Need Some Help for my Youth Group Regarding Big Bang/Evolution


(Dave) #1

Hey everyone,
I’m the associate pastor of a small church, and one of the volunteers running our youth group wants to do a skit to help the teens learn to listen to others & preach the gospel in every day conversations. The skit has a very anti-science tone to it (even though the discussion/lesson isn’t on science & the bible) and I’m not thrilled to incorporate it into the lesson. It goes into the “blind watchmaker” argument, and also attacks the big bang theory. I was wondering if some of you whom are more educated can help give me a reasonable explanation as to why the argument doesn’t make sense, and how the big bang doesn’t contradict scripture?

Here’s the bit from the skit that bother’s me:

J: I’m wondering if, in your quiet moments, you ever stop to think about how
you and I got here, or how the earth, the stars, and the moon were
created?

N: No, I accept the fact that the big bang just happened, and here we are.

J: So, if I’m hearing you correctly, you believe we are a result of an
extraordinary set of circumstances that caused something to evolve out
of nothing.

N: Yes, that’s right.

J: Could I test a thought on you to make sure that I understand what you
believe?

N: Sure, go ahead.

J: (takes out her cell phone) It sounds as if you believe our universe was at
one time like this phone before it was assembled—just a myriad of parts
randomly strewn around.

N: Yes, that’s right.

J: (lays her phone on the table) If I took my phone apart piece by piece,
placed the pieces in a box, and shook them up before dumping them out
on this table, I’m wondering what you think it would take to cause those
pieces to reassemble again into a fully functional cell phone. For
instance, what is the probability that a hurricane, a tornado, a fire, a
hailstorm, a tsunami, or any other force of nature might bring this to
pass?

N: It is impossible!

J: I agree! That is why I’m wondering how you can be satisfied with your
belief in the big-bag theory. We are so much more complex than this
cell phone. If the phone requires it’s original creator to reassemble it,
then doesn’t it stand to reason there has to be someone or something
greater than you and me responsible for creation?

N: I see what you mean. It takes more faith to believe in what I’ve been
taught to believe in, than what you believe in.


(Christy Hemphill) #2

It seems the real existential question relevant to evangelism would be “why are we here?” not “how did we get here?” Christians just accept the fact that creation happened and here we are. It’s the “why” that Christianity offers that is significantly better (according to us), not the “how.”

This isn’t talking about the Big Bang anymore, since the beginning of the universe and the beginning of life are separate events. The Big Bang has been modeled. The origin of life is more sketchy. Evolution once life exists can be modeled quite well. But those three things are distinct topics and shouldn’t be conflated. Is the skit talking about how the universe began, how life began, or how humans came into existence?

Except, before the Big Bang, there wasn’t a stew of universe parts floating around. Before humans there wasn’t a stew of human parts waiting to be assembled. I don’t know anyone who thinks this, so it doesn’t seem very fair to make this poor godless Joe-Schmoe we are trying to evangelize into such a moron.

Nobody believes life was assembled from a box of spare parts.

Maybe you could encourage the skit to go more in the direction against atheistic naturalism, where the only thing that is real is what you can empirically test and observe and describe. As humans we want to have an explanation for love and beauty and hope. We want grace and a reason for existence and a vindication for pain and suffering. Those are the things science can’t offer. People aren’t coming to Christ because they are unsatisfied with the logic or accuracy of scientific explanations. They are unsatisfied with the incompleteness of scientific explanations.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #3

Unfortunately, skits like this often do just that. It’s very similar to the Truth Project study that our small group has been working through, and the lectures that they have on Darwinism that set up all kinds of straw men. (It took me a lot of deep breaths to get through last night! Whew!)

The main goal in these settings seems to be to reassure the faithful that they have the right answers, rather than to equip them to engage with real agnostics / atheists.

On that note, back to the question at hand, one might consider respectfully asking the skit-writers if they’ve had success with that particular apologetic approach with the unchurched. If they say, “Well, no,” then one might proceed to suggest Christy’s alternative as being potentially more fruitful.


(Phil) #4

Wow, Christy is a lot more constructive and tactful than I would be tempted to be. She has some great thoughts.
That said, I just finished reading the book “You Lost Me” which talks about millennials/mosaics and how they see the world. It touches on the science/evolution debate, but is about so much more, and I would recommend it to anyone working with high school/college students.
My main criticism of the skit is that it is attacking a “straw man” of what “J” believes is the issue, when the kids probably would never answer the questions in such ways, leading to an illustration which the kids can see is not meaningful or deep. It is not unlike what my generation did in passing out a “4 Spiritual Laws” pamphlet and heading on down the road without developing relationships.
Why does the argument in the skit not make sense?
First, it is one sided. “J” is just talking but not really listening to what “N” is saying, so it is a presentation, not a conversation.
Second, it assumes that the big bang theory is incompatible with creation by God, thus setting up a false dichotomy.
Third, it confuses and intertwines the arguments on Big Bang and evolution, and thus is factually inaccurate. The cell phone example is of course just a variation of the watchmaker argument, which is supposed to argue against Darwinism and random selection, but has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory, which in addition to being a fine TV show, deals with cosmology. The only common factor is the assumption of an ancient universe.
Fourth, it is just pretty lame, and the kids will see that. Maybe that is really not a point, but it is the truth, as I see it.
Anyway, best wishes and you have my respect for addressing such things. I was going to suggest showing the video on this site:

