I just began telling stories through the Bible (third time, thank you rotation).  Today we talked about the first 5 days of creation and my intention was to make next week's lesson all about Adam.  But one little boy raised his hand and asked, "What about the dinosaurs?" 

As a retired biology teacher, I can give a few answers, but most involve ideas that may be a challenge for elementary kids.  What I want them to do is to trust the Bible and God as the source of truth, without withdrawing from science and the intellectual world

I'm not sure that telling them to embrace mystery will be satisfying.  I promised an answer next Sunday.  Any suggestions?

Original Post

Hi, Linda!

Good question! And I imagine you will find as many answers as there are people here, and probably none will be exactly right because God and creation are so big and mysterious we cannot wrap our human minds totally around it. And I do think that is an acceptable answer for a child [lots of things are mysterious to them and I imagine he will get that]. And I also think a great response for a kid's question is "What do you think?" -- you might be surprised by his insights and thoughts.

If you want to take it further, I think it is appropriate to cite the verse about a thousand years being like a day to God. 2 Peter 3:8  "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (ESV)

Time is relative.

Let us know how it goes.  We will pray for wisdom and insight as you meet your students where they are!

Thank you for your support for so many years, and continued blessings on your church's rotation program. 

Amy  

Great question, and an important one to begin to answer, ....and keep answering through their teen** years.

I'm often reminded that young children are often just asking simple questions that ONLY need a simple answer. The child may have just wanted to know "Does God likes dinosaurs?" So dig a bit deeper before launching into a theological argument.

Teaching Kids Interpretation Skills
The Bible contains ALL SORTS of "TYPES" of writing:  Poetry, Instructions, History (though not "history" in the modern sense), Miracle stories, Parables, Letters, Proverbs, Prophecy, etc etc. each of which needs a different approach to how we understand them. You don't want to confuse parables with history, or Psalms with Gospels. Thus, we need to help our students identify the type of story we're in --in order to know how to interpret it. You don't ask "factual questions" about poetry, you ask about themes and feelings, and deeper meaning.  

Genesis 1 is looks, reads, and has the beat of a Psalm (poetry), not prophecy, parable, or history. Psalms/lyrics/poetry are meant to move us and inspire deep insights, not to be looked upon as lists of facts.This is what I teach my students. This gets beyond the red-herring of evolution and dinosaurs and gets into the more important insights that God created and God made it good. Dinosaurs = good ...which should make any child wonder about and appreciate God even more.


**As Barna stats continue to indicate, "Evolution" is one of those subjects about which Millenials are largely in the "science" camp about (as am I). It has also become one of the "wedge" issues that are pushing young people out of even mainline churches whom they lump in with the alt-wrong creationists and science-deniers. So we need to speak up in our churches about the correct way to interpret scripture, and that begins with knowing what KINDS of scripture there are in the Bible.

Thank you so much, Amy and Neil.  Those are directions I was thinking in.  My husband had even suggested the verse from 2Peter.  I remember wanting so much to understand everything when I was young, so I was surprised that kids may be comfortable with mystery.  Today, I love the mystery part and science doesn't have near the value for me that it once had, but I want to encourage the students to evolve (no pun intended) in their understanding to a point where they have a faith that is mature enough to last forever.  I will remember to make it a dialogue and will encourage questions all along.

Blessings,

Old Storyteller (Linda)

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