced calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution, although the issues involved remain hotly contested.” Translation: it’s not working.)
2) Few people who disagree with evolution are saying that they disagree with everything in evolution. However, the main disagreement we see is that many people do not see the Darwinian mechanism as being capable of producing novel structures. There is plenty of evidence for natural selection acting on pre-existing variation. However, we cannot explain the existence of variation by appealing to a process that requires pre-existing variation. It is circular reason, and begs the question.
3) Evolution by mutation and natural selection can account for some of the variety we see, but not the extent of variety that we see between phyla. The main premise that evolutionary thinking gets wrong is that all these small changes can add up indefinitely. This is a problem because we see several limitations. For example:
a) The Lenski experiments show an increase in mutations, and then in most graphs, the mutations level off in an asymptote-like pattern. This seems to imply that there is a natural limit to how much one organism can adapt. I have no problem with a range of possible variation built into the genome. However, I do not think that it is cumulative. From what I can tell, the Lenski experiments demonstrated this limit really well.
b) Not to mention that the main “discovery” within his “new species” or strain or whatever of E. coli amounted to little more than a broken transporter protein. The mechanism for metabolizing citrate was already there. It was just turned off in certain situations. When the regulating mechanism broke, it allowed it to metabolize citrate in novel conditions. This was not a net gain. This was a broken regulator. No new parts were created. The fact that he received a Noble prize for this “discovery” tells me that we don’t have a lot of better evidence out there. I am not discounting his amazing work and decades of research. I just think his results lend more evidence for the existence of limited evolutionary potential, not unlimited.
c) Pre-existing variation is much more robust than we have previously given bacteria credit for. Example: when a team drilled, they discovered modern antibiotic resistant bacterial strains in 30,000 year old permafrost deposits. Antibacterial resistance was previously attributed to the bacteria “evolving” resistance in response to antibiotics. We now see that it was just a selection for already existing antibiotic resistant strains. Again, nothing new was created. (See article here and note the final statement in the first paragraph: “These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.”)
d) There is a very practical limit from sexual reproduction. You can only continue adding cumulative variation if you cumulatively incorporate novel genes into the gene pool. However, research shows that if species are disparate enough, they either won’t mate or can’t mate. If they are somewhat close enough and they do mate, the offspring are sterile (like in the case of a mule.) That’s the end of the line for that lineage. You don’t have novel gene creation. The only way the kind of evolution that hard-core evolutionists think is possible is if all species could inter-mate indiscriminately. That is the only way to even remotely introduce the complexity of speciation. However, experience and observation tells us otherwise.
e) If we are wanting to attribute the slow gradual changes to mutations, we have serious problems as well. Download the software AlleleA1 and just play around with the settings. It is REALLY hard to get a single mutant allele to fix in even a small population, unless it has some unrealistically high (like over 95%) fitness advantage. Very few mutations confer that large of an advantage. I played around with the software for hours. The best we can hope for is a large group to simultaneously have identical mutations, and for it to have a pretty large fitness advantage, neither of which is realistic in nature.
I’ll stop for now because this is getting long, but I’ll end with one last point: evolution has become a theory that is unfalsifiable. Every piece of contradictory evidence is just grafted into the theory, the original theory is changed, and people make up words that describe some new process, but do little to explain a mechanism for how this process occurs. You can’t just slap phrases like “punctuated equilibrium” onto what appears to be a lack of ancestral forms and say that you’ve explained what happened.
I hope this adequately explains why I do not think there is scientific consensus regarding evolution. And while you are probably already aware of this website, I’ll mention it for other readers: Dissent from Darwin (http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/) is a website of PhD scientists who all agree on one core statement “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutations and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” Over 1000 scientists have signed this list, and not just junior college scientists. Harvard. Yale. University of Chicago, Berkeley, MIT, you name it, it’s represented there. That does not sound like there is “consensus” to me. See the list here.