Monday, September 28, 2009

Evolution in the Classroom

Recently I read a book called Intelligent Design by William Dembski, in which he makes a strong case using scientific evidence that there is great reason to believe--based on fact, not just on blind faith--that there in an intelligent designer of our universe. Science alone can not lead us to identify this designer as the God of the Bible of course. But the complexity and order of our universe do support belief in a Creator.

Yet in mainstream America, a belief called "naturalism" (the belief that the universe is all there is; there is no supernatural, no God, etc.) has a strong grip on people's minds. Thanks to Darwin's theory about how all life-forms evolved from some common ancestor, many people today believe that the universe is all there is. They believe it's been demonstrated that life in all its various forms could have evolved over millions of years from the same physical source...So they have cast off the "outdated" need to believe in a God to explain the origin of life.

Darwin's theory of evolution has many holes in it (not least of which is the fact that there have never been any fossils found of creatures that were "in between" breeds--a half man/half monkey, for example). Yet in the academic world of college, it's taught as gospel truth. And as parents of younger children, you need to be aware of how Darwin's theory has trickled down into what your children are being taught in elementary, middle, and high school; what they are seeing on Discovery Kids, etc. If you start to open your eyes and ears, you'll see evolutionary theory everywhere!

For example, in the movie Monsters vs. Aliens (which comes out on DVD tomorrow), there's a cartoon character called "the Missing Link"--a fish with legs (a fossil of which has never been found--thus it's a "missing" piece of evidence to support Darwin's theory). From conversations I've had with parents, their children are being taught in science class that the Earth and the universe are millions of years old, that animal species are as well, that dinosaurs and humans never co-existed, etc. From a young age, children in America are subtly being taught to adopt naturalism as their worldview and to believe evolution--rather than design by a Creator--has brought our species to where we are today.

Just a quick look around the internet today led me to Science News for Kids. And their lead story (which you can look at by clicking here) is blatantly promoting evolutionary theory. Parents, influences such as these are subtly leading our children to believe that science has discarded any need for God. This is subtle, but it's far from unimportant! You need to be aware of what your children are learning and strive to help them develop a view of the world and of reality that is faithful to the Bible--not to Darwin's theory of evolution. This is not to say that we should be afraid of science. Quite the contrary. We just need to be wary of science that claims to have discarded any notion of the supernatural, design, or the existence of a divine Creator.

One place that you might find helpful in helping you answer your own questions and helping your children develop a view of the world that is biblical is Answers in Genesis. You can access their site by clicking here: Answers in Genesis. Funny--as I look at their site, their front story today is very similar to what I'm writing about :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Gospel, Children, and Movies

When I was growing up, like most people, I always judged a movie's suitability for viewing by looking at the rating it received (G, PG, PG-13, R, etc.). These ratings are provided by the Motion Picture Association of America and are intended to be guides for parents to use in evaluating whether or not to let their children view a certain film. You can read more about these ratings, how they are determined, and the like by clicking here and looking around their site.

It wasn't until recently that I started to rethink this. Why am I letting the MPAA determine what I think is appropriate or inappropriate to view? Here are the things they list on their website that help them determine a movie's rating: "sex, violence, nudity, language, adult topics and drug use." They have more specific guidelines of course. But, are these the only things to consider when evaluating the merit of a movie for our children's viewing? I think all of us would say no.

The MPAA ratings give us a quick reference point for movies we have never seen or heard of, but we need to be sure to do more investigating into the films we let our children watch. Beyond "sex, violence, nudity, language, adult topics and drug use," there are many other things that we should be wary of being portrayed in films. These include: lust, extramarital romance, jealousy, anger, lying, disrespecting parents/authorities, divorce, underage alcohol use, gossip, selfishness, vengeance, etc. (just to name a few)--all of which at one time or another are glorified, or at least shown in a neutral (rather than a negative) light, in films our children might view. This type of content might not raise the eyebrows of the raters at the MPAA, but surely they should raise ours as Christian parents. We are called to train our children in godliness, and it's a subtle but powerful temptation for children to adopt the world's view of these things when the movies they watch are depicting them neutrally or positively.

