When Small-Town Faith Meets Big-City Science: A Personal Reflection


(system) #1

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/when-small-town-faith-meets-big-city-science-a-personal-reflection

(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Thanks for these observations, Brad – people don’t go through self-evaluation, reflection, and possible changes of mind suddenly. Ironically, I had a bit of the same “tribal identity” reaction when I first read the title of your article: “When Small-Town Faith Meets Big-City Science…” There is an old sign I see in central Kansas; It says: “Lehigh - small, but it’s home”. That sign has always bugged me and I entertain the idea of finding some Lehigh person to suggest that their sign be changed to read: Lehigh - small, AND it’s home." Because as it is, it gives in to prevailing (and flat-out wrong) cultural attitudes that there is something wrong with smallness that requires apology, or that has to be overcome before a place could be considered “home”.

So in the same way, I would be careful about poking a stick into any fires that already separate rural America from urban America. We already see the red and blue divisions even within individual states themselves that separate these two big tribes from each other. There are farmers or other rural folks here in Kansas that can talks circles around me when it comes to tech and science, and I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) not to think of their cultural setting as any kind of a handicap. And I know you don’t; and aren’t suggesting that it is. I’m just agreeing with you that we all are sensitive about this, and that knee-jerk reactions, even to signs or captions can be important “first impressions.”

Thanks for sharing. We’ve got friends up in Lancaster County, ones who are Mennonite and very knowledgeable about evolutionary science. They may have been among the friendly visitors at the exhibit.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #3

Of course you’re right, Mervin, and to add to your point, Messiah College was of course founded by Anabaptists (supposedly some of them my ancestors) and it still retains a certain Anabaptist flavor, and they’re the folks that pay Ted Davis’s paychecks. Messiah College is in Mechanicsburg, PA, population 9,007.

Add to that that I’ve known plenty of urban and suburban young-earthers.

Still, I think it’s fair to acknowledge a rural / urban divide here. There is a cultural component here, and to a large extent it breaks along these lines.

For what it’s worth, I grew up in a small town (pop. 2,500) and I wasn’t offended by this.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

The problem I have with this discussion, which makes some excellent points, is that it talks about religion, but ignores theology. I have notices that most people seem to confuse Conservative Christianity with Evangelical Christianity, meaning Fundamentalism as defined by BioLogos.

I read that my denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is Evangelical, and it certainly is not liberal theologically, but we believe that Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible, which is the hallmark of Evangelicals. The Mennonites are historically a Conservative church, but not an Evangelical Church.

In my opinion there are good and bad theological reasons for opposing Darwinian evolution. The main bad reason is Evangelical theology which unbiblically makes the Bible the Word of God in the place of Jesus Christ. The main good reason is Logos theology which maintains that the God created a good Creation based on love and reason, the Logos Jesus Christ, NOT struggle and conflict as found in evolutionary survival of the fittest.

I hope BioLogos does not try to teach bad Darwinian science to Mennonites with bad Word theology. If we want Evangelicals to accept the truth about evolution, you need to address their bad Word theology and fix conflict survival of the fittest science with ecology.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

And I wasn’t taking offense either at Brad’s title. I just think it is a point of sensitivity (especially for rural folks) if they in any way feel looked down on by city folks. I’m sure that goes the other way too sometimes. But culturally (and I’m every bit as guilty of this attitude as anyone else) we do tend to glorify city life … you have probably heard things like “yeah, local boy went to xyz city and made it” (as in “he escaped our small town”). But we don’t usually hear the other way being admired (and how often does it happen?) Our New York City boy, so-and-so, went off to small-town Kansas and is doing well for himself. Of course this makes sense because most job opportunities will be in the urban areas, not to mention most entertainment and other attractions. So we are all guilty of urban (sub-urban) migration, at least mentally, if not literally. But culturally, I think we need to push back on that.


