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Science & The Evangelical Mission In America
My evangelical heart was first exposed to the issue when I sat down for coffee with the only biology graduate student attending our church at the time. I asked Theresa an innocent question: “We have grad students in English, social work, and engineering—why aren’t there more science and biology students in our church?”
Theresa’s laughter alerted me to a lurking brutal fact, which she then blurted out: “Ken, what did you think? It’s evolution!”
I resisted her point with a counterpoint: “But I’ve never taught against evolution! I’m a C. S. Lewis Christian. I have no problem with the Creator working through evolutionary process.”1
“Yes,” she replied in earnest, “but have you ever taught that from the pulpit? Ken, you co-authored a book called Empowered Evangelicals. Vineyard is an evangelical church, even though it’s not in your face on these hot button issues. Scientists, especially biologists, expect American evangelicals to attack evolutionary science, not support it. Scientists don’t view evolution as some marginal scientific issue. It’s the primary narrative of modern science. That’s why they don’t bother to darken the door of an evangelical church. Would you, if you were in their shoes?”
“Oh,” I replied uncomfortably, facing what I had always known for the first time.
There it sat, the brutal fact—unyielding, immovable, but quite obviously ignorable.
The evangelical posture toward modern science has missional consequences. We have inherited a defensive posture toward science that serves as a roadblock to faith for many people. The question is: what are we going to do about it?
If the essence of evangelicalism is a singular passion to see the gospel of Jesus embraced by as many people as possible, we must learn to think again like missionaries sent to a mission field.
Consider this simple table, comparing two distinct cultural sensibilities in the United States, widely recognized as a cultural divide. Let’s borrow the latest lingo and label the two distinct cultural sensibilities “red” and “blue.”
RED SENSIBILITY BLUE SENSIBILITY
• Votes Republican • Votes Democratic
• Considers Earth 10,000 • Considers Earth 4.5 billion years old
• Thinks species are fixed • Thinks species related by common ancestry
• Views environmentalism • Views environmentalism positively
• Regards climate change • Regards climate change as real
One could add several more items to the above table: legalized abortion, gay marriage, even talk-radio station preference (a.m. talk vs. NPR talk). But there is one item that would especially concern us if we were thinking missionally about our own culture: church attendance.
RED SENSIBILITY BLUE SENSIBILITY
• Votes Republican • Votes Democratic
• Considers Earth 10,000 • Considers Earth 4.5 billion years
years old old
• Thinks species are fixed • Thinks species related by common ancestry
• Views environmentalism • Views environmentalism positively
• Regards climate change • Regards climate change as real
• High church attendance • Low church attendance
In the recent Pew “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” the fastest growing religious orientation in the United States is “none,” a group that has doubled in size over a generation.2 The “nones” (not a misspelling of nuns) are an assortment of atheists, agnostics, secularists, and believers who have simply renounced any formal religious affiliation. While faith in Jesus is growing globally, it is not growing domestically. The United States remains a highly religious nation, but the number of those who attend religious services “regularly” has remained more or less constant since 1960, while the number of those who attend “occasionally” or “never” has steadily increased.3
WHERE IS THE MISSION FIELD IN AMERICA?
So how do we conceive of the mission field in America today? Those who share a blue sensibility largely populate it. And this is a big mission field: roughly half the population of the United States leans blue. The survey data on these cultural markers tend to hover around the 50 percent mark. Presidential elections tend not to be landslides. Those who accept the main outlines of evolution vary from 49-51 percent in Gallup polls conducted in 1999, 2001, 2004, and 2006.4 Those who accept the majority scientific view on climate change (that the earth is warming due in significant part to human generated heat trapping carbon emissions) were 47 percent in 2007, and 36 percent in 2009.5
If you were an evangelical missionary sent from a different country to spread the gospel in the United States, where would you focus your energy? Among those whose perspectives lean blue.
It would be fair to ask how important a person’s posture toward modern science really is. After all, there aren’t that many scientists in the population, especially if you don’t include physicians and engineers, who apply scientific knowledge but aren’t strictly speaking, scientists. How much energy should we expend trying to reach a small group of science geeks, one might reasonably ask?