The example of extramarital romance is one that immediately comes to mind. How many times in movies do we see a spouse who is taken for granted by their spouse (and possibly who has split up with them) find "true love" with someone else who treats them well--almost as if it's courageous to leave their marriage partner for this person? And we almost root for the affair or the divorce if we're not careful. The movie "Definitely, Maybe" is a specific PG-13 example of this for those of you who have seen it...How many times (even if it's not depicted on the screen, but only implied in the storyline) is pre-marital sex depicted as normal, romantic, and even desirable? These are the types of things we must be careful of our children viewing--especially without conversation about them.

Lest I sound like some crazed fundamentalist who just touts what you should NOT let your children view, I want to turn to the flip side of the coin briefly...The positive upshot of this is that we need to teach our children to view and be entertained by what is godly and beautiful and good. Paul says to the Philippians, "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil. 4:8, ESV). These are the types of things we are to help our children set their mind--and their eyes--on. There is plenty of this in movies out there, as long as we are intentional. Children can see depictions of courage, love, forgiveness, grace, hard-work, purity, etc.--even in movies that are not explicitly Christian. Our goal should be to expose them to these true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent themes that are worthy of praise.

And the motivation behind our choice of entertainment should be the gospel.

We are sinful people who are naturally rebels and enemies of God. Our children (and us) instinctively think in worldly ways and crave worldly things--even in entertainment. We have all done everything we can to rebel against God and earn punishment for ourselves. Our minds are darkened. But God sent Christ to live perfectly and innocently and to ultimately take His wrath on the cross for the sins of people like you and me (sins that include the entertainment I selfishly choose for myself). And if we trust in Him, we are forgiven and made into new people--people with new hearts and new desires and new eyes to see the world for what it truly is. We are people who are called to serve our Savior in every aspect of our lives. There is no neutral ground. So even in our entertainment, we need to evaluate whether our choices are bringing honor to our Savior and leading us to greater obedience to Him--or whether they are subtly leading us and our children to continue down the path of disobedience and worldliness.

Here are a few resources you can use to help you evaluate movies from a biblical perspective:
Plugged In
Planet Wisdom
Reel Discernment

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Parents, check this site out...I think you'll find it to be a better alternative for your young children than the normal version of YouTube....Keep monitoring what they're watching though. Those little eyes take in a lot more subtle things than we realize.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quote About Moms

I recently read a book called Worldliness by the guys at Sovereign Grace. The authors want us to avoid worldliness at all cost as Christians, yet in this particular chapter they remind us to engage and try to change the world. And as this passage indicates, they think one of the primary means of doing that is how we raise our children. Moms, future moms, dads, and future dads, take a minute to read this; and see if your appreciation for mothers doesn't come rushing back! Here you go:

"As a husband who daily observes the unflagging labor and selfless sacrifice of my wife, Julie, as she cares for me, our two boys, and our home, I carry a particular burden that mothers grasp and, amid the unremitting responsibilities and countless chores of parenting, remember this message. Despite our culture's pervasive hostility to the idea, motherhood is a calling from God, and no calling is higher. Although Scripture calls husbands to provide loving leadership to their homes, it's the incessant labors of mothers that, day by day, year after year, instill biblical values and inculcate a Christian culture in the home. Who can measure the long-term effects of nurturing helpless infants, supervising wandering toddlers, disciplining self-willed children, and counseling self-absorbed adolescents? Of family outings planned, traditions built, memories made, books read, songs sung, Scripture taught? That's why motherhood belongs under the heading, 'Engage the World'; no one shapes generations or fashions cultures more than mothers." -Jeff Purswell (p. 159)

Well said. Can't really add much to that :) Thank you moms!

