Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Watch Out for Dinosaurs!

Little boys love action and the thrill of scary things! Slashing claws, ferocious teeth, hugeness. . . dinosaurs are a boy-magnet! So, it seems natural to put all this enthusiasm to good use in a learning environment, and many school classrooms do long units on dinosaurs . . . decorating dinosaur habitat dioramas, making dinosaur models and masks and booklets and more. One school classroom I walked into had been transformed via construction paper palm tress and crepe paper vines hanging from the ceiling, into a primeval habitat for dinosaurs! Little ones are taught to spout off their complicated names, eating habits, methods of fighting and killing their prey, and each dinosaur's temperament, long before they can name the books of the Bible or describe the temperament of God.

What's wrong with studying dinosaurs?

Teaching young kids about dinosaurs is a way to set the stage for their foundational misunderstanding of who they are and how they fit into time. Tucked neatly into those dinosaur habitats is the "billions-of-years-old earth" concept, morphing the past into an ever, ever, land before time. Our children's worldview is crucial. If they are taught the idea that the earth has existed for countless eons, then God can more easily be seen as a very hazy and remote being. And the Bible's creation story can seem bogus. How does "the Lord God created the earth in 7 days" fit into the steamy primeval rain forest where creatures crawl from the sea and transform fins into feet over time too long for a kindergartener to conceive of? Can right and wrong exist in such a evolutionary world?

The concept of sin—and our need for a Savior to atone for us—are taught in Genesis, right after the creation account. If the creation is just a figurative story, one may conclude that the idea of accountability for our wrongdoing, or the need for our Savior, is a myth too. Our children's future character—in fact, the very survival of our civilization— hinges on believing there is right and wrong, with consequences for our choices. And that there is a Savior who saves us from our mistakes if we repent. And that there is a God capable of forming the earth, with mankind being His crowning creation.

Because the schools teach it, the government teaches it, scientists promote it and the media, including National Geographic and Nova assure us it is a fact; the easy road for most Christians is to merge evolution with their Christian beliefs, glancing away from the obvious conflict. But there is grave danger in this. If humankind morphed into being, then can one really be held accountable for feeding his urges? It is a very different mindset than knowing you are a precious son or daughter of God "knit together in your mother's womb", "in the image of God" (see Psalms 139:14, Genesis 1:27)

What to do? In my homeschool, we skipped over dinosaurs and learned about the creation of the earth, focusing on the amazing animals that are in our current world: the common as well as the unique and bizarre! The enormous blue whale, the swift cheetah, the energetic hummingbird, exotic neon-colored jellyfish . . . evidence of God is found in all his handiwork, in the myriad of His diverse creations. I especially like using science resources that include creation in their teaching. Apologia Science textbooks are even entitled such faith promoting titles as: Exploring Creation: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. My favorite Biology DVD course uses the 7 days of creation as the organization in teaching the classification of all living things. Another great company for promoting God as creator is Moody Press with their interesting science DVDs.

Then, when my children are well-grounded in Christian teachings, we take a look at dinosaurs and evolution from a more objective, less politically-correct viewpoint. Junior high school is a good time since evolution is being taught in school science classes during this age anyway. Analyzed objectively, all scientists really know for a fact is that there are huge bones in the earth's surface. The way these creatures looked or acted, and even the time period in which they lived are all speculative. Teach kids about dinosaurs when they are old enough to trust that God has his purposes, and that the words of the scriptures are true. And while they are young, teach them who they truly are: precious children of God, the crowning creation of all God's works, and of infinite worth. A person with God as their father feels and acts very different than a creature whose ancestors emerged eons ago from a prehistoric lagoon. Humankind is not animal. Humans can make choices and bear the weight of responsibility for their actions.

So . . . watch out for dinosaurs!

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  • At March 26, 2009 at 1:56 PM , Blogger Karen said...

    I love reading your blog and often read your catalog and articles repeatedly for ideas and insight...in short, I'm a fan. I can't read this post though without expressing my severe disappointment.
    People who can't teach dinosaurs because of the seeming conflict between science and religion are lacking understanding about both concepts. Belief in dinosaurs (if those large bones aren't proof I'm not sure what could convince you) doesn't negate my testimony or my temple recommend. Furthermore, it is primarily people with a lack of understanding and a need to force religion that suppose that science and religion themselves clash. Science is AMORAL, not IMMORAL. Dinosaurs exist. We have landed on the moon. Cloning is possible. It never ceases to amaze me that we (who know we are all striving to be like God) can't fathom the fact that we can achieve some godly understanding and abilities...of course we can...it is within our divine potential after all. God's world and laws are the same ones we study in science classes. We don't know the mechanics of how God creates (maybe He did bring forth the matter substance from ooze...were you there?), but we do know He did create. Scholars also agree that our 7 days is not the same as God's 7 days, many equating each one to a thousand years or more.
    This is what I teach--we don't have all the answers...that is the joy of science! We don't have a complete understanding, but there are things we do know. I teach what we know based on science AND the scriptures. I teach that all knowledge is given from God, and all things were created by Him. He wants us to grow in knowledge and understanding. I think "God's University" would teach about all the wonders of the natural world, including dinosaurs. It would teach us to question, to find out, and to feel okay about not having all the answers. I am a child of God and I believe in dinosaurs.

