INTRO BY JIM: For many of us, entrance into issues of science and religion came through people who genuinely showed an interest in us. That was the case for James K. A. Smith, who is now Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College. His latest book is You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. See below an excerpt from his contribution to How I Changed My Mind About Evolution. The book is available now from the IVP website and very soon at retailers everywhere.
Perhaps surprisingly, it was at Bible college that I was first taught to care about science. That might strike some as odd, since we often perceive Bible colleges as anti-intellectual zones of hostility to science. But that picture needs to be corrected a bit. In my Bible college experience, I was energized by a new interest in science bequeathed to me by the energy and passion of my apologetics teacher. A former naval engineer with a PhD in chemical engineering, “Dr. Dave” had experienced a radical conversion and also sensed a call to ministry. . . His passion and knowledge were infectious. . .
Dr. Dave noted my curiosity and began to express personal interest, taking me under his wing as a kind of apprentice. Indeed, while the intellectual component fostered my curiosity about “creation science,” I think it’s crucial not to underestimate the personal and pastoral factors at work here as well. In significant ways, I cared about creation science because Dr. Dave had clearly demonstrated that he cared for me. I was open to being intellectually convinced precisely because I had already sensed that I was being pastorally cared for. My mind was open to creation science because Dr. Dave had expressed love and concern for my soul. . .
Not until later did I realize that, in my Bible college education, science was primarily of interest as ammunition in a culture war. . . Science was of interest insofar as it contributed “evidences” that would help win an argument, defeat an opponent and shore up a “position” in the culture war. Science was not entertained as a vocation or calling for Christians. . . I started to get an inkling that maybe I hadn’t gotten the whole story.