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Monday, 15 March 2010

Growing up Science-Literate in the Japanese Church and encountering YEC in the American Church: A Paleontologist’s Personal Perspective.

This is a guest-post by Jim Kidder and is the sixth installment in the series "Evangelicals, Evolution, and the Church". Jim is a librarian, palaeoanthropologist, and evolutionary biologist with an all-consuming interest in apologetics and controversies in science and religion. He publishes the weblog Science and Religion: A View from an Evolutionary Creationist/Theistic Evolutionist.

I was born and raised in Japan and from my earliest memories there was always science. My father was an archaeologist who spent most of this time excavating the prehistoric sites that littered the area (including our back yard in the city of Mitaka) and teaching about them at International Christian University. Dates like 35,000 years, or older were part of the commonplace conversation around our dinner table. In fact, my parents rarely argued about anything other than when a particular event had taken place. It simply did not occur to any of us sitting around the table that there was another interpretation of the geological and archaeological record.

We attended church at the local university church, which was not the liveliest house of worship. The ceiling was a good seventy feet overhead to make room for the gigantic pipe organ in the front. Voices were, subsequently, quite amplified and the general tone was quite solemn. This was probably a contributing factor in the lack of spiritual growth during my preteens.

Early Scientific Education
My school experience at the American School in Japan (ASIJ) based in Tokyo was comparable to that of a very good college prep school, with a considerable number of offerings in literature, history and science. I took biology in the ninth grade from a man very passionate about science and I came to love it as well. Along with a generous amount of comparative anatomy, there was a smattering of evolution, taking the form of systematics rather than actual instruction in the basic tenets of the theory, itself. Eldredge and Gould had produced their seminal works on punctuated equilibrium a few years before so the science world was still abuzz with the possibility that evolution as espoused by George Gaylord Simpson and Sewall Wright, names I did not know at the time but later became quite familiar with, was not the be all and end all that it appeared to be. No, Punk-eek was in. Notably lacking in my science education and in the educational climate of the high school was recent earth creationism. I simply never encountered it. Not from any of the faculty nor from my peers. There simply was no controversy.

Personal Spiritual Growth
As my walk with Christ became more serious, I left the campus church and began to go to a Tokyo branch of the Union Theological Seminary (TUTS). It became clear, after a few more years of high school, however, that this church had a somewhat liberal bent and that elements of New Age thought were quite prevalent. When one is in high school, one does not initially challenge these things and I was no exception. Especially since TUTS was where most of the attractive girls went. Nevertheless, challenge them I did.

I eventually left this church as well and began to attend house churches, based all over the city that ranged from Pentecostal to Lutheran to your good old fashioned non-denominational service. What is remarkable about these gatherings in hind sight is how little discussion there was on science. The focus was on the Lordship of Christ and even when apologetics was studied, it was only in the context of defending one’s faith in the larger sense. Science simply never entered the picture, almost as if it were a taboo subject. It may very well have been but I was none the wiser.

My senior year was spent with my academic interests neatly split between history and palaeontology but, at this stage, history won out and that is what I decided to pursue as an undergraduate once I left the confines of ASIJ. One of the papers I wrote in my senior year of high school, however, dealt heavily with paleontological material and early hominids. Although the human palaeontology bug did not bite me then, delving into that literature for the first time was exhilarating—especially since there was nobody to tell me that I shouldn’t. Even my friends at school who knew of my interests and were Christians did not seem to have any qualms about it. I am convinced that learning about this evidence at a comparatively early age deeply affected my ability to accept it in light of my Christianity.

Moving to America and Encountering YEC Ideas
I graduated from high school in 1980 and, in one of the more traumatic moments in my life, moved from the safe confines of Tokyo, Japan to the unknown wilderness that was the United States of America. Fortunately, I made friends with a growing group of Christians on campus and this mitigated the jarring experience somewhat. Two of these new friends invited me to go to church with them in the nearby town of Knoxville. A few weeks later, I walked into the sanctuary and peered at a bulletin board, on which local job adverts and news items were posted. One in particular caught my eye. It was for the East Tennessee Creation Science Association and they were advertising a meeting at a local church. The bulk of the flyer was, however, composed of several quotes from people that I have since become familiar with—Henry Morris, Duane Gish and Gary Bauer, about how bad the fossil record was, how good the evidence was for the world-wide flood of Noah, how the earth was only a few thousand years old and how evil evolution was.