  • At March 26, 2009 at 2:11 PM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Thanks so much for your viewpoint. That is one of the beauties of homeschooling, that we can all follow our own heart's direction in teaching our children. I hope I do okay raising and teaching mine—I sure know I don't have all the answers.

  • At March 26, 2009 at 5:21 PM , Blogger Toni said...

    we use these books for science too. and they actually have one on dinosaurs, and where they are mentioned in the bible.

    Yeah its a tough subject with all the evolutonist around it,

  • At March 27, 2009 at 1:09 AM , Blogger Lillibeth said...

    A few years ago I found a book called "Dinosaurs Unleashed" (by Kyle Butt and Eric Lyons, Apologetics press) which explained dinosaurs from a creationist stance (don't let the cover fool you, it really is a nice book!). My boy read it from cover to cover, he actually read it to pieces, and I appreciated the fact that it taught him what the truth was without compromise. He is going to encounter dinosaur myths all over the place, and having read this very sensible book I'm sure will he will be able to see through the evolutionary myths.
    I really enjoy your blog, keep up the good work!

  • At March 27, 2009 at 8:44 AM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Thanks for the tip! I'll look for that book. There are many great books out there that discuss dinosaurs from a Christian perspective, and we've enjoyed them. What I do not like, and that I find happening in the schools, is that man's theories are taught as if they are irrefutable fact, with no room for other explanations. I so appreciate the idea of looking at a subject from many angles and analyzing the truth of it, rather than just accepting the theories of man. Thanks for sharing a good book, and for your kind words!

  • At March 27, 2009 at 2:26 PM , OpenID 3forschool said...

    I agree with Karen above. I find it sad that so many take an all-or-nothing approach. Science, by definition, is not set in stone (although some would like to intimate that it is). I find no dichotomy between a living, caring Creator and many of the scientific findings, especially if you refer to Abraham's account of the creation with "periods of time" rather than "days."

    I am satisfied that someday we will understand (with inspiration) how this earth was formed. Right now, however, the heavens are fairly silent on the exact process. I know the Lord operates by eternal laws, which we do not understand, and that is what I taught my children. I also taught them what a wonderous thing it is that the Lord created so many different creatures and each was uniquely designed for its time on earth. To me, it is a testimony of his loving care for us, and that was the lesson I wanted my children to learn from dinosaurs.

    That said, I agree that certain of man's theories are often taught as irrefutable fact, and that idea is scientifically laughable and unsound. That said, I do not believe that because we are ignorant of the Lord's exact methods, that we do not have a duty to learn as much as we can. The Lord didn't say whether the world was round or flat, but I believe he was delighted when scientists theorized that it was round because it opened up so many more possibilities for us.

  • At March 27, 2009 at 2:29 PM , Blogger 3 for school said...

    BTW, the Biology 101 DVD looks really interesting. I'm thinking about getting that for next year.

  • At March 27, 2009 at 2:31 PM , Blogger Tammi said...

    Hi Diane,

    We are young Earth creationists through and through. And we do teach our children about dinosaurs, even when they are very young.

    I, too, needed to navigate around the sea of evolution. Answers In Genesis is a wonderful resource to our family. I have learned so much from watching their DVD's, reading their Magazine, by the same name, and using their website. I am a lot more equipped now than I was when I started Homeschooling 8 years ago.

    Other great resources are The Institute for Creation Research(ICR), Master Books and New Leaf Press Publishing, Vision Forum who publishes a terrific Radio show series called the Adventures of Jonathan Park (Our local Christian radio station airs this on Saturday mornings). The website JonathanPark.com also is a great resource. I almost forgot about this magazine written for children, it is called Nature Friend and my kids love it. You can find information about it at www.naturefriendmagazine.com. I am sure there are more biblically sound resources than these that I have found to be helpful, maybe you will, too.

    I understand your reluctance to teach about dinosaurs, and I respect that. But you might change your mind as you discover the wonderful resources available from a young Earth, creationist perspective.



