Have any suggestions for my faith/science glossary?

I am creating (well, more like finalizing at this point) a glossary to go along with the Integrate curriculum project we have been developing for the last few years to introduce high school students to various topics in the science/faith arena from a Christian perspective that accepts mainstream scientific consensus.

If you teach classes, write articles or blog posts, or frequently engage in science faith conversations with people, can you think of any terms or concepts that come up that you think people are particularly prone to either

  1. be unfamiliar with or unclear on?
  2. have unfortunate misunderstandings of because of their exposure to ID, YEC, anti-evolution material?
  3. find controversial because of their lack of understanding or lack of acceptance of mainstream science?
  4. consider important when discussing philosophical, theological or ethical implications of scientific facts?

To check and see what I may have left out, I would appreciate any brainstorming people would like to do for terms or concepts related to the topics covered by the units, especially if they are words that might not come up in a standard intro to biology textbook:

Science and Faith Foundations (origins positions of various groups, big questions in the science/faith discussion)
Ways of knowing
Science as a Christian Vocation
Seeing God in Creation
Creation Care
Climate Change
Cells and Design
Genetic Diversity
DNA Technologies
The Bible and Origins
Evolutionary Creation
The Fossil Record (includes counters to Flood Geology)
Biodiversity and Conservation
Humans and the Rest of Creation (so, human uniqueness and common descent)
The Human Body (embryonic development, brain science, disease/disorders)

Is that the actual list you show above? Or do we follow the Integrate link to find the actual glossary in its current state?

Words that come quickly to mind:
Methodological Naturalism
…and if you want to include even just ‘semi-valid’ terminologies, you could clarify on things like: microevolution, macroevolution

I don’t know if the whole of forum threads can be downloaded into some huge text file, but if so it would be interesting to have a computer do a word count, omitting uninteresting short words, to see what terms have been bandied about the most.


That’s a good one – I also think of the “observational science vs. historical science” false dichotomy that some YEC organizations make. Words like “empirical” are helpful too.

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Yeah … and phrases like “scientific law” or “theory”.

Peer review


As it is important to be able to critically read papers and articles quoting them, some basic terminology regarding statistics and studies might be in order like:
Error bars
Confidence limits
Control group
Double blind study
Single blind study
Statistical significance
Sample size
Probably missed some and depends on the audience of course. Not sure where the kids are in their education for what you are doing.
Curse of Ham: see AIG.


Punctuated equilibrium

Big bang

[‘curse of Ham’ indeed! Shame on you, Phil! ]


As well as the more colloquial term “punk eek,” which threw me off a little at first. :wink:

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Yes, you @jpm and @Laura have exactly the idea. I have most of these, but I’m keeping a list of potential newbies. Phil has got some I missed with his nice medical angle.

Ha! “Man’s word” made it in.

You probably have all these too…
Presupposition (-alism)

You could always open up on all the fallacies that creep into argument.

A favorite one around here: Ad hominem
Fallacy of assuming the converse (or ‘affirming the consequent’)
Fallacy of origins
Circular reasoning

I actually have none of those except presupposition, which is different than presuppositionalism. Sometimes it’s hard to know when something is too easy. I think, “surely everyone knows what a X is” but then later on I realize it has come up in so many other entries, it probably deserves its own. For example I just recently added trait, gene, and fossil record.

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Causing me to have to have to look that up, to be aware of the distinction myself. I too often think I have good ideas what some words must mean just based on how they’re built, and like now … discover that I was wrong about its adopted use.

Your “Integrate” curriculum is already having an educational effect.

Along the lines of “trait”, “gene” … I’ve found the concept of “nested hierarchies” to be quite enlightening.

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Great idea, @Christy. I can see many of us will end linking to it in future discussions (assuming it will be an easily accessible location).

My two cents would be:

Intelligent Design


We really need access to the list of terms you have so far. For example, the following terms fitting your 4 criterion perfectly, but perhaps these are too obvious.
scientific method

Yeah, that would be helpful, wouldn’t it?

You have ‘exegesis’, but not ‘eisegesis’.

Which … I’ve got a question about. I think I’ve only heard ‘eisegesis’ thrown around as a pejorative label. It’s always an accusation because the running assumption is we should always be busy doing exegesis, not eisegesis. But to me that sounds suspiciously partisan. Must it always be inappropriate? Is there never any context where Eisegesis is appropriate and good?

It seems to me that many New Testament figures (including Jesus himself, to hear Pete Enns tell it) freely did what would be called “Eisegesis” had it been anyone else doing the same thing.

The glossary does a good job (I think) of delivering factual information with minimal explicit (or even implicit) editorializing. I.e. I think this same glossary could be at the back of a YEC text, though I would be surprised if they could refrain from editorial opprobrium for ‘hostile’ terms half so well as this one manages it.

Thanks. I think the “exegesis, never eisegesis” rule is part of the Protestant tradition and other Christian traditions and definitely the Jewish tradition had less qualms about it. I’ve heard people say the biblical authors were allowed because it was inspired eisegesis.

Might be a good word to include in any case. I’ll add it to my list of candidates.

I added empirical evidence and worldview.

Worldview describes a fundamental set of beliefs about reality that influence how a person thinks and acts, and how a person interprets what they perceive in the world. A worldview encompasses how a person thinks the world works, how they understand their purpose or role in it, and their explanations for why things are the way they are. Religion and culture shape a person’s worldview along with their learning and experiences. When people refer to a biblical worldview or a Christian worldview they usually mean one that is shaped by the truth claims and moral instructions of the Bible.

Empirical evidence is information obtained through observation, measurement, and experimentation. Empirical evidence reveals answers to questions and is used to either support or challenge a hypothesis or scientific theory. Documenting and analyzing empirical evidence is an important part of the scientific method. Scientists draw inferences from empirical evidence in order to form conclusions. The empirical evidence itself is not based on inferences, so multiple researchers can examine it and evaluate whether they come to the same conclusions. In many cases, scientists can verify empirical evidence by repeating experiments and measurements or by doing further observations.

The google doc I linked above allows suggestions and comments, so if you have them feel free to share. My original is safe from corruption elsewhere. :slight_smile:

That has been suggested by some of the curriculum reviewers, so we’ll see how it turns out when we finally get this thing done. It has been a loooong process. But the end result is going to be good.


Also, does anyone have any good thoughts on teleology, because that entry needs work.

Here is the current one:

Teleology is a word used to describe design and purpose in the material world. Some Christians object to evolution because they see it as a non-teleological process that is incompatible with the Christian belief that God is working out his will in creation. Christians who do not see any conflict between evolution and faith say that although science cannot investigate or describe God’s design, evolution is still subject to the will of God and God can use creation to accomplish his purposes. (See also randomness.)

Vocation needs some theological beefing up as well:

Vocation is often used to describe a worthy occupation that requires skill and dedication. Some people also associate a vocation with a “calling” or a strong feeling of suitability for a certain profession or a certain type of work.

Anyone want to write me a good entry for “phylogenetic tree”?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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