How should I teach my kids about evolution?

February 12th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

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. 

Sincerely,

Susan K.
(Pennsylvania)

Dear Susan,

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

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11 comments

Chris B. says:

One of the best resources on the Creation vs Evolution debate is Ken Ham, well known Christian apologist and founder of The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum located in Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area. We get their magazines and have taken our kids to both museums. Highly recommend their website, museums and resources.

Sandor J. Woren says:

I think that the theories of evolution and creationism are not mutually exclusive. For example, it is hard to to see how life could have evolved de novo from inorganic materials, so a Creator must exist. There have been no successful experiments demonstrating de novo creation of even the simplest forms on life. It is also true that humans are qualitatively different from even the most advanced primates, which would argue that they are not simply the highest chain on the evolutionary ladder, but are truly a divine creation.

On the other hand, it is clear from a scientific standpoint that evolution does occur. Consider the case of antibiotic resistance, which provably occurred in the antibiotic age, such that some doctors say that we live in a “post-antibiotic” age. This occurs because random mutations occur that are beneficial to micro-organisms that are exposed to antibiotics.

So there is probably truth to both theories–Creationism and Evolution.

Peter B. says:

The theory of Darwinian evolution was introduced in Charles Darwin’s 1858 book titled “On the Origin of Species”. Bacterial adaptation to antibiotics does not yield a new SPECIES of bacteria. Instead, it changes the bacterial population WITHIN a species thanks to genetic flexibility, a genetic flexibility that God graciously designed into the genetics of ALL living organisms in order to provide for the survivability of the species (i.e. “after their KIND created He them”).

There is In fact no evidence in support of new species originating as a result of the mechanics of Darwinian evolution, those being mutation, random chance, and “natural selection”.

Darwinian evolution is a myth that has gained wide acceptance thanks to the ignorance of the general population combined with a sustained indoctrination by the main stream media, academia, and the worldwide Left. As one conspicuous example of this propaganda, when was the lat time you’ve heard it referred to as the “theory” of evolution? Hmmm? Maybe a couple decades ago? That’s how the newspeak is established. Old ideas based upon the Truth are replaced by lies which become conventional wisdom (an oxymoron if ever there was one).

Are you aware that the scientific journal Nature was founded for the express purpose of promoting Darwinian evolution? Well, it was.

And now you know the rest of the story.

The accidental aspect of the ,”E”, Theorems miss the intricacies of even the sub- molecular. The precision therein blasts apart any such idea,like an atom losing it’s temper.
Albert Einstein was religious, and saw the yad v’Adonai in the subject of his study.

John B says:

I am distressed at the mindlessness of many true believers. I am a Christian and while I was at seminary in the USA I taught Biology and Ecology to high and senior high students at a Christian School. In the interview for the job I had great difficulty in overcoming the ‘play-pen’ mentality of the school governors. They would not accept that I had to teach about evolution.My argument was that otherwise their children would first meet it and be overwlhelmed by the theory of eviolution when they went to college and university. Nowadays it is worse because our whole culture treats it as an unarguable norm – but this was back in the day when this partclar group of Christians did not allow their children unrestricted access to television and of course there were no mobile phones and no internet
I won my argument, got the job and taught about evolution empasising of course its theoretical nature and unprovable assumptions. There is plenty of evidence out there for anyone who thinks… I play the game of watching yesterdays ‘factual’ reports being overturned by today’s ‘facts’
However, we all have to admit that evolution does occur – at least at the species/genus level and, what is more, it occurs must faster than was ever thought. MInimally we have to understand how we humans can breed new identities, new dogs, new daisies etc and often unexpected new diseases
The main reason why I personally do not think that evolution is the answer to explain all the complexity around us is that evolution demands death to enable its processes and as far as creation and especially humankind is concerned that does not conform to the Genesis accounts. Also, as a Christian, if death is a necessary part of continuing life then I lose the whole meaning of the cross.

