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Reconciling Evolution | Part One

We talk about the history of teaching evolution and introduce some of the research from the Reconciling Evolution research team.


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Classroom with evolution 101 on screen

We talk about the history of teaching evolution and introduce some of the research from the Reconciling Evolution research team.

Description

Though the theory of evolution has revolutionized the biological sciences, bringing the theory into the classroom still causes some fear and trembling—from teachers, students, parents. Last fall we spent some time with a group of people who have been researching how to teach evolution better, in a way that acknowledges the emotional and religious tensions that comes into the classroom and attempts to help students understand the science of evolution while retaining—even bolstering—their faith. In this episode we talk about the history of teaching evolution and introduce some of the research from the team.

Before You Read

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Transcript

Oni:

I never knew there was any place where such conversation could take place. I never knew people could talk openly about evolution and religion. 

Cordero: 

The argument that you could learn evolution and lose your faith is a valid argument if you’re being told you have to choose evolution or faith. And if we can help people recognize, or acknowledge in the classroom with students, that there are plenty of people of faith that accept evolution, that false dichotomy vanishes. And so now it doesn’t become choosing one or the other. 

Jensen:

And so I started looking into it and it was fascinating looking at how many students were struggling with this. And I was seeing it in my classes too, so many crises of faith and thinking, what is going on here? And so we started investigating it a little more and realized how big of a problem it was.

Tolsma:

I did have, just last spring, a student write in their reflection that they came to Northwestern College, assuming evolution was false, it was completely in conflict with Christian faith, and that they have completely changed their mind. They see evolutionary theory as this beautiful process that God created, that God created this beautiful process, and she said it really enhanced her appreciation of who God is, God’s creativity, and her sense of awe and wonder.

Lindquist:

I became fascinated with revealing the fingerprints of God in creation, through this process of natural selection, and sexual selection, and neutral theory, and all these wonderful aspects of evolutionary biology, which I felt really free to explore. And I didn’t feel threatened anymore because I can’t fear truth, because God is a God of truth. 

Stump: 

Welcome to Language of God. I’m Jim Stump. 

Hoogerwerf: 

And I’m Colin Hoogerwerf.

Stump: 

Last fall, we were invited out to the mountains just outside of Provo, Utah to sit in on a three day workshop run by a research group at BYU called Reconciling Evolution.

Hoogerwerf: 

RecoEvo for short. 

Stump: 

Biologists, theologians, and pastors from colleges and universities around the country came together at the workshop to learn and to develop materials to bring back to their institutions to help in the teaching of evolution. There were representatives from evangelical Christian schools, Catholic schools, and even from large secular universities, so the conversations were broad and always interesting. 

Hoogerwerf: 

We talked to a bunch of people over the three days about the tensions of teaching evolution and about how to do it better using some specific techniques which we’ll talk about. You just heard some of those voices and  we’ll introduce them as we go. We have two episodes. In this episode we will talk generally about the teaching of evolution, the tensions and pitfalls, the history, and we’ll hear from some of the researchers who have been studying this and what they have found that seems to be a really effective way to teach evolution to those who might be leery of it. 

Stump: 

Then in next week’s episode we’ll talk to some of the groups that came out to the workshop, and we’ll hear about how this all works in the real world. 

Hoogerwerf: 

But before we do that, I think it might be interesting to back up a bit. If our audience has been around the podcast for a while they’ve heard some interviews about evolution and heard stories from people that have overcome tensions with evolution. But they’ve also heard a lot of episodes about vaccines or environmental issues, conversations about what it means to be human, space, technology… People who have followed BioLogos for a long time know that it wasn’t always that way, that evolution used to be the major focus of almost everything we did. How did we get here? How exactly did BioLogos get started? 

Stump: 

Well, I wasn’t yet part of the organization in the earliest days, but I think I’ve talked to all the people who were. Here’s the elevator speech version of the way I usually tell the story: Francis Collins had finished leading the human genome project and decided to write a book.

Hoogerwerf: 

The Language of God…after which our podcast is named!