As scientist E.O. Wilson has said, science and religion are the two most powerful forces in the world today. This means that one’s posture toward science is a cultural marker. Science touches all of our lives and we all have a predisposition toward scientific knowledge even if we don’t have much personal interest in science. When surveyed about evolution, very few of us respond, “no opinion.”6
Picture the blue sensibility regarding science as a set of concentric circles. The smallest circle in the middle is composed of people with advanced degrees in a scientific discipline (biology, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, etc.) The next circle includes those who read periodicals like Scientific American, Discover, Nature, and National Geographic without thinking, “I wish they wouldn’t put so much stock in evolution and climate change.” The next circle, the widest circle, encompassing roughly half the population of the United States, includes those who identify culturally with those in the inner two circles.
We’re not just talking about a small group of science fanatics; in other words, we’re talking about a massive mission field.
But are we thinking missionally about this mission field? Are we confronting the brutal facts, asking the difficult questions, and examining cultural assumptions that affect our effectiveness in the mission field? Are we thinking clearly and passionately (as missionaries must) regarding the men and women who inhabit this mission field, so that we may help them uncover the treasure hidden in this field?
Thanks for the excellent treatment of a touchy subject. I pastor an evangelical church in Fort Collins, CO, home of Colorado State University, and can definitely attest to the cultural climate that acts as a barrier to blue sensibility people. I am a level-3 pastor in a level-1 church, and often feel very conflicted. Ken's article inspired me to pick up the ball and run a little more. But here is my one concern with Ken's article: I still feel an underlying dishonesty with the posture of setting aside scientific disagreements for the sake of the gospel. Are we still secretly hoping that once we get them converted they will eventually come around to our red sensibilities? What if our red sensibilities are off-base biblically? (gasp!) What if I need a "conversion" as much as the people I'm trying to win to Christ? I really believe the controversy over evolution will one day be viewed much like the Copernican revolution that radically changed our understanding of the solar system, and which the church violently resisted at first. Happily, I won't be here to struggle against the temptation to gloat!
I am a bit unclear on the assumptions. First, is believing or not believing in Darwinian evolution essential or important in performing research and applying science and biology? In other words, can't I study living organisms without knowing or deciding how they came to be? How is it even relevant, except for being a strongly held belief in academia?
So are we saying that individuals growing up in Christian homes or converted to Christianity somehow less likely to be interested in careers in science? Or are those who are interested in careers in science more likely to leave the church because their scientific beliefs lead them to stop believing that God exists? Or those pursuing science more likely to leave the church because they then are in social networks where going to church is not cool?
I am encouraged to see that I am not alone. I was raised in a church culture but never quite felt I fit in. I'm naturally inquisitive and believe that God gave me a scientific mind. As such, I have pursued science education throughout my life, but have always attempted to keep my scientific perspectives seperate from my faith in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I have always therefore felt like 2 people in wrapped haphazardly into one. Living two lives seemed like the only way that I could keep my Christian friends and mentors from learning of my scientific viewpoints and chastising me for them, and also to keep my science friends and teachers from learning of my religious viewpoints and mocking me for them. Only recently have I embraced the possibility that my scientific viewpoints should not be threatening to followers of Christ, and my faith should not be a source of discomfort among scientists. I think it has only been made so artificially, by men, through centuries of debate, mistrust, and misplaced fear.
What I finally arrived at was the realization that as a Christian, it would take more hubris and arrogance than I would ever want to possess to propose that I KNOW exactly HOW God created the universe, the Earth, and all of the creatures in it. And something about a God who is capable of an undertaking so intricate, so beautiful, and so logical as the processes which science claims to have been taking place for so long appeals to me, for it is familiar to the God who has done no less miraculous work in the hearts and minds of humankind. And the realization I came to as a scientist was that it has never been the claim of pure science to have all of the answers, but rather to explore the natural phenomenon around us with awe and wonder, and to try and better understand what is and has been taking place. I no longer see my life as conflicted, for I see no conflict between these realizations.