I just stared…dumbfounded.

In my years of growing into my Christian faith in Japan, I had never encountered this mindset. I remember thinking “people really believe this??”

It had never occurred to me that what I came to know as the primeval history of Genesis was to be taken literally. I soon found that a great many people, including some of my newfound Christian friends, did read Genesis 1 as history and believed that God created the world in 7 literal 24-hour days. This began a lifelong interest in the different approaches to interpreting the early chapters of Genesis, the geological record, and evolution.

Reflecting on the Absence of YEC ideas in the Japanese Christian Community
In hindsight, I still find it puzzling that a movement that is so prevalent in evangelical circles in the United States, and has had such a profound political impact here, was virtually irrelevant in the Japanese Christian church. That Japan is a Christian mission field is probably a factor here. While Japan has a vast history of both Buddhist and Shinto thought, Christianity was a comparative newcomer to the stage and was not accepted in any way until after the early 1900s. Up until that point, Christians had been persecuted in the best Roman fashion. Nowadays the vast majority of Japanese are areligious. Consequently, there is so much focus on evangelizing Japanese with the basic sinner’s prayer that there is little time for other things. Even among the Christian foreign community, however, there is little emphasis on science and how it should be viewed. I have recently become aware that Creation Ministries International has a chapter in Japan but I never heard about it while I was there.

Today, I view myself as an evolutionary creationist (EC) / theistic evolutionist (TE). My experiences in Japan are largely responsible for this. To be sure, as with most people that take an EC perspective, I have many unanswered questions about the historicity of Adam, the place of the “pre-Adamites,” and how the fall can be reconciled with the scientific data. I trust that those questions will be answered in due time.

Sadly, I have had very little experience with Christians who grew up in other countries where these questions were asked. I know that, recently, there have been many groups that are “evangelizing” the Old World (Ken Ham just recently went to Japan) and that, as in the United States, the YEC perspective is more prevalent than it was even twenty years ago. I would love to hear some perspectives of those who grew up as Christians in other nations and how their churches addressed these origins questions. Was my experience in Japan unique?

45 comments:

Steve Martin said...

Well I grew up in the Canadian evangelical church whose situation is very similar to that of the American evangelical church - but that probably doesn't count :-).

I believe that until a few decades ago, YEC was only a serious factor in the North American church - ie. not even in the rest of the English speaking world. I too would be interested in perspectives from those from other places.

Jimpithecus said...

I think you are probably right. I know that Ken Ham really got things going in Australia before he emigrated and set up shop here in the U.S. I just know in Japan there was little to no presence at the time that I was growing up.

I grew up in Japan without being attached to a church tradition, largely because none was ever promoted in our house. We were broadly Presbyterian but much of my growth as a Christian was within the non-denominational evangelical church.

Jimpithecus said...

I am curious to see how the rise of Islamic creationism will play out in the coming years.

Ron said...

Jim,
How many of your Christian friends in Japan were from Missionary families? It seems to me that missionaries tend to be more focused on the mission of spreading the gospel and understand that scientific claims are just not part of the gospel (whatever Ken Ham says).

Jimpithecus said...

Ron,
Quite a few. Even though my father was a university professor, I was/am very good friends with a number of people that were MKs. (One of them comments regularly on my blog about how frustrating it is to find good home school science curricula). I would agree with your second point. It seemed to me that, since Japan was such a good mission field, nobody wanted to muddy the waters.

Simon Cozens said...

Things may have changed now; I was at the JEMA Church Planting Institute in Moto-Hakone back in 2007, and there was quite a bit of emphasis on creationism then from a couple of the speakers, particularly as an evangelistic tool in "overcoming" atheistic worldviews. And that was from Japanese pastors, not missionaies. Some German guy had a stall there and was giving out YEC materials too.

We don't have the YEC crazy in the UK at all, (to all intents and purposes) so going from the UK to Japan made me notice things the other way around.

