“I Love Studing Dinosaurs:” Everyday Creationism

Folks like me often ask why there are so many young-earth creationists in America.  How is it possible, we wonder, that nearly half of American adults agree humanity was created in “pretty much its present form” within the past 10,000 years?

The answer seems simple: Creationism is passed along just like any other idea.  Children learn a complex bundle of understandings from their homes, schools, parents, friends, and acquaintances.  In the case of young-earth creationism, kids learn what they are taught.

Leading young-earth creationist Ken Ham shared recently some of the cards he’s received from children.  Like the image here, these cards mostly included pictures of dinosaurs and adorably misspelled sentiments of support.  The cards give us outsiders a glimpse into the ways young people adopt the ideas of their home communities.

I Love Studing Dinosaurs

Source: Ken Ham’s Around the World Blog

Ken Ham calls his outreach “Rescuing the Children.”  Ham promised that his organization, Answers in Genesis, would continue to do “our best to reach more kids than ever to help raise up a generation that will stand on the authority of God’s Word, defend the Christian faith, and proclaim the gospel.”

For most evolution educators, this is precisely the problem.  Answers in Genesis is doing a good job.  Lots of children are learning that Biblical birds and dinosaur skeletons somehow roamed the earth together.  Thousands of children are learning an impossible science.

For those of us outside the circles of young-earth creationism, the mechanism by which these outlandish ideas are passed down can seem mysterious and even sinister.  But cards like the one above show the everyday, banal nature of creationist education.  Like non-creationist kids, creationist kids learn what they are taught.  They imbibe the culture of their homes, families, and churches.  There is nothing mysterious and sinister about the process, even if we do not think the ideas passed along are correct.

The lesson for evolution education is clear: pouring more mainstream science on people will not do the trick.  What is needed is a thoroughgoing cultural campaign that understands creationism on its own terms.

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