“Were Adam and Eve on Earth with the dinosaurs?”
“How could that be if God created the earth in 7 days and dinosaurs were around a long, long time ago, before people?”
“So, the bones archeologists found of the ‘first human’ were the bones of Adam or Eve?”
“Are we all on the same family tree?”
“Where, exactly, IS Eden?”
“When we die, will we even want to ask God these questions? Will we know everything? Will we even care since we’ll be in God’s presence?”
These are real questions that came up with my teens this past Wednesday night in our 11th and 12th grade PSR class. The class is not, actually, a bible study this semester. We are supposed to be studying Theology of the Body for Teens; and, tonight’s chapter was entitled “Naked Without Shame.” And, that’s how we started with Adam and Eve, talking about original justice and original nakedness.
Needless to say, we didn’t exactly cover the chapter of TOB that I had intended. But, we DID discuss a lot of different topics including Church and science, heaven, final judgement, and, somehow, the Shroud of Turin.
As the topics and questions swirled around with sincere curiosity on the faces of the teens, I came to realize, again, what an incredible responsibility I have as a youth minister and teacher of the faith. The teens have found a place where they know it’s okay to ask the tough questions. They know they won’t be laughed at or ridiculed for wondering. And, that means I have to be prepared. I have to stay one step ahead of the teens, anticipating what they might ask on a given night and praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give them correct and complete answers. And, I have to pray for the ability to listen with love, so that they will continue to ask these questions and thousands more.
In all honesty, there’s no way I could’ve anticipated the conversation of this night. Dinosaurs, creationism, evolution, and science aren’t exactly my forte, but I did my best to give the Church’s teachings on these topics. These teens, they’re keeping me on my toes and I couldn’t be more grateful. Without them, I might not be growing in MY faith in quite the same way.