I enjoy this article because it reminds me of my calling. How could I ever be an effective tool for God on this Earth, to spread his good news to those who don't have a relationship with Him, if I insist on living two lives: one where I hide among my Christian friends pretending not to have my scientific views, and the other where I interact with the rest of the worl, pretending not to have faith in Christ Jesus. I know it may be unpopular with many in the church to say so, but I'm tired of Christians behaving as though scientific views like mine are some sort of sin that must either be dealt with prior to admission or later on, when the believer has fully adopted a more "Christian" perspective similar to their own. To me, that attitude has nothing to do with Christ-likeness, but everything to do with the cultural tradition that has become many churches today. It should never be a club of merely like-minded red-thinkers. But there are those who try with a vengeance to keep it that way as though their very salvation depended upon it. A church built on such traditions cannot possibly carry out the great commission. And the same goes for an individual who does not actively do something about it when he knows better. Thank you for helping convict me.
What do you suggest that an individual actively do about it, in order to unobstruct the great commission?
Here's the rub: "views a faithful Christian might adopt: young earth creation, old earth creation, intelligent design, and theistic evolution" - traditional conservatives accept only two of these as faithful (and intelligent design really isn't a whole dif view - it is simply admitting the possibility of design without addressing 'who'). There is a fundamental clash of approaches.
As far as keeping scientists away - creation itself isn't explicitly a part of the gospel, and shouldn't be presented as such; it is background information. Ideally the gospel alone should be dealt with, and then after people become Christians, let the Holy Spirit make them more receptive to re-thinking other issues.
A problem comes in where you have a non-believer who has thought his belief in evolution out to the logical end - then that roadblock must be dealt with and removed.
This is not to say that people who believe in old earth creation and theistic evolution are not Christians, just that they hold a view that is ultimately incompatible with scripture and scientific logic, and are embracing cognitive dissonance, even if unknowingly.
And the whole fossil issue etc. should be dropped - a much better way to go is examining real working and meaningful information arising from random processes - it doesn't happen.
Evolution, and the study of origins period, is not science - so much time and resources are being squandered in the name of science. Not to say that it shouldn't be discussed; but as a discussion of exploration of current condition results after the fact, not an explicit goal.
We must not let secularists define the terms unchallenged. And implying that conservative believers are not "science friendly" causes some pretty strong negative feelings, in spite of intended meaning.
And a major point is often missed in relation to the Church - a Church gathering is for believers not unbelievers; Christians are supposed to reach out to the lost and bring the Gospel to them, not try to make conditions in their gatherings more comfortable for them.
This is also overlooking the fact that "red sensibility" often comes from being a Christian and holding a Judeo-Christian worldview; not some unrelated position. Many Conservatives are conservative because they are Christians, their positions flow out of a literal reading of the Bible - the two cannot be separated, and still maintained, without the introduction of cognitive dissonance.
Yes there are changes that need to be put in place, but it shouldn't be a glossing over of differences; but a shifted recognition of where the best time and place is to discuss certain issues, and in what order.
I read the article and thought, "this is really good stuff," before I noticed that the author was my son's former pastor, Ken Wilson. That only deepened my respect for what he said, because I know that Ken is the real deal. His open and authentic approach to tough issues is one of the main reasons my son is a man of faith today. Thanks, Ken, for your thoughts, your ministry and your life.
Some Questions: When Jesus said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all (Luke 17:26-27).” about whom was He talking?
Likewise, when Jesus said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” about whom was He talking?
Also, when Corinthians 15:22 states, “For as in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive.” who was this Adam?
How is someone whose scientific views keep them from believing things such as the account of Creation, the Flood, the account of Jonah, etc.—how is someone such as this going to readily accept that Jesus was born of a virgin, made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, raised the dead, and was Himself raised from the dead? Or do these things not matter either?
What do we do when “modern science” is in direct conflict with Scripture? Do we compromise? Is that the example that Jesus gave us?
Enough questions. Certainly a proper evangelical approach to the lost must always have LOVE as its driving force, whether one is dealing with a scientific mind or a simple one. However, compromise with the truth will NEVER bear real lasting fruit.
I’m afraid many people, on both sides of the issue, are making the same mistake in the evolution debate: believing that evolution is only about science and that creation is only about religion. This is nonsense. The information in this debate is the same for all of us; what is different is the framework through which the information is interpreted.
Darwinian evolution (D.E.) declares that all life, including mankind, came into being after billions of years of death and struggle. However, the Bible teaches us that “in the beginning” God made everything “good,” and there was no death. Death did not come into the world until mankind sinned and God cursed all of His perfect creation. Thus D.E. is in direct conflict with the Bible.