On the whole, though, I think you're right. Japan is so science-savvy that questioning the basics is just going to make you look like an idiot.

Jimpithecus said...

Simon,
I wondered if it had. It seems to be filtering in everywhere as a result of the "radicalization" of the evangelical movement in the last thirty or so years. I left Japan as a permanent residence in 1980, when these groups were still finding their way.

Japan is so competitive economically, though, that most firms look at the bottom line and creationism won't do it for them and they won't support it financially in any way.

I also think that the YEC viewpoint will have a hard time getting a foothold simply because it does not have the huge evangelical base that it does in the U.S. To most Japanese, Christianity is a curiosity. YEC-based evangelism would make it even more peculiar.

Steve Martin said...

Hi Simon,
Thanks for your perspective as a missionary to Japan. That is very interesting (and kind of disturbing) that church planting and YEC ideas are becoming more entwined. How’s this for an analogy: spreading the gospel in Japan and leading with YEC ideas is like the early Jewish Christians going to Rome or Athens and starting their gospel presentation with a circumcision knife – “all right men, line up right hear & let’s get this over with – then we can talk about Jesus”.

Re: the UK, from my reading / interaction I’ve heard that YEC ideas are indeed making some headway in the Evangelical community in the UK the last few years. Since your perspective is that “We don’t have the YEC crazy in the UK at all”, I’m wondering if it depends on where you are located and/or which church community you are part of. In NA, it is pretty pervasive right across the board; maybe the problem hasn’t completely spread within the UK church yet.

Jimpithecus said...

Steve, that is a truly disturbing analogy. I also think it is dead accurate. I love the quote from Conrad Hyers:

The literalist, instead of opening up the treasurehouse of symbolic imagination, digresses into more and more ingenious and fantastic attempts at defending literalism itself. Again and again the real issue turns out to be not belief in divine creativity but belief in a particular theory of Scripture, not faith but security. The divine word and work ought to have better handles!

Not unlike the early Jewish Christians.

Kent said...

Hi Jim,

In missionary training, I was taught both to be slow to judge other cultures, and to be wary of imposing my cultural norms on the Biblical message. I think this helped me to eventually accept EC as a biblically consistent position.

The serious study of anthropology at Fuller Seminary (a good old-school evangelical institution) helped me understand that 1) all cultures have origin stories, and 2) most cultures do not understand truth in scientific terms. This led me to see that God needed to provide an origin story for his chosen people, and that it necessarily was not scientifically true in the modern sense.

Unfortunately the "fundamentalizing" that has infected the evangelical church as a whole, seems to be ever more dominant in my evangelical mission as well.

However, I do believe the Evangelical Church will eventually be forced to accept EC in order to reach the educated urban masses. If that does not do it, perhaps the melting of the polar ice caps will. Let's pray it does not come to that ☺

Ron said...

Kent’s comment is important and related to my missionary question. Missionaries need to be culturally sensitive to be effective and need to think. Well, we ALL should think but if you are in your evangelical cocoon why bother?. Maybe that is why so many missionaries run into trouble with their own mission boards over doctrinal matters.

Jimpithecus said...

Thanks for the comments Kent and Ron. I have this terrible image of YEC-based missionaries blindly pushing that view on bewildered locals a la that analogy that Steve gave.

The truly disturbing thing is that the vocal YEC arm of the evangelical church is almost acting like a cult, with the sole focus on origins to the exclusion of everything else in scripture. How can they not see that this is harmful, not just to themselves but to others, as well? If they take that zeal to other nations, it will only pervert the Gospel message of the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Allan Harvey said...

On the UK situation, I'm not there but it might help to make the distinction between YEC and anti-evolutionism.

While YEC may not be that prevalent, from secondhand sources I get the impression that anti-evolutionism is gaining influence or at least being more vocal. For example, the normally sane UK arm of Intervarsity Press recently put out a book of essays which from what I hear is pretty much along the lines of Discovery Institute propaganda.

Karl A. said...