Teach them evolution but teach them about it and its failures and inconsistencies, One of the more amusing statements made is that “eveolution is common sense but that common sense is not science” (Thomson in the introduction to the centenniel edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species)

ELIZABETH ROSAS DURAN says:

This [are] great videos confronting this theory [of] evolution online for those who are interested.
[We changed a few words and removed URLs from Elizabeth’s helpful comment in accordance with our publishing policies–Ed]

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Yes, Elizabeth,
Indeed there are. We don’t publish URLs here but one of my favorites features David Gelernter and David Berlinski discussing Darwinian evolution and explaining why nobody who really understands it all objectively and doesn’t have a secular agenda to push has abandoned Darwinism as an explanation for human life.
Cordially
RDL

Neweverymoment, Deb:
So glad to see you addressing this! My late husband, “the Philosopher”, and I used to open our lectures by explaining our backgrounds (loosely, science and religion), and saying that if you only remember one thing, it is that science and religion meet on the lap of philosophy (and proceed to demonstrate!). It’s not my field of expertise, but there is such a thing as “evolution by divine design”, which can be scientific as far as it is appropriate for science to go. The Philosopher, a spiritual heir to the Boston Personalists, taught that spirituality is the raw material for forming one’s religion, or one can borrow someone else’s religion Religion is defined as “a set of beliefs, attitudes, and actions concerning Ultimate Reality”. If you don’t believe in Ultimate Reality, you are an atheist, and atheism is a religion. Understanding that changes one’s perspectives. “If one’s only tool is a hammer, all of one’s problems look like nails.”.

Jean says:

With regard to evolution, teachers can and should emphasize the fact that it is still a theory – unproven and unprovable, in the sense that it can’t be replicated in a laboratory setting. Like Sandor, I don’t believe that the idea of a Divine Creator and the existence of a biological system such as evolution are mutually exclusive – one has to both design and begin the process, after all. And the nonsense that some abstract and random force of nature (a big bang from a distant star) somehow created a process that developed creatures that were both sentient and were capable of creating novel solutions from available resources (man) is as incredible if not moreso than a belief in a Creator.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Jean,
Of course God might have used ‘evolution’ as His tool but today the clash is between a belief (yes, belief) in an UNAIDED MATERIALISTIC lengthy process of random evolution vs a God caused arrival of life on this obscure planet. We’re actually discussing this very point tonight (February 13) in our America’s Real War masterclass (see here http://www.rabbiDanielLapin.com/masterclass )
Cordially
RDL

Sonia Poehlein says:

I found a copy of Darwin’s book for $1 on a bargain table at a bookstore. I’d heard of it all my life, never seen – much less read – it, and thought there would never be a better chance. Bought the book, sat down to read it, and got lost fairly quickly. Which makes me wonder: Of all the people who espouse Darwin’s supposed belief (everything came about via evolution of something with no Creator involved), how many have even read and understood the book? Even the title is usually given incorrectly – I always heard that it was “Origin of the Species,” but it is actually “The Origin of Species.” I freely admit that I haven’t read past the first few pages of the 5th chapter, merely skimming through the rest of it, but certain things stand out. Darwin never claims this work as complete, frankly stating that much more research is needed. He also refers to his thoughts as “theory” rather than cold, hard fact. Nowhere that I’ve seen does he claim that anything simply developed or came into being on its own. He consistently refers to the Creator Who started all things, whether from one organism or several, and Who uses the laws of nature that He decreed in order to improve the various beings on earth. This is by no means a defense of Darwin. I’m simply trying to point out that those who teach “Darwinian evolution” today may not even know what Darwin’s theory was. Sure, it should be taught – if the teachers study the book and present it in the way Darwin himself has done: as one theory that depends on many unproven assumptions. As a Christian, I believe that God is the Creator and the Biblical account of creation is completely true. How God decided to proceed with development and improvement, diversity and distribution of various species and groups is His business. I don’t need to understand it all – He does, and that’s good enough for me.

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