Either Way

Either Way February 28, 2011

Here is a letter opened in public by request about the Bible and science. This youth pastor looks at his youth group and sees one group in the Young Earth Creation position and another wondering if they can even believe in the gospel if they don’t embrace YEC.

What would you tell this young pastor? How would you address Genesis 1–2?

Hi Dr. McKnight,
I have a question that I think would be answered well from the perspective of your blog readers.  If you would rather not have this on your blog, I understand.  But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
I am a youth pastor at a baptist church in the north.  The majority of my church would be those who would loosely hold to youth earth creationism–with a few of those memorized-all-of-Ken-Ham’s-arguments types, and a small percentage of those who would hold to some sort of evolutionary creationism.

About half of my youth group is made up of “church kids” who have been, by the previous youth pastor, taught all of the reasons to believe YEC and reject evolution.  My personal stance in terms of the science is probably best described as on the evolution side of agnostic.  My view of the biblical account has primarily been molded by Walton (thanks, for the most part, to your blog).

As a teenager, most of my most serious doubts about my faith and God stemmed from this tension between the YEC that I was supposed to hold to and the old earth evolution that science points to.  If I were ever at a point in which I would have walked away from my faith, it would have been over this issue.  And, this issue was the biggest one that my peers have used as reasons to never take Christianity seriously  or to walk away from the faith they once held.

About half of my youth group is made up of “church kids” who were taught that YEC was the only way (by a previous youth pastor), and the other half is made up of unchurched kids who either assume that they can never be Christians because of their belief in evolution and science.

Here is my dilemma:  I’ve been working through reasons why people don’t believe in God.  For two reasons: 1. to answer some of the questions and doubts that people have, and 2. to get the kids thinking about what/why they believe and what/why others believe.

I gave them a survey, and of the kids who believed, all of them said that they doubted when their friends started talking about things like evolution and stuff.  All of the nonbelievers said that one of the reasons they didn’t believe was because evolution had disproved God.

My church kids’ parents would love for me to come in at this point and do a Answers In Genesis type study teaching my Evilution is, well, evil.  But because of my conscious, I cannot do that.  At the same time I don’t want to use this time to convince them all to be evolutionists–I would probably get in trouble.  But I also want to make sure that they all know that they don’t have to give up on Christ regardless of their view of origins.

So, I am at a loss of what exactly to do.

How do you, and your blog readers, think that I should approach this issue?

Thanks,

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Paul

    As far as what to teach them, when I teach my 8th graders (at a Christian school) I try to follow the model that Roger Olson used in Mosaic of Christian Belief. Namely, there are:

    Core Beliefs (those that nearly all Christians throughout history have agreed upon)
    Non-Core Beliefs (those with a variety of opinions from Christians throughout history)
    Heretical Beliefs (those that are outside the boundaries of Christian belief)

    Of course God created everything, and sustains all things, etc (core belief). I would put “how God created” in the non-core belief section. This allows you to affirm both YEC & Theistic evolutionists and both can still be Christians.

    But to me, I think the real struggle is how to do this & not frustrate parents too much & not hurt the old youth pastor in the process…and I don’t know how exactly to do that.

  • JH

    One thing I’d suggest is reading up on C.S Lewis’s views on evolution. Because he is so respected in the evangelical world, he can be a trusted first step in expanding a YEC mindset. There’s good stuff in The Problem of Pain and Mere Christianity. Message me if you want more resources.

  • Peter

    I teach SS at my church, usually adults, but this year high school kids. My approach has been to focus on division in the Body (something our Heavenly Father really frowns on) and to talk about people that I know who are not YEC believers but who really do love the Lord (something that is supposed to be very fundamental to our lives, no?) and really do take the Bible seriously. I try not to focus a lot on what I believe regarding these issues and only my closest friends would ever learn that the bloggers at Jesus Creed have slowly teased me away from many of my objections to evolution.

  • This falls into the “Jesus turn the water into juice” category. Win the arguments, but lose the souls.

  • This is one of those really hard things as a youth pastor. I have been working with the emerging generations for over a decade. This issue in particular is touchy, in that it was a bedrock for many parents in today’s youth generation. They were repelled from the church because they couldn’t find answers. When they did find that the answers could be there they were drawn back in and it became their focus.

