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Monday, 8 September 2008

Two new Guest-Post Series this Fall

As I indicated back in May, I am planning to publish a variety of guest-post series on this blog. The first of these series Evangelicals, Evolution, and Academics was published in the spring. I am pleased to announce that two more series are set for this fall. In the first Marlowe Embree will discuss the social psychology of the origins debate. In the second, George Murphy, Terry Gray, and David Congdon will be discussing George’s paper “Roads to Paradise and Perdition: Christ, Evolution, and Original Sin which appeared in the June 2006 edition of Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith (PSCF).

Series #1: The Social Psychology of the Origins Debate (Starting Sept. 14)
Marlowe Embree teaches psychology at the University of Wisconsin Colleges. He is currently conducting some original research on whether personality differences affect a person’s conclusions regarding creation and evolution, and how likely they are to change their views. Using this unique perspective, and an excellent background in both the social sciences & science / faith issues, Marlowe will lead us in a discussion on the social psychology of the origins debate. In this 7-part series starting next Sunday, Marlowe will examine how our attitudes and beliefs are formed, how bias and prejudice affect our interaction with others, and how our thinking styles and personality profiles are important factors in how we make decisions, all within the context of the origins debate.

This, I believe, is a very important topic for Evangelical evolutionary creationists. Our task is, on the one hand, to assure Evangelicals that the acceptance of mainstream science does not imply an abandonment of faith in Christ. On the other hand, we must also assure those considering a faith commitment that they need not abandon scientific integrity when placing their trust in Christ. When pursuing these tasks, it is vital that we understand the motivations, attitudes, and biases that exist on all sides of the origins debate – including of course our own motivations, attitudes, and biases. Finally, we should be undaunted by the claims of some psychologists that their scientific findings make the idea of the divine redundant. Most of us have stared into this abyss at least once before (in biology) and God brought us through that experience with our faith intact; God can do it again for the sciences that directly study our humanity.

Series #2: Evolution and Original Sin (Starting Oct. 16)
Those that follow this blog closely know that John Polkinghorne’s work has been very influential in my own thinking. George Murphy and Polkinghorne are similar in many ways. Both began their careers as physicists and then later turned to the field of theology and pastoral work. Both are from “mainline” protestant denominations with roots in the reformation (Polkinghorne - Anglican; Murphy – Lutheran), but both hold strongly orthodox theological views even though many in their respective denominations may not. And both are doing serious (and urgently required) theological work on the interface between orthodox Christian faith and modern science, in particular the most difficult theological implications of biological evolution.

One example of this is George’s essay on original sin referenced above. Beginning in mid-October, I will be publishing a 7-part series on this essay that will include a summary of the original article by George, responses from Terry, David, and possibly a third person, George’s reaction to these responses, and finally George’s answers to questions from various readers.

This series will be somewhat of an experiment in two ways. First, it will be conducted like a moderated debate/dialogue with “the microphones” being passed around for audience questions at the conclusion. In this case, the microphones are comments; this means that comments will be turned off during the first several posts. Second, I am hoping that this series will encourage others to launch similar initiatives focusing on other articles from the PSCF. The journal has published many excellent articles on the interaction between faith and science, and I’m somewhat disappointed that there seems to be little discussion of these articles outside of the ASA. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places. Whatever the case, I think serious, thoughtful discussion of these articles in the blogsphere has to be a positive step.

Future Series
As some readers may have noticed, these series don’t quite match the plan I laid out in the spring. Well, since this whole blog project is somewhat of an experiment, all I can say is this: expect the unexpected.

A brief update on two of the series mentioned earlier:

I have received a few commitments and tentative commitments to participate in my “Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Church” series. I’m thinking of publishing this in the winter. However, right now I need a few more participants to make this successful. If you know of a pastor, elder, other church leader, or church layman who can provide an interesting perspective on the response to evolution in the Evangelical church (local church, denomination, parachurch organization, or the wider Evangelical church) and might be interested in participating, please send me an email or have them contact me directly.

Finally, I firmly believe that it is important to hear Evangelical student’s views on science and faith. I’m looking for a wide variety of Evangelical students to recount their experiences and/or provide their perspectives for a “Student’s Perspective” series. Actually, I haven’t put much thought into this yet and have done no recruiting; I’m open to ideas. If you have general comments on how I should proceed, leave a comment here. If you have something specific you would like to mention or discuss, please send me an email.


Dennis Venema said...

looking forward to these - they both look great!

J. B. Hood said...

Sorry to just drop a question in. I'm wondering if any of the ID folks have responded to genetic data presented by folks like Falk, i.e., evidence for lineage in genetic data including non-functioning data.
Many thanks, I appreciate the site.

RBH said...

Well, looks like my students in the seminar on the history of the evolution/creationism controversy just got another reading assignment. :)

They're reading Cuvier and Paley this week.

Cliff Martin said...

These two series sound great. Thank you, Steve, for assembling so many useful essays. I appreciate the level of discussion when you bring academic guests. I am looking forward to reading the posts and comments.

Steve Martin said...

Welcome JB:

I think that, in general, the critics of evolution have only started to respond to the genetic data and IMHO they are not doing a a very good job. However note that a) I am no means an expert and b) I’m probably pretty biased :-). It might be better to ask the question of someone with an ID perspective. Check out … Colin - he might be a good person to ask (he reads this blog & comments occasionally).