Stump: 

Right. That was published in 2006 and it tells the story of how he, a world-famous scientist, became a Christian as an adult, and how he reconciled his acceptance of the theory of evolution with that Christian faith. It was an unexpected best-seller, and lots of people wrote letters and emails to him, expressing so much thanks that he would talk about this topic, and then asking some follow-up questions.

Hoogerwerf: 

What were the questions people were asking back in 2006? Probably not about vaccines?

Stump: 

No, but the same kinds of things people ask today when considering evolution specifically. Things like, what about Adam and Eve, or what about death before the Fall, or did God guide or otherwise intervene in the process to guarantee that creatures like us would evolve, or how can we be in the image of God if we’re related to all the other creatures?

Hoogerwerf: 

Just some quick and easy answers to those, huh?

Stump: 

Yeah right. Francis got overwhelmed pretty quickly at replying to all these people, so instead got a team of experts together and categorized the questions, and wrote out answers to them, put them on a website, and called it BioLogos.

Hoogerwerf: 

Many of those remain in our Common Questions section of the website today. But now we have questions that cover a lot more than evolution.

Stump: 

Yes, but originally that was the big issue — evolution, and the related questions like the age of the Earth and universe, and questions about biblical interpretation that directly affect what we think the Bible says about origins. And it was a very intentional strategy back then to try to unbundle evolution from everything else.

Hoogerwerf: 

What do you mean?

Stump: 

There are other science and faith organizations that, how shall I say this diplomatically, have a different view than we do on consensus science, and they have very effectively bundled their view on science together with other issues in the culture wars. 

Hoogerwerf: 

And their view on science has a particular issue with evolution, as opposed to say, photosynthesis?

Stump: 

Right. Their standard line is that if you accept evolution, then you reject the authority of the Bible, and then that leads to everything they think is wrong with the world, and evolution is to blame.

Hoogerwerf: 

I think I’ve seen a cartoon that shows evolution shooting cannonballs at the biblical foundation of the creationist castle, like it is going to turn everything to rubble.

Stump: 

Yes, that’s a classic one. And many people we talked to were persuaded that you had to accept a package deal of evolution with all of the other culture war issues that are bundled together on the political left of the spectrum. So as this new organization, BioLogos tried to unbundle the issues saying “no, we’re not talking about any of those other things, we’re just trying to explain the science of evolution and how that doesn’t conflict with a faithful reading of the  Bible.”

Hoogerwerf: 

More recently, though, we have expanded our topics to include some other things. 

Stump: 

Yes, after about 10 years, we decided that we had earned enough trust with our audience, and enough people in our audience were asking for us to bring the same kind of approach to some other topics: Christ-centered faith, rigorous science, and gracious dialogue. So we updated our mission statement and decided to devote some resources to creation care, and human identity, and most recently vaccines and COVID under the category of bioethics and medicine.

Hoogerwerf: 

Those other topics have become pretty central for us in the last couple of years. Obviously the COVID pandemic demanded that we focus a lot of attention on both the science and faith of how we respond to this situation. And given the high-profile tensions with race over that same time period, we felt we needed to talk about that as well from both a scientific and theological point of view.

Stump: 

And of course the effects of climate change are impinging themselves on us forcefully enough now that we can no longer ignore it as something further down the road, so we’ve been addressing that too.

Hoogerwerf: 

But we didn’t solve the evolution issue, did we?

Stump: 

If by “solve” you mean “we’ve convinced everyone of the truth” then no, we’re not there yet. There continues to be a substantial portion of the American population that rejects evolution, and most of those people who reject it are also Christians.

Hoogerwerf: 

And the fact that they are Christians is not just a coincidence, but it is because of their faith that they reject the science of evolution. They think that if they believe in the Bible and in God, then they can’t believe in evolution. 

Stump: 

That’s the classic articulation of the problem, and our answer has been: you don’t have to choose between God and evolutionary science.

Hoogerwerf: 

You just said a substantial part of the population believes this. How substantial exactly?

