Yesterday, biology professors Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner raised the concern that workshops focused on evolution-related training do not reach creationism-based biology teachers. Today, we'd like to focus on BioLogos' efforts to address that divide through our Biology by the Sea workshops by sharing a summary of our 2012 workshop.
Our third annual BioLogy by the Sea teachers’ workshop was another success. Middle and high school teachers from Christian schools came from all over the United States to take part in this weeklong workshop. Last year’s group continued studying biodiversity, while this year’s group studied developmental biology.
Showing Christian schoolteachers that one can be a believer who embraces the Bible as God’s inspired Word and evolution as His creative process has always been a mission of BioLogy by the Sea, the accomplishment of which is never guaranteed. During the first few days, several participants expressed doubt that their faith could be compatible with evolutionary creation. However, as the week came to a close, some of those who had previously denied compatibility seemed to be much more considerate of the notion—if not fully accepting of the idea altogether. If you’ve ever doubted evolution yourself, then you know that such acceptance is no small feat. There are numerous theological and philosophical barriers that must be dealt with, and to think that this could occur in the span of just one week is pretty amazing. Then again, the program had some pretty amazing guest speakers and activities—the most significant of which occurred throughout the week: prayer and worship to the One we all serve, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
While these times served to glorify God and nurture participants’ souls, the week was also filled with activities designed to nurture participants’ minds through the study of biblical passages and biological content. In addition to graduate level courses and accompanying labs in either biodiversity or developmental biology, participants went on field trips to the intertidal zone, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the La Brea Tar Pits, and the Gaslamp Quarter. Furthermore, presentations given by Dr. Gregg Davidson, professor of geology and geological engineering from the University of Mississippi, and Dr. Mary Schweitzer, paleontologist and associate professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences from North Carolina State University, offered key insights into their fields and demonstrated how the tenants of both are based on evidence rather than conjecture.
In short, this year’s BioLogy by the Sea offered another comprehensive look at what it means to be a Christian who accepts the conclusions of mainstream science—not at the expense of our faith in God or His Word, but in light of it. We can only hope that these teachers, who spent an entire week of their summer break with us, left with not only a greater sense of oneness as the body of Christ, but also found new ways to engage their students in matters of science and faith—another facet of the program’s mission. After all, the first step in protecting the next generation from the faith crisis that many seem to experience after they learn about evolution from a secular perspective is showing that it need not be an either-or situation. It’s also an important part of ensuring that Christian young people can rise to the forefront of global scientific research.