(Phil) #6

Glad to know some other small town folk are around here. I grew up in a town of 2000, or more accurately, grew up 15 miles outside a town of 2000, so definitely know small towns. Brad does a great job of describing the dynamics involved. People who hold positions that are outside the boundaries being discussed are already defensive, and for someone to go in and expect them to not bristle at a production like this is not very perceptive.

What can we take away from this as we encounter folks with different ideas around here? I think the ideas Brad puts forth can be used on the forum as well. We need to engage in conversation, even though we can’t share a cup of coffee and a plate of pancakes. We need to explore the common ground. We need to respect the viewpoint of those we encounter and not be dismissive.

I wish I could say I have always followed that path, as it is difficult to put our pride aside and when attacked, it is hard not to strike back. We will never find that common ground with everyone, but should make the effort to try.


(Colin Eakin) #7

Dear Brad

1). I have a doctorate in a scientific field
2). I do not live on a farm without internet, nor do I have a toothpick in mouth.
3). I reject evolution, not because I do not understand the supposed data, but because the so-called science is operating from an improper paradigm—uniformitarianism—which holds that the constants operating now now are identical to their properties at the inauguration of the universe.
4). It is insulting to insinuate that those in rural communities are bumpkins because they choose to understand the Bible as it is plainly written (eg. Acts 17:26; Gen. 3:20), rather than take the Biologos approach that when the Bible and “science” conflict, it is the Bible which must be reinterpreted.

Colin Eakin, MD


(Phil) #8

Science is pretty much in agreement that it is not understood how the physics works at the first nanoseconds but that after that, physics can explain pretty much how things work for the last 14 billion years or so (roughly).

Could you elaborate a bit and give examples of evidence that physical processes worked differently, say, over the past 6000 or 6 billion years? I am aware of none.


(Colin Eakin) #9

Science is NOT in agreement with your statement. There are many highly trained and highly regarded scientists who do not hold to evolutionary ideas (see ICR, Answers in Genesis, etc)

Your 14 billion years becomes invalid if speed of light were 10 orders of magnitude from beginning

The Bible is the completely and only reliable source for understanding what happened at the beginning. Any other idea is based on unprovable conjecture


(Colin Eakin) #10

There is literature as far back in the 1980s suggesting speed of light might have slowed in time.


(Phil) #11

And where is the data and what is the evidence that that is indeed true? What would we see if that was the case?


(Jay Johnson) #12

ICR and Answers in Genesis have highly regarded scientists? Highly regarded by whom? By you? By each other? It’s pretty certain no one outside those organizations has high regard for their “scientific” work.


(Brad Kramer) #13

That’s wonderful, I have much respect for those who have done the work required for this. What field?

I wrote this article because I don’t like those stereotypes.

Every view reads the Bible in light of science—including yours, I would offer. We just define “science” differently.

When I was a young-earth creationist, I thought I was reading the Bible plainly. Turns out I wasn’t. I was imposing a number of modern ideas onto my reading, without even realizing it (and the young-earth paradigm made it impossible for me to admit that I was doing this). The BioLogos approach is actually trying to “un-impose” those ideas.

Thank you for sharing that. I respect your perspective and I appreciate you sharing it in a clear and gracious way.


#14

While some YECs go this route (e.g., Barry Setterfield), others reject this hypothesis to the point that it seems like a minority YEC position today. Most notable are YEC astrophysicists Russell Humphreys and Jason Lisle, both of whom propose alternative (and more complex) models. The latter, e.g., proposes that light travels at different speeds depending on its direction…but this is quite different than saying the constant speed of light has changed over time. My only point is that, if the evidence were strong enough (within the confines of their presuppositions) to make a case, I’d suspect the YECs would rally around one position (as they’ve done on other relevant topics, such as meaning of “kind,” impact of the flood on geology, etc.) The competing models among the same group committed to the same conclusion betrays the difficulty of the problem itself. They are welcome to continue their exploration, but hopefully they are honest about the problem itself (as some YECs are, e.,g., Todd Wood).