The slippery slope of scriptural denial begins with D.E. If you don’t believe what the Bible has to say “in the beginning,” why would you accept what it reveals on any matter? When you deny the Creation account in the Bible, you destroy the foundation upon which all of Scripture rests.
In other words, if there is not a literal Adam and Eve, a literal garden, a literal tree, a literal fruit, a literal serpent, and a literal ‘fall from grace,’ the whole message of the Bible is tainted. The answer to each of the following questions is in Genesis chapters one to eleven: Why is there death and suffering in the world? Why is marriage only the union of one man and one woman? Why do we wear clothes? Why did Jesus Christ have to die on the cross?
Jesus Himself spoke quite literally about Creation, Adam, Eve, Noah, the Flood, etc. In other words, He never compromised when it comes to Genesis and Creation. Paul, with his approach in Athens (speaking about the Unknown God) is another example for us when it comes to our approach with the secular/scientific world.
Real Christianity (and the Bible) is NEVER in conflict with real science. It is a mistake to think that there are not many (certainly not a majority, but many) in the scientific arena who accept the Bible’s account of Creation. (I say this as someone with an undergraduate degree in physics and two graduate degrees in mathematics.) I personally know many individuals in various scientific disciplines—doctors, nurses, dentists, chemists, engineers, mathematicians, inventors, etc.—who completely reject D.E. and operate completely unhindered (scientifically speaking) in their fields.
As Mr. Wilson (somewhat) recognized, the general scientific community has viciously rejected any compromise when it comes to their “sacred” held position with D.E. There is a significant disposition among many in the scientific community when it comes to the supernatural. (How do you think such an individual is going to handle the laying on of hands and asking for the presence of the Holy Spirit?!) The Intelligent Design movement has gained virtually no ground when it comes to bridging the divide between D.E. and biblical Creation.
When it comes to the question, “Why aren’t there more science and biology students in our church?” the answer lies not with compromise, but with the truth. It is because of the destructive force/teaching of D.E. that so many reject the Bible and Christ. All of our efforts must be rooted in sound biblical principles, and when the theories of man are in conflict with the Words of God, it is most certainly man who is in error.
That should read: "There is a significant 'negative' disposition among many in the scientific community when it comes to the supernatural."
Amen to Trevor Thomas! These authors who try not to offend others are really only offending God. You cannot have it both ways. Either the Word of God is infallible or it is not. You cannot transform God's Word to fit man's beliefs. God either created the world as he said in Genesis or He did not. You must be either hot or cold. You cannot be lukewarm. Be prepared to be spit out.
@Trevor & Darren: I respectfully disagree. As both a Christian and someone who is scientifically curious, I have never struggled with the dichotomy you present. The argument that "either there is a literal Adam, garden, etc. or the whole message of the Bible is tainted" is simply not valid. I believe that God has revealed himself to us through Scripture and also revealed himself to us through Nature, thus making himself known to all people.
As you couch the argument, you suggest that the entirety of the Scriptures are to be read as literal historical record. This would be inconsistent with the rest of the literature from the time period in which it was written, as well as causing internal inconsistencies within the Scriptures themselves.
I have no problems believing in an historical Jesus who lived, taught, died, and was raised, while reading some other passages as myth/story/parable. (Remember Jesus taught in parables -- is he a liar if there really wasn't "A man who had two sons" or "An old widow who lost a coin?") The Bible is best read as a library (for that is truly what it is), and not as as singular work.
These are the conclusions I have come to thus far in my journey. What are your other thoughts?
Gabe Lyons. This is Darren Maybee. The one who knew you all through your high school days at Lynchburg Christian Academy and college days at Liberty University. Our lockers were right next to each other. What are you doing? You are simply preaching the "Social Gospel" and not the real Gospel! You are preaching that simply about how man can bring the kingdom of God here on earth? Ah excuse me. Christianity is all in what God did for us and about how He died for our sins. I have not since this simple phrase or any word about how we need his forgiveness and the simple plan of salvation anywhere on your site. How dare you put down Dr. Jerry Falwell on your article in the Huffington Post, which is the most liberal blog site anywhere. I kept on wondering why I haven't heard of you and your ministry in Thomas Road yet. It is because they know that you have strayed from your upbringing. What are you doing? This isn't a ministry. This is just the theology of "culture engagement"? What in the world? Are you turning your back on everything you know and believe?