    I have found that the best way is to teach the views that are acceptable within my tradition. Then, I turn the conversation back to what is the central focus of the faith, namely, Jesus and him crucified. Regardless of where one falls on this issue it is a non-essential and therefore needs to be properly treated as such.

    If we can move the conversation from the smoke screen of either/or on this issue to the heart of the matter, Jesus, then we can begin to have life-changing significant conversations. The last I saw nobody was reconciled to God by being “in” the right perspective on creation.

    Scot, if this youth pastor would like to talk further please forward my email address on to him.

  • LCG

    Below is a quote from Augustine on interpreting Genesis 1-2. I think he means Christians should respect legitimate science wherever there are difficult passages in Scripture.

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

  • Tim

    It’s pretty easy to loose one’s job as a youth pastor, correct?

    If the parents at your church even think you’re ready to “indoctrinate” their children into an evolutionary “worldview” you’ll be out of job faster than you can blink.

    Maybe going the route Peter Enns & Walton are going would be safer. Look at traditional protestant interpretations of scripture, and present challenges and alternatives to them.

    Perhaps you could start with the Lost World of Genesis 1. Have your kids read it, or excerpts from it, and host an open forum for discussing. Following this, you could talk about assumptions that play into interpretation of scripture, the role of scholarship, a humble intellectual approach, etc. Basically, approach it from a hermeneutical angle.

    Following that, you could probably say something along the lines of not allowing evolution to serve as a wedge issue between believing Christians, as interpretation on this issue is open for debate at least some debate and point them to Christian resources such as BioLogos.

    I wouldn’t personally tip your hat on this one, as that might cost you your job. Perhaps just try to come across as a peace maker who is “above the fray.” Still, you will be sticking your neck out on this one, and you’ll have to come to terms with that. This all might end with you youth pastoring at another church, or perhaps not at all.

  • The college I attended recently held a symposium on faith and evolution. The speaker was Karl Giberson, a colleague of the more well-known Francis Collins and a “Christian evolutionist.” (Giberson and Collins collaborate on http://www.biologos.org/)

    One of the saddest parts of the day was when Giberson told stories of people who were raised so dogmatically in their churches that they believed they had no option but to abandon their faith when presented with convincing proof about evolution. So your correspondent’s instinct to prepare his students for the world that they are about to enter is encouraging.

    It saddens me that it may affect his job security to do so.

  • One thing we do with our adults is present each of the four (five, now that we’ve read Walton’s book) views from a purely exegetical perspective. We don’t say one is better than the other, but rather that there are sincere, Jesus-loving evangelicals who are definitely going to heaven when they die who hold to each of these views. We talk about being center-defined rather than boundary-defined. I know this seems wishy-washy to the hardcore types (and we’ve been called that), but it’s a great way to encourage charity in discourse.

  • Alan K

    I would suggest getting at the doctrine of creation the way the New Testament does, via Christology. Faith should not rest upon a particular doctrine of scripture, but rather Jesus Christ. Once kids (and for that matter, all of us) recognize this, their confidence will be located in the right place–in God. It is of infinitely greater importance to know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever than to be able to argue whether the earth is thousands or gazillions of years old.

  • Jeremy

    This seems to me to be one of those things you deal with indirectly by slowly and carefully disarming the assertion that only one interpretation of Genesis is acceptable for Christians. A direct assault on YEC is going to end very, very badly. As Jeff said in #4, winning the battle will potentially lose the war. That said, the war is already lost for some

    Maybe focus on what it means to be “saved” and the role doctrine and biblical interpretation play in that. You can touch on different doctrinal hangups like a rock skipping across a pond rather than drilling down on anything.

    This is deeply entrenched stuff that is as much cultural identity as biblical interpretation. I wouldn’t expect to pull it off without months of very careful and indirect work cutting it free from all of the “non-negotiables” it’s been tied to.

  • rjs

    One useful resource is the book by Deborah and Loren Haarsma Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution. The current version is written specifically for those in the reformed (CRC) tradition. The Haarsmas are, after all, professors at Calvin College. But they are working on a version that will remove that reformed emphasis (reference to confessions etc.). In the meantime the current version is good.

  • Justin B.

    My first idea is to be the moderator for some type of discussion night, in which you have a a few students, each of whom representing different views on evolution, talk about how they reached their conclusions and still maintain their faith.