If you'd like to buy the book for just $10.00, follow this link: Sovereign Grace

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A FastPass for Heaven...and Other Myths to Help Your Children Debunk

I was listening to sports talk radio the other day, and Scott Van Pelt was discussing the illness of a legendary broadcaster. He eloquently described how great of a person this man has been--how much integrity, diligence, and kindness he has seen displayed in his life. And then he made this leap of logic and said something to the effect of:

"If there is a heaven, then he is someone who doesn't even have to wait in line to get in. He has lived the type of life that has earned him the right to bypass everybody else and just give Saint Peter a nod as he walks through the gates."

If you've ever been to Disney World and used their FastPass system, that's almost what Van Pelt was describing. While everybody else is waiting, this broadcaster has earned the right to walk right into God's presence....I doubt he thinks that this is exactly how things would play out....But the general principle he was laying out is one with which most people in our society agree whole-heartedly: Good people are allowed into heaven--especially those who seem to be a cut above the rest of their fellow humans.

But parents, when we hear things like this on the radio or see philosophies like this portrayed in television shows, cartoons, movies, or books we read, we need to help our children learn to think biblically. They are constantly interacting with beliefs that fly in the face of the Bible's teachings. Unfortunately, these often are subtle and go unnoticed and undiscussed. So let's be careful to take the time to discuss what authors/speakers/actors are really saying and why their views do not line up with a biblical view of the world.

For example, if you are a father and were listening to Scott Van Pelt on the radio with your son and heard him make this off-handed comment about heaven, you could ask, "what do you think of what he just said?" This would be a great opportunity to discuss how all of us--even those who appear the most godly--are unworthy before God, how God is our ultimate Judge rather than the apostle Peter, and how Christ is the only One worthy of heaven. This would help your son remember to trust in Christ for his salvation rather than starting to trust in his own good behavior....It wouldn't have to be a long conversation, but having short dialogue with our kids about these flawed philosophies will help them sharpen the Truth in their minds.

Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to help your children debunk common myths and misperceptions (e.g. God is an old man in the sky, Jesus was just a great teacher, we become angels when we die, the earth is millions of years old, man has evolved from monkeys, etc.). And continually point them back to the Bible for the only proper understanding of reality.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Putting Caleb to Grief"

"Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief." -Isaiah 53:10a

So just a few minutes ago as my son Caleb was worn out on his play mat, I thought it would be an opportune time to trim his fast-growing fingernails. Stephanie gave me the clippers and I carefully tried to cut his right pinkie finger first. SCREAM!!! I accidentally clipped the end of his finger instead of his fingernail. How this happened, I'm not exactly sure. But I felt horrible. I said, "I'm sorry" several times, trying to soothe my hurting son.

He got over it quickly--hopefully a sign of toughness to come. But I kept feeling bad about the whole thing. For the first time in his life, I hurt my son. You could definitely say that I "put Caleb to grief." Then this thought entered my mind:

What must it have been like for God to hurt His Son?

Isaiah 53 is a chapter that foretells the suffering of Jesus in the place of guilty sinners. It describes with great accuracy what Christ was to endure hundreds of years later. But amidst the description of His face being marred and his appearance being beyond human semblance, verse 10 (quoted above) stands out as the scariest part of His suffering. It says that the LORD (i.e. the Father) was the One punishing Him and "putting Him to grief." At Calvary, the Father was pouring out His wrath on His innocent Son for the sins of people like me, so we could be forgiven and reconciled to Him.

The Father did much more than clip a finger tip.

And He didn't do it on accident.

He willingly punished His Son with horror beyond what I can imagine. As a father myself now, I wonder how could He do this?! If I struggle with hurting Caleb on accident, how could He punish Christ on purpose? How difficult and painful must it have been--not just for Jesus, but for Him too? (Granted, Jesus "became sin" for us. So the Father was justly punishing Him. It's not as if He regretted it like I regretted hurting Caleb. But still...can you imagine what this must have been like?)

As a sinner who would be doomed if He hadn't, I am unexplainably thankful that He put Christ to grief for my sake. Being reminded of what He did makes me stand more and more in awe of the Father.