Raising Kids in the Creation/Evolution Divide, Part 2

CreatonBlakeContinued from yesterday

At the time of our children’s young-earth themed Vacation Bible School, I was in the midst of writing a poetry collection on Paul and his letters. While I’m no theologian, I can discern one theme that permeates the epistles like nothing else: unity.

Paul prays continually for his brothers and sisters, even the ones who drive him crazy. He tells the Corinthians to live without divisions, “perfectly united in mind and thought.” He exhorts the Ephesians to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.”

Unlike the creation account, this passage doesn’t present too many differing interpretations. The bond of believers is vital to the health of the church.

What message would we send to our children if we pulled them out of the program? That our family was somehow too good for these loving teachers who stood on stage first thing every morning singing songs with silly hand motions? Did we see ourselves as smarter, more sophisticated, more enlightened?

That night I went online and discovered that the VBS curriculum was developed by the Answers in Genesis organization. According to the IndrediWorld page, the next morning our children would explore this central question: Can your view of creation affect your view of the gospel?

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Raising Kids in the Creation/Evolution Divide, Part 1

VBSTwo summers ago,my husband Jeremy and I decided to cancel our family’s cross-country road trip just days before departure. Our bank account had taken a beating with some unexpected bills. We suddenly found ourselves looking for staycation activities for our children, who were devastated to miss out on hiking the national parks and splashing in the ocean with their California cousins.

Fortunately, several churches in our area offered Vacation Bible School programs,so we immediately set to registering Lydia, 9; Becca, 7; and Samuel, 4. You can’t go wrong with snacks, scripture, and slap bracelets for less than $15 per kid. Later in the summer, I was delighted to find yet another VBS in a neighboring town that offered a curriculum different from those of the previous weeks.

The program was called IncrediWorld Amazement Park: A Thrill Ride Through God’s Creation.  Still pining for Yellowstone’s geysers and Black Canyon’s 2,000-foot, Precambrian drop,the kids welcomed a nature-themed week.

When we dropped our kids off, Jeremy and I were struck by the warmth of the staff and volunteers. While the other VBS programs funneled children into the appropriate groups right away, this church stationed the pastor at the door.

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Rubble and Re-Creation

Gangs_First_Meet_6-26-11 12 web_4“Good Letters” is pleased today to welcome Chris Hoke as a regular contributor.

In the beginning, when God was creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was a desolate waste. Chaos. Smoking rubble. Like after a war. Our beginning, we Bible readers should understand, was post-apocalyptic.

That’s what I tell the guys in jail, as a regular chaplain there, when someone pipes up now and then with the Genesis and evolution question.

I back us up, and—depending on how much time we have before the guards come and pop the heavy door open—I teach the guys a Biblical Hebrew phrase: tohu wa-bohu. It’s fun to say. You get men with tattoos on their face all saying “tohu wa-bohu,” starting to laugh, and the dark, often-futile topic already has some light shining in.

Tohu wa-bohu is the description of God’s canvas where he began to create in Genesis 1:2. In the guys’ different American Bibles it’s often translated as “formless and void,” or “without form and empty.” But, I say, lots of scholars insist the best translation would be something like “chaos and destruction.” In the Aramaic Bible—the language Jesus spoke—it’s translated as “the earth had become ruined and uninhabited.”

What? That doesn’t sound right. At the beginning?

The conversation in the jail Bible study—and the entire creation account—shifts here. [Read more...]

The Creationist Crisis Reprise

Sevbible2eral months ago I blogged about the Ken Ham Bill Nye debate at Liberty University. I hadn’t given the two much thought since then until last week when they both rose back into the media. My son’s Popular Science magazine arrived with Nye on the front, his fists wrapped like a boxer’s, and the title of the article about him: Nerd Fight! The same day, Ham hit the news as a butt of jokes for blogging that intelligent alien life cannot exist because, “the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation… To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.”

What struck me about the Ham kerfuffle is how this arises from the same place that his strict stance on young earth creationism does. At its core, this is not about the science; it is about hermeneutics.

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Eiseley, Darwin, and the Weird Portentous

Loren EiseleyLoren Eiseley was born in 1907. He died in 1977. For many years and until his death, he was the Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. A scientist, he was particularly interested in the study of the origins of human kind.

Eiseley was also a writer and a poet. He was a dreamer and something of a philosopher, too. Some called him a freak. Ray Bradbury once said of Eiseley that he was, “every writer’s writer and every human’s human.”

The poet W. H. Auden was a great admirer of Eiseley. Auden wrote the introduction to a collection of Eiseley’s writings called The Star Thrower. In that introduction Auden, like Bradbury, brought up the fact of Eiseley’s being a “human’s human.”

“Dr. Eiseley,” Auden wrote, “happens to be an archeologist, an anthropologist, and a naturalist, but, if I have understood him rightly, the first point he wishes to make is that in order to be a scientist, an artist, a doctor, a lawyer, or what-have-you, one has first to be a human being.” [Read more...]