Over the last year or so I’ve written a number of posts that have reflected on various aspects of the intersection of science and faith. These are issues and questions that I’ve thought about and wrestled with most of my adult life. How should we interpret Genesis or Romans? What does it mean to claim that scripture is inspired? How much of Genesis is historical? Does it matter that Paul thought that Adam and Eve were unique individuals, if he did? How can we reconcile evolution with creation by God? Should we try? Is there room for chance in the universe? How can we reconcile the evidence for common descent with Adam and Eve and Original Sin? I could go on – but you get the idea.
These kinds of questions have been faced by many Christians over the last hundred years or so – often times contributing to a loss of faith, other times to a withdrawal, or to the development of an ironic faith. See Scot’s book Finding Faith, Losing Faith: Stories of Conversion and Apostasy or his CT article on ironic faith for more on these paths. These are deep questions, how we deal with them has serious ramifications – and the questions are not going to go away.
I have a simple question I would like to pose today:
What is the correct pastoral approach to the issues that arise at the intersection of science and faith?
As we’ve been thinking through these ideas at the intersection of science and faith I have been persistent that the evidence for an old earth and an older universe is overwhelming – there is no room for doubt here. More significantly I have tried to explain why I find the evidence for evolution and common descent persuasive, and why the idea of a literal Adam and Eve seems difficult to reconcile with the data.
In putting forth my ideas and thoughts I have been more blunt and more honest than is my usual habit. I have found it useful, as I have learned quite a bit through writing these posts and through the conversation that results. Some of the posts and comments reflect “thinking in public” more than firm preconviction.
But this blog is a public forum. Anyone can read and anyone can contribute to the conversation (well – as long as they remain civil and on topic). This conversation can help those who have questions and doubts, especially those who cannot find a space for safe conversation off-line. On the other hand it can challenge the faith of some who might never have needed to confront these issues and question. There is potential for doing good – and there is potential for doing harm.
I am interested in what you think – especially those who are pastors, youth workers, involved in University ministries and such.
What is the best pastoral approach to these questions? Should we be more concerned with potential harm or potential good?
If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.