Interview with Eric Kretschmer: “A Tale of Two Worldviews”
Eric Kretschmer is Youth Director at Chapel By The Sea in Anchorage, Alaska, and an AP Biology teacher at a local Christian high school. His recent post for The BioLogos Forum, “A Tale of Two Worldviews: Being a Biology Teacher in a Christian School”, shares his experiences as both a church leader and biology teacher. We sat down with Eric to learn about more about his work.
What is the most rewarding part of being both a youth leader and a science teacher?
One of the most rewarding aspects for me involves educating Christian students in how to engage honestly with science, looking at the whole of reality through both the theological as well as the scientific perspective. This has been validated when I hear from my students years later as they share their successes in integrating their faith with science, as well as defending their faith against other philosophical constructs that are opposed to the Christian worldview. Seeing our young Christians not abandoning their faith in the face of honest scientific inquiry is one thing that continually motivates me to continue ministering in my current capacity.
What are some common misconceptions you hear from your students about evolution?
Within my AP Biology teaching context, at a Christian school, two of the most common misconceptions are, first, that macroevolution does not occur, and second, that the earth is not older than about 10,000 years give or take a few thousand on either side. This creates a huge challenge when attempting to teach Advanced Placement (AP) Biology in which the students are expected to treat seriously evolutionary theories within the framework of an old earth. Another over-arching misconception deals with the problem of equivocating belief in “evolution” with disbelief in God and/or the biblical scriptures. Many students come into my class with strong convictions that to believe in evolution is to contradict the Bible, seeing evolution and Christian belief as mutually exclusive.
How do your students typically respond when they learn you accept evolution as a Christian?
Below is a quote from one of my students related to this question, which I shared on the blog post earlier this month. To date (I’ve been teaching AP Biology for nine years) there has been a mutual respect for each other as we have engaged in these conversations:
I wanted to let you know that in AP Biology you really challenged my view of creation and evolution. Being raised in a Christian family, school and church my entire life, I had always been taught the literal six-day account of Genesis (especially at [our school] where they didn't allow any discussion or thinking on the topic). I still remember in AP Bio when you said that you believed in evolution AND you were a Christian. It was completely unexpected! I ended up writing my college essay about the topic and it has since been a topic that I am greatly interested in. Specifically why culture (secular and Christian) has created the mindset of ‘Creation vs. Evolution’ rather than God could have created the world through evolution.
What one thing do you hope your students take away from your biology course?
My hope is the same for all of my students, whether in the Biology class or my youth group, as well as for my own children: that they seek truth with an open, God-fearing mind wherever it may be found. The purpose of theological study is to seek God’s truth and His will through rigorously studying the Word of God accurately, while the purpose of scientific study is to look for truth within God’s creation. I hope my students can evaluate biblical and scientific truth in intellectually honest ways, always attempting to reconcile their faith and reason as they represent Christ in their culture.
What advice do you have for parents and teachers who are exploring evolution with their children and students?
I would encourage against coming across in a defensive manner if your child or student comes to you with questions that may seem contrary to your belief system. This is not endorsing a pluralistic worldview, but inviting and encouraging an open dialogue with them. I think it is also vital to read widely so that you remain informed as to the latest theories (both scientific and theological) being discussed in the public forum. For parents, if your child is in a public school this will allow you to speak in a more informed way with them. This will also allow for a more thoughtful response, coming across less defensive, which will hopefully encourage future conversations and a mutual respect for each other.