Monday, August 11, 2008

genesis + evolution

we announced to our westwinds owners tonight that we'd tackle the touchy subject of evolution this upcoming fall during a series we'll do on genesis. i invited dialogue after the meeting so i could hear from people about how best to communicate the "essentials" and the "non-essentials" for the series.

to be honest, i'm stressing about it.

the reason i'm even talking about it at all - because i really have no desire to kick this particular hornet's nest - is because my heart breaks for the kids who feel like they can't keep following jesus and retain their intellectual integrity. most christian kids get so bludgeoned with evolutionary theory in school, and never hear a sound biblical defence of genesis, that they feel like they either have to [a] give up on their faith, or [b] give up on their minds. it just seems - to them - like evolutionary science completely discredits the 6-day creation account (and, by proxy) the credibility of scripture as a whole.

so, i'm teaching on "the theology of evolution" in week 3 of this genesis series to try and show that there is no contradiction between genesis 1 and a 16billion yr. earth. i feel like it's my responsibility to help people understand the scriptures better, so we don't create conflicts where none exist.

to that end, here is a kind of summary of the things i heard tonight about what i need to make sure i communicate well during this series (with some of my own thoughts thrown in for good measure):

Things to remember for genesis…

• make sure your focus is to show that there is no apparent contradiction between scripture and science
• be sure to allow for differences of opinion (i.e. you don’t to be either an evolutionist or a
proponent of intelligent design in order to be “in line” with westwinds and/or david
• make sure you say things like “my god is so big and so capable that he could’ve made the
world in 6 minutes, 6 minutes ago…but even if he didn’t that doesn’t shake my faith” so that
people know you are unashamedly a follow of YHWH as he is tremendously revealed in
• approach the topic with humility – ask for grace from people, make sure you acknowledge
that you are neither an expert nor the only thinking person with an opinion who considers
themselves a Christian
• delineate the fact that a literal 6-day creation account is not – nor has ever been – a creedal
statement for Christianity…which means that plenty of good and god-honoring people fall on
different sides of the issue without sacrificing their commitment to Jesus Christ
• highlight the ways in which you feel like you’ve drawn closer to god because of your studies
in genesis
• don’t argue for evolution – simply do your work in the text; leave the science to the
scientists and the exegesis to the biblical scholars…you are a theologian, not a scientist.
• Remind yourself constantly that the reason you’re doing this is to help kids who feel like
they have to pick between intellectual honesty and spiritual integrity – that is a false
dichotomy. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. You can hold the bible to be
literal, true, and sacred as well as have an unpopular opinion about the origins of the

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