Posted by jlwile on August 23, 2011
I was sent a link to an interesting article written by Ruth Lukabyo of Youthworks College in Sutherland, New South Wales (Australia). In it, she reports on the results of a survey she gave to “scripture kids” in Australia. What are scripture kids, you might ask? They are children who elect to receive religious training as a part of their schooling.
In New South Wales, students in the government school system are allowed to choose whether or not to attend “special religious education” classes during the school day. These classes, commonly referred to as “scripture classes,” are not funded by the government, but they do take place during school time. The children who choose to attend them are commonly called “scripture kids.”
Well, Lukabyo decided to give 208 of these kids a survey. The children were 11-14 years of age, and since they have chosen to attend these classes, you would think that they are at least a bit more favorable to Christianity than the general public. In addition, since they have actually been attending these classes, you would think that they are better educated about Christianity than the general public. Given those two assumptions, the results are rather surprising.
The students were given a list of questions, and they were asked to choose which was most important to them. Here are their top four choices:
1. How can I know that God exists? (Answer)
2. How could a good God send people to hell? (Answer)
3. How can I believe in a good God when there is so much suffering? (Answer)
4. Doesn’t evolution prove that God doesn’t exist? (Answer given below)
These are all very important questions, but I am a bit surprised that they were chosen by “scripture kids.” If these kids are receiving instruction in Christianity, they should know the answers to these questions, as they are very common questions that should be addressed in any basic Christian education setting.
I have linked answers to the first three questions, but I want to answer the fourth one myself, because more than any of the other questions, it shows how poor these children’s Christian education is. Of course evolution doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist! If evolution is true (I don’t think it is), it merely shows how God created.
First, some of the greatest thinkers in Christendom were theistic evolutionists. C. S. Lewis is regarded by many as the most influential Christian apologist of his time. His book, Mere Christianity, was voted best book of the twentieth century by Christianity Today in 2000. He has been called “The Apostle to the Skeptics.” As I have pointed out in the past, while he wasn’t rock solid in his belief in evolution, he was a theistic evolutionist.
Alvin Plantinga is probably the most important Christian philosopher alive today. He is widely credited for the revitalization of Christian philosophy that took place in the mid-to-late 1900s. Indeed, a 1980 Time Magazine article reported on the remarkable resurgence that had occurred in religious philosophy and gave Plantinga the lion’s share of the credit for it, calling him “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God.” He is also a theistic evolutionist.
If evolution proved that God doesn’t exist, these incredible thinkers (and many, many others) would not be such amazing servants of the Lord!
Second, you can argue (as Cornelius Hunter does) that evolution was devised as a defense of God’s goodness. It was a means of removing him from the nasty details of nature by allowing a blind force like natural selection to do all the “dirty work” necessary to make the world we see today.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think evolution (in the flagellate to philosopher sense) is incredibly bad science. It almost certainly never happened. However, even if it were true, it doesn’t affect God’s existence at all. It simply tells us the physical means by which He produced the wonder we see all around us.
What’s the take home message from this survey? For me, it’s that we need to do a better job of educating our children when it comes to Christianity. Now I recognize that the children in this survey might not be getting much serious Christian education. After all, how good can the Christian education be in a government school? Nevertheless, all Christian educators should heed the warning that this survey provides: Children who have had any measure of Christian education should be well-versed in the answers to these basic questions. If your Christian education doesn’t address such questions, you need to change it so that it does.