Tuesday, May 03, 2005
How to Talk to Your Biology Teacher
Likewise, debate is not always the answer. What does the Bible say to wives whose husbands are not saved? Does it say to nag them into the kingdom? No, it says to show great respect, so that by your example they may come to know Christ. When in a teacher/student setting, the teacher is in the position of authority, and likewise it is your job to show respect, not disrespect. By being honest, open, and most of all, respectful, you can win a lot more people than being aggressive or passive-aggressive (note that neither of these are Christ-like attitudes).
I recently found this story of a student who successfully converted her teacher, which can act as a model for Christians who want to spread Christ in the biology classroom:
One day, he heard that Louisiana had passed a law requiring equal time for creation with evolution, and he was flabbergasted– how stupid, he thought, and how evil! He used the opportunity to launch into a tirade against creationism in class, and to give them his best eloquence in support of Darwinism. Little did he know he had a formidable opponent in class that day. No, not a silver-tongued orator to engage him in a battle of wits; that would have been too easy. This time it was a gentle, polite, young female student.
This student went up to him after class and cheerfully exclaimed, “Great lecture, Doc! Say, I wonder if I could make an appointment with you; I have some questions about what you said, and just want to get my facts straight.” Dr. Lumsden, flattered with this student’s positive approach, agreed on a time they could meet in his office. On the appointed day, the student thanked him for his time, and started in. She did not argue with anything he had said about evolution in class, but just began asking a series of questions: “How did life arise? . . . Isn’t DNA too complex to form by chance? . . . Why are there gaps in the fossil record between major kinds? . . . .What are the missing links between apes and man?” She didn’t act judgmental or provocative; she just wanted to know. Lumsden, unabashed, gave the standard evolutionary answers to the questions. But something about this interchange began making him very uneasy. He was prepared for a fight, but not for a gentle, honest set of questions. As he listened to himself spouting the typical evolutionary responses, he thought to himself, This does not make any sense. What I know about biology is contrary to what I’m saying. When the time came to go, the student picked up her books and smiled, “Thanks, Doc!” and left. On the outside, Dr. Lumsden appeared confident; but on the inside, he was devastated. He knew that everything he had told this student was wrong.
So, let's see what happened:
- Allowed the professor to vent in front of the class about Creationists and listened attentively
- Did not pose embarrassing questions in front of the class
- Did not even claim that the professor was wrong
- Asked questions respectfully
- Listened carefully to answers
- Did not feel the need to rebut every point (or even any point) the professor made
- After listening to the answers, said "thank you" and left the issue at that.
The professor knew himself that what he was saying was wrong, and because it was a non-confrontational situation, was able to have some perspective and think clearly on the subject. Backing people into a corner makes them defensive. Behaving like Christ allows God to work in them, and I can guarantee you that He is more effective than you.
This is in great contrast to how the Discovery Institute and Jonathan Wells wants you to ask your teacher embarrassing, confrontational questions to spark a controversy. While there's nothing wrong with being honest about evolution's shortcomings, there is both a way and a time to do it, and many ways and times where it is inappropriate.
There's nothing wrong with debate, but let's be like Christ when we do so, especially when it involves people who are in authority over us. Remember, if you are a Christian, you are always on display for being Christ in the world. The world should know Christians by their humbleness, meekness, love, giving, and respect, not for being annoying in biology class.
Be nice to hear from her of any further thoughts or comments she might have.
Go gentle Christian sister!
John Pendleton, creation-science speaker to Latin America