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Beware Evolutionary 'Just-so' Stories About Religious Belief

As an evolutionary biologist I am fascinated by the emergence of cognitive abilities that make us so distinctive from other living species. There are, however, risks in making up evolutionary "just-so" stories to explain the origins of complex human beliefs.

 

Are We Genetically Predisposed to Believe in God?

This entry was originally posted on February 13, 2010. While the question of evolutionary predisposition toward religious belief may be challenging, Christians need not see it as threatening. In fact, this is actually a Pauline notion that is explored in Romans 1, where Paul claims that it is in mankind’s nature to “know God”.

 

Stochastic Grace

I was raised in a household of atheists. My parents were card-carrying members of the American Communist Party, and therefore the atheism in my household was quite close to the militant anti-theism of the so-called “new atheists”.

 

Series: Ephesians 4:1-6: A Call of Christian Unity (9 entries)

This series discusses the importance of unity among Christ’s believers. Ross Hastings, an expert in the areas of both chemistry and pastoral theology, is eager to see the church seek out unity rather than divisions in this science/faith interface. Unpacking Ephesians 4:1-6, he explains that unity in Christ through the Holy Spirit is the primary concern of both Jesus as seen in John 17 and Paul in Ephesians 4, making this matter pressing. He urges all believers to be in agreement that God indeed created, yet to be in dialogue over how that creative process occurred.

 

A Plea to My Shepherds

... I would exhort these, my fellow conservative evangelical shepherds and thinkers, to set aside all reticence and fear, emerge from anonymity, and storm the forum of discourse, engaging this most pressing matter with vigor, equanimity, and humility. In doing so, know upfront that there will be few handrails to guide; you will not be building upon an extensive precedence of published conservative thought.

 

Evangelicalism and Adaptation

I look my students dead straight in the eye and tell them that no matter what, debate within the intellectual sphere cannot and should not take away or diminish the importance of the personal nature of their faith. The intellect, to use a scientific phrase, while necessary for the faith, is not sufficient

 

Evolution, the Enlightenment, and Worldviews

In this video conversation, N.T. Wright discusses how the Enlightenment worldview -- which clearly separates God from the world -- has impacted our view of Scripture, and why cleaning the "spectacles" through which we view the world can help us see both Scripture and the world more clearly.

 

Made in the Image of God: Human Values and Genomics

Genes and physiology are seen as something different from "us" and "our mind," and they seem to be controlling us, so we can't even change our mind. Humans are presented as pawns of their biology, puppets dancing to the tune of their genetic masters.

 

Does Evolution Compromise Human Morality?

Once we have a scientific hypothesis for how something exists, it is tempting to make the philosophical inference that this is also why it exists.

 

Can Science Ever Know Enough?

To say something is poetic is not to declare it ultimately untrue, futile and meaningless—it is to say it is more profound and meaningful and true than many other modes of expression.

 

Series: Divine Action in the World (5 entries)

In this talk, Professor Plantinga addresses the fact that many contemporary thinkers—including many theologians—believe that God cannot perform miracles, providentially guide history, or interact in the lives of people, as these activities would be contrary to science. Plantinga, on the other hand, makes the case that this popular view is mistaken; excluding divine action in the world is not a central feature of natural science itself, but a philosophical or theological preference that has been added on to science (and can just as readily be removed). Plantinga concludes that it is completely logical to accept the miracles of the Bible and support contemporary science.

 

Gracious Dialogue

Our desire to engage in gracious dialogue with fellow believers who reject biological evolution has been receiving increased attention in both the Christian and secular press. More importantly, we are being joined in this reconciling project by our brothers and sisters in Christ who have often been defined primarily as our “opponents”.

 

Naming 'the God Particle'

The discovery of the Higgs boson would certainly be a breakthrough for particle physics and cosmology, but would such a finding also radically redefine theology’s understanding of God or challenge the existence of such a deity? Is there actually any theological or religious significance in Higgs physics at all?

 

What is Scientism?

Scientism is a rather strange word, but for reasons that we shall see, a useful one. Though this term has been coined rather recently, it is associated with many other “isms” with long and turbulent histories: materialism, naturalism, reductionism, empiricism, and positivism.

 

Series: Thinking Aloud Together (4 entries)

This series by Scot McKnight relates a lecture given at the 2012 BioLogos workshop for Evangelical theologians, scientists, authors and pastors. He explains that evolution is taught in public schools, and therefore must be addressed by Evangelical pastors in the churches as well. This will educate a whole generation of upcoming scientists on the issues of science and faith. Overall, he encourages scientists and pastors to collaborate on the issue as they rethink the long held interpretations of Genesis 1-3.

 

Why should Christians consider evolutionary creation?

Because evolution is a challenging subject, many Christians are tempted to simply ignore or reject it. Yet considering evolutionary creation has important benefits for Christians both in our relationship with the Creator, and with our relationships with other people—believers and non-Christians alike. First, Christians should study evolution because (like all the natural sciences) it is the study of God’s creation. Creation itself is a complementary revelation to what is communicated in the Scriptures, and through it God shows how and when he brought about life, to his honor and glory. Studying the creation is also an invitation into a deeper understanding of the attributes and character of Father, Son and Spirit. Second, considering evolutionary creation aids the Church in its gospel mission, supporting young Christians in their faith, helping answer critics, and equipping us to engage effectively in the wider culture. An anti-evolution attitude can harm Christian young people by presenting them with a false choice between pursuing science OR holding to faith. Similarly, a hostile attitude towards evolution can hinder evangelism when seekers hear that they must reject science to follow Christ. On the other hand, studying evolution as a God-ordained process helps Christians refute arguments that science encourages an atheistic worldview. Furthermore, as the church engages front-page issues raised by the rapid growth in science, medicine, and technology, a Christ-centered voice in such areas as bioethics will be stronger if based on a thorough understanding of the natural sciences, including evolution.

(Updated on September 9, 2012)

 

Series: He Who Has Ears (4 entries)

Scholar and musician Jeff Warren addresses the questions of how music is meaningful, and where that meaning resides, by looking at the popular ideas that musical meaning is entirely subjective to the listener and that the meaning of music can be universal. He also explores the recent trend of attempting to explain music via neuroscience. Finally, he looks into the reasons why music continues to play such a critical role in the worshiping life of the Church.

 

Let's Not Surrender Science to the Secular World!

As much as I sympathize with Giberson and Stephens, I am concerned that one of their central assumptions—that there is a divide between ‘secular knowledge’ and Christian—essentially undermines their very pursuit of a middle ground where the two can be ‘integrated’.

 

The Source of Human Value

In this video, physicist Ard Louis describes that our value and purpose do not come from whether or not we were created by an evolutionary mechanism. Evolution may tell us something about how we were created, but it is not the source of our worth.

 

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church

A five-year project headed by the Barna Group explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture.

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181 resources found (displaying 1-20)
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