After 20 years of being a 6-day literalist, very conservative Baptist pastor, I am coming around to the BioLogos view. I will not teach it with the BioLogos approach, however, because I believe a wrong approach is causing problems with its acceptance among conservative Christians. I’d like to explain it here to give everyone a fresh view from my side, to hopefully give some perspective that will help you as you try to convince young earth creationists. Also I’d like to hear your opinions, to sharpen my approach as it is all very new to me.
While young earth, ID, evolution-rejecting Ken Ham creationists come from all over, they are heavily concentrated in the Bible belt, conservative areas. You’d probably agree that there is a correlation between Trump voters and this group. Their pastors lean towards more fire-and-brimstone. They are frank, blunt, direct, and see the world as straightforward and black-and-white.
BioLogos’ language is much more NPR than Fox News. It is more Obama than Trump. It answers questions with questions, and says things like “it depends” a lot. I know it is the nuanced and more correct way to approach things, but you will be viewed as wishy-washy and liberal-sounding by the young earth crowd.
Compare the style with that of Ken Ham. Ham answers thoughtful questions with “for the Bible tells me so.” You may scoff at that, but you’ll only alienate the Bible belt crowd if you do.
I would suggest that you approach the discussion with Bible-based, frank, direct statements instead. To elaborate:
Be Bible-first in your points. You will never convince a conservative Bible-believer with scientific arguments, but that’s OK, you don’t need to. They believe the Bible above science, which remember is OK since the Bible doesn’t change but science often does. So use that to your advantage. You must show how the Bible clearly allows for long periods of time in Genesis instead of 6 literal days. Prove it from the Bible, not from science. Show them how Adam and Eve can be real people and still allow for other people. Solve the sin-death problem from the Bible. Show them scriptural proof not scientific proof. The science is secondary for them, they will accept whatever science says as long as it doesn’t mess with their interpretation of the Bible. Show them how to interpret the Bible better. Bonus tip: don’t use original languages and scholarship; use the Bible, and don’t correct it. “A better translation would be…” sounds like you’re being squirrelly. Just show them Bible verses where days are mentioned but are not 24 hours. Interpret the Bible with the Bible. They are afraid of losing their belief in God. Don’t do that to them by casting doubt on the inspiration of scripture.
Be direct. Don’t say “there are 4 ways to interpret Genesis that allows for the Adam and Eve story while still making room for evolutionary blah blah blah.” Say, instead: “Adam and Eve were real. BioLogos doesn’t contradict that.” Don’t say: “The problem of original sin is something that has been discussed and there are several good solutions for it blah blah blah…” Say, instead: “The Bible doesn’t say Adam and Eve were the first sinners. Satan sinned before them.”
Leave science out: You don’t need to convince them of the proper scientific understanding, you need to convince them of a Biblical interpretation that is clear, scripturally sound, doesn’t change the words or doctrines, and leaves space for science to do whatever it wants to do. Don’t say: “Recent scientific discoveries are showing more and more that a 6-day view of the Bible is inconsistent with blah blah blah…” Say, instead: it doesn’t matter what science says, what matters is that only allowing for 6 days is Biblically wrong. You’re missing all kinds of verses that prove your interpretation wrong."
I recently won over the first three YECs I talked to in 20 minutes. I said “forget evolution, think about restricting Gen. 1 to literal days. Here are the verses that show why that’s wrong…” After they saw the Bible proof, they accepted it immediately. 3 different conversations.
The problem is not science. The most argent of ID and YECs actually like to talk about science. They make museums and textbooks after all; it’s a subject they enjoy. But they hold the Bible above science, which they should. Start there, be clear, show them clearly they are wrong Biblically.
I recently read Tim Keller’s excellent, thoughtful series on the subject, here on the BioLogos site. Why does he take 4 parts to get to his stance: Adam and Eve were historical and it doesn’t contradict BioLogos? Why not just say that? I love Keller’s stuff, but liberal, New Yorker, professorial approach will not work with Trump voters, it will only turn them off.
If anyone would like the Bible verses I used with the YECs recently, let me know and I’ll post them.