4 Things That Must Happen Before More Christian Parents Will Care About Questions of Faith and Science

by Natasha Crain 

In my newest book, Talking with Your Kids about God, there are six chapters that focus on the intersection of faith and science. They answer the questions: Can science prove or disprove God’s existence? Do science and religion contradict each other? Do science and religion complement each other? Is God just an explanation for what science doesn’t yet know? Can science explain why people believe in God? And What do scientists believe about God?

I was particularly excited to write these chapters because I know how important the topics are for parents and kids to understand today, yet so many parents are uncertain of how to approach them. However, over the last few months, more than a few readers I’ve talked to at events or online have sheepishly told me they skipped that section of the book because (I’m paraphrasing) science is out of their “comfort zone.”

This is deeply problematic—not that someone would skip a section of my book, but that parents so often resist engaging in such a critical faith issue today.

The belief that Christianity is anti-science has become a leading reason why many young adults are walking away from faith. Researchers at the Barna Group have found that 29 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian background say churches are “out of step with the scientific world we live in,” and 25 percent say “Christianity is anti-science.” The fact that more than a quarter of kids from a Christian background accept this harmful and false narrative should raise a giant flag of concern for Christian parents.

Think this subject is being handled or will be handled by your child’s youth group? Think again. Barna research has also found that only one percent of youth pastors address any issue related to science in a given year. The disconnect between the need and the response to that need is huge right now.

That means parents need to take responsibility for discussing these questions with their kids. But there are four things I think will have to happen before more parents do so.

  1. Parents will have to understand that it doesn’t matter whether we personally care about science or not—our kids still need to engage with these issues.

In my experience talking with parents, I think this is the number one reason why most aren’t having these conversations: They just don’t personally care much about science themselves. To be sure, no one actually states that as the reason. Usually, parents just say it’s something they “need to look into” or that it’s “too complicated” (more about that in point four). But as with most things in life, if we truly believe something is important for our kids’ well-being, we will rise to the task. We care out of necessity.

For example, my son recently had an allergic reaction to cashews after eating one for the first time. I went into mommy doctor mode and researched everything I could online to know how to help him best. Is there a ton of information on nut allergies? Yes. Are there differences of opinion on what to do? Yes. Did I feel overwhelmed by learning all this? Absolutely. Did I for one minute decide that it was too difficult to sort out, so I wasn’t going to do anything at all to help him? Absolutely not.

I assure you that I don’t naturally care about nut allergies. But as soon as I knew it was important for my son that I educate myself on them, I got equipped. In the same way, it doesn’t matter whether we “care” about science; the question is whether knowledge of faith and science issues is important for our kids. Research (as I noted earlier) has answered that with an unequivocal yes.

  1. Parents will have to understand that it doesn’t matter whether our kids care about science or not—they still need to engage with these issues.

One parent recently told me that his kids “just aren’t scientists.” He said they are more into the arts, so he wasn’t going to try to get into the details of faith and science issues when that’s not an area of concern or interest for them.

Assuming that science questions won’t affect your kids’ faith because they aren’t into science is a big mistake. In fact, I think kids who don’t dive into science are just as likely to have their faith challenged by these issues as those who do. Why? If they lack interest in personally considering the issues in any depth, they may simply defer to whatever seems culturally accepted. Culture says science and faith are opposites and I have to choose just one? Okay. Culture says science has disproven God and faith is just blind acceptance of something without evidence? I guess I’ll choose science because I don’t want to feel ashamed.

Does that mean every kid needs to understand the intricacies of scientific debate? Not at all. But, as I explain in my chapters on science, everyone should understand the key terms and concepts the debate turns on and the assumptions made by varying worldviews.

  1. Parents will have to recognize that questions of the relationship between faith and science are multifaceted.

While many parents are overwhelmed at the thought of learning about science issues, others have oversimplified the matter. I see this a lot in Facebook groups. Someone posts a question about how their child is starting to question his or her faith because of “science,” and within seconds, everyone in the group has solved the problem by breezily pasting a link to the organization that champions their view on the age of the earth. Don’t get me wrong—age of the earth and evolution questions are extremely important (I wrote eight chapters on this in Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side!), but there are many contours of the conversation beyond those particular issues. Kids who have knowledge of just one area—and just one view within that area—will not have the broader foundation needed to engage with today’s world.

