Engaging with Different Worldviews
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In this episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz responds to comments from a previous episode on talking to children about dinosaurs. She addresses the pushback received from those with different worldviews. Elizabeth then models how to ask good questions when encountering false claims that go against Christianity. She emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and curiosity in children's learning. Throughout the episode, she encourages listeners to engage in respectful dialogue and seek truth.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast, where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's podcast is going to be a little bit different because I am actually not responding to a question that someone wrote in. I'm actually going to be responding to a previous podcast episode. Now, several months ago, we released a podcast episode on talking to our children about dinosaurs. And now, if I'm honest, I kind of had a little bit of a stomach ache when we released that podcast because I expected actually to get a lot of pushback from Christians who hold very strongly to either a young earth or an old earth view because what I recommended was that we expose our children to both views, talk to them about which one we hold, let them evaluate the evidence.
But instead, what we received was pushback from a lot of people who hold to a naturalistic worldview or an atheistic worldview or people who have walked away from the Christian faith. And after those comments started showing up, I received actually a lot of personal Facebook messages from people saying, "oh my goodness, Elizabeth, have you seen these comments? Why aren't you deleting them?" And there was a very purposeful reason that, one, I didn't respond to them, and two, I didn't delete them. One, my ministry calling in life is not to get into arguments with online atheists. I know that there are people out there who are called to do that. That's not what the Lord has called me to. So we didn't respond to any of the comments, but we did leave them up simply because we don't delete comments on Facebook, or I'm sorry, on YouTube unless there are profanities in them.
And I thought it was really important for us to leave those comments up so that those Christian parents who are watching and listening could see some of the claims that their children are going to encounter just in the world around them. So what I'm going to do in this podcast episode is I actually picked out several of the YouTube comments that I'm going to read for us, and then I am going to model how we could help our kids ask good questions when they encounter claims such as these. So that's what we're going to do for this podcast episode.
Now, before we go into those YouTube comments, I would ask, as always, if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial that you would like and subscribe to make sure that you don't miss any future episodes, and also ask that you would invest time writing a review so that more people can find this content and we can equip as many adults as possible to get the kids in their care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you could submit that by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast.
Okay, so we are going to dive into these several YouTube comments. I'm just going to model, I think that there's three questions that we can think through anytime we and our children are encountering claims that go against Christianity. I'm going to model how to use these three questions. The first question is, is there anything that we can agree with? Did this person say anything that we can agree with and affirm? The second question is, what questions can I ask for clarity? Where do I need more information from this person? And then the third thing is, what questions can I ask to get the other person thinking? And this is actually a formula that I would use whenever I'm having a conversation with someone from another worldview.
Back when I lived in Chicago, the church plant that I was part of had this ministry that they called "Coffee and Conversation". And just on the meetup app every other Saturday, we would host a discussion at Barnes and Noble, and most people that came were atheist or agnostic or spiritual but not religious. And we would just talk about a deeper topic in life and kind of share our thoughts and sometimes argue back and forth. And so as I got to develop relationships there with people from vastly different worldviews as mine as I would get to know them, and as we'd have lunch afterwards, we'd go out for coffee sometimes. These are just questions I would ask them as they would make claims that I found really helpful.
So the first comment that we're going to look through this says, "Confirmation bias is a legitimate issue for theists. Even those who probably mean well, like this lady here, please teach your children critical thinking principles of the scientific method and secular humanism. These tend to supply the likeliest path for fulfilling life." So the first question we want to think through, "okay, is there anything that we can agree with in this post?" And I would say yes, that I wholeheartedly agree that confirmation bias is a real thing that we need to look out for, that we're not just believing something simply because we've always heard it and everyone around us has always said that it's true that we need to be investigating the evidence. So that's something that we can agree with in this comment that confirmation bias is a real thing. We need to pay attention for this. Are we believing something simply because we've always heard it and everyone around us has said it? Or have we actually investigated evidence and find evidence that is stronger than the opposing evidence for the claim that we have held?
Then are there any questions that we should ask for clarity to help us better understand this person? Now, this is just a YouTube comment, so this is vastly different than a personal conversation, but if this was a personal conversation with someone, I would ask several questions just to clarify. First I'd ask them, "what do you mean by critical thinking? When you say critical thinking, can you explain to me what you mean by that?" And then I would just listen. Just listen to what they said, and then if what they were saying was similar to what was modeled in the video, I would ask, "okay, can you just help me understand how is what you are defining as critical thinking different than the process that was modeled in the video that you commented on?" And just hear where they see differences in that.
