On Youtube: A Gen Xer's journey re. science and religion for Gen Z


(josh abraham) #1

I made this video to begin my history of science and religion class at Eastfield College in Dallas, the buckle of the creationism belt. It traces my journey from WV till I got to Regent College and met Mark Noll who set me on the course to graduate school at the University of Florida.

The first 20 minutes are reflections on our current context and Generation Z. The last 34 show my journey from fundamentalist Baptist situations to science teaching.

I would greatly benefit from this type of biographical information from the members of BioLogos. I would love to see videos of this type on YouTube for students to reflect on. I have found that these personal narratives as introductions can do a great deal to address the present polarization in our country.

If you care to watch it, tell me what you think! Thanks


(Phil) #2

Thanks for posting, Josh. I’ll try to look at it when I have some down time this weekend. Looks very interesting.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #3

Thanks for sharing your journey, Mr. (Dr.?) Abraham.

Being in a “hotbed” of various creationist organizations where you are, it surprises me that none of the students in your class raised their hand to acknowledge they knew what “intelligent design” was! Maybe some were just being shy. But apparently they don’t “feel” as much of the controversy and context to all this as people our age do.

I liked your emphasis on knowing context. Your students are in for a treat.


(Phil) #4

Enjoyed the talk. Enjoyed the comments about context also as that seems to be a vital part not only of relationships but of understanding biblical meaning. While I hope not to bore you with my life history, I grew up on a west Texas farm,graduated high school in 1971, went through the nuke drills in elementary school, listened to the daily death toll from Vietnam Nam each evening in high school, waiting for my turn at the draft while seeing the war protests. Later did undergrad near you at North Texas, then med school in Dallas, working at Parkland in the ER Kennedy was pronounced dead 15 years earlier when I was in 5th grade.
While there was a mostly unspoken sense of conflict between science and the mostly literalist Baptist church of my youth, the biggest church issue was between charismatics and their counterparts. That was not insignificant as spirituality was intertwined with the hippie movement in more expressive behavior of all kinds. The biggest issues we were concerned with were race and war as I recall. Of course, my generation was blessed by having the greatest music.


(Mark D.) #5

I"m 65, practice no religion, was a philosophy major in college and am retired from having taught mathematics to middle school kids for the last 25 years of my working life. I’ve watched the first 10 minutes and look forward to watching more. I would have been excited to sit in that class in my first year at college. Your respect for your students is clear.


(Jacob) #6

Interesting talk. I hadn’t thought about Creationism as a desire to see order in the world (a reaction to the chaos of the sixties).

I was fortunate that I wasn’t taught there was a conflict between science and faith when I was growing up. I grew up in kind of a moderate Lutheran church. I was interested in science (especially astronomy). My parents encouraged my interests. They got me my first telescope and made sure I had any books I wanted. The elementary and high schools I went to weren’t all that great. I think I learned more at home and on my own because I was well-prepared for college.

A defining moment for me was seeing the Apollo 11 moon landing. That and to see the Pioneer and Voyager probes visit the outer planets.

I didn’t hear about Young Earth Creationism until I was almost an adult. I am puzzled why it is such a stumbling block if Genesis uses ancient ideas of cosmology and symbolic language. I guess I have developed a personal animosity toward YEC after being told on some occasions that I am not a good Christian, I don’t know the Bible, etc. I can see how people drop out of church if the only experiences they have had involve that type of indoctrination.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

I too was struck by @jbabraham88’s emphasis on how perceived chaos was/is a significant factor to the conservative mindset. The ancient Hebrews too, had their aversion to chaos (represented by the sea) and a large part of the theistic theme that shines through is that of a God that brings order to prior chaos.

Of course truth is also a significant consideration. If one must truth between truth and order, (or righteousness and order), then it seems highly doubtful to me that “order” should always be granted supremacy.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #8

I havn’t read Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to death” that @jbabraham88 referenced in the video, but I have read his “How the News Makes Us Dumb”. So I have a pretty good sense of (and resonate with) how Postman thinks of things. And he wrote that in 2009 … (maybe just on the edge of or before Twitter got big?) Anyway, much of what Postman was saying in these earlier books just seems so patently obvious now. He complained about substantive items being shortened into little, pre-digested, TV blurbs. Imagine how he would feel about the 140 character (or now 280?) emotion rants from every joe on the street!


(Jacob) #9

Compare the Lincoln Douglas debates to today’s tweets, sound bites, and emotional rantings (both parties). Have we been reduced to the attention span of a fruit fly?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

Some of the fruit flies I’ve seen in my house might be insulted by your comparison. They can probably stay focused on an apple core for a bit longer than the average tweeter on a serious material.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #11

I’m totally with you on the Pioneer and Voyager probes. For the moon landing, though, I was two years old and am told I was asleep on my dad’s lap while they watched it on the little black-and-white dad had purchased just to watch that.

