Things I Learned in Elementary School

I attended a private Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School for 3rd-6th grade (1980-1984). I learned many things there. This is an incomplete list:

  • Attending church on Sunday instead of Saturday, the true and proper Sabbath, is akin to deliberately celebrating someone’s birthday on the wrong day. Those who do so will likely not go to Heaven.
  • The Bible, specifically the King James Bible translated to English, is the literal truth. Books written before and after that contradict this book are wrong.
  • The Earth was literally created in six days, approximately 6,000 years ago. Those who insist on this nonsense about dinosaurs being hundreds of millions of years older than humans and the Earth being billions of years old are disregarding the Bible and will likely not go to Heaven. Fossils are a test of faith. If dinosaurs did exist, they were contemporaneous with humans.
    • Accordingly, there was no such thing as a caveman. The first humans were Adam and Eve, and they looked and acted like us.
    • Evolution is an incorrect model for understanding the origin of species. Every plant, animal, and human was created as they exist today. By God. On days three, five, and six.
  • Before the Fall of Man and banishment from the Garden of Eden:
    • It did not rain. Plants were hydrated by dew forming on them in the morning.
    • The temperature was perfect. Adam and Eve did not need clothes. All environmental discomfort is the result of Man’s sin.
    • No animals were eaten for food as the trees of the Garden provided manna. The practice of eating flesh of animals was a result of Man’s sins.
  • God gave Man dominion over the Earth. It is designed by God to sustain humanity. It is not possible to irreparably damage the Earth in such a way as to make it uninhabitable. (This was explained to me in the context of nuclear war. Because humans cannot possibly harm the Earth and Judgment Day will come soon, it is not necessary to consider the risk of nuclear war destroying all of humanity.) Similarly, overfishing, overhunting, overfarming are impossible concepts only seriously considered by the unfaithful. (I see similar arguments now about anthropogenic climate change. Many faithful believe that it is literally impossible for humans to damage the climate.)
  • Eating pork and shellfish is a sin. God is watching over lunch hour.
  • Wearing jewelry or makeup or clothing which shows too much skin are sins. (This was much more relevant to my female classmates. I don’t think I ever even combed my hair during elementary school.)
  • There was a Flood. God drowned every human and animal on Earth except for Noah, a few other humans, and the animals on the Ark. All contemporary humans and animals are descended from those few humans and animals.
  • The Barry Manilow song “I Write The Songs”¬†was the result of possession by an evil spirit. I can’t remember if he was possessed by Satan or a lesser devil. We listened to a tape recording about this multiple times.
  • Consumption of caffeine and meat are not sins, but they are bad for you.
  • Jesus Christ will return to the Earth “soon” (all speculated dates are now in our past). This will be the End of the World and a bad day. Get your soul in order before then.
  • There is no afterlife before Judgment Day. Souls of dead humans are in some kind of suspended sleep-like state until then. The soul cannot be separated from the body. Ghosts and other spirits do not exist. Fiction about such or belief in such is sinful.
  • The story of the Tower of Babel as told in Genesis is literally true. The origin of the multitude of natural human languages is not due to separate cultural evolution. There are multiple languages because humans dared to attempt to build a tower that would reach Heaven and God did not approve.
  • The story of the Binding of Isaac is literally true. Killing your son because God told you to is virtuous behavior.
  • At the End of the World, all dead humans will be resurrected in intact corporeal form. Then all humans who have ever lived will be judged. My curiosity as to how this would work for those cremated or otherwise dismembered was left unsatisfied.

You may think I am joking or exaggerating about some of these. I am not. The teachers who told us these things were serious. Many of these things were frequently repeated. I was very skeptical of these claims and grew up to be an atheist, but I often wonder how much of an influence those teachers had on my classmates and what they believe. I wonder how teachers around the world are shaping young minds today.