Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kids, science, and religion. Oh boy.

My 9-year-old came home from school today, sat down at my desk with me, and asked me if I knew who Bill Nye, the Science Guy is.

Of course I do:  I follow him on Twitter.

I said, "Yep, I know who he is.  Why?"

He said, "Well, he's an evolutionist."  He sighed.  The world was just too big for him at that moment.

And then he just sat there.  I said, "Okay, and what does that mean to you?  Tell me what an evolutionist is."

He told me that Bill Nye believes in evolution, and that he must be wrong because Aidan learned in church that we don't come from monkeys:  we come from Adam and Eve.

The silence was palpable.  Or, the night was sultry.  Your pick.

I went on a talking spree that lasted the better of thirty minutes and included a drawing on the white board representing evolution.  I tried to tell him that faith and science don't have to discount or disprove each other.  I explained that there is empirical, scientific evidence that proves that evolution does exist, and that having faith in religion doesn't mean that science is wrong, nor can science take anything away from his religious belief.

I posed the Intelligent Design theory and asked him if, in fact, God could have created two hominid beings that may have eventually evolved into today's Homo sapiens.  He thought about it for a minute and figured, yeah, that might be possible, too.

We talked about some Old Testament stories and how they can be found throughout history, even predating the Bible, and that maybe those stories gave people thousands of years ago some sort of explanation for why things happened (floods, fires, famine, etc.).  He kind of understood, but, man, my heart really hurt at how easily he was able to discredit scientific fact simply because it didn't jive with what he learned in church.

Parents, is this a topic that has come up in your household?  Regardless of your belief system, how do  you handle a child who is starting to become interested in, yet confused by, such charged arguments and debates?  Sweeping it under the rug doesn't work in my book, but I also don't want to steer him or sway him one way or another.

Parenting:  toughest job on the planet.

Cherstin, out.

Edit:  Scholarly people, I'm not 100% that I have all my facts straight here.  This wasn't a "take notes" kind of lecture, but I just wanted the little guy to have some understanding that there isn't necessarily one right or wrong answer to the infinitesimal questions surrounding the universe.  I don't claim to be a theologian or a scientist:  I'm just a mom who likes to blog.  And ice cream.  And yes, I'm using ice cream as a verb.