Stump:

For example, I used to teach a course to graduating seniors at a Christian liberal arts college, and a few times I did a unit on science and religion. Before I said anything about the topic, I’d hand out a kind of pretest just to gauge what they thought about things. One of the questions I asked was, “What is the goal of scientists?” and I left the answer open-ended. When I tabulated the results—and my sample size over the several semesters I did this was several hundred students—the most common answer fell into the category of “trying to disprove the Bible” as though each week scientists get together in their laboratory meetings and decide, “which chapter and verse are we going after this week.” And remember, these are students from all majors, in their last year of college, who somehow have the view that the very purpose of science is at odds with their Christian faith.

Hoogerwerf: 

I have to admit this tension with evolution has always been a bit foreign to me. I grew up in a mainline church and though I went to a Christian liberal arts school I found myself at a secular university for Grad school, in the environmental school of all places. I never experienced any tension with evolution, never knew that I should. And before I came to BioLogos, I might have been surprised to learn just how big of an issue evolution really is for many people. 

Stump: 

My situation was a little different. I grew up in very conservative Christian circles, and although my immediate family didn’t think science was the root of all evil, there were plenty of people around me who did think that way. They did their best—out of pure motives, I might add—to protect and isolate us from evolution. So when I went to graduate school at big secular universities, I was a little shocked at how obvious evolution seemed to everyone. But it wasn’t understood by most people to be a threat or competitor to religious belief. It was just the science of what had been figured out about how the world works.

Hoogerwerf: 

It’s pretty clear that our own experiences don’t always give us a very accurate picture of the world. Maybe we should bring in some more systematic data. We’ve seen some recent survey results that asked 18 – 35 year olds what makes them doubt things of a spiritual dimension? They list science as the second most common reason. We happen to have a bunch of people who have been studying this issue, working with the data and who know something about what’s happening.

Stump:

Yes, we’ve been talking a lot. Let’s bring in a few guests. 

Jensen: 

I think these students, either they’ve never thought about it, and they just think, oh, that ‘evil-ution’, ‘evolu-shun’, right, is something I don’t talk about, but they don’t know why. Or they have thought about it deeply and they don’t know how to reconcile it. And no one’s offered them a bridge. It’s either been just ignore it, it doesn’t matter because it’s not true. Or we’re just not even gonna talk about it, leave your religion at the door, let’s not talk about it. And they’re looking for a bridge. I’ve had so many students reach out to me and say, help me figure out how this goes together.

Jamie Jensen, Associate Professor at Brigham Young University.

Stump: 

Jamie Jensen is a biology professor at BYU, and leads the RecoEvo team of researchers and has been instrumental in putting together the workshop we attended as well as a few prior workshops on the topic. 

Meadows:

I’m a long term southerner. I was born in Mississippi, I’ve lived my whole life in the South. I love the South. And as I was becoming a science teacher, and then a science educator, I saw this pattern that was distressing to me where Christian kids who love Jesus and love science felt like they were forced to choose between their faith and science. And so often they chose science and they gave up on their faith, as BioLogos knows a lot about. And I wanted to find a way to a way another way.

I’m Lee Meadows, I’m a professor of science education in the School of Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Hoogerwerf: 

Lee has been a long time friend of Biologos and is another researcher on the RecoEvo team.

Cordero: 

I’m not just trying to teach you about some enzymes that you have no emotional connection to. I’m trying to teach you something that you are passionately resisting or fearful about or you are bringing a lot of baggage that has absolutely nothing to do with the biology.

I’m April Maskiewicz. Cordero, I teach at Point Loma Nazarene University. 

Stump: 

April has been on the podcast before. She’s also on the BioLogos Board of Directors. Her research has focused on developing more effective ways to teach controversial science topics. 

Hoogerwerf: 

This was a fun group of people to hang out with in Utah for a few days. They were all passionate about teaching science, and trying to find the best ways to remove the barriers students have to learning that science.

Stump: 

Lee Meadows has been doing this sort of thing for a long time, and he sets up the problem really well.

Meadows:

What I say to teachers is, don’t lecture evolution, because then you set up this war in the kid’s mind between the authority of the science teacher lecturing on evolution, and then the kid is having to judge versus the authority of my pastor who said, “evolution is of the devil.” And that authority versus authority thing— I just, first, I’m not sure that’s how we should teach science anyway. And then in the case of evolution, that puts kids in a bad light of they’re having to choose between these authority figures.

