In the comments section to the previous post, a reader St. Andy asks this question:
To anyone who wants to answer. This site has quite literally been a Godsend to me. I've always loved science but until about 5 years ago, I assumed you had put your brain on a shelf to be a christian. No big bang, no creation, etc. Since then I've come to understand the bible in a much deeper way. Believe it or not, it was Obi Wan Kenobi who made it click when he told Luke "you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend on your point of view". I thought, knowing what we know now, how could I explain to a civilization who thinks the earth is flat and a few hundred miles diameter, how everything came to be. Would I talk about relativity, red shift, inflation theory, DNA, genes, etc, and spend hundreds of volumes explaining the science, or give something they can understand, like genesis. It's obvious really. God wanted us to progress in science at our own pace, but wanted us to know that everything had a beginning and He made it all. No, Noah didn't have a penguin, a kangaroo, or a western diamond back rattlesnake on the ark. But it's still true that HIS whole world flooded and he had 2 of every animal in the world that he knew. I now look at science as learning about God, and He becomes more incredible to me every day!
Anyway, my kids are in 6th and 7th grades in a gifted school and in Florida, we have a prepaid college program and they both have 4 years tuition paid for. How do I avoid sending them to the Dawkins and Krauses in academia. I'm not saying it needs to be a christian school, but I'd like to avoid the atheist agendas if possible. I'm accused online of believing in an old man in the sky, flying spaghetti monsters, Santa Claus, etc, and I don't know what I could expect a college student to withstand. Any suggestions on how to identify these institutions, or suggestions on how to prepare my kids for the "smart people don't believe in silly things like God" mentality?
St. Scott Church already provided an encouraging reply. My response follows:
First of all, you're already doing a good job being a parent who is interested in science and open to truth in every area! That will serve your kids well.
Not to panic you, but it's true that a LOT of kids who were raised in the Church fall away when they go off to secular colleges. (Though many of these people come back to the Church later in life, when they settle down and have kids of their own.) But I don't think this is usually because they get argued (or more likely mocked) out of it by people like Krauss or Dawkins. In person, most atheists aren't all that evangelical about it, actually. Atheists who argue about it on the internet aren't a typical sample!
Anyway, I think freshman college students are more likely to stop going to Church, and slowly drift away. Or they'll get drunk and have sex with somebody at a party, and then feel like they can't really call themselves a Christian anymore. Which is sad, because it indicates that they never really understood that salvation is by God's mercy, and not based on them being a good person who never makes serious mistakes!
A lot of Christian parents think they are raising their children with Christian values, but they're only really teaching them to be a "good kid", and then when they become an adult, it isn't real to them anymore. It's biblical and proper for children to be obedient and responsible, but this is not the same thing as having a personal relationship with Christ. Obviously you can't do this for them. You can only show by example what it looks like.
So a lot of parents get into a panic and think they have to send their kids to a Christian college or else they'll stop being Christian. But that might just be postponing the time when the person has to choose to follow God themselves, without people telling them what to do! (For all I know, your kids are already like that, and you don't need to worry about it.)
There's nothing wrong with going to a Christian school, if that's what your kids end up wanting to do, but what's even better is if your children could be the kind of people who are secure in their faith and who have lots of nonreligious friends that they lead towards Christ. Actually that goes for right now as well.
Anyway, I agree with St. Scott that the exposure method is best. They'll eventually hear it anyway, so talk to them about it now (in limited quantities and in an age appropriate way, of course). Talk to them about why you believe what you believe, and why other people believe differently. Show them one of these online comments, and see if you can get them to explain to you why it's a misunderstanding of what we believe. Teach them the skill of separating out the good from the bad (for example, it often happens that a writer says some nifty things about science but throws in a jibe at religion, so you can ask whether the one thing really follows from the other).
But of course, also give them a lot of good Christian books, for example by Sts. C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, N.T. Wright, Dorothy Sayers, A.W. Tozer, E. Stanley Jones, Augustine, George MacDonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, or, if they like historical fiction, Elizabeth Goudge. Of course there are many more authors to choose from; it depends on their particular interests. (Encouraging them to study the Bible goes without saying, of course. But you could see if your church denomination has a Bible quizzing program or something like that for teenagers.)
Just having encouragement from a parent who is interested in science and open to truth is already a lot! Teach them to ask questions and don't be afraid of saying "I don't know" instead of giving pat answers. It's better to teach your kids that you can trust in Christ even when you have a lot of questions, then to give them a long list of answers and make it seem like faith depends on getting every one of them right.
The way a lot of Christians are raised, if they start doubting whether e.g. the Noah story was 100% literal in all of its details, they feel like they may as well be disbelieving in the Resurrection of Jesus! But one of these two events is at the core of our faith, and the other is at the periphery.
Which college your kids go to should obviously depend on their own choices and interests, and it's a long time before this decision has to be made. If they are truly seeking God's will, the Holy Spirit may guide them in a direction which neither they nor you expect.
In general, Ivy Leagues and other elite universities tend to have the academic environment which is most hostile to Christian faith. I would not recommend places like Harvard, Yale, or U. Chicago as places to study theology, for instance. But they might be fine for the sciences. In my experience, secular science departments are more accepting of religious people than the humanities departments, actually. Maybe not in Biology, because of all the conflicts involving Evolution.
A lot of secular schools have strong Christian social groups such as InterVarsity or Cru which can provide support for Christian students. Really, it depends a lot on the school. And there will always be some churches in the area where people are willing to pick students up from the college dorms, if one inquires sufficiently.
There are many fine Christian colleges out there, though some are Christian-in-name only, or so fundamentalist as to be embarrassing. As good examples, I have family members who attended Seattle Pacific and Westmont, which are excellent liberal arts colleges, seriously Christian but not fundamentalist. But they're over on the West Coast. I'm not familiar with the situation near Florida, but a good high school counselor would know. Very few Christian schools are also highly ranked research universities (although there are a few, like Notre Dame or Baylor). Although this matters more for graduate education than college.
I went to St. John's College, which I would say is a rare example of a school where most students aren't religious, yet theological books (including the Bible) are on the curriculum and taken seriously. This is a really weird college, not for most people (and rather expensive without financial aid) but for a few people, it's one of the best things that ever happened to them.
There are no wrong choices here. What matters is where God is leading them as individuals.
It's a little tricky to give advice here, because some parents are over-protective, and some are under-protective, and the advice that is right for one, is wrong for the other. If you're worrying about college when they're in 7th grade, you probably belong more to the first category. :-) I'd advise you to relax and trust God, who knows better than any of us do what each of us need.