Then the third thing type of question is what questions could I ask this person to potentially get them thinking? So one question I would ask is, "can you explain to me what evidence do you have to support the claim that these things that you mentioned, that the scientific method and secular humanism tend to lead to the most fulfilling life? What's your evidence to support that claim?" Another question I would ask is, "according to your worldview, why is a fulfilling life an objectively good thing?" Those were just questions that I would ask one for me to learn more about this person's worldview and two, to hopefully get them thinking.
Okay, so we're going to take this for another comment. So another YouTube comment from that video says, "if God is real, let the child learn for themselves when they become an adult. Don't indoctrinate them now because then they will only believe because it is what they have been told, not because they have their own critical thinking." Okay, so the first question, is there anything that we can agree with about this comment? And I would say yes, that this person has claimed that children learning things for themselves is really important, that yes, I think I can wholeheartedly agree with this. That yes, children learning is a really important thing. Teaching kids how to investigate, how to discover truth, how to weigh the value of a claim that's vastly important for anyone, whether it's in a Christian home or in a non-Christian home. So that's something that I can affirm and say, yes, totally agree with you there.
Then are there any questions that I need to ask for clarity, things that I might not understand? So one question, "one thing that I would need to ask a clarifying question about is what do you mean by letting a child learn for themselves? Do you mean that you never speak to them about God? You never speak to them about atheism, you never speak to them about any worldview topics." And then I would ask, "how is that even possible? Because so much in life, the way that we investigate truth, how we believe that we should treat others, how we should interact with the world around us, the type of job that we choose, that all stems from our worldview. So how do you go about teaching children from a worldview neutral position?" And then I would also ask this person, just to clarify, it sounds like they don't believe in God and they think it's best not to talk about this. I would ask, "okay, so if you do not believe that God exists, do you hide that fact your worldview from your children and just let them learn for themselves? Or do you actually talk to them about why you believe that God doesn't exist, and if so, how is that different than a Christian talking to his or her child about why they believe God exists?"
Then the third thing would be what questions can I potentially ask this person to get them thinking? And so I would ask similar to what I asked in the last one, you're just talking about something that's objective. I would ask, "okay, so if you believe that God does not exist, so you're coming from a worldview where God doesn't exist, why is indoctrination morally wrong? Isn't that just a standard maybe that our society has subjectively chosen because we believe that this is the way that humans survive the best? You can't claim that that's objectively wrong if there is no objective moral standard, if it's just something that our society has subjectively chosen." So that's a question that I would ask to hopefully get this person thinking.
Okay, we'll move on to another comment. The next comment says, "I don't care how respectful anyone comes across on the surface level or how well intentioned they might seem or how much they sugarcoat their propaganda, you are effectively causing enormous harm to kids. When you teach this kind of stuff, one of the best parts of being a kid is having huge curiosity. Let kids learn the amazing things which generations of scientists have discovered over centuries instead of indoctrinating them with scriptures written thousands of years ago by barbaric primitives." So you can see that this comment is a little bit more vitriolic than the other ones. And now if when I read this, your emotions were just triggered and you became really angry, I think it's important for you to ask yourself a question about why that happened. Did you just become angry because someone is talking negatively about the God that you know and love? Or do you feel angry because you feel like you're not sure how to respond to this person and therefore you just want to have an emotional reaction? Because that's really important because a lot of times if we have a huge emotional reaction when someone says something like this, what this is highlighting for us is that we're actually not prepared to know how to respond to this, and so if we're not prepared, this is something we need to get prepared for. So hopefully as I go through these three questions again that will help you think through this.
So the first thing is, is there anything with this comment that we can agree with? And I would say yes, that this person has said that curiosity is one of the best parts of childhood, and I would agree that a child's curiosity is amazing. Just a few weeks ago, I was on vacation with my family and my brother and his four kids were there, and I was at the beach with one of my nephews, and he was just loving and exploring everything that was there, the seashells and the fish. There's even a dead fish on the beach that seagulls were eating, and he was loving watching that and exploring and learning and kids having this curiosity is an amazing thing, and it is something that we want to lean into and we want to let them be curious and teach them how to learn well. So yes, I can agree with that portion of this comment.
Then any questions that I should ask for clarity? Yes, this person has said that with what I'm doing, I'm causing enormous harm to kids, and so I would just say, "can you explain to me what you mean by harm? I just need to understand the definition of how you are using that word." I want to understand what does this person mean? Then also, one of the really sweeping claims was made that we shouldn't teach kids. We shouldn't indoctrinate them with scriptures written thousands of years ago by barbaric primitive. So I would just say, okay, it seems like you have really strong emotions about the Bible. "Can you just tell me a little bit of your understanding of how the Bible was formed? What is your understanding of the process of how humans got the Bible? Because I want to understand, do they have a correct understanding of how we got the texts that are now in the Bible, or do they have a different understanding that doesn't actually align with history?"
