“I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent. ”
― Arthur C. Clarke
There is a ten-year old boy who lives across the street from me. He’s bright, imaginative, a voracious reader and a constant thinker. He likes to pop over and chat if I’m in the garden and will often come walk my puppy with me. He’s a real chatterbox – adores Dr Who and can tell you trivia about the show that would put any adult fan to shame.
His parents are good people. They’re committed to helping in their community in concrete tangible ways. They believe it’s important to help those who are less fortunate and they actually do walk their talk. They are Christians.
This boy’s parent’s home school both their boys, ages 10 and 15 – and from what I have seen, are committed to the task of educating their kids and take the time to go the extra mile with regular field trips to libraries, museums and so forth. As parents they worry about the changing world, and what it will mean for their kids higher education and career options – I know this because they’ve spoken to me about it a number of times.
A couple of days ago I was out in the garden and my little friend popped over for a chat. We were talking about plants, how they grow, why one plant will do okay in a certain environment, but not do so well if it’s the wrong environment. Suddenly he says to me:
“Fiona, my dad and I have decided we don’t believe in all that evolution stuff. Nothing happens just instant like evolution says.”
Oh dear, I thought.
I said well, that’s an interesting thought. Evolution is based in science you know and there’s nothing instant at all about it. Evolution is something that has occurred across thousands and thousands of years, much older and longer than the Bible.
He tells me that actually the only way to think about how everything came to be is to believe an all-powerful being made it happen.
I told him that there are many people who do not accept that there is an all-powerful being, that there is just no evidence for it, and that as he gets older and can study more science he’ll get the opportunity to see all sorts of information and evidence about evolution that will let him develop his thinking and his mind. I told him that the important thing was to keep an open mind, no matter what anyone tells him, and be prepared to learn more – to keep on reading and keep on thinking.
Then I dropped the subject. I don’t want to alienate or disrespect my neighbours or be *that* person that he is taught to pray for, so hopefully I don’t go to hell for my heretical beliefs. I don’t want it to happen that he is not allowed to come for chats.
The conversation is still rattling around in my mind. This creationist, anti-evolution teaching is happening in a homeschooling environment, but it could also happen in a school, a Sunday school group, or via family and friends. Putting him in mainstream school would not guarantee that these ideas would not be fed to his active, thinking brain – but I cannot help to think mainstream schooling would increase the potential for him to be exposed to different information, other ways of thinking, to science and to reason.
In the back of my mind, I see this intelligent boy, maturing into a man who at 20 or 30 or whatever age, will sit with a science text-book (and not the King James version) in his hand, feeling incredibly ripped off and duped. I hope it doesn’t take that long and I hope it happens. He’s a great kid, with a great brain.