  • Susan

    It seems to me this is tied to the bigger issue of how we read the Bible, and maybe an indirect method of getting to it is an introduction to the types of writing we find in the Bible and how we have to read each tupe ccording to its type (do the trees clap their hands, etc).
    In time, then, it might be possible to examine how we read narrative and to recognize it isn’t journalism as we think of it, but truth because of wha it says about God. Over a very long time. 🙂

  • RCB

    This thread holds up the classic problem for the evangelical believer when they run full face into ultimate truth. To reject scientific discovery because it conflicts with your religious convictions exposes the weakness in the close-held orthodoxy. I view this “conundrum” as a both/and, not an either/or.

    When I read the Hebrew scriptures I picture an elderly grandfather tell his grandchildren stories before bedtime. After all, these writings are a retelling of the oral traditions of our Jewish brotheren. A literal inerrant reading of these texts puts one in a box.

  • Eric Smith

    There is a great book called: “Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask” by Mark Mittelberg. He has a chapter on the question of “Doesn’t evolution disprove God?”. He talks about the danger of trying to convince someone of creationism as opposed to convincing them of their need for Christ. I thought it was a great answer to the question. He talked about responding with what he called the “even if” answer. Basically he gave reasons that even if evolution was true it would still need the existence of God to get off the ground. I highly recommend it, and k actually did a teaching series in our weekly meetings based on the book. It was one of our most well received series.

  • Giberson, Enns and BioLogos have already been mentioned, and another great resource is Answers in Creation [sort of an anti-AIG website]. http://www.answersincreation.org/

    AIC has voluminous responses/rebuttals to the typical YEC arguments and is also clearly committed to Christian faith. They also have curricular materials that might be appropriate for youth groups.

  • normbv

    My advice is to teach your students to be thoughtful investigators of the word for themselves. Perhaps teaching some elementary biblical hermeneutic tools will equip them so that they can be their own fisher of knowledge as time progressives. Start preparing them to be open minded from a liberal position that they will encounter later in their college years. I went to a conservative Christian college yet the experience of how to learn and think critically was foundational in leading me out of that literal mindset allowing me to do so at my own pace.

  • nathan

    To the question:

    I would tell the Youth Pastor to not teach Gen. 1-2 unless he can do 2 things:

    1. bracket the “origins” question-which is way far down the list of what the text is actually concerned with.

    2. do an explicitly theological treatment of the text as it relates to God qua God and/or treat the text more devotionally…

    Otherwise, I think discussions of persuasion/opinion with minors who are under the guidance of their parents and are issues of those parents’ consciences should generally be off-limits.

    I’d be deeply offended if a youth pastor started to wade into this discussion with my daughters. And even being on a church staff, I’d pull my kids from the program permanently if youth staff couldn’t demonstrate the circumspection to avoid divisive areas that they have no right to speak into my children’s lives on.

    Especially since most YP don’t have even a semblance of a theological education…

    Obviously, I feel pretty strongly about this…but that’s my nickel.

  • I encountered this issue in my last church. I took a statement from Ken Hamm where he asserted that the essence of Christianity is belief in God as Creator. All the YEC’s nodded and said “amen”. I continued…based on this logic, a belief in Jesus is not necessary for salvation. Only an agreement that God is creator. I thanked them for being so willing to include Muslims, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, and Jehovah’s Witnesses in the scope of Christian Community, since each of these groups believe in God as Creator. This of course caused quite a stir from these good conservative folks.
    My point was to help them see that our view of origins is not directly tied to our salvation. The essence of Christianity is NOT belief in a Creator, but belief in the work of His Son. By helping these folks to see that Creation doctrine is not tied to salvation, we were then able to begin discussing the wide array of origin theories held within the scope of the Christian community. They were shocked to learn of C.S. Lewis’ views, and Olson’s book “The Mosaic of Christian Belief” proved valuable.

    Try to withhold your own views, and present in the best possible light all the options out there. Don’t make it an issue of conscience of what you will and won’t teach. Instead, share that you want to explore the vast landscape of Christian thought on this issue while encouraging parents and kids to think through the issue and reach their own conclusions.