Then questions that I would want to ask to get this other person thinking again, similar to the question that I asked last time, I would say, if God doesn't exist and there's no objective moral law, why is causing harm to someone objectively wrong? Now, as a Christian, I believe that causing harm is wrong, that harming others is wrong, but that's because I believe in the objective moral law, because I believe in the objective moral law giver. But if there is no objective moral law, if we got here accidentally by random processes of blind unguided evolution, and only the physical realm is real. Morals, which are metaphysical, therefore are not real, they're not real and objective. It's just what we as a society have collectively decided to say is right or wrong. And so why are you telling me what I'm doing is wrong if there is no objective moral standard for that?
Okay, we're going to go through one final comment. This comment says, "I really appreciate how genuine and well-intentioned this is, but you mentioned a few times only showing kids views held by other Christians on the topic. Shouldn't they be exposed to the stories, evidence, Scripture, science, et cetera, regardless of Christian ideology and be allowed to learn and think for themselves? You should allow every person to pursue truth and faith for themselves. This type of grooming you are describing is a huge reason why I personally left my faith after growing up and leaving home. I realized I had just been exposed to things specifically meant to convince me of Scripture and whatnot. I say let people learn and be curious and follow where the evidence and reason points them." Okay, so again, we're going to ask ourselves these three different things.
First, is there anything that we could agree with? And I would say yes, there are some that we can agree with. One, I can agree that exposing our kids to views other than those of the Christian worldview is good. Now, in this video, the person was referencing, I was specifically answering the person's question is how do we help kids understand dinosaurs from a biblical perspective? So I wasn't answering the question, how do we talk to kids about dinosaurs from every perspective? I was just answering that specific question, but I wholeheartedly agree that exposing kids to views other than those of the biblical worldview are good. For those of you who have taken your kids through Foundation Comparative Worldview Curriculum, that's exactly what we do. That we take them first, just what evidence do we find in life in the world around us? What does the Bible teach about this topic? What do four other worldviews in our society teach about this topic? And then we have them compare and contrast and evaluate what lines up with the evidence that we've already seen in the world around us. I can also agree with this person that we should follow where the evidence points we should. I mean, this is something that's even consistently modeled in Scripture that God does not ask for blind faith. God asks for reasoned evidence-based faith that every time God asks someone to put their trust in him who they cannot see, he first gives them evidence of what they can see and why they should trust him. Even as Christians today, our faith is not grounded in some subjective feeling or some subjective experience that we've had. Our faith is grounded in the objective claim that Jesus died was crucified, buried, and rose again, and that's a claim. Those are claims that can be historically evaluated. If you're looking for more information on that, we have two different webinars at Foundation Worldview where we talk about the historical reliability of the resurrection. So recommend you check those out. So yes, I can agree with this person that we should follow where the evidence points.
Next, what questions do I need to ask to clarify? This person used a word that's kind of a hot topic word grooming, so I would just want to ask for more information on that. What do you mean by grooming? Can you just explain to me what you mean? Because that word can have different meanings, and so I want to understand how you're using it. And then I would ask this person, this person obviously grew up in a Christian home and then has walked away, and so I would ask, what would you have wished would've occurred in your education during your growing up years? When you look back and see how you were educated both at home and in the church, what do you wish was different? Because I'd want to learn from this person. What were the things that he or she feels that their parents and those in leadership over them didn't do well? And I'd want to learn from that.
And then are there any questions that I could ask to get this person thinking? And again, I'm coming back to something I've talked about every time, just this objective standard. And so I would just say by what objective standard should we allow everyone to pursue truth for themselves? Why this claim that you've made that we have to let everyone pursue truth for themselves? Why? This is something, I don't know what worldview this person holds, but if this person is coming to this question from a naturalistic worldview, this doesn't align with the naturalistic worldview. In the naturalistic worldview, we should believe in survival of the fittest as long as well as biological determinism. Where we really can't help what we're thinking, what we're feeling, the choices we make, we're just dancing to the tune of our DNA. So by what objective standard should everyone just be allowed to pursue truth?
So I hope that as I've read through these comments and just walked us through these three things, is there anything we can agree with? What should we ask for clarifying for clarity? And then what questions could we ask to get this other person thinking? I hope that you'll just take this formula and anytime you encounter a claim like this, that you'll walk your kids through this and allow them to do this. Okay? Is there anything in this claim that Christians agree with? Is there anything that we can just wholeheartedly say, yes, we agree with you on what questions? Where might we not have understood this person? Because we don't want to read one comment or have one conversation with somebody and then jump off into an explanation without making sure that we have really understood the person because we need to make sure that we've really understood them. And then what questions can we ask them maybe to get them thinking about their own worldview and ways in which their explanation of reality actually falls short of what we find in reality?
Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that no matter the circumstances in which you and the kids in God, that God has placed in your care, find yourself that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.
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