@Darren: I don't know you or Gabe, but I have read the article on Huffington Post and I'm a little confused. When I read it, I read: "Jerry Falwell was famous for publicly claiming that America 'was founded by Christians as a Christian nation.'" How exactly is that "putting down" Mr. Falwell?
You also seem to misrepresent Gabe's point of view by claiming he is "simply preaching the 'Social Gospel' and not the real Gospel." He has commented elsewhere that he pereceives much of modern Christianity as having truncated the Gospel (I would agree with that). I believe he terms to four key parts of God's story as "creation," "fall," "redemption," and "restoration." Again, many Christians today focus solely on the fall/redemption but largely ignore the other two. This is to our detriment as faithful Christians. Redemption is not the end, but only the beginning of our participation with God in restoring all of creation (I imagine this is where some of the "social" issues you mention would come in). We do share a participatory love with God and one another. "What we do not do to further the kingdom of God will not be done." (Roger Haight)
Again, I don't know you or Gabe. Maybe your critique is just an expression of disappointment that Gabe is not how you remember him. But as Rainer Maria Rilke famously wrote: "A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them -- they're who they've been throughout your whole relationship."
"Liberal theologians and preachers responded by blending many of these humanistic ideas with Scripture. These preachers downplayed Christ’s sacrifice and emphasized man’s ability to transform culture. People were told that they can be saved by feeding the poor and making this world a better place rather than through Jesus Christ alone. This is known as the “social gospel,” which is making a comeback in our day. These ideas took over many Christian colleges and seminaries."
Did God Really Say Savage Wolves Will Attack the Flock?
Biblical Authority Devotional: Attacking God’s Word, Part 15
-Answers in Genesis
Hey Christopher Noyes Here is another quote from another blog post insulting the late Jerry Falwell.
"The notion of corporate blessing and punishment that was applied to the covenant community of Israel has been applied to America by people like Jerry Falwell. It’s a confusion of modern nation-states with Biblical Israel. That is not only off-putting to a lot of people, it is bad theology."
Interview with Bush Speechwriter Michael Gerson
Former aide speaks out on Tea Party, Bush legacy, and future of the religous right
If he is from Lynchburg, VA and went to Lynchburg Christian Academy and Liberty University. One if not the top truly Christian universities in the world, why has he not been asked to speak there?
Again, I'll have to respecfully disagree. I don't see the insult. I think what Michael Gerson was trying to point out was this sort of anachronistic self-identification of America as a "new Israel" which was promoted by Mr. Falwell and others. I think most would agree that that is not a very sound correlation. It seems that if someone holds a different view than Mr. Falwell, you consider it an insult. I think we can disagree on a number of issues and still not feel insulted by one another.
Also, if by "truly Christian" you mean "theologically conservative," then, yes, Liberty is one. But you draw out an interesting issue that I believe is hindering our greater Christian witness. Rather than seeking the lost, feeding the hungry, and serving the poor, we're focused on who is "more" Christian. "I'm more Christian because I volunteer at a local soup kitchen." "I'm more Christian because I believe in a literal 6-day creation." We need to turn away from these polarizing sentiments and work together for the cause of Christ.
Very good article. I am also a theistic evolutionist because that is where the data has taken me.
In the last 10 years, a brand new science has developed: Genographics, the tracing out of human origins and migration based on DNA information and not on fossil information. The human male’s Y-chromosome and the female’s mitochondrial DNA data is taken from indigenous peoples across the globe, sequenced and analyzed. The data is confirming the "Out of Africa" theory as the origin of humans and our migration to the rest of the world radiating outwards from there. The planet is literally becoming the stage for a grand CSI-like “who-done-it” story. This DNA evidence will tend to falsify the literal historical accounts in Genesis of the first human couple, Noah and the Arc, and the Tower of Babel. We evangelicals will need to shift from a historical sense to a literary sense to assess the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Since Jesus and Paul referred to these early chapters of Genesis, evangelicals will need to work through those issues as well. The process of working through these issues is the process of moving form level 0-1 to a level 3 church.
Lastly, just like some of us need to manage our blood pressure, all of us will need to manage cognitive dissonance. Having level 3 members attend a level 1 church is very stressful. Cognitive dissonance is the pain felt when the facts of science do not correlation with belief.