  • AHH

    I endorse the Origins book mentioned by RJS, and also the approach some mentioned of pointing out that faithful Christians hold differing views on that issue. Including mention of Christian heroes for whom evolution is compatible with Christian faith, like C.S. Lewis and Billy Graham (and in some circles one might toss in Tim Keller).

    Also agree with those who say that one should point out that Genesis was not written to be a science textbook, so that the “how” and “when” of creation are much, much less important than the “who” with which Genesis is concerned.

  • Bring in an outsider, a trusted expert and let them be the prophetic voice the congregation can listen to. Handle this yourself at your own risk… “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” (Mark 6:4 ESV)

    Peace,
    Craig

  • Evolution is a story of origin, a kind of fact-ordering and sense-making that happens to have a far stronger factual foundation than does Young Earth (also a story). That’s why virtually every academically respectable Christian college and university teaches evolution. You already know that.

    Your students, no matter what they’ve been taught in church, will be faced with the rational logic of evolution (assuming they haven’t already). Churches and institutions that stress a literal, 6-day creation suggest to students that believing in God requires not believing evolution. Students are thus faced with a choice: rational science or emotional-intuitive faith. It’s a false choice. You already know that.

    One of the previous comments already addressed this issue, but if dogma (trinity, hypostatic union, theotokos) is the object of our worship; if doctrine (denominationally-defined scriptural and moral tenets) is the basis for our shared vision of what it means to be part of the Kingdom; then adiaphora (all that other stuff, indifferent stuff) includes issues such as evolution, issues that may be tied to our imagined identity but that say little (if anything) about our purpose (why we’re here) or our morality (how we ought to live). You already know that.

    A thought exercise I sometimes give my students: if evolution proved absolutely, positively true, what would that do to your faith? How would it affect you? Would you stop believing in God?

    Another thought exercise: if the first two chapters of Genesis are literally true, does that mean every part of the Bible is also literally true? Are there any metaphorical or figurative parts, anything that isn’t strictly legal and factual? How can you tell which is which? How do you know if you’re right on this one?

    Another thought exercise: why does it matter? What are the larger implications as you see them? Are you afraid? And what of? And why?

    In the end, I’ve found that students can be trusted to do good thinking. They just need someone to give them permission to think, someone to challenge them to think, someone who will love them no matter what they think.

    Just one more thing that you already know — being the person who asks these questions may put your job and your relationships at risk. Choosing to play along, on the other hand, may be an even bigger risk.

  • JD

    whether or not your kids believe in yec or evolution, they still need Jesus. if they get hung up on how the universe and the earth were created, i would say that they’re missing the point. my church teaches genesis 1-11 as theological with some literary arguments thrown in. from that perspective, you could believe whatever you wanted about the science of the thing, but still be getting the point that creation was made good, man messed it up, and because of that, Jesus came and died to make things right. i wouldn’t get bogged down in details because those can come back to bite you; focus on the principles on this issue. also, #1 and #5 have some good advice.

  • JD

    i would also suggest holding your cards on this one. you don’t want to lose anyone over an issue like this. in romans 14, paul tells us that if we’re ok with doing (or believing) something but our brother isn’t, to not let him know. instead, we should defer to where he’s at as not to lose him. i would approach it as irenically as possible.

  • I saw the YEC movement square off against all comers as a youth pastor several years back. It was another episode of Christians behaving badly that ended with the resignation of the Senior Pastor after having his integrity called into question when he brought in an outsider to do a historical survey of how Christians have approached this subject over the centuries. The YEC crowd was not happy because the outsider was not Ken Hamm, the intelligent design crowd was not happy because the speaker did not proclaim that ID was gospel, and everyone came away upset and the gospel was not spread through the experience.

    What did I do, as the youth pastor? I stayed away from it… far, far away. Because of the contentiousness of the subject at the time, because of how ugly it got, and because of how any teaching on this would cause further division in the church, I decided it was best not to go there and instead focused on helping my students think critically about the scriptures that we were interacting with and learn how to think in a way that when it became time for them to wrestle through this that they would be able to do so in a way that was faithful to scripture and academically honest.

    This approach irritated some, but it did not infuriate them nearly as much as any teaching that I would have done on it would have.

