Talking to the media and teaching kids about creation and evolution

John Dickson on Q&A

Really enjoyed watching John Dickson on Q&A the other night. The guy is very good at handling stuff in that kind of forum. If you missed it, do check it out. You have another 6 days to watch it here.

But I was disappointed with how he spoke about Christians in who don’t believe in evolution, as a small, fringe minority: ‘Most mainstream Christians are very comfortable with ... all the discoveries of modern science, including….’ the big band and evolution by natural selection.

Personally I have never firmly ‘landed’ on one position. It is tricky to contemplate death and gradual development by mutation and natural selection before the Fall… but then I can see that Genesis 1-2 don’t demand to be read with the same historical detail as other parts of Scripture. Also I do want to trust the broad scientific community, in part because my faith teaches me to be rational!

Where I come down somewhere is on some form of theistic evolution that allows for a historical Adam and Eve and a historical Fall.

But I want to honour Christians who think deeply about these things, wrestle with the issues and come down on some form of old or young earth creationist position. Because it’s not just a scientific question, it’s also a biblical question. It is possible to be a creationist even though you understand all the arguments about how science and evolution need not conflict and how Genesis need not be read such a way… and yet become convinced that’s the best reading of the text and the wider theological issues that feed into it.

And I haven’t done the statistics, and I wonder if John Dickson has either… but my anecdotal experience and reading makes me doubt whether creationists of some stripe are really only, by John’s implication, ‘few’ on the ‘fringe’ of Christianity? Perhaps if ‘most’ and ‘mainstream’ referred to Anglicanism? Or Australian and English theologians?

True, he does go on to say that he has many friends who hold a different view, which is nice. But I just feel something slightly more measured could’ve been said?

Teaching kids about creation and evolution

Nikki and I have talked about it a bit. In the end we have ended up doing with our kids what I do with the students at Uni Fellowship:

  • Underscore fundamental theological truths: God is creator, God created the world good, death is the result of the fall (especially human death), Adam and Eve were sinless before they fell, God can create things using ‘means’.

  • Teach them that there are a mix of Christian views out there: ‘some Christians think God used a slow process to make all the different animals… but Adam and Eve were a special climax’... ‘some Christians think God did it all really quickly’.

  • Teach them the bare bones of the scientific debate: Some people think that it was all an accident, they think science explains everything. But God can even use the the things that science explains to do his work. And science is just figuring out what happened from all the clues… sometimes science about what happened a long time ago can be wrong.

We try to reinforce a conviction that God is creator and can create and govern a vast, weird and wonderful world and can do so using secondary means. We do this by talking often about God being at work in the natural world - say when watching a documentary. And we always talk about what God could do miraculously, if he chose.

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