[That same TV was soon broken by one little two year-old who had discovered the joy of poking pennies through the little cooling slots on the back. No names will be mentioned here, to protect the innocent. But the TV was never replaced, and thanks to that we largely grew up without a TV].


(Jacob) #12

I should have said the first moonwalk was what I was thinking of. I was seven years old during Apollo 11 and I was a space geek from a very early age. I remember staring at the moon the evening before the landing or the moonwalk. I was thinking, this is a moment in history. This is the last time one can look at the moon and say that no human has ever walked on it (even though it will look the same). I don’t know if that is a normal thought for a seven year-old or not. Anyway, I stayed up late to watch the first moonwalk. I was in a room that had a lot of windows, the TV was on of course and I turned off all the lights. The room was bathed in moonlight and there I was watching live images from the moon.


(Christy Hemphill) #13

Ooh, I like reading everyone’s life story.

I was homeschooled through 5th grade and the materials we used were YEC, so that was what I was taught. The pastor at my church was OEC, so it was not something pushed at my Baptist church. My parents were never militant or dogmatic about it, and it wasn’t something that defined them. They were fairly radical in another way. We had war refugee families from Vietnam and Cambodia live with us for several months. When I was 8, my parents taught English at a rural university in China for a year (my brothers and I were the first Western children to come to the province since the cultural revolution; it was very communist). We were a “host family” for several Chicago area universities international student programs, so we always had people from other countries around. A Thai student and a Japanese student lived with us for a number of years. This exposure to people from other religions and worldviews during my formative years had a profound effect me.

I went to Wheaton College and learned that some Christians are fine with evolution, voting Democrat, reading books by Catholics, and ordaining women. I learned how to read academically and evaluate the reliability of sources. Two years after I graduated I went to grad school and feminist theory played a significant part of my program. I had grown up with and tried to practice “biblical womanhood” and the whole complementarian thing and this was my personal crisis area of cognitive dissonance, not science. I read thousands of pages of biblical scholarship on both sides of the gender theology debate and emerged with different views on exegesis and hermeneutics. Since my approach to the Bible had changed, when I began to learn more about evolutionary creationism, it was not as threatening or easily dismissed as it would have been a few years earlier.

In 2009 I read an article in CT about BioLogos launching a website and I began to read the biblical interpretation articles. In 2012, I had just moved to Mexico and it was dawning on my that I would probably be homeschooling my kids through high school because there was not going to be an MK school where we were moving, and I realized I was going to have to nail down what I thought about evolution, the Bible, and science, since all the homeschool material I was looking at was YEC and I was now pretty skeptical. CT had an article featuring Darrel Falk, so I got his book, Coming to Peace with Science. My husband read it too, and it made a pretty clear and compelling case for the consensus science.

I got involved with this forum primarily because I was trying to be less ignorant about science for my kids and because I like discussing theology, something that unfortunately doesn’t happen much in women’s groups. Also I have found it is better for my marriage if I satisfy my cravings for argument and debate and new ideas online with random strangers than if I exhaust my husband with all my controversial thoughts and opinions all day long. So here I am.


(Phil) #14

The theme of order pushing against chaos is interesting. One comment was how after work, people go home and cocoon rather than interact, and there was an article I saw this morning of how baby boomers limit their friendships to a narrower base than before. Perhaps these are the present day responses to chaos in life with the constant barrage of news bites and social media intrusions, as we long for order.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #15

So I wonder if it helps that some have already experienced “theological shakeup” somewhere earlier in their life, making it not seem like as big a deal if/when it happens on another front? If some manage to get to adulthood with all their initial childhood theological understandings still more-or-less intact, what may seem like “victory” to the parents who raised them may also turn out to be a kind of brittle (and therefore fragile) rigidity. I know this [departure from any childhood teaching] would be warned against as a “slippery slope” by some who imagine they are still safely ensconced above any such slope. But I think it should rather be recognized as a robust epistemic humility that ends up bestowing healthy, flexible strength.

[edited]

I was quite fascinated by that too. Do you think religious liberals crave order less than conservatives, or do they just pursue a different kind?


(Phil) #16

I would go with the “different kind” answer, I think. Though I think I would be careful to not equate liberal with metaphorical regarding theology, as a metaphorical interpretation can be conservative, however, in this context, I think the less literally interpreting folks get order from their interpretation, as it allows some flexibility in integration of beliefs, whereas the literal folks find order in the more rigid framework of belief which allows them to discount whatever does not fit.


(Randy) #17

Fascinating! You are much ahead of me in many ways.

it would be fun to have a personal story featured every week or so–the moderators would be great, Mr Johnson, Phil, etc; and the guests.


(josh abraham) #18

I don’t think Gen Z has a clue about intelligent design because the Dover trial was 13 years ago. They were in elementary school.


(josh abraham) #19

Thank you for the personal story—this is tremendous for a scholar who has done oral history and needs to explain the intensity of the controversy for Gen Z.


(josh abraham) #20

Thank you for the personal story----another guide to a generation I did not experience.