Podcast: Sean McDowell | Finding Common Ground

Need a break from the news? Check out our newest podcast episode, an interview with Sean McDowell.

This week on the podcast, Sean joins Jim Stump. Their conversation centers around the science of evolution and the degree to which it should influence Christian belief.


I really enjoy it so far. I still have 17 minutes left to listen to but I’m probably going to just restart it in the morning.

I’ll have to wait and see if it has he’s out more on the contentious aspects of “ being open minded and humble” vs “being confident and knowing where you stand” with the byproduct being knowing what you already reject as a possibility.

Such as regardless of how much I may respect someone and greatly appreciate the work they do and even may genuinely care for them and their feelings and thoughts and hard work they put into studying something if they want to have a discussion about why they believe God crested earth with all things already completely formed 10,000 years ago I will have the discussion but I won’t entertain it was even remotely or possibly true. When a person sends me a youtube video that’s about that concept 90% of the time I don’t even bother to watch it. It’s simply something I’ve already rejected and so it does not make my schedule for things to study.


I am very pleasantly surprised by the conversation so far and by Sean Mcdowell’s interaction. He seems more tolerant by far than I had presumed. I enjoyed Evidence and other speaking by His father a lot in the 80s to 90s. His way of overhauling ETDV also is very appropriate and relevant. I have purchased a copy for reference.
His suggestion that we use Scripture to interpret science frightened me for a moment. However, if he only means that he is willing to hold some things that are relatively uncertain in tension, that seems reasonable. The “it’s only a theory” is a big pitfall that can come on with this sort of thinking though, and the important point here may be how to determine the devil of communicating details like what scientific certainty is.

It seems to me as well that if we really have confidence that God, if he exists, is the God of reason and truth and justice, we will not refuse to question certain basics of doctrine. If we wish to demand that other faiths examine the evidence without holding back, we have to do so with equal self reflection. It is like his dad told him…with honest questioning, even if the conclusion is different, he and his mom still would love him…and I do believe that God still loves us.
I was also impressed at Dr Stump’s kind and humble interaction with him, acknowledging a lack of understanding from our part that can occur.
I also have about 20 minutes left, but hope to finish tomorrow morning

It would be educational and pleasant to interact with Dr McDowell on our discourse sometime…or at least to hear more from him. Thank you!


“We’ve bought into the American dream more than to the gospel”–another good quote from Sean McDowell.

I am very interested in his book on “True Love Waits.” I agree that his work will likely help explain purity in a good way. Being a dad and husband, I find purity and modesty to be more important than ever in showing our personal dignity. It’s a struggle we all need help with.

Thanks, Dr McDowell and Dr Stump.


Thanks Randy. Sean is very open to hearing and understanding our perspective. After we recorded that interview, he asked me to skype into his high school worldviews class to respond to questions about evolutionary creation.


Finally got around to this one myself, and I had the same reaction. His critique around the 30-min mark that evolutionary creationists are much more willing to bend theology to science than vice versa is mystifying. How does one “bend science” to fit theology? This strikes me as a category error of the highest magnitude. Theology and morality can set limits on scientific inquiry – such as banning certain types of experiments on human subjects – but theology cannot and should not be used to re-interpret the results of scientific inquiry. That’s like saying, “I don’t like your facts. Go get some new ones that fit my religious beliefs.”

Holding uncertain claims in tension is fine, but what fits that description? The origin of life? Common descent? The age of the earth? Global flood? Only one of those things is uncertain. Teaching people otherwise is setting them up for failure.

The “purity culture” of the 2000s did a lot of damage. Do some digging around before you buy the book.

Or just talk to your Christian millenial friends, we are still recovering. :rofl:

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Ouch. My daughter is 28. I didn’t realize what was happening in her Sunday School classes in middle school until she asked if she could participate in some sort of “purity ring” ceremony. I said, “Absolutely not! Don’t make vows to God. If you break it, you’re just adding one sin on top of the other.” She was embarrassed to be left out, but about a year ago, she thanked me for not letting her do it. One of the few correct decisions I’ve made in life.

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It was good to hear his perspective, but he certainly gave himself a lot of room to define things as he wished. In saying that he was comfortable with science so long as it did not conflict with historical Christianity, he essentially was saying, “as long as I agree it is OK.” (Those may not have been his exact words, but that was what I understood.) Historical Christianity got heliocentrism wrong, as well that little crusade thing, just to bring up a couple of instances.
Towards the end of the interview, he seemed to be a bit confused as to the relationship of ID and science, but that is a much bigger topic. One thing he did get correct is the tendency on all sides to lack humility in their views and dealings with those with whom they disagree. We need to work on that.

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Excellent interview, Jim!
I really enjoyed listening to this yesterday. I found the dialogue to be helpful in drawing out an understanding and gracious acceptance of different points of view

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It seems that many, perhaps most, people have some confusion in this regard. I myself have had a difficult time explaining it to people, so I really appreciated Jim’s response. I liked the distinction that ID bears a high burden of evidence, because they are dialoguing with scientists, not theologians

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Yes this is very true! Glad to hear that acknowledgment


Thanks @MOls

“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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