Request for new UK church materials because of changes in the US


(Mary) #1

Given the political changes in the US which might mean a US education secretary who pushes 6 day creationism is chosen, and the fact that things that start in the US tend to hit the UK soon after, it might be a good time to devise new materials for general use in churches in the UK. For example, my church has an intelligent pastor who is a little interested in creation/evolution, but he is not a scientist - so his approach has been to not address the issue in church and to watch any videos that come his way. Most of those are creationist videos. I have now explained to him some of the difficulties with those and we are devising apologetics material for the general members and the youth group. He also knows not to invite everyone to events in town put on by 6 day creationists. But in churches that don’t have people explaining the Biologos outlook, I predict a huge influx of material from 6 day creationists. And people might take it at face value and assume it is a choice of evolution or the Bible! Any new materials need to contain a scientific viewpoint, they need to give a range of possible views for Christians, and they need to discuss Bible interpretation. (I have some ideas about that being a scientifically minded Bible translator! So do ask if you are interested.)


(Albert Leo) #2

Mary, if you have not seen it, you may want to consider the video “Author of Life”, a seven part series produced by Josh Hayashi and Dianne Sweeney under a BioLogos grant. They are both educators in Christian schools, and they present the evidence for evolution as shown in the beautiful diversity of life on the Hawaiian Islands. It can be found under Resources and Teaching Aids. The fact that Ken Ham immediately attacked it is evidence that it is an effective teaching tool in convincing young YEC folks that evolution is not a 'godless theory.'
Al Leo


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #3

Hello Mary,

Folks here on the Forum can recommend lots of videos to you but most of those will advocate for the evolutionary creationist position, rather than “give a range of possible views for Christians.” It seems to me that very few organizations are motivated to produce materials presenting a range of views, because the raison d’être for most of these organizations is to promote a particular platform like evolutionary creationism (theistic evolution), old earth creationism, intelligent design, young earth creationism, etc.

One of my favorite DVDs is called “From the Dust.” If you’d like a copy, feel free to borrow it from me when next you’re paying a visit to where you did your Bible translation. :wink: (Shhh… Nobody knows who I am here on the Forum. :slight_smile: )

Best,
AMW


(Mary) #4

Thanks. That looks interesting, though I am not sure how to view it. I think there is also a need for something new that can be covered in one or two sessions - without a lot of detail, but still implying that a range of views are possible while being “Biblical”! Possibly one for adults and another for teenagers.


(Mary) #5

Got you! That would be very helpful. I have developed my own materials for my church and I do present the whole range, though my arguments for evolutionary creationism are a little stronger! In the church context, especially with young people, I think a range is important so that they develop their own thinking, and also respect the views of their parents. In the end, I would want the take home message to be that the Bible can be interpreted different ways, and there are good reasons for not always choosing the most literal interpretation, and that whatever your beliefs are, there are no grounds for telling someone that they have to choose between science and the Bible. I can see we might have some interesting conversations about what would be good to include. It looks as though I will get a chance to present something in April to the YP - so your input before then could be helpful. See you next year!


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #6

I absolutely agree with your approach. In the end, it’s likely you may have to go to each of the separate organizations to cobble together resources. I believe Reasons to Believe (www.reasons.org) is the online epicenter of Old Earth / Progressive Creationism, and the Discovery Institute (www.discovery.org) is the main Intelligent Design proponent. BioLogos has a lot of projects going, though, and it’s possible one of them might include this sort of resource. Let me tag some moderators and see what they might be aware of – @BradKramer? @Christy? (Christy is also a linguist, by the way.)


(Thanh Chung) #7

That looks interesting, though I am not sure how to view it.

http://theauthoroflife.org/ I think this is the website that has the Author of Life video series that Albert mentioned


(Mary) #8

Thanks!

It would be great if BioLogos could break the mold and come up with say an hour’s video that covers all the viewpoints. They should have confidence that their viewpoint will clearly be the best option and that people will see that! When I go to conferences and hear speakers defending their theory, the ones that impress me the most are the ones that give credit where it is due to others without feeling threatened. And those that admit where their theory still needs a bit of work are respected more than those who get angry at any opposition. The main message should be that our viewpoint on this doesn’t affect our eternal destiny, and the main thing is respect for different views - without judging a person’s intelligence or willingness to accept Bible teaching! A video like this could still contain enough to make a really convincing case for the BioLogos view!


(Mary) #9

I just looked at the start of the first one and this looks very good! Thanks!


(Casper Hesp) #10

From the perspective of science communication, the problem with presenting viewpoints alongside each other is that it can misrepresent the relative standing of these perspectives. “Teaching the controversy” can be harmful when it leaves the lay audience with the impression that the alternate viewpoints are somehow on equal footing with each other.

In analogy, when the pros and cons of anthropogenic climate change receive 50/50 attention, people get the impression that there’s still a lot of disagreement and uncertainty among scientists on this topic. However, in reality, there is no such disagreement in the scientific community anymore.

In a similar way, I don’t think it is healthy or necessary to pay equal attention to all the different perspectives on origins when speaking to a non-expert audience. For example, science decidedly contradicts both YEC and OEC perspectives. If the ID perspective is taken to include the claim that design is scientifically measurable, it also becomes very problematic. You don’t want to be sending the implicit message that all of these positions are tenable on scientific grounds.