At least in my neck of the woods (Islamic SE Asia), I haven't seen much evidence of YEC-pushing. There are bigger fish to fry. However, teaching of stories of the Old Testament, in which the Genesis stories are highly prominent, is on the rise due to oral storying approaches. In general I think this is a great thing. But given that this approach has been partially spearheaded by fundamentalist New Tribes Mission, I wouldn't be surprised if it typically comes with a specific hermeneutic.

Steve Martin said...

Hi Karl:
Interesting note on NTM. This is the mission that was prominent in my church growing up - plymouth brethren (PB) - and I believe that the PB have a huge influence on the mission (eg. NTM still has pre-trib dispensationalism in their statement of faith). Now at the time, PB to my knowledge were significantly weighted to Gap theory & not YEC. However, this I believe has changed in last decade or so. But whether Gap theory or YEC, this probably doesn't change the hermeneutic being pushed.

On telling the stories, I don't think that is a bad thing (see Doug's post from a couple of years back) - as long as we don't then try to mix this with modern science.

Steve Martin said...

Allan:
That is a good point about distinguishing between YEC and other forms of anti-evolution. But I seem to remember some notes from Michael Roberts on the ASA list where he did indicate somewhat alarming growth of YEC ideas in the UK over the last decade.

Kirk said...

I'm wondering if I could have a little help from the biologists here. I've been engaged in a e-mail debate with a friend of mine who is an ID/RTB fan. I sent him over to Dennis's videos and we have been discussing the specifics. On the topic of chromosome 2, which Dennis mentions, he linked me to a recent RTB podcast in which Fuz Rana alleges that it is actually evidence against common ancestry and for independent creation. Since I am not qualified to scientifically assess what Rana says, how should I respond?

Dennis Venema said...

Hi Kirk,

Rana is saying the fusion is evidence against common ancestry? Wonders never cease...

Could you provide a link to the podcast in question?

Kirk said...

Hi Dennis, it is downloadable as an mp3 here.

The question about Ken Miller's use of chromosome 2 as evidence for common ancestry is asked at about 28:10 and Rana's response follows. He basically starts out explaining the standard understanding and apparently does accept it is a fusion. Then by about 32:25 he gets into his interpretation. Something about God doing genetic engineering to make humans distinct from chimps.
He then goes on to say that it would be an extremely unlikely event, or series of events, from an evolutionary view and would have lead to infertility/diseases.

Dennis Venema said...

Ok, I've had a chance to listen to part of the podcast now.

Oh my.

So, God engineered a second, defective centromere and internal telomere sequences into a pre-existing template that happened to be in the dust He used to create Adam? All of this happened at the point of Adam's special creation?

If God is engineering Adam's chromosomes from a template, why on earth are there (a) defective sequences present right from the beginning (b) in a precise spatial pattern that matches what we see in other primates? Note too that this is one example of shared synteny (see the video) - if God is engineering Adam, why have all the synteny match up in the first place?

Also, chromosome fusion (in this case a tip-to-tip fusion) does NOT result in genetic disease or fertility problems. Rana just doesn't understand this. It's complicated to explain to non-specialists, yes, but Rana should know better.

Thank you for pointing this out to me - frankly, I'm floored at how far Rana is willing to stretch things. Did your friend think Rana's ideas were a bit of a stretch? Or did he think Rana's logic was just fine?

Dennis Venema said...

More comments as I continue to listen:

There would NOT need to be a selective sweep for the fusion, though that is a possibility. Rana is avoiding the issue of meiotic drive, as well as founder effects / bottlenecks to lower population sizes (on the order of a few 1000) that can fix variants in a population in the absence of selection.

Jimpithecus said...

It is extremely disappointing to me that Rana is willing to take the RTB message in that direction, because, while I have always disagreed with Hugh Ross' concordism, I have always respected him for his positions and willingness to take on the YEC cadre even in the 1980s. Now it seems that RTB is willing to entertain the same garbage that the Discovery Institute is peddling. It is intellectually dishonest. It is similar to what I remember reading about a particular NYT columnist: "Either he is not very bright or he doesn't think his audience is."

Karl, i am glad to see that there has not been much YEC pushing in your neck of the woods. I think that the major impetus for YEC Islamic teaching seems to be coming out of Turkey, with the rise of Harun Yahya (nee Adnan Ohktar). His Atlas of Creation series is nothing short of abominable.