    I would love to continue this conversation with the youth pastor in question if he is interested…

  • Jeff

    I was raised with a “softcore” YEC view, with some mainline protestant upbringing as well as a few years at a Fundamentalist church. In short, I just presumed the literal creation was true because nobody told me otherwise. How nice it would have been to have gotten some exposure to Christians who told me that one can be a Christian and evolution at the same time while I was in highschool. In any case, 22 years and a biology degree and biotechnology career later, I can now save in hindsight that we (the Church) must do a better job of educating our kids in Biblical interpretation. Evolution happened, it isn’t going away, and YEC kids will either bury their head in the sand, lose their faith (I’ve known many), or go through a very dark period while they try to sort it all out. Authority figures in the Church (as well as parents) need to help our children deal properly with these issues now!

  • CTVD

    ONe resource is to go see the new movie – that gives some very different takes on the conversation…The Genesis Code:
    http://www.thegenesiscodemovie.com/

  • The most difficult element of youth ministry is actually not dealing with the kids, it’s the parents. The parents will have certain expectations of you to teach their kids what THEY believe. The parents look to you as a a proxy, someone who can get through to their teenagers what they cannot. Parents of teenagers are afraid, deathly afraid, that their kids will walk away from the faith and get into drugs, drinking, and sexual promiscuity. Fear is a powerful motivator, and this fear will drive them to demand that you take a stand on the literal interpretation of the Bible, using Genesis 1 as the litmus test.

    They will say, “If we can’t affirm that the world was created in 6 literal days, how can we believe that Jesus literally rose from the dead on the third day.” I’ve heard this very thing. They will say, “I don’t want my kids taking the Bible on faith, I want them to know that it is supported by scientific fact.” I’ve heard this, too.

    Whatever it is you decide to do, you have to do it pastorally–for the kids, but especially for the parents. They have deep fears for their kids, and many of them are legitimate. But perfect love drives out fear, and if you can find a way to walk agape love through this, you will do well.

  • Daniel

    The recommendation of The Lost World of Genesis One is good in that Walton looks at the concept of creation from a different perspective. This perspective is not illegitimate and really helps articulate how our particular perspective shapes our reading of the first chapters of Genesis.

    Heed the warning about how this affects your church community. Parents will get nervous if they perceive you as teaching something contrary to what they deem as foundational.

    It might be good to explain the underlying philosophical positions of many secular evolutionists. Look also at the underlying philosophical positions of YEC and OEC.

    Beliefs about creation, age of the earth, dinosaurs, fossils, etc. are secondary. Notice the emphasis Paul and the others put on Christ and His work. The Faith need not be abandoned over such issues.

    Not knowing your church, be prepared to back off and reevaluate your responses. Ask yourself whether this is a hill you are prepared to die on. Depending on your congregation you might suffer. You are a witness and example to not only your youth but also to the congregation.

  • Robin

    1. When you join a church you submit to the authority and teaching of that church, provided that it is performed within the confines set forth in the membership agreement. So if my pastor says something that rubs me the wrong way or teaches my children things I fin doffensive, I better be able to prove that it is either (1) unbiblical or (2) contrary to our doctrinal standards. So, if the parents submit to the authority of the church they should be willing to let you teach the children as long as you haven’t violated the denominational standards.

    2. For that reason, I would check first what standards the church professes. If there is a YEC view built into the chruch’s doctrine statement, you really do not have another choice. Teach YEC or get to stepping. If there is something that looks YEC, but isn’t set in stone, tread more carefully. If there is something in there to the effect of “We believe the creation narrative is only symbolic in Gen. 1-11, then teach whatever you want.

    Doctrinal statements are important. You should feel freedom to teach whatever you please, within those guidelines. And if you feel you must teach something which the church has already agreed it is against, then you need to move to a congregation without such limitations.

  • Robin is spot on. Find out what your church’s standards are before you do anything. If the church really wants to hang its youth out to dry when they get into college you don’t really have an alternative but to try to find another congregation that will let you seriously explain evolution and faith to kids.

  • race_12_1 (Kelly)

    For me, this is not just an issue of creation vs. evolution. This is much bigger then that. It comes down to the question of whether you just believe in God, or if you also believe God. Whether the issue is creation, miracles of Christ, or any other event described in the bible, we are to believe God. God said “______” therefore it is true.

