Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos and the Megachurch

This post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

My suspicion grows apace with the slickness of a presentation. This is one reason I squirm in a megachurch. PowerPoint slides, emotion-tugging video clips during the pre-game show, music crafted to feel edgy and relevant—my skin crawls like I’m about to hear a sales pitch, which I guess I am, which maybe isn’t so bad for God-seekers who aren’t inveterate curmudgeons.

“Slick,” likewise, was my first response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos reboot, which evoked its own megachurch feeling, alternating sci-fi videography with fervent sermons about evolution. The risk in a new set of films from the BioLogos Foundation, which seeks to draw people into a conversation about the intersection of science and faith, is that they will spark exactly that, only one that marries the megachurch’s Jesus-Superbowl with the liberation theology that is evolution theory in the mouths of pop scientists like Tyson.

The danger, in short, is that the conversation is over before it begins, because participation requires one side to lay down their presuppositions, but allows the other to continue clutching theirs like a toddler his candy. [Read more...]

The Bible, Science, and Higher Education

By Vic Sizemore

5042620370_343d73008c_oIn an evening church service at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1979, Jerry Falwell explained the academic foundation for Liberty Baptist College (which became Liberty University in 1984). He said, “We give all kinds of academic freedom, as long as it agrees with this book.”

Picture, if you will, Falwell behind his massive pulpit, holding up a black floppy Bible. “If it doesn’t,” he said, “it isn’t academic.” He continued, “I want you having all the academic freedom you want, as long as you wind up saying that the Bible account is true and all others are not.”

In 2008, a little over a year after Falwell’s death, I was in the midst of a career change. I had a chance encounter with a dean from Liberty University who told me of an opening in their English department. The rumors around town were that things were changing, loosening up, so I sent the dean my CV.

Several days later, I spent the morning touring Liberty’s campus and talking to various members of the administration. Before lunch, my faculty escort dropped me back in the English department for a meet-and-greet. After introductions and small talk, the lone woman in the group of teachers asked if I was ready for “The Inquisition.” The other professors laughed.

“What’s The Inquisition?” I asked.

“The doctrinal,” one of the men said.

[Read more...]

Science and Faith: an Evolving Conversation

Transparent chemistry glass tubes filled with substances

“I left the Church,” my tablemate explains, “because my priest couldn’t answer my questions.”

We are at a gathering of scientists, religious leaders, and people who write about science and religion. We are discussing how people in these often counterposed domains can collaborate for the betterment of mankind.

I confess I am skeptical about the benefits to mankind that will accrue from elite collaboration. I’m a Madisonian in that regard: our wellbeing is safer when elites keep each other in check rather than partner.

[Read more...]

Living With Darwin

LivingWithDarwinThis post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

A few years ago, Philip Kitcher wrote a book called Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith. Kitcher is a well-respected philosopher. He currently holds an appointment in the philosophy department at Columbia University.

Kitcher often writes about science, the scientific method, and more specifically about science and its clash with faith. He has dipped his toe, more than once, into the murky waters of creationism and the arguments around intelligent design.

[Read more...]

My Big Bang Theory

redwoodsGuest post by Cathy Warner

I awoke one morning from a recurrent nightmare of nuclear apocalypse to see towering redwoods dripping with fog outside the window. I stepped from the cabin into a chorus of frogs and crickets, interlaced roots spreading wide into bracken fern, neon banana slugs sliding across fragrant duff. I breathed crisp air and sensed that I was in the midst of an ecosystem in perfect harmony.

In that instant I was convinced this hadn’t happened randomly (as I understood evolution), or because the trees had “willed it” (as I understood the Beyond War manifesto I’d recently embraced).

It was the first time I felt God revealed—not a bearded cloud-bound giant calling for repentance, a la the Bible-thumping students on the campus quad I’d tried to avoid—but a presence, being—in and behind all that existed.

[Read more...]


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