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#1 of 10 Old 10-17-2011, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter is not yet aware of anti-evolution believers, and I am not sure how to break the news to her.  She has seen various exhibits at the Smithsonian Natural History museum on evolution, heard people explaining different animals with reference to it, and obviously it comes up all the time in the study of so many things. 

 

The idea that "god" would in any way be at odds with this is completely unknown to her.  I once asked her what she thought about god and she articulated a highly spiritual understanding.  It is not something I ever "taught" her - I don't believe in "teaching" when it comes to religion, to me that is even more sacred than not teaching academics :lol.

 

What is going through my mind when it comes to this issue is how to

 

- describe the other people in a respectful way

- explain that it is not worth arguing with them

 

Note that I don't belong to any anti-evolution hs group but we do run into such people at times (e.g. at a forest ranger talk at a national park), and they can be quite vocal.  In fact we are trying to form a hs group where I am (in India) and I noticed one of the people was carrying pamphlets on the topic.   I would not want to tell my daughter not to read the pamphlet but I am not sure how I can tell this person not to distribute the pamphlet at the meeting (he did not distribute it but gave me one privately).  It reminds me of an hs group I belonged to in another city (in US), where the organizer decided not to touch the topic because it was unmanageable.  Therefore even the trip to the Smithsonian had to be done outside the group because it would have prompted some of the people to organize something else and no one wanted to go there.

 

At what age do you think it appropriate to "teach the controversy?"  Right now my wide-eyed 8 year old devours every book and video on science she can get.  On the one hand she should learn to be a critical reader, evaluate her sources and not believe everything she reads  (and she already knows that because if she reads a book that so much as refers to the planet Pluto, she says, "this book is very old).  I can explain errors, outdated information, or change in perspective due to new research and understanding, but I am not sure I can explain "because __ says so."  Stuff like church vs. Galileo she sees as almost ancient history and even they came around, well before she was born :lol so that is all taken care of.


no longer momsling.GIF or ecbaby2.gif orfly-by-nursing1.gif ... dd is going on 10 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?

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#2 of 10 Old 10-17-2011, 10:40 PM
 
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Personally I would start by reading with her a bunch of creation myths. We have a number in different anthologies. You can probably find a bunch on-line if you don't have any or don't have a library. I would be sure to find a good retelling of Genesis. We are not Christian but we have the DK Family Bible, lavishly illustrated and well-told, which I've used for a sort of "cultural awareness education" with my kids. We'd talk about what myths are. And then we would talk about the fact that sometimes people choose to believe in the literal truth of the myths that form part of their religion. We got into lots of great discussions about what faith is, what reason is, what science is, what can be known, what reality is and ... well, that led us to another great book called "Philosophy Rocks" a.k.a. "The Philosophy Files." In our case it was helpful for my kids to think a bit about how there are assumptions behind even what we think of as direct observable fact. For instance, we know that the sky is blue. But how do we know what blue is? How do we know that the colour we call blue is the same as what other people see when they call something blue? How do I know that you're not actually seeing what I call pink, but calling it blue, because everyone has told you that it's called blue? Can we really say that the sky IS blue?

 

In our case these discussions came up quite naturally as the kids asked why their (conservative Mennonite) relatives do things certain ways, have certain beliefs and practices. "People believe different things. Some depend more on religion and faith for what they believe. Some depend more on science, and on what their senses tell them. Neither way of viewing the world is infallible. I happen to agree with you: I rely on what our senses and our logic tell us, as opposed to what is in a story passed down through the generations. But people are all different. Some believe that story in Genesis about God creating all the plants and people and animals in six days. And of course that means they can't agree with evolution."

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#3 of 10 Old 10-18-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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We're atheists living in the bible belt of the U.S., so we had to address this with our oldest by the time he was six (he's now eight).  We're pretty direct about what we believe and what creationists believe.  We're respectful in that we don't make personal insults about creationists, but we don't claim to see their beliefs as equally valid to ours.  We would have to lie to do this.  We typically end discussions by saying, "You're free to investigate this for yourself, and make up your own mind."  Also, when one of our children has asked about church we've made it clear that we're fine with them attending with friends if they want to check it out. 

 

At our downtown Halloween/trick-or-treat celebration the past few years, churches have given out Bibles and pamplets along with the candy.  We simply hand the pamplets/bibles back and say, "I'll pass on this.  Thanks for the candy!"  though I have to admit it infuriates me that these groups do this.

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#4 of 10 Old 10-18-2011, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, moominmamma, that is a good start.  I believe that myth plays an important role in itself, and I would not want to give the impression that myths came about because people did not know the things we know now - though there is some truth in that, there is truth in the myth as well.  I would want to spend enough time appreciating it before approaching the question of literal interpretation.  


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#5 of 10 Old 10-18-2011, 08:09 AM
 
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What I've done is to explain what I believe Creationists believe to the best of my ability, and honestly tell my kids that I don't understand why they believe what they do.  I don't diminish the people who holds these beliefs-- these are friends of ours.  My goal is to let my kids know that the controversy exists without making them feel like they need to dive in and debate with anyone (because it's not appropriate most of the time).  

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#6 of 10 Old 10-18-2011, 08:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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While we have read various folk tales from around the world and some of them must have included some story of creation, either of the whole universe or some part thereof, we haven't really talked about the creation aspect specifically.