Kirk said...

"Did your friend think Rana's ideas were a bit of a stretch? Or did he think Rana's logic was just fine?"

He just always has been a fan of RTB and I think he pretty much accepts what they present in all their podcasts, books, articles etc. I mean, why wouldn't he? He is not qualified to assess how accurate their claims are. He's followed RTB for quite a long time since I think he saw Hugh Ross speak somewhere. For many who never quite get the whole young earth thing, they are an obvious alternative. They sound both biblical and scientific. In fact I used to have quite a lot of time for them. It was only fairly recently when biologists started coming out with genome data (Collins etc) and I started to investigate it that I began to feel they weren't quite getting the science right. It would seem from your assessment that this hasn't improved. Thanks.

sachi said...

Jim, Thank you for the interesting post.I am a Japanese native, became a Christian in late 70s in Kanagawa, Japan, through a ministry of an American missionary. I have to tell you that your experiences with Japanese churches were rather atypical. YEC was already prevalent back then among Japanese evangelical churches, thanks to American missionaries. Gospel and the YEC position came almost as a package.
(BTW, I think I personally know the church you attended in Mitaka, because I went to college there: ICU. Was Rev. Furuya the pastor there then? ICU church isn't quite considered as "evangelical." )

To this day, I have to say that a vast majority of Japanese evangelical churches are "science-illiterate." YEC people have been pushing their stance heavily in Japan, inviting people like Ken Ham to Tokyo for YEC seminars.

As for me, I came to the US in my early 20s and got married to a Japanese scientist. He became a Christian after he met me, but he didn't accept YEC. He diligently showed me that I can be a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christian yet also accept evolution. It was a huge paradigm-change to me; I struggled a lot, but I finally came to terms and am happy where I stand now.

Jordan said...

Kirk,

I would say that anyone who admits to fitting the evidence to a "biblical model" isn't getting the science right from the start. The "biblical model" is what we are trying to TEST, and so if we first ASSUME the model and then develop ad hoc explanations to retrofit the evidence to that model, we aren't doing science at all because we can't test the model. This is how all anti-evolutionary organizations operate.

Steve Martin said...

Dennis,
Thanks for reviewing that podcast & for your comments. On the topic of “science literacy” (related to this post by Jim), there are of course different levels of literacy. To the general population, I personally am fairly “science literate”; to a working biologist, I am probably not much better than barely literate (one high school biology course & then some painstaking reading later in life to deal with the whole evolution question). If people like myself or Kirk have difficulty answering for eg. RTB concerns, how can your average evangelical be expected to do anything less than take their arguments at face value? It would be nice to have some FAQ regarding current arguments put forward by these groups. I’ve often pointed people to the talk origins index of creationist claims which 5 years ago was excellent but doesn’t seem to have been updated recently. How do we as EC’s address this problem without having to exasperate people like you Dennis when dealing with the “same argument presented in a different way” all the time?

Steve Martin said...

Sachi: Welcome. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience both in Japan & coming to terms with evolution. Re: Japanese & YEC ideas because of American missionaries, I’m wondering if the same can be said for Japanese churches that were influenced by UK missionaries – since the YEC phenomenon had such a huge influence in America (because of evangelicals' strong ties to fundamentalism) but not so much in the UK – at least until recently.

Kirk said...

I think Steve's suggestion of an FAQ dealing with common arguments is excellent. The latest on the genome is a whole series by Richard Sternberg over at evolutionnews.org in an attempted refutation of Ayala and Falk on junk DNA. I have no idea whether what he is saying is accurate. I have read through it all but simply don't know enough to tell whether it is even particularly relevant.

A couple of quotes I found interesting were;
"These facts of mammalian chromosome biology have been known for years, if not decades. But, alas, no mention of them is to be found in the literature that wants to emphasize the unintelligent design of our genome."

"What I am saying is that we know a lot about the genome that is being glossed over in the popular works that the theistic evolutionists write."

Jimpithecus said...

