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Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Evangelicals, Evolution, and Academics: Conclusion

This is the final installment in our “Evangelicals, Evolution, and Academics” guest-post series.

After six weeks and thirteen posts we have come to the end of our series on Evangelicals, Evolution, and Academics. As nearly every post indicated, the Evangelical engagement with evolution in academia is one characterized by considerable tension and conflict. It is a conflict that, to most observers, will not end anytime soon.

However, many Evangelicals, including all those who participated in this series, hope and pray that the continuation of this conflict will be short lived. We want our community to rediscover an authentic theology of creation, and to stop relegating the opening words of scripture to simple science and history. We want science classes in our homeschools, in our Christian schools, and in the public schools to be viewed as opportunities to explore the wonders of creation, all of God’s creation, even processes of creation that seem threatening to our faith. It is these sometimes threatening opportunities that can enable robust spiritual growth.

There is certainly hope. Many evangelical scientists, and evangelical biologists in particular, see no conflict between their orthodox Christian faith and the evidence for biological evolution. Even though anti-evolutionism often remains strong in their churches and college affiliations, these evangelical scientists have worked hard to present the truth contained in both of God’s books. This presentation of the truth frequently takes courage as well as healthy doses of all nine fruits-of-the-spirit (Gal 5:22,23).

Although the implications of biological evolution can seem faith shaking, they can also be faith affirming. This is certainly true in Christian universities where the support of Christian educators can help students work through the theological minefields. However, it can also be true in secular universities, institutions that are often ideal environments to challenge and deepen one’s faith.

This series has been a learning experience for me personally. I very much appreciated the perspectives and experiences shared by all contributors. Some presented ideas that were completely new to me; others helped me clarify thoughts that I was not able to articulate adequately. Some gave me encouragement; others challenged me. But all of them enriched my own spiritual and intellectual journey. So to Keith, Dennis, Richard, Stephen, Karl, Gordon, Douglas, and Ted – thanks. Thanks a lot.


Steve Ranney said...

Regarding the discussion in a wider context, an ad in The Atlantic featured a response by Keith Miller to the question of whether science makes belief in God obsolete. Yu can see his response and others at http://www.templeton.org/belief/.

The templeton foundation I believe is a group that encourages the discussion of faith type questions in the public square.

Cliff Martin said...

Thank you, Steve, for this series. I have benefited from each of the posts.

Perhaps its time to resume an earlier discussion (was it here or elsewhere? I don't remember) about bringing E.C. and other like-minded believers together for a conference. I know I would travel across the continent for such a conference.

I don't know who might get the ball rolling. But I nominate you!

Steve Martin said...

Hi Cliff,
Well thanks. Unfortunately I know just enough about conference organization to realize I couldn't do this. I suspect that rolling ball would crush me :-).

Steve: I went to the site & didn't see anything by Keith Miller, just Kenneth Miller. Was that a typo on your part or am I not looking in the right place?

Steve Ranney said...

Yes sorry, I mean Kenneth Miller, author of Finding Darwin's God and a new book just out, Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul.

BTW I saw on Amazon a book that is going to be published soon: The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth by Davis A. Young and Ralph Stearley. One of the first books I read on all this was Davis Young's Christianity and the Age of the Earth.

In addition to Keith Miller, editor of Perspectives on an Evolving Creation there is another Keith Miller, author of an old classic The Taste of New Wine, to be discussed on some other blog ..

Cliff Martin said...

Steve M.,

When you roll a ball, the idea is to roll it away from you. The best position for you to take is uphill. Then the ball can't possibly roll back on you and crush you. Ideally, ball rollers only touch the ball once, after which the ball is passed off to others. I think of you because of the long list of evangelical leaders and E.C. bloggers among your personal contacts.

At this point, I'd just like to keep the conference idea alive.

Jimpithecus said...

I would certainly welcome such a conference. That would be fantastic. This has been a great series. Thank you so much for organizing it.

Steve Martin said...

Hi Cliff, Jim:
I think a conference would be a great idea, but I'm wondering what the objective would be. Fellowship? Sharing ideas? Promoting EC within the Evangelical community? All of the above?

I know the ASA already has a great conference that accomplishes a lot of those goals (hint: maybe that is something you want to join :-) ). One of the drawbacks is that it is almost entirely composed of members of the scientific community. Which is one of the main problems we have - the EC worldview is supported almost exclusively by those with a good understanding of science; there are very few theologians, pastors and other church leaders involved. Wouldn't we have that same problem?

Second point: I believe one of the most postive steps we could take would be the release of an Evangelical statement on evolution - see my post Promoting a postive relationship between faith and science in Evangelical Churches. Obviously we need a whole lot more support to get that going.

Cliff Martin said...

I think a conference would be a great idea, but I'm wondering what the objective would be. Fellowship? Sharing ideas? Promoting EC within the Evangelical community? All of the above?

All of the above or any of the above, as far I am concerned. I would fly across the continent for an opportunity to spend a few days with you, Gordon, Steve D., Jim, Steve R., Mike (etc.). If a Howard Van Til or a Richard Colling were to be brought in to speak, I think we could project attendance in the hundreds. What do you think?

Richard Colling said...

I would be pleased and flattered to accept such an invitation. I am going for two weeks to speak at 6 cities in Australia beginning this Sunday. I am excited to share that message that all of you have articulated so well here. I will reference this blog series to the people there.

I am not pleased with how things continue to transpire here at Olivet. It is a tragic case study in how scientific ignorance, fear, and personal religious power agendas lead to misinformation, then deception, then outright falsehood, corrupting the integrity and credibility of the real Christian message of truth taught by Jesus. I have been reticent to speak, hoping that truth and integrity would once again be valued. Sadly, it appears that some Christian leaders will resort to killing their very own if the creationist crowd demands it.

I try each day to remain focused on the calling I believe God has for each of us who are trying to communicate that Biology and the Bible need not be seen as incompatible. This is the future for the Christian faith, and this is where we as Christians and science educators are called to stand on truth and principle. Thanks for all your contributions.