I would like them to be better equipped to deal with it than I was. I am frustrated that I don’t think quickly on my feet, so when challenged in discussion, I am chaotic in marshalling the facts and make a real hash of defending the YEC [Young Earth Creationist/ Creationism] position. One thing I have concluded in my studies so far, is that I actually want to defend the YEC position because of what it says about God. To me, the theology seems crucial. Yet in my studies, I have to admit there are huge obstacles to overcome.There are several issues to cover here including
- Understanding creationism from a biblical perspective
- Understanding creationism from a scientific perspective
- Appreciating how one's worldview affects one's interpretive framework
- Dealing with theistic evolutionists
- Teaching children and grandchildren in an antagonistic world
Next, in discussing creationism with individual theistic evolutionists there needs to be willingness by both parties to acknowledge and defend their assumptions.
Understanding creationism from a biblical perspectiveExpanding knowledge here is a useful thing. As a Christian the command to grow in understanding of things spiritual means that reading material on the importance of creationism in the Christian worldview is a worthwhile effort, and for the creationist a mandatory one. If you think that creationism is a true description of reality then reading and viewing material on the biblical perspective of creationism is a sensible use of time.
It is this aspect of creationism that I am increasingly drawn to. Despite the fact I became a creationist based on scientific considerations, I now think that the biblical considerations are of greater importance. The effects of the Fall, the nature of man before the Fall, the appeal to Jesus as the second Adam, the association of sin with death; these all considerably affect how one interprets Scripture. They also argue strongly for the YEC interpretation of Genesis. Hermaneutics that attempt to marry Darwin to Genesis (either while maintaining inerrancy, or denying it) have led to major interpretative errors that are highly detrimental to Christianity. A greater understanding of these issues and how your ideas on Genesis affect exegesis is imperative to the creationist, and indeed all Christians; even if your knowledge of the science is a little lacking.
Understanding creationism from a scientific perspectiveWhile useful, this depends on: the importance of the issue to you; the time you have to study; and, to a degree, your ability with science.
Several broad issues are useful for you to gain a thorough grasp on
- The distinction between operational and historical science
- Distinguishing between data and interpretation
- Awareness of incomplete scientific knowledge
- The importance of differential weighting of facts and beliefs
- Awareness that the same data can be interpreted by different paradigms
- Understanding the nature of information, and how it differs from matter
Appreciating how one's worldview affects one's interpretive frameworkIt is immensely helpful when you can see the how and why people view an issue the way they do. This includes having a clear perspective on your own presuppositions. It allows you to know what is primary. It allows you to see at what points your opponent disagrees with you.
More importantly it shapes how you interpret new data, especially data that is interwoven with theory that you dispute. You can sieve out the observations and interpret them in light or your own framework. Such observations can challenge your framework, but they do so by the nature of what was observed, not because neutral observations were bundled in an anti-biblical package.
Dealing with theistic evolutionistsI think you need to consider what approach should be taken with each person. There is little doubt of my position by many in the church who know me well, even if I have not talked about creationism with them. Though I have had some conversations with a variety of people when it comes up.
Try to establish how important the issue is for them. The person who is uncertain about the topic, who could be described as a theistic evolutionist, may have little interest in the topic.
Those who are evangelistic about theistic evolution may be antagonistic. See if they will engage with creationism. Have they read creationist material directly, or just refutations of it? If you are well read in various creationist materials you may well have an idea what specifically may challenge them and lend them that book. Pray that they will be gracious with others and that God will help them understand the Bible according to God's perspective (not yours, even if you happen to think correctly).
Many may not be strongly committed to a view. Discuss various issues from scientific perspectives and scriptural ones. Show how the views of: all men are descended from Adam, curse on the world after Adam, and no death prior to the Fall; all seriously impinge on the logical conclusions of theistic evolution.
Teaching children and grandchildren in an antagonistic worldOne needs to consider how best to teach you children. Parents are responsible to God for what and how they teach. This does not mean that some teaching cannot be delegated, rather that parents remain responsible for how the children are educated. It seems that in same circumstances directly teaching children and opting out of schools may be the best option. Nevertheless, teachers work for the parents whether or not they think they do. It is good for children to know this.
My children are publicly educated. I do not know if this is the best choice. We have had a relatively positive experience thus far, though there are some negative social implications of public education. What I do teach my children, when they get contradicting information from adults in authority, is that many people do not know Jesus and this can affect what they think is true. I do not diss their teachers, but explain why people can think differently. They are to respect their teachers while knowing that their teachers are incorrect in some things they teach. This is not too hard for kids to grasp. Introduce them to the idea that not all people think the same therefore some (all) people have some incorrect beliefs. If 2 teachers teach their classes mutually contradictory things then logically at least one of the teachers must be wrong. If kids realise that their teachers will be mistaken from time to time it is not difficult to challenge kids about what they are taught when the need arises. Encouraging children to pray for their teachers in this context is beneficial.