  • At March 27, 2009 at 8:13 PM , Blogger Toni said...

    Dinosaurs By Design is another good resource, it explains where dinos are mentioned in the Bible, by biblical accounts dinos and men did live at the same time, Job talks of a behomoth which is believed to have been a dinosaur. And how many cultures have tales of dragons.

    Many of the dino bones that have been found in recent years have had flesh still on them and /or marrow in the bones which would account for a young earth

  • At March 29, 2009 at 12:31 AM , Blogger Jessica G said...

    I really urge you to check out Ken Ham's audio sermons and books on ABC Dinosaurs. He ties it all in with creation and how biblical they were called dragons. It's totally changed my beliefs on dino's and that's how I teach dino's tied in with creation. Ken Ham's website is answersingenesis.com. It's wonderful. I'm a solid creation apologetic but I agree with the beauty of homeschool. You teach how God leads you to teach and on what topics. I love the blog. I'll always keep reading as long as you keep posting!!!!


  • At March 31, 2009 at 9:19 AM , Blogger Diane Hopkins said...

    Thanks for the good suggestions! I love finding new good books and resources. Pursuing truth is quite an adventure, and I hope to always be open and learning.

  • At April 2, 2009 at 10:38 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

    I appreciate your perspective on holding back teaching dinosaurs until they have a sound grasp on more basic principles. That is something I will keep in mind when forming my curriculum. I also appreciate how others who have made comments share sources they have found on the subject. Very helpful!

  • At April 2, 2009 at 6:48 PM , Blogger Rushton Reflections said...

    We just visited the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, TX. It showed man's footprints with Dinosaure footprints. http://www.creationevidence.org/ It is pretty intersting and allowed us to have a day of dinosaurs. I think my husband and I learned more than the kids.

    I know I am still trying to learn where dinosaurs fit in the scheme of things and the creation museum answered lots of questions, only to bring up more.

  • At April 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM , Blogger Jaime Baughman said...

    In reference to all the previous comments, I think it is great that each one of us is making an effort to be responsible for what our children are learning.
    Our family has used a great book included in our first and second grade curriculum entitled, "The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible" by Paul S. Taylor. It is a great book from a creationist perspective. The author does not claim to have every answer, but it is a wonderful step in the right direction (in my humble opinion).
    Diane, Thanks for the blog, the recipes, the products. My 9 year old daughter loves her "ModestSuit".

    -Jaime B.

  • At April 9, 2009 at 2:30 PM , Blogger Mother Ginger said...

    Another GREAT resource about the myth of evolution is the 3-video series,"Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution". We've really enjoyed these.
    Julie F.

  • At May 1, 2009 at 4:59 PM , Blogger Monique said...

    I loved your post, Diane! I've always been skeevy about the dinosaur thing too. I'm so glad to find out how you do it with your children, I'll be doing it this way as well. Who knows where or when dinos were created? The scriptures tell us the earth was created from "matter unformed" - the bones from these creatures may not even have lived on our particular planet. All the resource recommendations from the other posts sound interesting, I'm looking forward to checking them out. I appreciate you boldy stating your convictions!

  • At May 7, 2009 at 5:40 PM , Blogger Marjorie said...

    Thank-you for your courageous post! I share your opinion on dinosaurs--that it is fine to talk about them, but not to emphasize them until the children have a firm foundation in truth.
    I don't have a problem with the fact that dinosaurs existed--it is obvious that they did! But the real troubling issue for me is that almost all the books and videos on dinosaurs mix fact with radical speculation about evolution and earth-age, presented as unalterable fact. If your children read enough of that "evolved from a different species 3.5 million years ago," they can start to wonder if the science books are true and the scriptures are just nice tales we hear in Sunday School.
    In our homeschool, we teach freely about the theory/myth of evolution, making sure the children see the ridiculous contradictions involved (for example, one of biology's foundational tenets is Life Begets Life, yet evolutional theory of the origins of life would have us believe that life came from non-living material at some point).
    As we study biology, we point out that it requires a huge amount of faith (more than I have) to believe in the "accidental" amazing design of our eyes, our immune sytem, oranges, bird flight (which would be technically impossible to evolve), and symbiotic relationships in nature. When we study earth science, we note the precise and perfect location of our planet in the universe. When we talk about chemistry, we marvel at the incredible fact that frozen water floats, which alone should convince every thoughtful scientist that the universe was designed, not happenstance.
    I love Clark A. Peterson's book "Using the Book of Mormon to Combat Falsehoods in Organic Evolution," because it covers scientific fact as well as scriptural proof of God's intelligent design.
    Thanks again for your added insight!


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