(Jay Johnson) #11

@Swamidass might be able to point you in the right direction.[quote=“Mary_Pearce, post:5, topic:5984”]
whatever your beliefs are, there are no grounds for telling someone that they have to choose between science and the Bible.
[/quote]


(Mary) #12

I totally agree! The trouble is that that is the perception of the situation in many churches. We need to get basic teaching out there - in a form that will be acceptable to a lot of churches (so acknowledging a wide range of beliefs) - but not compromising on the important stuff, and discouraging the all or nothing approach of “6 day creationism or evolution”!


(Mary) #13

I don’t think they need to be given equal weight, but in presenting this to a whole church, we need to respect that people have firm beliefs that are not going to budge far if we walk in saying “I am the expert who knows all the answers”. However, if we can first communicate that there are different views out there and that we need to have a lot of respect for each other however much we disagree, that sets the scene for more discussion at a later stage and it opens kids minds to thinking rather than swallowing a ready packaged view. There is no harm in saying “I actually believe this one, I respect this bit of this one - but not that bit, and if you accept 6-day creationism, you have to reject the whole basis of science and also adopt an odd view of God’s personality in that he must have tried to fool us!” When I say different views, I mean a range: 6 day young earth, ID, “kinds and macro/micro discussion”, evolutionary creation (with various views on Adam, Eve and monkeys!), and of course evolution without God. If a pastor moves from the first or second to the third one of these, I will rejoice! For some people, the link with monkeys is just a link too far. But the main thing is that they don’t block an aspiring young scientist by telling him or her that they must believe the 6-day version.

I think this is totally different when discussing with the scientific community (or someone who claims to know enough science to argue using it!). I also agree that teaching in schools can’t be done by the “all possibilities are equally possible” method! But in churches, we might need to go steadily at first so that people understand why we are appealing to science at all.


(Phil) #14

Good points, but I would modify that a bit by saying: the main thing is that they don’t lead a young Christian to reject the gospel "by telling him or her that they must believe the 6-day version."
That to me is the primary goal, and if your church can just agree that there are different viewpoints that are compatible with Christianity, it is a win. I think the rest will work itself out.


(Mary) #15

I agree totally! That has to be our focus.

Actually for my church, I don’t need these materials so much because I have already started a dialogue going - but I think there is a need across the UK for something that could be used in many churches - especially when there isn’t a scientist ready to tackle the topic.


(GJDS) #16

The notion of a 6day creation is a novelty that has been put forward by non-orthodox teachings, and does not square up with Orthodox Christianity - for example, this quote from Basil shows how a deeper meaning was understood many centuries ago:

"Thus, every time that, in the revolution of the sun, evening and morning occupy the world, their periodical succession never exceeds the space of one day. But must we believe in a mysterious reason for this? God who made the nature of time measured it out and determined it by intervals of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the week to revolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself: a proper circle begins and ends with itself. Such is also the character of eternity, to revolve upon itself and to end nowhere. If then the beginning of time is called “one day” rather than “the first day,” it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It was, in reality, fit and natural to call “one” the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others. If Scripture speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere, “age of age, and ages of ages,” we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It follows that we are hereby shown not so much limits, ends and succession of ages, as distinctions between various states and modes of action. “The day of the Lord,” Scripture says, “is great and very terrible,” Joel 2:11 and elsewhere “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord: to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light.” Amos 5:18 A day of darkness for those who are worthy of darkness. "


(Peaceful Science) #17

This does not appear likely.

It seems that candidate has withdrawn, and he was never offered the job. Currently on the shortlist, is Michelle Rhee from Teach for America who is most certainly not a 6 day creationists. Regardless, this is all reading tea leaves now. It is entirely possible that the new president will govern pragmatically (no one knows yet), and therefore avoid this controversy entirely. That would be the wise option, and it may even by among the most likely paths we will take in the US.

We certainly need good church materials about evolution, but I do not think this has anything to do with current US politics. As much as US politics can be concerning, let’s take a deep breath and focus on things more important.


(Mary) #18

Thanks for this reassurance! My concern was based on a Facebook entry from a fellow linguist who thought it was likely. I know to treat such posts with some skepticism, but it sounded plausible. I am glad we can relax and keep breathing! As you say though, such materials for general church use would still be a really useful resource. And possibly there needs to be different material for the US and the UK as the assumptions in the church are different. In the UK, giving evidence for a designer is a good thing - and it is seen as something really positive and exciting (because the case for this is extremely strong). In the US, if you use the word “designer”, bristles rise and a battle starts, and suddenly you find yourself talking about approaches in education! - because of the influence of ID. So I think different nuances in the apologetics are necessary. The truth is the same, but the way to communicate it is different.


(Jay Johnson) #19

A good organization with worthy goals. Thank you for the ray of sunshine.


(Tim Reddish) #20

Hi Mary

As someone who moved from England to Canada in 2002, I can appreciate the differences and sensibilities from both sides of the pond. You might want to check out my recent book, Science and Christianity: Foundations and Frameworks for Moving Forward in Faith (Wipf & Stock), which is available on Amazon (including amazon.co.uk.). It was written with pastors and thoughtful Christians in mind and does not assume an in-depth science background, but neither does it trivialize the complex issues involved. It would be a good starting point for a UK audience. (It also has a chapter on biblical interpretation.) You can also get a flavor from my blogs with Biologos!

All the best
Tim