Happy New Year
The quote you mentioned about the late Falwell is not putting him down or insulting him. It is disagreeing with his theology. Additionally, it was made by an evangelical conservative speechwriter who has just published a book with the uber-conservative Moody Press and it appeared in an unedited interview posted in Q and A format. Christopher is right. There is no insult there.
What I am understanding Ken to be arguing for is rethinking not our position on evolution and creation but rather our Christian mandate to reach the unreached, today the Blue cynics and skeptics, in much the way Paul did on Mars Hill. The fact is most evolutionary scientists are atheists and agnostics and buy their worldview lock, stock and barrel, but they represent a very small population. A large and growing percentage of the U.S. population, 84% still believe in God, thinks that science settles the evolution question. It doesn't. But to be combative on an issue that is of secondary importance to the Gospel sets up a barrier to presenting Christ. Paul doesn't do this on Mars Hill. What he does do is fill in the gaps, "let me tell you about this unknown God."
For centuries Christians led in the sciences up until the Age of Reason and Englighment, until Darwin and the emergence of modernism. Much of the pushback in the Enlightment and later in the Modern era was a response to the superstitutions and abuses of the Church. Then the Church abandoned leadership in scientific inquiry in the 19th Century when Darwinism emerged as the leading explanation for origins. The fact is that naturalistic evolution cannot be proven or known beyond the observable, neither does it offer meaning for life. The fact is, both Creationism and Evolution are not falsifiable positions, rather they are simply positions of faith based on competing worldviews.
Today, Evangelicals need to recapture leadership in the sciences, rather than fighting in a "culture war" on this issue. (This might be difficult from a funding perspectives). One of the fundamental purposes of science is exploration of what cab be known. I often challenge atheist evolutionists on the facts of science. What do we actually know, observe. I then challenge them on the definition of scientific method, what can be tested. Not biogensis, that happened once billion or thousands of years ago and it is not observable or testable. Not the fossil record, that can only be observed. Not transitional species, there is only evidence of change within kinds. There is so much that we do not and cannot know by science. But there is some interesting things we can know. Ken begins to make those arguments at the end, neuroscience and quantum physics, the latest sciences pointing to a God who got it all started, one way or another, but did with a desire to make Himself known (Romans 1:19).
The important thing as Peter tells us is, "in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," The problem is that most Christians are unprepred to give an answer to today's cynics and skeptics. But it would be foolhardy to lower the bar on truth just to win a few for Christ. Becoming "all things" for today's blues doesn't require giving up the truth of what we do know. Instead we need love people to the truth that God is. This certainly can mean we don't hold dogmatically to positions that are not of primary importance to the Gospel.
Can we, will we, rise the challenge presented in the comment presented by E.O. Wilson, "The major problems facing us are greed, selfishness and apathy and for that we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. We scientists don’t know how to do that.” Evangelicals alone can speak to this today but only as we represent the meekness of Christ, not dogmatically repeat the mistakes of the past.
I read this with a sigh of relief that someone in the evangelical church actually "gets it." I am a molecular & cellular biologist, who is also a Christian. I guess I'm evangelical if I have to put a label on myself but for the very reasons outline in Ken's piece, I struggled to identify fully with evangelicals who dismiss science altogether.
I live in a very blue area of the country where people have ruled out Christianity in favor of science or other spiritual practices.
I would love to see a church in my area that addresses the issues of science and Christianity as Ken does. As it now stands, there are hardly any evangelical churches in my area, and those that do exist are not attended by many/if any scientists. I am married to a scientist, who feels as most scientists do, that Christianity excludes reason and logic. This prevents him from ever wanting to darken the door of a church. As a scientist and follower of Jesus, this has always frustrated & paralyzed me as to how to change this idea that people of faith can't be people of logic or reason. I know as a scientist/Christian I have to do better and so should the church as a whole to reconcile our faith with science.
I look forward to hearing more from Ken.
Thank you, Ken for your insight!
I think if the bible were completely cut and dried then there would probably only be one brand of religion. God is so much bigger than our puny minds and what is heresy to one is a religion or faith to another. I have very strongly held opinions but it is just that opinions. I have studied the bible for thirty plus years and very few things that I have come to believe is what I would tell someone that I wanted to share Christ with. I am more reliant upon the Holy spirit as to what to share with others.
