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‘I’m a creationist … get me out of here! How to handle evolution at school or college

July 2017 | by Paul Garner (BSc FGS)

So you’re a Christian young person studying science? You believe in creation because that’s what the Bible teaches, but you’re wondering how to handle the issue at school or college. You have some difficult decisions to make.

Will you openly challenge what you’re being taught about evolution, or will you keep quiet? Will you avoid science as much as you can and opt for other subjects? Or will you embrace science and hope that your faith stands up under the challenge?

Being a creationist at school or college is not easy and in this article we want to give you some advice based on the experiences of others.

Firstly, and most importantly, your starting point for thinking through the creation/evolution question must be the Word of God. Ultimately we accept the fact of creation because the Bible teaches it — not because scientific arguments persuade us of it.

Study the Bible so that you’re confident in what you believe about creation and why. Pray and ask the Lord to help you trust his Word, even when you’re faced with ideas that seem to challenge it.

A second important principle is that as Christians we should seek to honour God in all that we do — including in our studies. So aim to be the best student you can be. If you’re academically minded, work hard to get good grades in your chosen subjects. Read widely (see our website for a list of recommended books and other resources to help you).

My third point is one that might surprise you: it’s very important that you don’t dismiss evolution lightly. Evolution is convincing to many intelligent and thoughtful people and you need to understand why. There is evidence for evolution and you need to be familiar with it. In fact, your aim should be to understand the theory better than those who accept it.

So listen to what evolutionists say, with the goal of trying to understand, not simply to refute. Show that you really understand evolution and the evidence that supports it and you’ll be better equipped to serve the Lord as a result.

Having said all of that, acknowledging the strength of evolution does not mean you have to accept it as true.

Powerful and persuasive ideas like evolution can be wrong. The history of science is littered with elegant theories that had a great deal of evidence in their favour — but which turned out to be incorrect.

Better explanations

The Bible gives us every reason to think that evolution is the wrong explanation for the history of life. But let’s not content ourselves with poking holes in the theory either. Creationists need to come up with scientific theories that explain the evidence better.

As a student, a good strategy is to ask questions. But while you’re in a position to ask probing questions about evolution, you won’t always have good responses to objections against creationist ideas.

In fact, someone more knowledgeable than you will almost always win a debate, even if their arguments are deeply flawed. Remember that you’re at school or college to learn, not to win an argument with your teacher or school friends. So don’t make a nuisance of yourself in the classroom!

And never ridicule people who accept evolution. An important part of your Christian witness will be the way that you behave towards others. Learn to treat people with respect, even when you strongly disagree with them.

Earlier I mentioned the need to read widely. Make sure you read the best creationist literature. I’m going to let you into a secret — not all creationist books are very good! But our reading list suggests some excellent titles.

Get to know the sound arguments — and those that are best avoided. Also, make sure that you read books by evolutionists and become familiar with the evidence presented in them. Again, we’ve included a selection in our reading list.

As you read, you’ll soon discover that not all the questions confronting creationists have good answers. But that’s okay — science is fun because we don’t know everything!

Difficult areas

Try to be honest about the problems you see without being overwhelmed by them. If you have the opportunity, why not study one difficulty in more depth? As you do so, you’ll often find that the problems are not all on the creationist side!

And, more positively, look for new ways of understanding the world that are consistent with both the scientific evidence and the Bible. If you go on to become a scientist, you may even be the person who comes up with new or better answers.

And this leads me to my final point: why not consider studying a relevant subject at university? I’m thinking particularly of biology, geology or astronomy. If you’re up to the challenge, why not specialise in a particularly ‘difficult’ area like palaeontology or radiometric dating?

The ‘difficult’ areas are the ones that are most relevant to creationism and — who knows? — you could become an expert in one of them and make a real contribution.

If that’s the path you choose to take, stay in touch with experienced creationists who can support you. As I said at the outset, being a creationist at school, college or university isn’t easy. You’ll face many intellectual and spiritual challenges, and it will help you enormously to have the support of a good local church and others that have been through the same experiences.

Scenarios

We in Biblical Creation Trust would be more than happy to offer information about resources and advice (see our website below).

And finally: here are three hypothetical scenarios designed to help you think about the principles set out in this article. If you found yourself in these situations, what would you do?

You’re being taught about evolution in a science lesson. The teacher asks whether anyone in the class doubts the theory of evolution. Would you put your hand up? If so, what would you say?

You’re in a biology exam and are asked a question about evolution. Would you take the opportunity to challenge evolution? Would you mention your own creationist beliefs?

One of your friends — also a creationist — says that people must be stupid to believe in evolution. Do you think he’s right? How helpful is that attitude?

© Biblical Creation Trust 2016

Paul Garner

This article is published as a booklet, including reading lists and useful websites, by Biblical Creation Trust (BCT) in 2016. Copies are available for £1.20 each (including p&p) from BCT, PO Box 325, Ely CB7 5YH. Discounts are available for multiple copies: 10 for £6.50 and 25 for £13.50. Cheques payable to ‘Biblical Creation Trust’. Website: www.biblicalcreationtrust.org

Paul Garner BSc MSc FGS is a full-time researcher and lecturer for Biblical Creation Trust. He has a master’s degree in geoscience from University College London, where he specialised in palaeobiology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a member of several other scientific societies. His first book, The New Creationism: Building Scientific Theories on a Biblical Foundation, was published by Evangelical Press in 2009. He is married with two grown-up children and resides in Cambridgeshire, England. He is also a director of Evangelical Times.