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Christian beliefs about creation

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by alt1979, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. I am looking for some resources or ideas for teaching a lesson on Christian beliefs about the Creation story.
  2. grandelf

    grandelf New commenter

    cynically you could use 'the monkey suit' from the Simpsons

  3. what age and stage?
  4. key Stage 3 Year 7
  5. key Stage 3 Year 7
  6. If you PM me your email I will send you my lesson on christian creation.
  7. That's about the right age to introduce St Augustine. Some may have heard the name, some will not.
    Give them a brief introduction to Augustine's life and times, then hand out this passage.

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the
    heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and
    orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the
    predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and
    the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth,
    and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and
    experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an
    infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy
    Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all
    means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up
    vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn
    . The shame is
    not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people
    outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such
    opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil,
    the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned
    men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they
    themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about
    our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters
    concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and
    the kingdom of heaven
    , when they think their pages are full of
    falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from
    experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders
    of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser
    brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions
    and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of
    our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and
    obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture
    for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think
    support their position, although they understand neither what they say
    nor the things about which they make assertion
    -- De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim ("The Literal Meaning of Genesis")

    That in a nutshell is the Christian position on Biblical literalism, with particular reference to the Genesis story, and it has held for 1500 years, with an exception of a few modern movements, mostly American.

  8. Hmm. Some would say, with hindsight, that in Augustine's case 'who smelt it, dealt it'. (Yes, there are still Pelagians around - and note how a strict application of Augustine's doctrine of predestination disappeared from mainstream theology about 75 years after he was buried, until Calvin resurrected it)
    This is not to detract from the eloquence of his prose, however.
    As for movements which hold views other than that above, the largest is neither modern nor American - it is the Roman Catholic Church.
    There are other Christian stands: Intelligent Design (cf Teilhard de Chardin - RC, French or the New Wave band Devo: "Now God made man - but he used the monkey to do it") and my own favourite, that we have to realise that the writers were trying to interpret revelations concerning events well beyond their understanding. It's true; but open to interpretation, especially given the language difference (Hebrew vs Welsh or English - look up the Sapir - Whorfe Hypothesis)
    The rationale behind literal creationism can be stated quite simply and without Augustine as the idea that if Scripture were in error on one issue, then it may be mistaken on all.

  9. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    I find the brick testament lego pictures are quite good for this. The kids enjoy it because they find the pictures amusing which helps them to remember. I also like to do drama with them so maybe a role play of each day or freeze frame different points of the day. Or perhaps you could compare it with another creation story?
  10. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    The approach I like to take is that while every individual Christian is different and will have their own particular beliefs about Creation, it is helpful to think of three 'clearly different categories' of Christian.

    Fundamentalist Christians, Liberal Christians and Mystical Christians.

    You can improve on these 'headings' if you like - but these differences are useful. I have written a bit about this (off the top of my head, i will improve on it if I get time) and uploaded it onto My resources. I would welcome comments.

    This is an important issue as if well taught it really helps our students to think intelligently about religion - and if its badly taught it can make them think religion is something really dumb.
  11. matryoshkadoll

    matryoshkadoll Occasional commenter

    if you look here on tes, phallen has a few great lessons which get kids to consider the initial translation of the Hebrew word 'yom' meaning both age and day. It asks the question whether instead of being against evolution, maybe the creation idea of a day - rather than being a 24hr day, could possible be a million year age (yom).... I adaptedthis for my year 7's. I had one young girl who was adamant that it was not possible for creation to reconcile with science... As the lesson went on, so did the light bulb in her head!!!! She said, " Miss, I think you may be right." All of a sudden, she understood the idea and became 'open to the possibility'.
  12. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    YES, this is a really important point - the complication of translating things accurately.

    Point out the way that people say 'in my day' or 'in those days' too, meaning a long period. But if the students understand the nature of Oral Tradition and the way it communicates truths through story and poetry then they can understand that the two accounts of how things began are complimentary. They don't need to agree in every detail. Science tells how - it provides information about the mechanics of the process. Religion is about why and deeper questions of meaning, relationship and responsibility.
  13. And it was even, and it was morning - Sunday.
    No, yom clearly means 24-hour days.
    However to explain the meaning of the passage, draw a line for each day of the creation. Then, when you come to "in the day that God created the Heavens and the Earth" (you need the decent King James version, not an inaccurate modern translation that renders Hebrew "Yom" as "when" ) join the lines into one at the end. What do you get?

