Sunday, June 5, 2011

Science Sunday - A Few Last Thoughts On Studying Paleontology With Children, From a Creationist Perspective

We ended our "official" dinosaur study yesterday, with a trip to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, where we posed with Big Mike for a quick photo...

...before wandering into the museum to see the Wankel T. Rex, Big Mike represents. Before Sue, it was the most complete (90%) T.Rex skeleton ever found.

We touched fossils of dinosaur bone, and a woolly mammoth tooth.

We viewed real maiasaura eggs, fossilized of course.

And, we got to take a peek into the femur of B.Rex, to see the medullary bone, that led Dr. Mary Schweitzer to announce, "It's a girl, and she's pregnant!"

Then, we moved on to astronomy in the planetarium, biology in the hall of frogs (so cool!), history on the living history farm, and just general fun in the children's Explore Yellowstone room.

With an eight year old boy in the house, we won't be completely leaving dinosaurs behind, but for now, as a family we're ready to move on.

Before we do though, I have a few last thoughts on studying paleontology with children, for my fellow Christian homeschool mothers.

  • Whenever possible stay out of the creation vs. evolution debate. The science has become so detailed, and field specific, unless you have a doctorate in paleontology, geology, zoology, micro-biology, or some such thing, you're probably going to be in over your head.

  • When you do have to jump into the debate, remember the old saying - "It's better to keep your mouth shut, and be thought a fool, than to open it, and remove all doubt." Or, if you want a verse, there's James 1: 19-20

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

  • Instead, if you want to cast doubt on the theories of evolution, or secular paleontology, take the path of the historian. There's nothing like taking a look at what scientists believed with the utmost certainty 10, 20, or even 100 years ago, to make you question the validity of their present claims. Much like giving birth to six children, over ten years will shake your faith in the knowledge of the medical community.

  • Keep in mind the metaphor of the duck and rabbit, taught by philosophy professors to their freshman classes. Sometimes, we can look at the same evidence and see a rabbit, while others will see a duck. Our perceptions are just different.

Jack Horner, in his book How to Build a Dinosaur, quoted Mary Schweitzer as saying science is like a football game, and those studying creation science are trying to play basketball on the field. I would prefer to say evolutionists are trying to play a game of football on the basketball court.

Either way, I agree with Dr. Schweitzer, that the whole thing can get kind of messy.

Still, it is a lot of fun to take a look at paleontology, especially if you like mysteries. We found going to the museum, and actually getting to see, and touch some of what we've been reading about, was fascinating, even more so, since almost all of the fossils we've been reading about have been found right here, in our own state.

But, just in case you really, really like debate, and want to jump in yourself, let me suggest checking out this You Tube video, of Dr. Marc Surtees (PhD in Zoology), refuting some of the current theory being put forward by a segment of paleontologists, that modern birds (or avian dinosaurs) evolved from what we used to call dinosaurs, and what children are now being taught to call non-avian dinosaurs.

For more science themed ideas and projects for children, check out this week's Science Sunday link-up, hosted by Adventures in Mommydom.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Very interesting post. I always wondered how creationists approach paleontology, and your post provides a lot of insights. I do agree that paleontology is a very changing field, and who knows what discoveries await us in the future.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Natalie - There are a number of creationist scientists who are researching away in fields like paleontology - not tryint to prove the Bible, or the young earth theories, but approaching science from the possibility of creation,a young earth, and a global flood in earths history. We're not scientists, but nothing we saw in Bozeman contradicted what we believe from the Bible, except the conclusions the evolutionary scientists were drawing.

Phyllis said...

You have much wisdom.
I found when we went to a dino museum in TN that often one theory is based on the evidence of another theory, which sometimes makes the whole argument extra shaky. I think some people feel tricked when theory is presented as fact.

Debbie said...

Looks like a fun field trip. I love your advice and approach. Thank you for your wisdom and advice as I am sure it will come in handy here in our home in time.

Joyful Learner said...
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Little Wonders' Days said...

I've really enjoyed this post. We also believe in creation and I find it so hard to read some science books with the kids. Especially ones regarding prehistoric issues. Have you found any good books to recommend?

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Little Wonder Days - I haven't found any Christian science texts I'm real excited about - too often they get preachy, and into guess work, or spend all of their effort trying to disprove evolution, instead of just focusing in on the science. If I find one though, I'll certainly post about it!

Ticia said...

I really love the Apologia books because they're more of a "isn't what God made wonderful," and in each chapter end it with pointing it back to God, but ti could also be too preachy.

I'm not that good at shutting up and not arguing.

Christy Killoran said...

I LOVE this post!!!!!!! What a great way to end your dinosaur study.

Joyful Learner said...

Amen to everything you said. :)

I have a hard time not arguing too.

Tonya @ The Traveling Praters said...

Great post! I just had the opportunity to see Sue (well an actual replica from the Field Museum) and she was very impressive. Sue was the highlight of the dinosaur exhibit. I was disappointed that so much of the exhibit was based on speculation but of course presented as fact- but I LOVED the historical aspect of how Sue was found, the battle that was fought over who owned the fossil, etc.