I love science and love talking to thinkers but I don't need to impose my "Red" opinion upon them or try to control theirs unless I've earned the right by building a relationship first and if they ask then I will share my opinions. The Holy spirit may prompt me to say something and I will but that hardly ever creates division.
One thing I know is that the Holy Spirit knows a kindred spirit no matter what the philosophy or differing opinions are and we should be known for our love not our lofty opinions or perceived knowledge. Much of science and much of religion is just that. I will defend my faith if need be but in a way that is winsome, humble and with authority but there must be room for differences and some of the things I've been adamant over the years have turned out to be wrong, I'm sure we can all say the same, so we must deal with wisdom and understanding. Our actions and words will either cause unity or division, that is something each one of us has control over.
Ken if you believe that God has directed you to your mission field then I encourage you to pursue it with everything you have and remember that love trumps knowledge every time.
I am a layman and not a scientist so thank you very much for this discussion as it's something that I have a true passion for. I was born and raised in a fundamental Southern Baptist church with a hellfire and brimstone message shouted from the pulpit several times a week. As a family, we never missed church which included Sunday morning and evening services, Monday visitation out into the community and Wednesday prayer meeting. I was 16 (1970) when I first started to refuse to go and one can only imagine the difficulties that created within my family. My father and I rarely spoke other than one word utterances after that for almost a decade. In college, I met my wife who was raised as a strict Catholic so, when our first child arrived, in order to find something towards the middle, we started out in a Methodist church. I had to relocate a couple of times for work, so in 1993 we found ourselves in Indiana and over time began to attend a large Evangelical church. I found it interesting, even if in conflict at times with the message. The relationship with the church ended when my daughter became engaged to the son of our family physician, who happened to be part Jewish. The kids came to him looking for guidance, I mean they were actually trying to figure out what to do spiritually and he refused to marry them in the church. Basically, he ignored my future son-in-law and turned to my daughter and said that he would pray for her. We never set foot in the church again. I put myself in the circle described by Mr. Wilson as:
The next circle includes those who read periodicals like Scientific American, Discover, Nature, and National Geographic without thinking, “I wish they wouldn’t put so much stock in evolution and climate change.”
I am an avid reader and don't accept one theory or another without doing the background work first. The main issue for American society is that is has become a 30 second sound bite world and those who tend to yell the loudest the longest start to (God help us) take on an air of authority. When I engage in a conversation with anything political, the first question I ask is, “Where do you get most of your information”. If I hear either Limbaugh or Beck, I respectfully decline to engage as I don't see the point. The concept of an intelligent dialogue simply isn't possible and I won't engage in the classic shouting match to see who is loudest.
As for evolution, I have never seen it in conflict with the concept of working within a religious framework. The Bible is filled with contradictions and who is to say that a “day” as described in Genesis consisted of 24 hours? Who's to say that God, in his infinite wisdom simply didn't toss down the ingredients for life, sit back for a couple of billion years (2 days to Him/Her, perhaps) to see what might happen? I am also not a biblical scholar and realize this would get shot to pieces but is a lot more palatable than this silly stance that the earth is 10,000 years old which gets rejected out of hand. The main problem here is that the evangelical community insists on educating their children in a way that will completely handicap them in the real world outside their walls. It is very sad to me to see a generation of children incapable of competing in the world because of misinformation that is driven into them as doctrine.
We are back at a young Methodist church that meets in the basement of a bar. Sunday sermon and then beer and wings and the Bears game overhead...perhaps I have found the perfect mix.
The problem with this whole post is that it says that I need to change my beliefs, not because they are false, but because they present a barrier to the Gospel's acceptance. The last time I checked, it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict of sin and move to repentance. Not the theologian's job, not the scientist's job, not ANYONE else's job.
There are also problems in assuming that Scripture and nature have to hold the same level of authority. Where there is silence in nature, stick to the Scriptures. Where there appears to be contradiction, stick to the Scriptures. Where you don't honestly know the process by which God does something, stick to the Scriptures and don't be afraid to say, "I don't know, and ultimately it doesn't matter, because what DOES matter is that God is real, has revealed Himself, and each of us has a decision to make regarding that fact."
