[Originally published as New Emphasis on Darwinian Evolution]
I wrote the following article as a Guest Opinion in the May 25, 2014 issue of The Baptist Record. It is vitally important to consider how 13 years of being progressively taught about the evolutionary version of origins will affect the worldview and religious beliefs of our young people
Darwinian evolution has been taught in most American public schools for more than 60 years. Over the years, it has become more and more embedded in biology, and even earth science and history, but it is not a part of every grade. In 2013, new national science standards were released, which included major changes in how evolution should be taught.
According to the new national science standards, the teaching of evolution will be a major idea that is taught progressively every year from kindergarten through high school. Parents, educators, and churches need to be informed about what this will mean for our children before these standards are brought up for adoption in Mississippi.
After evaluating the new science standards, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave it a mediocre grade of a “C,” citing weak academic standards. However, under the new standards, the two topics of evolution and climate change are allotted large amounts of classroom time and emphasis. Students will certainly be more informed about evolution and climate change when they graduate, but that doesn’t translate to being better prepared for scientific or technical careers.
For Christian parents and for churches, the new emphasis on teaching evolution may cause even deeper spiritual problems. Children in public school read that the first humans lived as cavemen long ago, and these cavemen evolved over millions of years from apelike animals. They see little reason to doubt these things since this is the only explanation they hear in school; the teachers endorse it, and it’s printed in their books.
Evolution will continue to be taught throughout their school experience as factual and without scientific challenges. Even as children mature and begin to develop critical reasoning skills, they will be given few opportunities to hear the scientific evidence that challenges Darwinian evolution. Many adults continue to struggle with what to believe about origins for the same reason.
Churches generally teach that the first man and woman were made in the image of God, and they were created to live in fellowship with Him. For some Christians, details about how humans arrived on earth are not considered necessary for salvation. However, understanding what happened in the beginning is an important part of God’s plan of redemption.
Essential to the gospel is an understanding that Adam and Eve were real people who were created as perfect humans. In their original state, their physical bodies were designed to never die. They had an amazing intellect and were spiritually in harmony with God and with each other. They did not need to gradually learn to talk, keep records, build things, or learn complex skills and behaviors. This was built-in knowledge that was present on Day One, somewhat like a computer that comes with built-in information.
However, Adam and Eve chose disobedience of their own free will and introduced sin into the world. Most of the Bible is about God’s plan to restore and redeem sinful men and women from the Fall. God’s plan to restore mankind is what we know as the gospel. The first chapters of Genesis are essential to the understanding of the gospel, and they cannot be reconciled with Darwinian evolution for several reasons.
Unless children (and adults) understand that the first man and woman were perfect created beings who were ruined by sin, they will never understand why man needs a Savior or why the cross was necessary to restore all that was lost at the Fall. Furthermore, people may not realize that God’s plan of restoration includes a way that believers will be able to live with a holy God forever, just as it was in the beginning.
If our first ancestors were cavemen who evolved from ape-like animals, they were not perfect beings made in the image of God. According to Darwinian evolution, the first pre-humans gradually acquired more physical and mental skills until they became fully human. According to the Bible, the highly intelligent, physically fit descendants of Adam and Eve, apart from God, were lost to corruption. Their own efforts to again become “good enough” in God’s sight were totally inadequate.
The Good News is that God did not give up on the humans He loved and had created. Instead, He sent His Son Jesus, the perfect man, to redeem with His own blood all who accept and believe the gospel.