Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,
I am an evangelical Christian who enjoys your program immensely on the TCT network. I have gained much insight through your program and it makes Bible reading quite enjoyable when you understand the actual meaning of the Hebrew words.
I have two questions that I hope you can answer or point me in the direction of where I can find these answers on your website or what reading materials you have available on these subjects.
1) I love reading the Bible, and for years I have come across directions, such as North, South, East and West that doesn’t always seem that it is actually talking about the direction on the compass, perhaps I am mistaken, are there deeper meanings, poetic meanings, errors in translation?
2) I have many friends who choose to homeschool or send their children to faith-based schooling rather than the (American) public school system. I have found it curious that the main reason they chose this route was on one core topic, evolution. I also chose a faith-based school for my daughter but that wasn’t my main reason. She was not taught evolution, at the time I was grateful, I don’t believe in evolution and I didn’t want that taught to my daughter. My question is, should we teach this “theory” as a part of learning and understanding our world even if it goes against our religious beliefs? Should we let them make that decision as adults to learn what their peers were learning in secular elementary school?
I appreciate both of you, and I look forward to your expertise and opinions.
We encourage people not to “slip in” more than one question, but since your first one is asking for a resource rather than an answer, we will make an exception. You are absolutely correct that directions mean more than they seem in Scripture. We give one amazing example in our audio CD set, Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel and another one, regarding the words up and down as used in directions, in our DVD, Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show Volume 3. Both of these will give you enlightening keys for understanding and interpreting the insights that slide right by the casual and unknowledgeable reader.
On to your question about evolution. You are raising a very important question. We feel that it is crucial that we guide our children in an approach to difficult topics rather than having them blindsided as they grow up. If we fail to provide a coherent and true worldview, later, when they start hearing of those ideas from media or from college they would be justified in assuming that we simply ignored the topic because we had no answers.
You mention elementary school and, of course, discussions need to be molded to the age and mental ability of the child. For a young child, we need to be alert to point out, for example, that if a sign at the zoo says that baboons are our cousins, that is an anti-Biblical statement. However, as our children grow, we need to respect their intelligence as well as be aware of how strong the pressure on them will be on topics like evolution. There are very practical ramifications of this theory as we point out in the book we are actively updating, America’s Real War. (You can still sign up and catch the first class on the students-only website.)
Many parents—and teachers—are uncomfortable teaching subjects about which they have limited knowledge. Math and science often fall into these categories. That is not acceptable. We need to educate ourselves as well as be facilitators connecting our children with those who know more than we do. Understanding the scientific method and holding evolution up to scientific scrutiny is necessary. We must introduce our children to the writings of many scientists like Gerald Schroeder, Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, David Gelernter, and Stephen Meyer, all distinguished scholars with the courage to defy academic bullying and doctrinal intolerance.
There are disturbing similarities between the way the educational establishment treats evolution and how it treats climate change. As I (RDL) have explained in a recent podcast, the entire area of climate change hysteria is more a false religion than it is science. One reason I make this claim is that science works by explaining things that have happened and which we can observe and reproduce. Science seldom makes preposterous and unprovable predictions. Yet the fields of both climate change and evolution offer theories that are unprovable and indeed are filled with inconsistencies and factual errors and yet students are instructed not to question these doctrines. For young people, being forewarned is being forearmed.
We must continuously remind our children of the falseness of the oft-repeated secular-fundamentalist claim: religious, foolish and ignorant people believe in God while intelligent, curious and educated people believe in science.
Our children will respect our telling them that we do not have all the answers but we can help them connect with those who do. We’d much rather they see we are unafraid of unanswered questions, unlike ‘science-believers,’ especially on college campuses, who insist on teaching answers that may never be questioned. Ignoring topics like evolution with our children, which is at the core of secular-fundamentalism, is tantamount to sending soldiers to battle with no training or weapons. We are preparing them for failure.
Defy every instance of doctrine replacing science and question, question, question! Yes, many if not most people out there remain firmly wedded to untrue theories. But as the great German scientist, Max Planck once said, sometimes wrong-headed belief in untrue theories only ends when that generation of believers dies out. (Even the Israelites who had been removed from Egypt had to remain in the desert long enough for a generation to die so that Egypt could be removed from the Israelites. Only then were they ready for their own land.) Don’t be intimidated and help your children escape the confusion between science and the belief of scientism.
You might wish to listen to this podcast: http://rabbidaniellapin.libsyn.com/science-yes-scientism-no-dont-be-duped-by-devious-dogmatism
Be strong and of good courage,
Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin
This one is for you, Susan K.