Many of you old-timers may remember @Swamidass working with theologians within the Lutheran Church (The Lutheran Option?). Josh was invited to speak at Crosswise Institute summer program at Concordia University in Irvine.
A couple of the Crosswise organizers, Daniel Deen and Joel Oesch, have been somewhat-frequent participants at Josh’s Peaceful Science site and have recently been involved in an “Office Hours” conversation at Peaceful Science (link).
The Crosswise Institute is designed to present concepts that are a challenge for young men and women of LCMS background to digest. Evolutionary Biology certainly fits the bill there! Both Deen and Oesch were very happy with the way the topic was delivered and the way students responded.
Deen to Swamidass:
Your role, as I saw it, was to come in and illustrate how one can navigate the waters of undergraduate and graduate scientific education (practical MD and theoretical PhD) while remaining a confessing Christian. I learned about you through the article you wrote for Concordia Journal (Summer 2017). Your introduction was spot on as to why you practice science due to your identity in Christ. I knew you were also a practicing evolutionary biologist, so I figured that would spark plenty of conversations with our students as they processed your confident faith in Christ alongside your evolutionary commitments. The aftermath was positive. I distinctly remember one student commenting to me that your talk was the most challenging in that they expected an evolutionary biologist NOT to be Christian. Your clear pronouncement in Jesus and the non-wavering evolutionary views clearly got many of the students thinking through a position they have never encountered. This, coupled with the small group time the students had with resident theologians, really marked a high point in cognitive tension and resolution with out students. They grew.
We invited Josh to speak about evolutionary/genealogical issues and their relationship to Scripture in hopes that his words would knock the students off-balance. In last year’s event, we invited an atheist transhumanist (Zoltan Istvan) to be the keynote speaker, thoroughly surprising and delighting the student crowd. Josh skillfully opened new vistas of thought without sacrificing his commitment to the biblical text, and the students were IN. I clearly remembered one student, a young woman, flatly stating that she had never been exposed to some of Josh’s propositions. Far from being turned off, however, she found that talking about such topics drove her deeper into the biblical text and further conversation with her peers. I call that a successful event.
Accounts like these keep me encouraged that continuing to “speak the truth in love” is having an impact today and will continue to impact the lives of our young Christian men and women in the future!