Hoogerwerf: 

And this is really where we have been for a long time. Teachers go into a classroom with a lot of fear and hesitancy about teaching evolution. In some cases that means that kids just don’t learn it. In other cases, the teachers try to teach the science without addressing any of the worldview baggage that has come into the classroom along with it. 

Meadows:

Then we’re back to where we were at the start of my career, where it was either I don’t teach evolution because—  I’m a science teacher but I don’t teach it because I’m afraid of it. Or I’m afraid I’m gonna hurt kids. I’m afraid of community pushback. Or it’s the, “check your faith at the door, we don’t talk about faith in here, we’re just teaching the science.” And that hasn’t seemed to have gotten us anywhere.

Stump:

It seems like the problem is that there are deeper worldview commitments at work in students that prevent us from “just teaching the science.”

Hoogerwerf:

How did it get to be this way? There are a lot of very complicated scientific ideas which are taught without a problem. April agrees that from a purely biological standpoint, teaching evolution might not be any different than teaching about photosynthesis, but clearly the students don’t see it that way. 

Cordero: 

It’s just like enzymes and photosynthesis or how the cell membrane works. It’s exactly the same as that. But I’ve reconciled it with my religion. They’re not coming in with any preconceived ideas about the cell membrane that’s being influenced by their worldview, their parents, their upbringing, anything like that. They’re being influenced by fear and very strong emotions that are right there in the classroom with them when the word evolution comes out or the word Darwin comes out, or adaptation. And I can name a million science words and they have no emotional reaction. So that’s why we have to deal with it. It is distinctly different.

Stump: 

There is a history in this country that goes back a long way that plays into the preconceived ideas that students bring with them about evolution. 

Hoogerwerf: 

Let’s take a quick historical tour to put some of this into context. Starting with Darwin who published Origin of Species in 1859 and The descent of man in 1871.

Stump:  

In America, many prominent Christians began to speak out against evolution in the late 1800s. And then, in 1925 Tennessee passed a law banning the teaching of evolution, sparking the Scopes Monkey Trial. The trial was a media sensation but it did not result in overturning the Tennessee law. In fact, afterward, two more states passed similar laws and it spurred other policies making it harder to include evolution material in textbooks for public schools. And Scopes really drove conservative Christians apart from the scientific mainstream.

Hoogerwerf: 

Skip ahead to 1961. Henry Morris and John Whitcomb publish a book called The Genesis Flood, which attempts to show that scientific evidence supports a literal bible reading. It became a bestseller. 

Stump: 

It’s not until 1968 that the supreme court makes a ruling striking down the laws which made it a crime to teach evolution, but by this point a major cultural movement had already taken place. 

Hoogerwerf: 

In the 1980s there were several other court cases about the teaching of evolution and all of them ended in support of teaching evolution in schools. But many states and school boards continue to try and pass laws and regulations around the teaching of evolution with more court cases in the early 2000s. 

Stump: 

In one of those, the debate changed to Intelligent Design, attempting to make it less about science vs. religion. But the reality was the vast majority of ID supporters were Christians and saw it in opposition to the science of evolution. They had their day in court, in 2006, in the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial, and that reinforced the culture war aspect of teaching science, and forced people to choose which side they are on: science or religion.

Hoogerwerf:

Legal fights over teaching evolution go all the way up to  2017 and 2018.

Stump: 

As a teacher who is thinking about his or her own career, teaching evolution is like walking through a minefield. One of the participants at the workshop, Erik Lindquist, a biologist we’ll hear from next episode, spoke to this from the perspective of a college professor. 

Lindquist: 

My first teaching experiences were at Indiana University and the Ohio State University. Teaching evolution wasn’t a problem. Okay, fast forward a couple of years, teaching at a Pentecostal school in South East Tennessee, I was terrified to teach evolutionary biology, yet I was hired to teach a course, a 400 level course, in evolutionary biology. So I was excited and passionate for the material, but also kind of waiting for the guillotine to drop.

Stump: 

So it can be tempting to breeze through this section of class, especially in a general science class. And you might wonder whether an understanding of evolution is really going to be all that important for most people? Even for science majors, most of them will not be evolutionary biologists. Can’t we just leave the study of evolution to those who are interested and want to pursue that directly as a career? 