  1. Parents will have to accept that we don’t have to be science experts to be knowledgeable guides.

My nine-year-old daughter has been preparing for her first piano competition. After listening to her practice her piece many times recently, I realized that she kept struggling with the same couple of measures. She insisted, however, that there wasn’t a problem. I couldn’t easily describe where I heard the issue, so I asked her to play the piece while I looked at the music.

Even though I don’t play piano myself, I’ve been in enough of her lessons over the last three years to understand the basics of how to read music. I can follow along and see the rhythm, rests, dynamics, and so on. When she got to the trouble part, I said, “Here! This is the measure you need to look at!” My daughter, who is very independent and never wants help with anything, wasn’t exactly happy with my direction. She replied, “You’re not a piano expert. You don’t even know how to play the piano! How would you know if something is wrong or where it’s wrong?”

It’s certainly true that I’m not a piano expert, but my daughter missed the point that I don’t need to be an expert in order to be a knowledgeable guide for her. I had learned enough of the basics and theoretical framework to show her where the problems lie—even if I couldn’t sit down and play the piece myself.

In the same way, parents don’t need to be science experts to be knowledgeable guides for their kids on the intersection of faith and science. But many parents “bow out” of the conversation because they just don’t feel qualified to have it. There’s no reason to do so. Just because you can’t teach your kids the intricacies of evolutionary theory (or anything else) doesn’t mean you can’t be equipped to guide your kids in a meaningful, God-honoring way.

With a little motivation and effort, you can learn to show how beautifully science describes God’s creation—not disproves it.

Originally posted at str.org.

 


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9 replies
  1. Susan says:

    I disagree. One does not have to become a master of science to keep one’s children safe.

    Studying anything other than the Bible is a drain on the time an individual has to learn about God.

    Learning science may help you navigate the natural world but it is the least direct route to having spirituality communicated to your kid.

    Other people will always communicate their false idols to you and sometimes people are confused or blinded by the communication.

    That is why building the good relationship with God comes first.

    You don’t become the person with an idol to stop the communication of their idol.

    You set your eyes on Jesus and let Him build your own God given identity in yourself so you can use your God given talents to serve Him.

    One of the biggest attacks launched on Christians by this world is in their identities.

    God did not give everyone the science talent so why would you require someone to be someone that God did not equip or design them to be.

    This is one of the ways parents and the world upset people’s lives. By telling them who to be instead of letting them discover who they are in God themselves.

    People are not responding the way you want because they have a better idea who they are than you do.

    This is the problem with the church. We think we have to react every time this evil world gets out of line but we don’t. We all only have so many resources and we need a lot to spiritual formation in our kids and at some point trust them to God to help them make the right decisions.

    Christians are not living in response to this evil world that refuses to know God. They are suppose to be in God living as peacefully as possible while in this world.

    We are communicating love, joy and peace to those around us not correcting scientific understanding.

    We need to be relationship counselors before we are scientists because essentially the Gospel is given to people to form a relationship with God.

    Giving the Gospel to everyone is more important than any argument.

    When you learn the doctrine you can explain and assist in spiritual formation better.

    Learning science does not get to spiritual formation. It just embroils you in a battle of wills so spirituality is delayed.

    You are going to run into conflicts communicating about the mystery of God’s work in the human soul because everyone has an opinion but everyone can’t be right.

    So teach the kids to master the doctrine. It is more important than any other learning.

    Our senses may deny that in their fight for survival but still the spiritual affects every aspect of a human life. We just don’t know it ourselves well enough to communicate it unless we spend serious time in the scriptures in the presence of God ourselves.

    We all need divine revelation more than a worldly understanding. The first subject to master is the spiritual. Science comes later.

    So don’t worry about the science holes in people’s education worry about the spiritual holes.

    Science isn’t getting anybody born again which is one of God’s primary objectives. That is why He sent Jesus.

    Reply
  2. BEH says:

    Actually, Susan, many Christians, who are scientists as adults, would disagree with you. Hugh Ross is probably the most well known among Christians. I also believe the Apostle John would disagree as well, given his strong commitment to evidence-based faith.

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      Yes but Ross had the talent to apply himself through science.

      Most people are not child science prodigies.

      It is better to grow up in God first and it is the safest path.

      Our biggest problem might not be science. It might be so many Christians don’t read the Bible for themselves.

      The spiritual feedings come from the Bible but a lot of people do not make it an educational priority. They treat it as an afterthought or think an hour of church a week is enough.

      If you could get an accurate poll of all the Christians claiming to be Christian that have read the Bible if they all answer honestly I think the number would be low. It should be 100 percent but I am sure it’s not.