However, neither it nor the skit seem to address the goal of your group as stated:

Hope I have not been too disjointed or critical, as I really do appreciate your task and I am sure your volunteer has good intentions, but doubt much will be learned from what I have seen of the skit. I’m just glad I am not the one trying to direct that intent in a more appropriate direction without hurt feelings.


#5

Hi, I empathize with your situation.

In my view (as someone with my own battle scars) if you as an associate pastor, go up against the general tone of the proposed skit and if anything you suggest goes against your congregation’s or denomination’s statment of belief (assuming your group has such a document) or if anydirection you want to direct the skit goes against the senior pastor’s belief system … I’d suggest you keep your resume updated and hang on to your moving boxes cause you may well need them.

The theological, cultural context of your ministry setting will have a deep impact/response on anything you do.

All the best. Larry

(I agree with the people who posted ahead of me)


(Phil) #6

Larry makes a good point. It is quite easy for us to say what you should do, but much more difficult in your position. Personally, I would try to redirect the subject away from controversy and into commonly accepted topics relating to asking questions and drawing people into relationship and conversation in a loving matter. Perhaps can do a forum or something on views on creationism some other time if the community is mature enough to be understanding and if it is an issue.


#7

That skit seems to be preaching to the choir instead of teaching kids how to approach what atheists actually believe, as others have mentioned. I am an atheist and I don’t accept any of the ideas that are attributed to the atheist in the skit. If anything, the skit is meant to support stereotypes of how Christians view atheists.

I certainly don’t want to tell you what you should or shouldn’t teach in Sunday School, but if you have any specific questions I would be happy to answer them. Other than that, the problems I see with the sit are echoed by other Christians in this thread, so I really don’t have anything more to add. I will say that if I was approached by a Christian who started down this line of reasoning I wouldn’t be too impressed.


(Phil) #8

Just thinking about your post this morning, if I were in the position of having to address evolution issues with youth as a group vs. individuals with questions, it would probably be wise to bring in people from the outside to do a forum type presentation rather than have insiders in the church. The outsiders can leave, and you cannot. It would be interesting to have a YEC, a ID, and a EC type on stage, not so much to debate but to present their view, and help define the issues in a Christian context, choosing those who are mature and respectful of others to do so.
Even addressing individuals privately is fraught with risk for employment as you can bet anything you say will be held against you, and as teenagers go, nothing is private. Best to refer to outside reading after affirming that different views are held by good people.


(Dave) #9

Thanks for the replies everyone, it’s been very helpful. I’m still trying to figure out what to do, unfortunately I may just have to let it slide for now, as it was brought to my attention fairly late in the game, and the students have been working on it for about a week now. However, I think it could be a good jumping off point for a later discussion with the leader who organized it and I will certainly use the advice given here.

I think the idea of having some sort of panel discussing creation and the various understandings in Christian thought regarding it could be useful and I know the youth have asked in the past to have a discussion on evolution, so perhaps that could be setup sometime in the future.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #10

Please use and abuse the Forum when the time comes for that, if/as questions arise… I know many here would love to help with that sort of thing. :slight_smile:


(Jonathan) #11

@hipfan
Honestly (as much as I dislike to admit it) @jpm is on to something here. If I were an atheist, this wouldn’t sway me at all anyhow (because we do exist, and since my presupposition is that there is no God, then something else must be the cause of our existence). I think it’s (the bones of, and maybe not the best presented form of) a fairly decent argument, and the conclusions are (vaguely) within the ball park, but any atheist that I have heard this argument attempted on would say:
"Technically, it is possible."
And that stifles that conversation. Perhaps it would be good to have a general discussion with your teen group over the merits and failings of evolution (Answers in Genesis has some good stuff for that), and tips for witnessing to atheists. In the end, though, I would rather have someone be a Christian and believe in evolution than for someone who is unwilling to give up evolution be turned away from the Christian faith because of it. So, although I personally disagree with the BioLogos position (strongly), I view it as a better alternative to unbelief.

To sum things up, I think you could let it slide, but try to get your hands on some stronger materials from AIG etc. to educate your youth on creation vs. evolution.