Cordero:

It’s important for all the students in the classroom to be understanding and aware of the fact that there’s a conflict for some people with evolution and faith, because everyone needs to get to a point to accept evolution. Why? Because evolution is relevant for these things. Evolution is relevant for antibiotic resistance. Evolution is relevant for evolutionary medicine, for understanding the effects of climate change on ecosystem ecology. So students that don’t see a problem with evolution of faith still need to be engaging in that conversation because their future in-laws could be people that don’t accept evolution, their grandparents, their future employers, or the people that they employ. And so they’re going to be engaging with these people. It’s a decent percentage of our population. And so they need to be having that conversation.

Jensen:

And I think, number one, it’s important that we accept truth. And evolution is a real thing that affects our lives. And you may not realize it affects your life. But it does. Every time you put an antibiotic pill in your mouth, you’re messing with evolution, and there are decisions you’re making that will change the course of history, right, if you don’t understand what’s going on. We take a flu shot every year, because viruses evolve. And we, you know, there’s all kinds of things, and there’s all kinds of things that you—you do what your doctor says, and whatever they recommend, but you don’t realize that behind the scenes, all these researchers have accepted evolution and are using its principles to develop these therapeutics and treatments that we have. 

Hoogerwerf:

There’s the famous quote by Theodosius Dobzhansky that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” So for anyone going into any science field—doctors, astronomers, chemists, ecologists—an understanding of the concept of evolution is vitally important for their work. 

Stump: 

There’s something else going on here too, that I think is deeply problematic, when people think they can just pick and choose which scientific theories to accept and which they can reject, as though it’s smorgasbord of options. When a bright student comes into a biology class and says they don’t accept evolution, I think there is a deeper issue there they don’t really understand how science works. The evolution deniers do their best to claim that they accept the “real” science, or sometimes claiming that evolution is simply “historical” science and can therefore be safely ignored as though evolutionary scientists don’t really use the scientific method or deal with observable and testable facts. And that’s just wrong. And besides being wrong, it undermines the credibility of science in general.

Hoogerwerf: 

And that connects to the problem of just trying to teach the science in isolation. We already heard Lee mention the idea of “checking your faith at the door” as if such a thing is possible. But of course it’s not possible. Evolution is not just another science concept that can be taught the same way we teach students about cell division or photosynthesis. It connects to lots of other things we believe.

Meadows: 

There’s so many things about science, physics, chemistry, that are hard and difficult to understand but people’s religious beliefs don’t conflict with that. I was a physics teacher at the start of my career. Kids have all kinds, adults have all kinds of misconceptions about physics. We just get physics wrong. And I loved working with students and trying to help them unwind those misconceptions. And I would see them when they would see an experiment and it would do something that they never expected. And they were like, “wait, I did the experiment wrong.” And I’m like, “no, no, you did it right. That’s exactly—”But that can’t be.” But there weren’t any religious objections so they were free to look at the science and reconstruct their thinking. But when you’re talking about Christian kids and evolution, a Christian may be thinking, if I reconstruct these beliefs, I’m gonna go to hell.

Cordero: 

Here’s the injustice. I’m a teacher of biology, there are all these emotions that might students are coming with that can create barriers to their fully understanding and accepting the science. And I’m gonna ignore that. Am I really doing the best job I can do? I don’t believe so.

Stump: 

This gets to why so many biology teachers are worried that teaching evolution to Christian students is going to cause a crisis for them, and maybe even reject their faith. That’s a worry that might come from teachers no matter what their own religious feelings are. Even a non-religious teacher might fear the consequences of disrupting the worldview of their students in this way. 

Hoogerwerf:  

That reminds me of the conversation we had with Science Mike. He talked about how when people change their beliefs, they don’t often make slight changes, they make big swings. That seems like it would support this fear, that students come into a classroom having been primed to be skeptical about evolution, and they have built a worldview that requires evolution to be evil. If you convince them of the science it might be at the cost of their faith, causing family and community strife and great distress. 

