The following projects were supported by the BioLogos Evolution & Christian Faith grant three-year program.
BioLogos does not necessarily endorse the views expressed by the project leaders or their institutions, nor do the project leaders or their institutions necessarily endorse the views expressed by BioLogos.
Disputed Questions in Evolutionary Creation: Thomistic Responses for the Catholic Faithful and Other Curious Minds
Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP; Fr. James Brent, OP; Bro. Thomas Davenport, OP; and Fr. John Baptist Ku, OP
Evolutionary theory has raised numerous disputed questions among the Catholic faithful and other Christian believers concerning the relationship between faith and reason. As a team of Dominican friars and scholars committed to the preaching of the gospel, we believe that the Thomistic intellectual tradition grounded in the worldview of our Dominican brother, St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., can provide insightful and compelling responses to these questions. We are requesting funding not only to support our efforts to write a series of parish bulletin inserts for the Catholic faithful -- we imagine fifty-two inserts, one for every week of the year -- that explains the philosophical and theological framework that undergirds evolutionary creation, from a Thomistic perspective, but also to establish a website, ThomisticEvolution.org, which will allow us to disseminate our essays to a global audience of believers and non-believers via the Internet. We think that these resources -- the bulletin inserts and the website -- have the potential to reach and to educate a significant number of the approximately seventy million Catholics in the United States. We especially want to target college-age believers by reaching out to our own Dominican network of university parishes, campus ministries, and national collegiate organizations. It should also be of interest to our brothers and sisters who belong to other Christian churches and ecclesial communions who are seeking to reconcile faith and reason in a scientific age.
Educating Pastors to Educate the Church: Bringing Science Workshops to Pastors and Seminaries
Solid Rock Lectures
Dr. Gregg Davidson, Dr. Kenneth Wolgemuth, and Dr. Joel Duff
Many Christians look to their pastors or other church leaders for guidance on how to address, or whether to even consider evolution or an ancient earth. Pastors serve as gate keepers, yet few have had exposure to the actual scientific evidence, and fewer still have received any formal education in the sciences. Reaching pastors with the information they need to adequately minister to their congregations on this subject is a critical step in combating anti-science sentiments within the global church. Seminaries that recognize this need are hard pressed for a solution because of full course schedules, limited budgets, and uncertainty about what sources of scientific information can be trusted. Solid Rock Lectures is addressing this need by bringing weekend science workshops to seminaries and pastor conferences, taught by paired teams of Christian professional scientists who are gifted teachers, and offered free of charge to the receiving institutions. Presentations are richly illustrated with visual instructional media, and emphasize both the authority of scripture and the wonder of God’s natural creation.
Science and the Wisdom of God: An Interdisciplinary Project to Help Christians Gain an Appreciation for the Ingenuity Behind our Evolving Universe
Oral Roberts University
Dr. Dominic Halsmer, Dr. Andrew Lang, Dr. Hal Reed, Dr. John Korstad, Dr. Richard Seaman, and Dr. Lanny Endicott
Faculty members from Oral Roberts University will work to expand the Church's understanding and engagement with evolution and related issues at the interface of science and Christian faith. When viewed within the larger framework of all the sciences and the history of the universe, the emergence of complex life reveals the ingenuity of the Creator in a way that strengthens Christian faith. Team members from relevant academic areas will engage audiences by discussing the nature of God’s dual revelations, as well as proper methods for interpreting Scripture and nature. They will also facilitate discussions on the methods and limitations of science, and the role of systems biology in providing important clues as to the origin and development of life on earth. In particular, they will explore the evidence for evolutionary forms of creation in an effort to assess compatibility with Scripture and historic, orthodox Christianity. As a backdrop, they will also convey the history of our dynamic universe and deliver helpful guidelines for facilitating healing and reconciliation between the fields of science and theology. Interactive lectures within the Christian community, designed to engage participants, will be developed into a DVD media series. Television programming will also be developed on the compatibility of science and Christianity. Supportive companion books will be published, providing a cohesive educational experience that will be applied to enhance the knowledge of the local Christian community on issues of science and faith, especially in the area of biological evolution.