      If you think about Christianity across generations there is always a challenge to getting the good spiritual education and that affects spiritual maturity.

      I get solicitations in the mail all the time from ministries working in third world countries where they either don’t have Bibles or the Bible isn’t translated into the native language yet.

      When you are promoting the Gospel people come from a broad variety of backgrounds so the scriptural grounding is what allows you to address the main concerns.

      No one could ever know everything but we can know who Jesus is and get our spiritual maturity first.

      I know next to nothing about evolution and am fine not knowing because I know the scriptures and nothing is impossible with God.

      The scriptural answers are even more important than the scientific ones because they could be strengthening the unbelievers that we talk to spiritually.

      The knowledge of the scriptures is given to us until we become a full measure of a man.

      The unbelieving world does not know why it needs Jesus so we need to strengthen their spiritual understanding until they can work out their own faith with fear and trembling.

      The science just answers the unbelievers objections. It does not really address their spiritual needs.

      Ross personally found out that the spiritual does affect the physical world as he explains in his testimony given on his site.

      But it could be we are all born so spiritually blind that if we refuse to devote our full attention to God honestly that we stay that way to deeper or lesser degrees. At least I think so.

      The regular Bible reading and meditation is how we begin to see Jesus and God’s perspective and that is mainly what a Christian is suppose to do. Transfer a proper knowledge of God to people so they can enjoy a relationship with Him. That relationship sees a lot of people through hard times when this world puts them to the test.

      Sorry for being so long winded but I think it’s sometimes hard to
      transfer knowledge without thorough explanations. I am the typical teaching personality that likes to talk too much but teachers teach because they know.

      Why did God say “Study to be an approved man”? So He could transfer knowledge to us but we have to be careful it doesn’t make us prideful because “knowledge puffeth up.”

      Reply
    • Susan says:

      Get your house a little sign that says “Nothing is impossible with God” to remind your kids of this fact so they can tell it to that worldly know it all science geek who comes along trying to talk them out of believing in God.

      Then tell that science geek he doesn’t know it all.

      When he can do the impossible like God does then he will know it all. Until then you will accept God’s counsel over his pride in his own knowledge any day of the week.

      See how simple it is to beat a scientifically minded atheist just using two key points of God given scripture.

      That is the mind of Christ. Their little minds cannot overcome God’s greater thinking that He teaches in the pages of the Bible.

      Some people have fully developed natural and spiritual minds so why did atheists settle for only their natural minds? Because they think too highly of it and themselves and they need to learn humility instead of Christian’s pandering to their pride and spiritual blindness.

      You can’t break their pride or blindness pandering to them. They have to learn to seek God themselves so set the example in seeking to know God. Then they will never be able to refute the truth that you hid in your heart that they are egoically refusing the transference of to serve other worldly ideas or purposes they hold.

      Reply
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    • Susan Tan says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The Doctrine is very important for us to understand so we can reach spiritual maturity and convey it.

      There are a lot of denominational splits in Christianity based on doctrinal divisions.

      And a lot of evangelists appeal to man’s free will to save them when they should be praying in God’s will to the Holy Spirit.

      Before you defend the doctrine you need to know what YOU believe and why as much as possible.

      The inability of man to choose save himself is being taught widely in evangelical circles today erroneously.

      Interesting video by John MacArthur explaining biblically why the assumption and over reliance on human free will and choice to evangelize people is not doctrinally sound.

      John MacArthur explains the Gospel in light of man’s total depravity
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yVMWZslE66k

      The doctrine is the incorruptible seed sown in a believers heart to spiritually regenerate the believer so it is absolutely important that we are sowing the right understanding based on the scriptures.

      Because as Christ explains in John 3 being born again is a spiritual mystery.

      John 3 English Standard Version (ESV)

      You Must Be Born Again
      3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5

      .

      Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c]

      .

      7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

      Reply
  4. Susan Tan says:

    Why does everyone want to walk by sight? It limits your ability to see and know God’s truth for yourself.

    The real battle is not in science. The real battle is in the human heart and mind.

    If you keep rejecting the immaterial in favor of the material you will never see God’s greater truths.

    We trust way too much in our sight but you can’t even see an atom without a microscope.

    God wants us focusing our mind’s eye on his new creation of the new nature in us through Jesus but we are too busy letting the people who refuse to see God raise objections.

    Here is some things the Bible is scientifically right about:

    Air has weight (Job 28:25).

    All things consist of atoms which are not visible to the naked eye (Heb 11:3).