 

Just thinking aloud about how to introduce the story of Genesis - I haven't read it myself and I doubt I even have a copy, so I would have to go and find a good one.  If possible I would like to get one that tells it like a story, just like so many other folk tales we have read from around the world, without bearing the burden of being part of an organization. Secondly I don't want to give the impression that everyone who enjoys reading this story, is Christian or that all Christians are fundamentalists.  It reminds me of a week I spent in Texas, studying at a museum - one of the volunteers there was very religious - when she showed me pictures of her family vacation it was all related to Christian retreats, etc.  I heaved a sigh of relief when we walked together through the museum and she eagerly pointed out features of the wooly mammoth, adaptations, etc.  On the last day I admitted to her that I had privately worried that if I said something related to evolution or age of earth, etc that it might offend her and she said, "oh no!" 

 

btw slightly tengential (or maybe reverse problem) but I came across this video of a young science teacher who had to teach in a conservative private school, and he explains how he handled it.  I thought it was good:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP6NInvWtEE


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#7 of 10 Old 10-19-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumi View Post

Thanks, moominmamma, that is a good start.  I believe that myth plays an important role in itself, and I would not want to give the impression that myths came about because people did not know the things we know now - though there is some truth in that, there is truth in the myth as well.  I would want to spend enough time appreciating it before approaching the question of literal interpretation.  



Can you expand on this more?  Because I have actually said that to explain myths, that cultures developed myths in part to explain things they didn't understand.  Is there more to it than that?  (I am really asking because I want to know, not being contrary).  

 

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#8 of 10 Old 10-20-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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We've not really run into the whole creationism vs evolution vs intelligent design thing...my kids don't really get yet that evolution is something that happens over millions of years and not instantly like for a pokemon.  However...when my kids ask big questions about stuff like that that no one could know for sure I might say "well some people believe X or Y or Z.  I think it's whatever I think it is.  What do you think?"  And go from there. 

 

So with evolution I might say "Well some people think it's all evolution and that there is no such thing as God and everything is random.  Other people think that it's all God and no way did humans come from apes or anything else that God made people fully formed and put them on earth as Adam and Eve.  I tend to think that it's a bit of both and for sure things evolve because there is lots of proof for that but it also makes sense to me to think that God or some higher power is the one guiding that evolution.  What do you think?"

 

Obviously something like that would have to be changed to reflect your beliefs and you kid's level of understanding but it sounds like you would be able to have a pretty grown up discussion about it. 

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#9 of 10 Old 10-22-2011, 04:18 PM
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Quote:

Originally Posted by rumi View PostAt what age do you think it appropriate to "teach the controversy?"

 

At no age, because there is no controversy.  :)  In fact, the whole "teach the controversy" meme is an attempt to intentionally mislead people into thinking that evolution is on shaky ground somehow, when it's not at all.  The entire scientific community overwhelmingly supports evolution, and there is no controversy.

 

I would simply teach my daughter that not everyone chooses to believe in science where it raises uncomfortable questions and conflicts with religious beliefs.  I'd probably explain that most important religious texts such as the Bible were written long before the advent of modern science, and that a conflict arises when people try to read the Bible etc. and reconcile that with science and other aspects of modern life.  I would teach her tolerance and respect by teaching her that people can't be faulted for religious beliefs they usually learned in early childhood, and that no one should be looked down upon for being distressed at conflict between different belief systems, and that religious people have the right to believe what they like, even if that means discarding science entirely.

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#10 of 10 Old 10-23-2011, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Can you expand on this more?  Because I have actually said that to explain myths, that cultures developed myths in part to explain things they didn't understand.  Is there more to it than that?

 

In that process of explaining things that they did not understand, they expressed insights that endure even alongside other explanations of the things they were explaining. 

 

Take a myth like the dance of Shiva & Parvati - their dance gave rise, incidentally, not only to creation but also destruction ... can think these happening at different times or at the same time ... for are the two really different?   Are same/ different really opposite?  What is the duality between same and different or between birth and death, creation/destruction?   Does the bud not die when the flower is born?  Some actually describe this creation-destruction unity of opposites as  ... "evolution."  The "dust" that rises when Shiva dances is held to be sacred and some compare that to the "cosmic dust."  And the "cosmic dance" is deeply symbolic in itself.  Now here is another myth - the sounds that Shiva's footsteps made when he danced formed the alphabet of our language.  (our alphabet goes in an order corresponding to the place where the sound is made - starting from the throat and moving forward to the lips)

All of this has symbolic value.  Now if a linguistic scholar discovered the origins of the alphabet historically would it  way make the myth less valuable?   Is it because one did not know that history that the myth arose?  Or were there other reasons?   There is also a history to the mythology - how did it arise, how was it adapted across various times, places, social and political circumstances? ( Some feel that studying such aspects of the myths makes them less sacred, or that only people who don't happen to believe in those particular mythologies would study those aspect,  but I don't believe this.  I feel this enriches the meaning of the myth and actually highlights the relevance of its symbolism.  But perhaps this is a digression. )


no longer momsling.GIF or ecbaby2.gif orfly-by-nursing1.gif ... dd is going on 10 (!) how was I to know there was a homeschool going on?

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