Teaching and Preaching Evolutionary Creation in the Church
Grace Truth Community Church
Dr. Seung-Hwan Kim
In our church and society, most Christians have been struggling to defend their faith against atheistic evolutionists’ criticism in evolution-and-faith debates. Meanwhile, evolutionary creation, which is embracing theistic evolution, has been proposed as the most compelling approach to make harmony between evolution and Christian faith. However, some people, including believer-scientists, theologians, and church leaders are skeptic to evolutionary creation. Moreover, most people are willing to conflict rather than harmony in science-and-faith debates. In response to both unbelievers’ challenges and believers’ disagreements in the church and society, how can we provide the better, persuasive explanation about the biblical accounts to defend our faith? Thus, to know the scientific, theological, and ecclesiological issues of evolutionary creation and to produce the teaching and preaching materials of evolutionary creation available for church leaders, we will perform the following approaches: 1) Interview unbelievers and believers, including scientists, theologians, church leaders, and laypersons, to collect their opinions on evolutionary creation, 2) Create the practical theology of teaching and preaching evolutionary creation in the church, 3) Organize conferences to discuss about the scientific, theological, and ecclesiological issues of evolutionary creation, and 4) Produce the materials available for church leaders to teach and preach evolutionary creation in the church. Finally, the completion of this project should provide new insights into the evolutionary process to the church and ultimately contribute to harmony between evolution and Christian faith.
Nazarenes Exploring Evolution
Northwest Nazarene University
Dr. Thomas Jay Oord
This multi-faceted project promotes the compatibility of evolution and Christian theology in the Church of the Nazarene. The project engages leaders, scientists, theologians, and laity, and it promotes the compatibility of evolutionary theory and Christian faith. The work does so by hosting and promoting a conversation, much of which is conducted by key leaders and scholars in this more than two-million member evangelically-oriented denomination. The project has three major parts: 1. Sixty thought leaders in the denomination write 1,000-word essays exploring evolution and post them online on important websites hosting the conversation. 2. A denominational conference at Point Loma Nazarene University explores science and faith with an emphasis upon theistic evolution. 3. A statement about creation is constructed and recommended to the denomination for official approval in its Manual, which is the document describing the denomination's core beliefs.
Moving Pastors Toward Scientific Literacy
Dr. Craig Story and Dr. Justin Topp
We will build an international network of pastors committed to increasing their scientific literacy. Pastors, as with the general population, often do not have a solid understanding of modern science, either of its methods or achievements. This lack of understanding, together with anti-religious proclamations coming from some members of the scientific community, can lead to suspicion and rejection of science, which can in turn hinder the gospel.
Our overarching goal is to provide pastors with tools to approach issues of science and faith with greater confidence.
We will create a safe forum for discussion and dialogue between pastors and working scientists who are also believers, where we will critically examine perspectives offered by science and faith. We will offer a one-week intensive course, taught cooperatively with science and seminary faculty, to a cohort of pastors from the US and Korea each summer, starting in 2014. We hope this program will gain a reputation for quality and excellence and become an ongoing resource for pastors to improve their understanding and appreciation of science as a way of learning about God’s world. To help refine the philosophical issues surrounding this conversation, we will also produce a book and scholarly articles. We plan to chronicle and document this effort in various ways, to help the program grow and to share it with other institutions.
Building Bridges Between Scientists and Evangelicals: Let the Conversation Evolve
Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor
Pastor Ken Wilson, Pastor Emily Swan, and David Paladino
The primary goal of our project is to assist a mission-driven, science-friendly change process within Vineyard churches and InterVarsity areas and chapters that are open to this shift; assist leaders in these organizations to accept theistic evolution as one of the legitimate approaches to integrating science and evangelical faith; and to help them become effective change agents within their organizations. Our secondary goal is to assist scientists and science educators to communicate with evangelicals more effectively regarding evolution. We aim to accomplish these goals in three ways: 1.develop, field test and run 4-5 catalytic events on university campuses to draw evangelical leaders into contact with scientists and science educators in order to jump-start a change process within each group and initiate reconciliation, 2.develop and field test follow up strategies, methods and materials for each group contextualized with their organizational structures and values to promote the change process, and 3.contribute pastor-friendly work to the scholarly literature promoting theistic evolution within each organization to model how an understanding of evolution can elucidate biblical truth for the 21st century mission field.
Faith Alive Christian Resources
Rev. Leonard Vander Zee and Mr. Dean Heetderks
With this award, Faith Alive Christian Resources will produce six high quality video for use by small groups in studying its book, Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, by Deb and Loren Haarsma. This book, which has already sold some 8,000 copies, has proved an excellent resource for helping evangelical Christians think through the issues of science, faith, scripture, and human origins. It approaches the subjects in a very accessible style, and, rather than push for a particular viewpoint on each topic, it allows the readers to come to their own conclusions, on the basis of the scientific and biblical evidence given. This book can be particularly effective when used by small groups or in church education settings for adults and older teens. In these situations, it is increasingly necessary to have a strong video component, since lay leaders feel unqualified to “lead” or “teach” in a small group setting on what may be a controversial subject. We believe, therefore, that the video production to accompany the book for small group and church education settings, will help spread the BioLogos message on the compatibility of science, and particularly “theistic evolution” and Christian faith.