That’s my 2 cents worth…


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #12

I’d like just to voice that I really appreciate your saying this — even if we disagree on a whole lot of things. If a bigger portion of the American Evangelical church held a position like yours, I think we might have a little better chance of retaining the next generation!

Have a blessed day.


(James McKay) #13

Jonathan, I think you’ve summed up the concerns of just about every one of us on this forum perfectly. None of us want to put a stumbling block to faith in anyone’s way, no matter what we think of evolution.

We’re dealing with a complex subject that can be pretty head-scratching at the best of times, whichever way you approach it. But in the end of the day, it is Christ who is the foundation of our faith, and we need to make sure we never lose sight of that.


(David Heddle) #14

This is an argument that will only work in a choir-preaching-to-the-choir situation, or an adult indoctrinating kids–which for some will later backfire after they learn some basic science. Anybody who knows anything about science will, given the opportunity, rip it to shreds. No educated person, regardless of whether they agree with evolutionary theory or not, should think that a watch (or 747) assembling itself out of its parts is actually a “gotcha” problem for evolution, or the big bang, or anything. It belongs right there with “what good is half an eye?”.


(Robin) #15

Christy…those are some very good points. I found the skit, as presented by hipfan’s church group, to be too limiting – as if everyone must agree with the skit’s author on his/her version of how it all worked out. The creation stories in the first two chapters of Genesis are very bare bones and there is room for discussion and exploration of the nature of the details. The Big Bang is a possible event and does not destroy the basic outlines of Genesis.


(Dave) #16

Just an update for anyone interested; I talked with the leader in charge of the lesson and he decided to add a couple of different skits on top of this one, to show some different ways to engage with people where they are at, and then ask the youth what they thought of the different perspectives. I’m curious to see if any of the kids pick up on the science issues with this skit, but it will most likely go over their heads. While I’d like to dive into that issue with them, I don’t think it’s the time for that. I’ll start another thread to get some more advice if/when they get around to doing a lesson on science/evolution.


(Brad Kramer) #17

Well done @hipfan :clap:. That took courage.


(Walt Huber) #18

The Big Bang is how God chose to do the creation of our universe. Let’s begin with God and the universe have always existed. So about 14 billion years ago all the matter in the universe (or at least in our part of the universe) came together (due to gravity) and formed a huge black hole. This became so powerful that it exploded, driving matter out across the universe. This matter then began to come together (again due to gravity) into suns, planets, moons, galaxies, etc. Eventually, we have our known universe of today. This doesn’t have to conflict with the Bible at all. God created our universe for us and used the Big Bang to do it.


(Peaceful Science) #19

This is really sad. Most importantly because it does not actually present the Gospel. This skit is teaching kids to preach a false gospel. The first place I would start is this theologically sound article:

The gospel is as Paul teaches in I Cor 15. If they find this true Gospel insufficient, it might be a good time to talk to them about Jesus.

There is helpful translation that makes sense of this in the scientific world. For that, I would point people here:

http://www.veritas.org/evidence-easter-scientists-list/

Mass is energy. Time slows with gravity and acceleration. The earth moves around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. Two black holes merged 1.3 billion years ago, sending gravitational waves through space that arrived last year at LIGO. In principle, this is all reproducible, but just in principle. If we personally verified and reproduced every experiment ourselves, science would grind to a complete halt. Yes, we emphasize evidence. But we usually trust the scientific consensus. Yes, we are skeptical and regularly challenge accepted theories. But we usually trust other scientists’ reports of what they have seen.

I am a scientist. Still, on Easter, I celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead about 2,000 years ago. This event, in first-century Palestine, is the cornerstone of everything. In the same way that trust-like faith in science is connected to evidence, so is the faith I have in the Resurrection.

And to this series of talks I gave on “Science in Light of Jesus” at a seminary:

http://scholar.csl.edu/theological_history_of_science_lectures/science_forum_2016/

Despite the doubt, the true Gospel is of Jesus, the One whom God raised from the dead to show the world that He exists, is good, and wants to be known. Do not replace this with a false gospel.


#20

That isn’t the Big Bang theory. To quote Talk.Origins website

[quote]
The simplest description of the theory would be something like: “In the distant past, the universe was very dense and hot; since then it has expanded, becoming less dense and cooler.” The word “expanded” should not be taken to mean that matter flies apart – rather, it refers to the idea that space itself is becoming larger. Common analogies used to describe this phenomenon are the surface of a balloon (with galaxies represented by dots or coins attached to the surface) or baking bread (with galaxies represented by raisins in the expanding dough). Like all analogies, the similarity between the theory and the example is imperfect. In both cases, the model implies that the universe is expanding into some larger, pre-existing volume. In fact, the theory says nothing like that. Instead, the expansion of the universe is completely self-contained. This goes against our common notions of volume and geometry, but it follows from the equations.[/quote]
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html#bigbang