  14. Careful now. This business that the KJ is the only inspired translation is unhelpful. Look what happened with that attitude regarding the other "inspired translations".
    The Septuagint - decent Pentateuch, progressively worse versions of the Writings and Prophets.
    The Vulgate - helped hold back the development of Christian belief and practice when Latin ceased to be widely known; and by the time it was written it wasn't really anyone's vernacular. And that's the point - if we aren't going to learn from the Jewish and Muslim examples and read our scriptures in the original languages, then modern translations are a must. Otherwise we end up with yet another silly argument about levels of authority.

    BTW - the passage quoted ends "Hayom ekhadh" - the first day, not day of the sun.

    This difference is another one which may or may not be helpful to include in the lesson!
  15. All Scriptural translations reflect the prejudices of the translators. However some more than others. Modern translations tend to be particularly bad offenders.
    Hebrew days are numbered. English days are named. However now you point it out Sunday is usually referred to as yom rishon - the first day, not yom ekhadh - day one. So maybe the readers wouldn't hear it as "Sunday".English readers don't hear "day of the Sun", "day of the moon", day of Tiewe (most people couldn't tell you who he was).
    The point is that the days are pretty clearly 24 hour, literal days - an evening and a morning. The idea that they represent periods of time is sophistry designed to reconcile modern scientific accounts with a literalist interpretation of the text.

  16. Yes - the KJV is also a relatively modern translation. But its methodology would not pass muster today, even given the mistaken view that source language orientated translation is somehow better. This is why we have "Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men" instead of "Peace on Earth to men of goodwill" - the superior Welsh equivalent translates thus into English. The problem, IIRC, was that the translators took the view that the most common and most complete readings were more likely to be accurate, whereas in other versions older manuscripts are given greater weight.
    Yes, there are some ropey translations out there, but not all.
    BTW - another fly in the unguent: since the Genesis events are pre-Babel, they are transmitted to us in a language other than the original, unknown tongue - call it Nostratic, Wen Yen or whatever. It wasn't Hebrew - there's enough internal linguistic evidence in it, even without the use of comparitive methods.
  17. On the general topic of teaching about origins, and noting an earlier quotation from St Augustine, the following seems relevant:
    Why evolution should be taught in church http://goo.gl/V2Uo7
    I suggest that evolution should also be taught in RE (RS) otherwise the subject is in danger not only of exposing religion to ridicule (see St Augustine) but at the same time discriminating against humanism.
    Allan Hayes,
    Humanist Representative, Leicester SACRE
  18. I'm so, so sorry - my dear, esteemed comrade (and you may come to find that I don't say things which are not meant) but, as a Humanist you really cannot be allowed to tell us what ought to be taught in Church.
    Schools present (or at least should do) as many viewpoints as is practicable; they are places of education. Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues etc, represent their faith, and only their faith. They are places of worship; this is neither right nor wrong, it just is.
  19. Let me also add that the Theory of Evolution derives from science, and should be taught by peroperly educated people - science teachers. I wouldn't like some physicist coming into my classroom to blunder his way through a topic in which he has not been trained, nor should my comrades in sciences have to put up with my mistakes in trying to do their jobs. Fair play, now.
  20. Dear Sardonicus I certainly am not telling people what should be taught in Church. I merely provide food for thought – quotations from two Christians, St Augustine and Paul Wallace (a MDiv student)
    I must however say that I find the following from the Wallace article very refreshing
    Keeping this beauty and wonder and mystery from those who come to church in search of God is simply unfair. By keeping the best of modern science out of the church, a disservice is done not only to those who come looking for God, but to society at large. With regard to teaching evolution in RE:
    I hope that you agree that humanism should be part of RE. If so it seems to me to follow that the humanist creation story should be included and that RE teachers should be equipped/helped to include it – not the scientific details but the broad story.


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