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!