#15

I am not sure they have one position of flood geology. There appears to be a divide between plate tectonics and no plate tectonics. It depends on which particular problem they are trying to address. I know they don’t agree on where in the geologic column the flood can be found.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #16

Uniformitarianism is wrong? I always thought that God is the same today, yesterday, and forever.


(Colin Eakin) #17

Dear Brad,

My doctorate is in medicine. I am an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine Stanford AB, UCSF MD, past adjunct clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford.

You might not like those stereotypes, but by entitling your article as you did, you communicate a bias that big city (read: enlightened, cosmopolitan) “science” has something to teach small town (read: backward, uninformed) faith communities. I live in a big city, know true science from false, and know the true gospel—“the power of God for the salvation of all who believe” (Rom. 1:16), which is the only true faith regardless of where one lives–big city or small town. Don’t underestimate the possibility that your big city “science” is rejected by those with “small town faith” because they both know their Bible and they know naturalistic assumptions about that which is unprovable are exactly that—unproven and unprovable.

I have yet to read an article in Biologos where the Bible is held up as true in its plain rendering when that plain rendering contradicts what is thought to be understood about the natural world. Rather, it seems like one article after another on why the Bible is actually saying the opposite of what one thinks upon first reading. The Bible in its straightforward rendering never contradicts true science, nor does anything it states in terms of generalities in its plain language ever contradict what can actually known in particulars about this world. If it appears to, it is our understanding of the particulars of this world which must be reimagined, and not the straightforward understanding of Scripture. You have erred in leaving this understanding, and now you seem determined to double down on your error. That is very sad to me.

When you were a young earth creationist, you were reading the Bible plainly in its literal/grammatical/historical context. You did so because you knew that from Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:17, God has been communicating His message to humans via propositional truths that are interpreted cognitively, with minds that have always functioned as His (cf. 1 Cor. 2:16), if finitely. How He communicated to Adam and Eve is how He communicates to us today. Nothing has changed, no matter how many books John Walton writes about the Lost World of Such and Such, and no matter how much the secular ANE experts insists we must keep them in mind as we interpret the Bible. That is why the message of God’s Word endures forever and is forever valid. And you are wrong that some “young earth paradigm” forces this misinterpretation. I do not read the Bible as I do because I have a “young earth paradigm.” I have a YEP because I read the Bible as I do–as though God clearly wrote in such a manner that His truths might be plainly known, and not in a manner where what He meant to say is the opposite of what He appears to say.

I am spending time after midnight writing to you because I am grieved for the wayward direction of your theology even more than because I am insulted by the sanctimonious and snarky tone of Biologos in general. Last year I published a book entitled “God’s Glorious Story” (GBF Press, 2017) which tells the story of the Bible from beginning to end (with a Foreword written by Dr. John MacArthur). Ch. 4 (“Creation: Fact and Fiction”) lays out plainly why evolution is impossible from a biblical framework, and why the earth could look so old and yet be so young. If it would interest you, i would be pleased to send you a copy, so that you could at least know why some of us who both love the Word of God and love science don’t all line up behind the meretricous dogma of Biologos.

Colin


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #18

*meretricious

If you’re aiming for a mic-drop moment here — trolling an article that you haven’t read based on the headline alone (poor form, by the way), using a tone at least as sanctimonious as that which you accuse others of using, and wrapping it up by describing your Christian interlocutors with a word evocative of harlotry — the least you can do is spell it right.


#19

Had to look that one up, but a good Word for the Day.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #20

I didn’t have to look it up, because I looked it up the last time he used it on the Forums (see the second-to-last paragraph there), and still remembered it. Apparently it’s one of his favorite put-downs for people he disagrees with. He keeps using that word, and unfortunately, it probably does mean what he thinks it means.

Anyway, I thought I had deleted my comment. I’m trying to take a page from @jpm’s book and toning down the snark. This is a place for gracious dialogue, after all. But if others responded, perhaps it should stay up. I’ll leave it to the moderators to decide. At any rate, I’m not proud of sniping at typos, particularly when there are more substantial matters to respond to, for those who may have time to respond.

God’s peace to all, including Colin.