How My Teacher Helped Religious Parents Understand Evolution
My biology teacher, Mr. G, used to teach at a K - 12 Christian school many years back, and in his biology class, he taught evolution. Naturally, this made many parents of religious families upset, and he expected quite a lot of backlash at parent-teacher night. Looking back, he laughs and says, “I knew they wanted a piece of me.”
So, to prepare, he bought regular 50 piece puzzles, and took a few pieces out from each of them. Then, when the parents arrived, he put them on the table, and requested the parents to construct the puzzles, without seeing the final picture on the box cover. By the time they eventually put all of the pieces they had together, he asked them, “What is it a picture of?”
They responded, “A flowerpot!” or, “A butterfly!” or, “A house!”
But then he told them, “But you don’t have all the pieces! How can you know!”
They said, “Well, we can see it!”
And he asked again, “You can’t see everything! How do you know for sure?”
They kept saying variations of, “Well, we don’t have all the pieces, but we know what it is, because they make up the shapes, and the lines to form the picture.” and, “It’s not complete, and we don’t know for sure, because we don’t have all of the pieces, but we know the image from the other pieces, and what it suggests the other pieces will be.”
And then, it soon dawned on them that this is how theories are formed, and how evolution is a worthwhile idea to understand and learn.
My teacher now says in class to his students, when we are learning about evolution, “It’s alright if you believe in something else, and it’s okay to keep those beliefs. We don’t want to attack you. But, in biology class, we want you to open your mind, and learn about evolution. Not believe in evolution initially, just understand it at first. We are not forcing you to believe something; this classroom should be a safe environment.”
Aristotle once said, “It is a mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
All the scientific community asks the religious community to do is to consider our evidence and arguments. After you have properly understood all of it, and thought about how well it can apply to our world, then you may go back to your beliefs if you are still not convinced. However, I am sure that it will open your mind, and help you understand our world a little better.