Monday, February 14, 2011

Teaching Kids About Science in Church

There's a good post today at the Internet Monk about how best to teach preteen kids in church about faith/science issues. Unfortunately (or maybe not!) the gentleman in question has only a half hour to introduce the subject to his class this coming week.

Here's the conundrum Ben is in:

Dear Chaplain Mike,
On Friday, I’ve got 30 minutes to talk to a group of 11-13 year-olds about ‘creation and evolution’.
They haven’t studied anything about either at school, and in the context of the church they go to, there isn’t a great deal of pressure for me to push things either way.
I’m a bit stumped about where to even start: creation/evolution, religion/science, Genesis/Gilgamesh?!
I may just be able to ask them questions and improvise from there, but I’d quite like a backup plan…
I’d be interested to know what advice Internet Monk readers might have.
Ben S

Here's what I recommended in the thread below:

Ditto on what Paul says above. I would also use a simple illustration of how a word or a phrase can have different meanings depending the context within which it is used as a way of showing that some of the biblical terms in early Genesis don’t necessarily have to be seen as meaning “one” thing. Though this is short notice, I would highly recommend the book by Sigmund Brouwer called “Who Made the Moon?” It’s subtitled “A Father Explores How Faith and Science Agree” and it is fantastic for parents of younger and even preteen kids inquiring about faith/science issues. It’s also accurate without being overly technical, since it is meant to be accessible to both a non-scientist parent and the child.
Also a very important point when teaching and dialoguing with the kids. Listen to them! Respect their questions. And please don’t answer if you don’t know. They have a finely tuned BS detector that, I promise, will go off if you try to answer without knowing what you’re talking about. If they stump ya, admit it and tell them, if it’s at all possible, that you’ll look into their question more and get back to them on it. They’ll respect that honesty more than any false bravado. It might also be a good thing to point out a handful of devout Christians who have also been world renowned scientists, whether in biology, astronomy, chemistry, genetics, etc., so that they know that real people can and do live in both worlds without having to give up either. I pray it goes well for him!
What would you do in this situation? With such a short time to introduce something so big to a crowd as scary as 11-13 year olds who have no background about science, what would you want their "first impression" of science to be as it relates to the Christian faith? Again, check out the Internet Monk thread as more people respond. It should be fun and interesting.

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