    The earth was not flat which was believed for most of human history but is spherical (Isaiah 40:22)

    which is why the Bible mentions cycles of day and night occurring in different parts of the earth at one time (Luke 17:34-36).

    The existence of dinosaurs (Job 40).

    The hydrological cycle (Amos 9:6, Job 36:27-28).

    The earth is suspended in space and not like some ancient civilizations thought it was held up; some by elephants, others by Hercules, etc. (Job 26:7).

    Upper air currents circulate around the earth as in the many different jet streams (Eccl 1:6).

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics where things move from order to disorder and are decaying and deteriorating (Isaiah 51:6, Heb 1:10-11).

    Deep oceanic springs (Job 38:16).

    The male sperm or seed (Gen 3:15).

    That blood is a necessity for life. Too bad the old doctors didn’t know this for they killed thousands upon thousands in blood letting in the belief it helped (Lev 17:11).

    The orbit of the sun (Psalm 19:4-6).

    The binding of clusters of constellations by gravity (Job 38:31).

    Even the stars, once believed to be a finite, countable number, are now regarded as innumerable (Heb 11:12, Gen 15:5, Jer 33:22, Gen 17:7).

    Quarantines of infectious diseased populations (Lev 13:45-46).

    The blood clotting principles, reaching their peak levels of vitamin K on a male child’s eighth day, which is when they were circumcised (Gen 17:12).

    Life saving sanitary practices which were not universally practiced until the late 18th Century (Num 19, Lev 11, 15, Duet 32:10-12).

    Washing and bathing for sanitary reasons (Lev 15:13).

    Even dietary laws that promoted good health (Lev 11:9-12).

    God obliquely makes reference to all these things but God is not trying to teach science in the Bible.
    So atheists are trying to force Christians to pander to their science idol that they identify with so they can force their idol (science) on to us and assume an illegitimate worldly authority over us.

    But God is the owner of this world and He wants us to learn the divine mysteries as much as possible now.

    God is re-creating a whole new nature in people. A spiritual one kept pure in the heavenlies by God while we let it influence our activities on the Earth.

    If you don’t listen to God then no divine mysteries will be revealed to you.

    Atheists just concern themselves with scientific discoveries. They never devote themselves to making the spiritual ones because they are too busy being detached and living their natural ones so they refuse to understand anything from God’s point of view.

    If they could just take direction from Jesus and follow God’s ideas in the Bible their whole perspective would change but they have dedicated themselves to not seeing and they want to infect everyone with their ideas so Christians will not see God’s big picture: plan for the world or God’s personal picture: your own identity and purpose in Him.

    So why spend so much time with people determined to scramble God’s pictures in your head?

    Instead seek to be unscrambled and see God’s divine intentions and actually try to be somebody according to His standards.

    Picture unscrambling is not easy. It requires dedication and focus and that comes from the love of God who is the subject matter of the whole Bible.

    Isn’t it wonderful when the people who refuse to see God’s perspective think they will takeover in the world and the classroom and drive everyone into divine ignorance about the most important topic in the world which is God Himself.

    So don’t be caught arguing with the ignorant who are not really after evidence. If they were they would have accepted the eyewitness testimony provided in the Bible.

    What they are really after is self validation so they don’t feel so bad about themselves why they continue to act like wolves. Their own worldly success fools them.

    So make sure to heed God and not feed the wolves because in their spiritual ignorance they are insatiable and they will have you looking for evidence when their hearts are already set to dismiss and devalue it so they should be examining their own sins and evil heart motives and repenting like Jesus says.

    When you stop judging the world and start judging yourself is when you escape God’s judgment.

    You are a sinner so repent! Judge yourself and receive Jesus so you can escape God’s judgment.

    Is it wise to remain a sinner in God’s eyes when He has made an escape for you?

    Reply
  5. Susan Tan says:

    Psalm 16 English Standard Version (ESV)

    You Will Not Abandon My Soul
    A Miktam[a] of David.

    16 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
    2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”
    3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.[b]
    4 The sorrows of those who run after[c] another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.
    5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
    6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
    7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.[d]
    8 I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
    9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[e] rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
    10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.[f]
    11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
    .
    Footnotes:

    Psalm 16:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term
    Psalm 16:3 Or To the saints in the land, the excellent in whom is all my delight, I say:
    Psalm 16:4 Or who acquire
    Psalm 16:7 Hebrew my kidneys instruct me
    Psalm 16:9 Hebrew my glory
    Psalm 16:10 Or see the pit
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

    Reply

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