This is a very disappointing article, because it basically says that our conscience is the problem in reaching the lost and that we should stifle (and besides, our conscience is wrong because science, so there). I'd hoped for more.
Hudson, Ken does not say that you need to change your beliefs. He says that there are three different views of creation which evangelical Christians have. He also says that non-Christians who accept evolution as true generally assume that all Christians disbelieve evolution because of what is in the media, and so are not interested in our faith.
THE AGE OF THE EARTH
The reason why SOME PEOPLE DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE is because of unreconciled age of the Earth. The theologians say, it is only about twelve thousand years old. The geophysicists, the geochemists and the archaeologists
conclude with scientific facts that the Earth is about 4.5 plus/minus 0.05% billion years old.
There are some indicators in the Bible that could lead us to believe that the earth is not just thousands of years of age but even billions of years as the geophysicists believe. Prayerfully, consider the following:
Ezekiel 28:13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God, every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz and diamonds, beryl, onyx and jasper, sapphire, carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your setting and your engravings on the day you were created they were prepared.” V14 “You were anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God, …” (The guardian cherub mentioned was Lucifer, Isa14:12, that became Satan.)
Take note: The first Eden, the garden of God was covered with stones while the garden of Eden during Adam and Eve was covered with trees, plants and vegetations.
As claimed by the scientists, we could believe that there was such a period called STONE AGE about 3.4 million years ago. Archaeologists have discovered thousands of fossils, evidences that there was life during this period. In their ancient groups of fossils were listed the dinosaurs, trilobites and fossils of humanoids dating about one to six million years of age. Some of these fossils can be found in the Smithsonian Institute.
There were even hundreds of fossils of dinosaurs found in the act of mortal combat; two were found somewhat (frozen) on the act of biting each other before they suddenly died.
The fighting of animals can be pointed to Satan. Ezekiel 28:16 says “In the abundance of your trade you were filled with VIOLENCE in your midst…” The violence created by Satan could have prompted God to cleanse the earth.
Apostle Peter had a revelation, that the earth had undergone cleansings; thru ice, water and will undergo cleansing by fire. Read 2 Peter 3:1-7 and pray for its revelation.
Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the FACE OF THE WATER.” It means that the land was fully covered with (solid) WATER. This was the condition of the earth before it was formed again. The earth was covered with ice- hence science claimed there was an ice age.
2Peter 3:5b “…and the earth was formed out of water and through water by word of God.” How?
Genesis1:3 “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” The light was restored! When light is generated it compasses HEAT. The heat melts the ice.
Genesis1:6 “..and let it separate the waters from the waters.” The liquid water because of heat melted away from the solid water. Genesis1:10 “And God said, ‘Let the water under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the DRY LAND APPEAR.” “And it was so.”
I believe as others do that there is a big gap between Genesis1:1 and Genesis1:2. In Genesis 1:1, God created the universe, the galaxies, the stars, planets, and then placed life on earth during the STONE AGE. The first cleansing of the earth resulted to ICE AGE . Then, Genesis1:2 happened- the formation of earth and the creation of a new life on earth for human and animals and trees to live again. In Genesis 1:28 God said to Adam and Eve “Be fruitful and multiply, and REPLENISH the earth…” The word replenish means to fill up again. This means that there was life before (that’s the stone age) and another life will fill the earth again (the present age).
Science claims that humans and the neanderthals have about 99.5% identical DNA. Please also note that the SERPENT that deceived Eve was an erect mammal before he was cursed by God to be like snake that crawl on its belly. If you read closely, the serpent crawled only after the curse Gen. 3:14. What was the act of deception- not eating literal fruit but sexual intercourse with Eve that produced Cain and Abel became his twin after Adam had sex also with Eve. Note in the scriptures the word eat in Prov. 30:20 refers to adultery. In 1John3:12, it says "CAIN is of the evil one," he was sired by the SERPENT. The Serpent is the missing link. After 7 generations, the descendants of Cain and Seth intermingled producing fleshly people, it is because the Spirit of God ceased to abide with man, Genesis 6:3.
For further clarity about this revelation, please go to You Tube and look for the “Original Sin” by Richard Gan from Singapore.
You just have uncovered two of the mysteries in the bible and hope that this solidifies your stand that the bible is true can not be refute by science.
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