Stump: 

One of the biggest points that came out of the workshop in Utah for me, was hearing that they have really good data now, that when you teach evolution in this culturally sensitive, reconciling way, it doesn’t affect the religiosity of the students.

Hoogerwerf: 

Here are a few of the leaders of the RecoEvo group again, speaking to that point.

Cordero:

One reason people would say not to teach evolution is that evolution causes people to lose their faith. And so the study says, “no way.” I mean, our study shows that’s not at all true. If you can teach evolution and help students see ways to reconcile evolution with their faith, to see role models, people of strong faith and accept evolution, then these kids can get to a point where they can accept evolution, or at least acknowledge the validity of it and maintain their faith.

Jensen:

So we actually measure religiosity in all the studies that we do, we look at acceptance pre and post, but we also look at religiosity, and there’s no change in religiosity. If anything, it goes up in several of the populations after the module. So  we are not affecting religiosity by teaching them evolution.

Meadows:

And what we saw clearly in the data was, they learned evolution, which really made us excited, because that was the goal. But the goal was not to impact their faith. And that was our other major data point is there was no shift in their religious worldviews. And we cheered on that. We were really excited because I remember when it came up, I got tears in my eyes, and I’m getting tears in my eyes—I got tears in my eyes, then, when the data came up and I’ve got tears in my eyes thinking about it now because for me it was about 20 or 25 years of thinking, “I know this should work. I know this should work. This has to work.” And then there was the data that said, it works. You teach evolution in a culturally sensitive fashion that says to kids, your religious, your faith beliefs are really important and we’re not after those. We just want you to understand the science. You teach it that way. And they do learn about evolution. But they don’t give up their faith. 

Stump: 

So what is this method we’ve alluded to, RecoEvo, reconciling evolution with one’s faith?

Jensen:

You know, we spend so much time trying to be culturally competent to all other kinds of cultures, but religion seems to get brushed under the rug in a science classroom. And our religious students feel uncomfortable. It’s a cultural clash between what’s being taught and what they are coming in with. And so we acknowledge the conflict that,” hey, we understand that you feel uncomfortable.”

Meadows: 

So we think that’s the secret, is this front loading of religious sensitivity, where the teacher makes it very clear that we’re gonna learn about evolution, but I’m not out to get you. 

Hoogerwerf: 

One of the things we heard a lot at the workshop was about teaching evolution with the goal of understanding not necessarily the goal of belief or acceptance. 

Jensen:

Ultimately, we want people to understand it at the least, accept it and use it in their lives at the most would be great.

Hoogerwerf: 

Akinyele Oni teaches in the biology department at Morgan State University. You heard his voice at the very beginning of the episode. And he has adopted this kind of approach in his own classroom.

Oni: 

When you get to the level of understanding, you’ve broken the barrier of not talking about it, then you get to the level of understanding, that’s removing some roadblocks, right? Acceptance is now, you know, personal to whoever. So I also want to get them to the level of, you know, understanding, and of course, acceptance will come at the individual levels.

Hoogerwerf: 

And here’s April. 

Cordero: 

Just like I want them to accept evolution and no longer accept young earth creationism, I have not failed if they’re still young earth creationists when they leave my classroom, as long as they understand the evolution and understand a Christian can accept evolution. There are many other reasons they still maintain their young earth faith.

Stump: 

There’s something a bit rhetorical about this strategy, that we say we don’t care what you end up believing, as long as you can show that you have understood the concepts at the end of the class. But while we say that we know that if you do come to understand it you will probably also come to accept it! 

Meadows:

I think that’s almost like a heart check or a gut check with any evolution teacher. Are you going to be subversive and say, “I’m really not out to change your beliefs.” when I actually am. So what I’ve had to come to realize is, I really, really, my goal is kids get the opportunity to learn about evolution. And if it doesn’t change their beliefs, that’s fine because they understand it. Do I think if they understand evolution, that they will probably change some of their beliefs? I think so.