Sachi, thanks for your comments. It is intriguing to me that you had that experience. Yes, Carl Furuya was the minister at the ICU church. Your estimation of the "evangelical" nature of that church is correct. In fact, it was difficult to detect much spiritual life there at all, although Carl was a very nice man and earnestly tried to shepherd the flock. My father taught at ICU for thirty seven years.

It may very well be that because the Christian organizations that I was part of were so heavily connected to The American School in Japan, which was very science literate, that the YEC position simply wasn't considered. I find it disturbing and maddening that the YEC position and the Gospel came "as a package." Were the Japanese that accepted this position educated in science in school? I did not go to a Japanese school so I do not know what kind of science curriculum is/was being used.

Jimpithecus said...

Steve,
Methinks you are being very optimistic here. My experience is that most people who espouse the YEC position, don't know the science and DON'T WANT TO LEARN the science. They are quite content in their bubble because they have been told that to learn the real science, they have to compromise their faith. Most are not willing to do that. I applaud the idea of creating a FAQ for these groups but I wonder if we will be the ones reading it.

I think that we suffer a dual problem: the people that we reach do not know the science and so cannot evaluate the YEC claims to see that they are complete garbage and they have been told by the YEC groups that we are not real Christians because we don't believe the inerrant word of God.

Jordan said...

I think what is needed more than an FAQ that addresses YEC claims about science is an FAQ that addresses YEC claims about Scripture, since what they believe about Scripture is what dictates how they respond to science. I tend to side with Denis Lamoureux, who thinks the the anti-science views of most YECs stem from their pre-commitment to scientific concordism. Once that assumption is trumped with reference to Scripture, then accepting science just isn't the problem it once was.

Jimpithecus said...

Jordan,
Good idea but I am still afeared that people only change their views of scripture from a YEC position after long and arduous struggle that, often, involves a time of non-faith. Scholars have been pointing out the lack of support for a literal position for over a hundred years, and yet it hasn't made a dent in the YEC faithful because they view attempts of that nature as "watering down" scripture.

I had it easy by not coming from a YEC background at all. Even if you point out the inherent contradictions of the YEC perspective, most won't abandon it. I have been focusing on the idea of "is that what it really says?" and have found that the problem in discussing this with Christians is that you can come dangerously close to reducing the whole enterprise to myth-busting. The concept of symbolism as it is applied in scripture is lost on many Christians despite the fact that the gospel of John is rife with it. This is why I recommend that every Christian be given a copy of The Meaning of Creation by Conrad Hyers, which focuses on why the creation accounts look the way they do.

Kirk said...

"I think what is needed more than an FAQ that addresses YEC claims about science is an FAQ that addresses YEC claims about Scripture."

I had just been thinking exactly the same thing. Time and again I find myself responding to the same passages (I'm sure we've all had enough discussions with YECs to know what they are) that they insist teach a young earth/anti-evolution position. It would be good to have a few references to point people to when presented with the "so you're calling Jesus a liar when he said ______" argument.

Jimpithecus said...

Steve, I think that is a good idea as well. Ignore my skepticism and jadedness. I sometimes find that it is too easy to pick apart the absurdities of the YEC position, rather than engage the Christians in a loving way. Under the skin, we both worship the living God.

Steve Martin said...

Hi Jim,
No worries … in fact I’d agree that in some things I’m not just overly optimistic, I am chronically optimistic :-)

I also agree with the point (made by Jordan, Kirk as well) that the key scriptural questions should be addressed as well (particularly scientific concordism) since these are a prerequisite to even starting a discussion on science in many cases. But the content on this topic should be much easier I believe. The science topic can get quite technical (and over the head of most people very quickly) AND it seems that new anti-evolutionary arguments are being presented all the time. It might be interesting to catalogue these arguments, who said what and when & when it was addressed. I’m betting that current arguments will always equal some constant amount (let’s say X) but that debunked arguments will increase over time (maybe X per year). And many of the current arguments will simply be variations on arguments that were already addressed before.

And I am sure that this FAQ will not be widely read (at least at first). But that is not the real point. I’m thinking of it as a reference tool for a) ECs when discussing this with our Christian family and b) for evangelicals considering and researching the evidence (like most of us have already done)

I am completely convinced that that vast, vast majority of anti-evolutionary evangelicals committed to following Christ (note the last qualifier) really want to know the truth and are NOT “lying for Jesus” as it is sometimes said. I am also convinced that when presented with the scriptural and scientific arguments in a loving, and humble manner, many would begin to consider an EC perspective.

