Russell and Duenes

Suggestions for Getting Christian Children Interested in Science

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I’ve been asked to give some of my thoughts on the interface of science and biblical faith, and even more specifically, on ways in which we can encourage Christian parents to inculcate a love of science in their children. Here are some thoughts.

1. Christian parents need to rid themselves of the notion that science and biblical faith are at odds with each other. It’s become a popular narrative that there’s this war between science and Christian faith, and this narrative is based on the assumption that true “science” can have nothing to do with faith, and indeed, that good science can only be done on the assumption that there is no God involved in the created order. But this narrative is false, because it’s based on a false view of the scientific endeavor. Christian parents must start with the truth that God created everything, and thus, nothing can properly be done without acknowledging God’s activity in it. Second, describing what goes on in the natural world does not necessitate explanations of things that are only natural. A scientist might look into his or her microscope and describe what particular bacteria are doing, but this does not mean that these bacteria are doing things without the superintendence and activity of God. Further, some of the best science has been done by men and women who were spurred on in their scientific research by a robust belief that God created the world with order and gave us senses by which to discover some of what He is up to in the natural world. Thus, on historical grounds alone, the idea of a “war” between science and faith is false. Don’t fall for it.

2. Christian parents need to reject the twin falsehoods that a) nature is all there is, and b) God is going to destroy the natural world anyway, so scientific inquiry is unimportant (or too worldly). The idea that “nature is all there is” should be rightly rejected by anyone who reads and believes the Bible, but too often this does not stop us from being “practical naturalists.” In other words, we too often convey to our children and students that nature is all there is, and that God is barely involved in it. If our children are in public schools, they will be taught, usually implicitly, that nature is all there is, and so parents need to repeatedly teach their children that this is not true. Yet, I think point (b) above is even more harmful amongst Christians. There is a real infection in the conservative evangelical church which says, “Well, Jesus is coming back soon, and God’s going to destroy this earth, so we don’t really want to invest too much in it. To do so is worldly, and we should focus on getting saved.” Of course, “getting people saved” is a primary work of God in Christ, but the Bible certainly does not teach that we should ignore God’s creation simply because it won’t last in its present form forever. God delights in His creative work, and we honor Him when we delight in it too, and when we look for His hand in it, and see His power through it, and look for ways to steward it for His glory.

3. Christian parents need to stop being afraid of science, as though loving science will lead one to reject the Bible (This is a corollary to point #1 above). In order to do this, Christian parents have to think of science, and not “scientism.” Scientism is the false idea that the natural world is a closed system, admitting of no supernatural influence or intelligent design. Christian parents should rightly reject this and expose its falsehood to their children. But Christians should never reject the true scientific project which seeks to better understand, admire and exercise dominion over God’s creation. God is the author and sustainer of everything, and thus, there is no true endeavor which can properly threaten His truth as revealed in the Bible. Learning a lot about the earth and the universe around us ought not to threaten the believer, as though such knowledge leads inexorably towards atheism or agnosticism. Rather, as Christian parents begin with a robust teaching that God creates everything, they can help their children pursue scientific knowledge within that theological framework. Scientific knowledge does not corrupt biblical faith. What corrupts biblical faith is acceptance of unwarranted assumptions that, in order to do good science, one must do it on purely naturalistic and materialistic grounds. What corrupts biblical faith is a desire, above all, to be accepted by scientists in the academy who espouse a Darwinian godless worldview, so that we can be thought to be “intellectually credible.” The Holy Spirit is not quenched by learning too much.

So, some practical suggestions on how to help your children to love God and love science.

1. Teach your kids to love God’s creation by exploring it. This takes intentional action. You have to get your kids out of the house, and at least occasionally, out of the city. Kids naturally like to explore the outdoors anyway, so long as they have not come to love their Gameboys and other gadgets too much. You have to plan ways to get them to observe the created world around them, and to ponder it and make connections. Much could be said about this, bu it will take time and intentionality.

2. Read to them, and then have them read to themselves about Christian scientists. Read with them, and educate yourself. Christian kids should know that Isaac Newton was a Bible-believing Christian. They should read about George Washington Carver, and how his love for Christ spurred him on to make great discoveries about the peanut (and other things). They should be taught that Galileo was not some atheist “speaking truth to power” in the Catholic church. They should gain confidence that science and biblical faith go together as they learn about Blaise Pascal, Francis Collins, Johannes Kepler, Michael Behe, Gregor Mendel, and many others.

3. Emphasize the Scriptures on God’s creative power. We are always so eager to rush to the New Testament, and get kids thinking about “the end of the story.” But children will not know the end of the story, nor their need for salvation, until they know and appreciate that God is the Creator of all, and therefore, Lord of all. So we need to emphasize to them, starting at a young age, that “the heavens are telling the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Ps.19:1-2). They need to be reinforced in the truth that God “made the heavens. [He] made even the highest heavens. [He] created all of the stars in the sky. [He] created the earth and everything that is on it. And [He] made the oceans and everything that is in them. [He] gives life to everything. Every living being in heaven worships [Him].” (Neh.9:5-7) They need to know that God “commands the sun” and “seals up the stars.” (Job 9:7). They need to be reminded that God “determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” (Ps. 147:4). They need to hear the words of Revelation: “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things and by Your will they exist and are created.” (Rev. 4:11). And the list goes on. The Bible is replete with teachings about God’s creatorship. Teach and remind your children of these things.

4. Watch shows with your children such as BBC’s “Life” series, or “Blue Planet” or “Earth.” You’ll love them yourselves, and your kids will be awed. You’ll want to discuss the shows with your kids, of course, but these shows, and others like them, are a gold mine. Fire up some popcorn and settle in for the best footage on God’s creation you’ve ever seen.

5. Do science experiments with your children at home. You don’t have to be a science teacher to do these. There are tons of good science curricula out there today, particularly home school curricula, and these resources will help you create some science experiments for your kids on your own.

I’m sure there are other important suggestions that I’ve left out, but I offer these to you to encourage you and your children to love God and enjoy His creation for His sake. Fostering curiosity about nature and an awe for what God has made will help your children become the best kind of scientists, particularly if they make a career out of it.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

October 17, 2012 at 9:05 am

Posted in Duenes, Education, Science

One Response

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  1. Teach your kids to love God’s creation by exploring it.

    This is great stuff. My wife (who, unlike me, was raised in a Christian home) is frankly better than me at seeing God’s hand in nature, but at times I can see it very clearly, too. One reason I appreciate my background in science and medicine is that it allows me to see why (in my view) God simply *must* have been involved in the creative process (I say this in stark contrast to those who insist that biology proves God had nothing to do with biological creation…).

    We are always so eager to rush to the New Testament, and get kids thinking about “the end of the story.” But children will not know the end of the story, nor their need for salvation, until they know and appreciate that God is the Creator of all

    I have likened focusing too much on the New Testament to reading *only* the Return of the King. You won’t really understand what’s going on if you skip the first couple of books!

    samsonsjawbone

    October 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm


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