Cordero:

It isn’t rhetorical for me. But it is a strategy. And so there’s a distinction for me, because I’m not trying to be manipulative. I’m trying to be as honest and transparent as possible. And I know from the psychology research, at least from the perspective that I understand, being a person they can relate to, being in their in-group and explaining my story, brings them along with me. And I want to bring them all the way to acceptance. But if I can just get them to accept me, or what I stand for, a person of faith who accepts evolution, and that these kinds of people can exist, then I’ve accomplished something. 

Hoogerwerf: 

There’s a lot of data coming together from the work of this team that is showing that this strategy really does work, that the understanding of evolution increases, acceptance rates of the science of evolution go up, and there is no effect on the religiosity of the students. 

Stump: 

Yes, that’s really interesting. So the big question is whether this approach to teaching evolution brings about the results we’re looking for. Is it doing better than the other approaches of ignoring it, or trying to teach the science in isolation from worldview commitments?

Cordero:

I see change. And I see students wrestle freshman year, sophomore year, they’re so angry at me. And then senior year, they’re coming in apologizing, right? You know, “oh, I was so you know, not open to listening and hearing when I was a freshman, and I’m sorry about that.” And I see these people telling me, you know, they’re in the workplace and they’re contacting me when they’re 28, 29, talking about I had this amazing conversation today with some youth at our church, and they asked me to speak at the youth group about— These people that we are working with and training and talking to in the biology classroom in a Christian college are out there in churches, doing the work for us. They’re hands and feet out there, using their mouths in these environments and making more of a difference. So, yeah, I’m hoping that more of that will keep happening.

Jensen: 

Something somebody said to me just earlier today, she came up to me and she said, “you know, this work is really important.” Because there are so many youth out there that are leaving the church over science. And there’s so many scientists out there that don’t quite understand how to be culturally competent. I don’t think they’re doing it on purpose, but they just don’t understand how to reach their religious students. And so I do think that embracing this conversation is important. It’s why we do what we do.

Stump: 

In the next episode we’re going to hear directly from some of the people who have been putting this work in place in the classroom.

Hoogerwerf:

See you then.

Language of God is produced by BioLogos. It has been funded in part by the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute and by individual donors who contribute to BioLogos. Language of God is produced and mixed by Colin Hoogerwerf. That’s me. Nate Mulder is our assistant producer. Our theme song is by Breakmaster Cylinder. 

BioLogos offices are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the Grand River watershed. If you have questions or want to join in a conversation about this episode find a link in the show notes for the BioLogos forum or visit our website, biologos.org, where you  will find articles, videos and other resources on faith and science. Thanks for listening. 


Featured guests

jamie jensen

Jamie Jensen

Jamie Jensen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University. She specializes in the development and assessment of undergraduate biology curricula that employ evidenced-based pedagogical strategies to increase student scientific reasoning skills and deep conceptual understanding.

April Cordero

April Maskiewicz Cordero

April Maskiewicz Cordero, PhD, is a professor of biology and Dean at Point Loma Nazarene University. Her research focuses on developing more effective approaches for teaching ecology and evolution that enable students to develop not only factual knowledge, but biological ways of thinking and reasoning about the living world. As a Christian biologist trained in science education research, she is in a unique position to investigate science students’ perceptions of the relationship between scientific issues that evoke controversy (i.e. origins, evolution, human origins) and Christian faith. Dr. Maskiewicz Cordero gave a TEDx talk on evolution and faith and she was featured in “From the Dust,” a BioLogos sponsored documentary. She is also active in several professional development projects with schoolteachers as well as university biology faculty, is one of the six authors of the BioLogos Integrate curriculum, and was one of four professors coordinating the PLNU/BioLogos Biology by the Sea Christian school teacher program.
Lee Meadows headshot

Lee Meadows

Lee Meadows is a Professor of science education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). A teacher at heart, he has taught high school chemistry, physics, and physical science and college chemistry, general teaching methods, and science methods. He has written and spoken across his career on the teaching of evolution in the Deep South and is the author of The Missing Link: An Inquiry Based Approach for Teaching Evolution to All Students. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where he is a member of City Church Midtown, a Presbyterian church start-up.
Akinyele Oni

Akinyele Oni

Akinyele Oni is a Lecturer of Biology at Morgan State University.

Erik Lindquist

Erik Lindquist

Erik Lindquist is Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Messiah University.


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