Karl A. said...

Jimpithecus, I'm not saying that YEC isn't rife where I live - there was a YEC seminar recently at a nearby Methodist church, and I actually don't have a feel for how widespread it is - just that workers reaching out to the majority population are embattled enough not to feel they have the luxury to focus on that issue.

Christians in these countries tend to be among the wealthier and better-educated than the general population, but I don't know if that is reflected in better science.

Karl A. said...

Where's Gallup when you need him?

Jimpithecus said...

I took part in a science series in our church about a decade back which was very one-sided and when I proposed the mainstream science view, no one wanted to hear it. I was told to "submit" by one woman sitting next to me. As Glenn Reynolds would say "it didn't fit the narrative." I came away from that experience badly disillusioned and unconvinced of the willingness of my fellow Christians to listen to actual scientific information. That is the only time in recent memory that I came very close to leaving the church. I think the main reason that I didn't was because I had nowhere else to go.

People writing about encounters with Don McLeroy during the textbook controversy down in Texas stated on several occasions that they presented the evidence for evolution and he simply didn't want to know about it.

I wish I could share your optimism, Steve. Some days I have to fight the urge to hang up my hat in disgust.

Moses said...

A FAQ would be very helpful, but it is just a part of the equation. 1 big part is patient persistence and knowing how far to push and when. We are slow to accept new ideas, so we have to be presented the new or opposing idea many times before we begin to buy into it. For me, my conversion from YEC took probably 10 years. First I accepted that there were "true" believers who held to a different view of origins. Next I saw that the observable facts didn't line up with the Genesis Creation account as interpreted by YEC evangelicals/fundamentalists. Then finally I was able to accept a less rigid view of the inspiration/inerrancy of the Bible. ( I now look for the "Word" within the Bible, rather than look to the Bible as the "Word"...if that makes sense?) For me, I don't think it could have happened in the opposite order, because I was so entrenched in the bibliolatry that placed the Bible first, and then our theology, science, history, and spirituality was subordinate to that.

Jimpithecus said...

Moses,
I read stories like yours and it warms my heart. I need to try to understand what it is like to truly wrestle with a central aspect of one's faith. Sir Walter Raleigh once said: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." We all cling to that which we know and only grudgingly accept that which is new.

Terry M. Gray said...

This has been up on the ASA web site for over 10 years:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/zorn.html

I think it's relevant to the current discussion.

Speaking of surveys...some of you may have seen this discussion by Waltke on the Biologos web site:

http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/Waltke_scholarly_essay.pdf

Terry M. Gray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jimpithecus said...

Dr. Zorn's post, along with that of Glenn Morton is so agonizing because it is like watching a slow-motion train wreck. As soon as the curiosity about what conventional science says about these things arises, heartbreak ensues. We need some kind of an answer.

Steve, how's that ESE coming?

Ron said...

Jim. I have enjoyed reading this blog and the comments on it. It is great that Jon Reid posted on FB about this. I would agree with your assessment of your experience through ICU and ASIJ. However, even in those days IF you had had a closer connection with CAJ you would have found a different world--the world you banged into when you went to college (and a world I had come from).

Ron Dirkse

Jimpithecus said...

Hi Ron. Come to think of it, you are probably right. I was so focused on the fact that they always won the Far East Basketball tournament and that was so annoying. I had friends who were from CAJ (Christian Academy in Japan, he means) but never interacted with them in a theological fashion.

It may very well be that some of the other Christian-based schools in Tokyo, such as Sacred Heart in Tokyo (which later became International School of Sacred Heart because of some displeasure at how the school's acronym was appearing on some Japanese maps) and St. Joseph's school in Yokohama also hewed to this perspective and that we were isolated from it.

I, perhaps, should have prefaced my account by saying that Tokyo is a HUGE place and we existed in one little corner of it. When I was there over ten thousand foreigners lived in the city, all with different customs and within different communities. It was, truly, a cosmopolitan growing-up experience.