The Huffington Post published a couple of articles last week on science and religion. Pastor Ryan Gear wrote an article called “The Un-evolving Relationship between American Christians, Evolution, and Climate Change”. In it he considers the recent much-discussed Pew data on American religious beliefs and acceptance (or non-acceptance) of the scientific consensus on evolution and human-induced climate change. At BioLogos, we’ve stayed focused on issues of origins, trying to unbundle that issue from the several other that the Church faces today. But Gear makes the point that perhaps Evangelicals’ attitudes toward both the science of evolution and climate change would benefit from more careful attention to Scripture. Noting the obvious differences in Genesis 1 and 2, he says,
“The two creation accounts have less to say about science and more to say about living wisely in the world we inhabit and caring for it as God's VP's in charge of creation. Perhaps a closer reading of the Genesis creation accounts would grant conservative Christians a more comfortable relationship with science and actually motivate them to accept God's mandate to care for the earth.”
Also in religion pages of HuffPo, Margaret Placentra Johnston made “A Call to a Higher Standard”, telling the tragic story of a young man’s suicide when he felt caught between the religious literalism of his upbringing and the atheistic literalism of Richard Dawkins. She puts a significant burden on parents to prevent such disasters saying,
“responsible parenting must prepare a child to deal effectively with the wide diversity of worldviews he will be forced to face in life. Fully accountable parents must encourage their children to boldly evaluate the inevitable influx of new information with which they will be presented, and prepare them to deal openly with any resulting cognitive dissonance. Responsible science and philosophy professors will want to do the same.”
Consider our post last week on a similar topic: When should you introduce your child to evolution? Of course I’m biased, given my relationship to the author, but I love the concluding sentence:
“But if from a young age, children hear regularly that God created everything, loves them, and encourages our exploration of the world, then just maybe scientific discoveries they learn along the way will be less likely to become stumbling blocks for their faith or roadblocks to fully engaging God’s creation.”
Speaking of Richard Dawkins, he published an essay on his website called, “Is it a Theory? Is it a Law? No, it’s a fact”. In it he rues the fact that the “theory” of evolution has been co-opted by evolution skeptics to marginalize it as “only a theory”. There is a difference between the scientific meaning of “theory” and how the word gets used in common parlance. So he proposes to speak instead of the “fact” of evolution in the sense that it is “so firmly established by evidence that to deny it would be perverse”. The word “fact”, he thinks, has the same meaning in science as in its usage among ordinary, non-scientific types. I wonder, though, whether many people use “fact” similarly to how “rights” is used—merely as an indicator of what they really, really believe. At any rate, I’m afraid it’s not going to substantially change the dialogue—and that’s a fact!
Finally, if you’re looking to broaden your creation and evolution reading beyond the normal voices encountered in American evangelicalism, consider the current issue of Cosmologics. It is the online magazine from Harvard Divinity School about science, religion, and culture. The fall issue is called Rethinking Creation and Evolution. It includes more diverse topics than we typically discuss here, like this article about Jewish debates on evolution, and this one comparing Evangelicals and Muslims on science education. And there are some of the same topics we discuss, but from a broader perspective of cultural studies. This article about the Creation Museum examines the form of legitimizing embedded in the movement:
“By moving the young earth perspective out of the church and into a museum, creationist advocates expose in a physical, public site the tensions between these two sources of legitimation and belief—but not explicitly so. The Creation Museum cannot look like a church: its visual code must be read as a “museum” rather than as a sacred space. AiG preserves the authority of the museum-form itself and embeds in that place artifacts and interpretations which resist mainstream evolutionary scientific worldviews.”
And don’t miss Cosmologics’ interview with Ronald L. Numbers. His meticulously researched book The Creationists has been eye-opening to many people about the development of young-earth creationism.