Beware of Brainwashing Bears

With our youth being bombarded by all kinds of harmful influences, you'd think reading children's nature books would be a safe bet. Well, if that's what you had in mind-- watch out. You just might find your children being indoctrinated in a non-Christian naturalistic worldview. One would expect nature books to teach about the natural sciences, which involve the observation and classification of the physical world. That's fine. But instead, many of these books teach naturalism: the denial that the universe contains a supernatural dimension. An example of this is the popular nature book for young children entitled The Berenstein Bear Guide to Nature. This introductory science book teaches about scientific classification by picturing the journey of a bear family through the rich variety of the natural world. The Guide to Nature is a good introduction to natural science--that is, until you get beyond the introduction. On the third page Pa Bear makes an astounding statement. He informs his small audience that "Nature is all that is, or was, or ever will be." Thus at the very outset the Guide to Nature has Pa Bear spouting the classic definition of naturalism--a definition that leaves no room for the existence of God. Another popular book for slightly older children, the late Isaac Asimov's The Birth and Death of Stars, states that our bodies and the stars contain the same kinds of atoms. That is a mere statement of fact, but Asimov doesn't stop there. He concludes that we are "children of the stars"--created by the explosion of the stars. In doing so Asimov has moved beyond science to the assertion that no supernatural agency was involved in man's creation. Or take a look at the colorful nature encyclopedia entitled How Nature Works, published by Reader's Digest Books. Aimed at junior-high readers, the book is packed with fascinating experiments and beautiful illustrations--along with a good dose of naturalistic philosophy. A chapter called "What is Life?" states that life arose from "the gradual development of complex chemicals that could replicate by using the simple compounds around them." The book even supplies a colorful board game that demonstrates natural selection to help young readers understand that there was no guiding force behind the appearance of the human species. It's not surprising that we find even children's books permeated with the denial of the supernatural. In his book Reason in the Balance Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson writes that "naturalism . . . is the virtually unquestioned assumption that underlies not only natural science but intellectual work of all kinds." The implications of the spread of naturalism as a guiding philosophy are immense. For as Johnson notes, if God did not create humankind, then humankind must have created God. Those of us who know that God is not a figment of our imagination need to make sure our children understand what is at stake in this fundamental question of origins. And keep your eyes open as you select books for your children. Read them carefully. After all, Pa Bear may be a good nature guide, but you don't want him teaching naturalism to your child.  


Chuck Colson


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