    Why is this improtant? If we teach youth that our interpretation is more important the the actual words God said, then we create a rocky soil. We set them up to say “How do I know if I should believe what God said about Christ if I don’t believe what he said about other stuff?” When we do that, we create bigger doubts that are harder to overcome. God said he created for 6 days, rested on 1, created man out of dust, and so on. If we do not believe what God told us about this and tell youth it is ok not to believe it, we cannot tell them they need to believe the rest of what God told us. We must be careful to teach our youth to take God at his word.

  • Scot

    This question is just as important as other questions that Christian must face in their life that will ultimately lead to Christ or away from Christ, such as “Why is Christianity any better than Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam?”

    If you are willing, take yourself AND your students to the source. Read and STUDY Darwin’s Origin of the Species and related works. Find the assumptions that Darwin based his entire theory upon, and test to determine if those assumptions are true, or if they were wrong. Study those who originally opposed Darwin’s theory (hint: not Christians…) and most importantly why.

    In the world of spiritual warfare you must KNOW YOUR ENEMY just as well as you know your own bible. If you do not, you will not be able to defend yourself, and you will falter.

    The great Martin Luther was one of the first major advocates for translating the Koran into a European language, not because he was a Muslim, but because he understood that you must know what you are dealing with before you can prepare to defend your heart against the spiritual attacks that will come from your adversary.

  • As a youth pastor myself one of the best resources I have come across in regards to this issue is a BBC documentary by Connor Cunningham called “Did Darwin Kill God?”. You can find it on YouTube. Cunningham is a brilliant theologian (part of the Radical Orthodoxy movement), a devote Christian and someone who affirms evolution. While the documentary might not be the most entertaining for teenagers (especially the second half) the argument that Cunningham makes is compelling and in my opinion needs to be shared both with students and the church. What Cunningham does is move the evolution/creationism debate away from the constant volleying of evidence (both real and perceived) and puts the issue in a historical context. What he demonstrates unequivocally is that we have no need to affirm a literal 6 day creationism or anything similar because historically this has never been the position of the church until the rise of fundamentalism after the Scopes Trials in the early 20th century and even that, Cunningham explains, was more about social Darwinism than evolutionary theory. For me this meant a seismic shift in my thinking. I have always been torn between what I have been taught by the church growing up and what science tells us. Like my students I had assumed that the position of the church had always been to affirm a literal creation account. What Cunningham helped me to see was that even before Darwin published “Origin of Species” the church had never affirmed a literal interpretation of the creation story going all the back to Augustine in his “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” in which he essentially says anyone who reads the creation account literally is a fool, and further back still to rabbis writing in the time of Jesus who also rejected a literal reading of the creation account. For me and many of my students this was liberating. Now I can tell them with confidence that they don’t have to affirm a literal creationism because the church has never affirmed that either. As I always tell them, the point of Genesis isn’t “how” God created but “that” God created. I hope this is of some help. I know all too well how difficult youth ministry can be. You’ll be in my prayers. Grace and peace.

  • Jeremy

    33 – This has been discussed ad nauseam. The existence of that false choice is only there because people insist on it. “Believe in literalism or reject the whole thing!” No, those of us in the younger generations reject that assertion. We can, in fact, believe the things God says without having to insist that God talked like a post-enlightenment Westerner thousands of years before such a thing even existed or by quite selectively being literal in our readings when it serves doctrine.

    Back on topic – I think Nathan and Robin bring up valuable points. There’s a tension between trying to get to those kids that reject Christianity due to the YEC debate and respecting the congregation you work for. It may be something that has to be navigated with the pastoral staff as a whole and if the solution isn’t acceptable, it may be time to move on.

    Earlier, I said that to tackle the issue means first tackling a whole bunch of other issues. Maybe this needs to be done first with the pastoral staff, second with the congregation and finally with the kids. If you go for the kids first, you’re walking into a place where you’ll become the enemy very, very quickly, and it will be completely justified. I’m on this youth pastor’s side, but as Nathan pointed out, when you start screwing with my kid’s theology, we’ve got issues.

    You may want to consider finding ways to talk to alienated kids separately or suggest/loan them a book like Boyd’s Letters from a Skeptic. Undermining the church and its congregants is very ill advised.

  • chad m

    i’ve had Ham’s books and other YEC resources “donated” to my inbox at church on a few occasions. for this reason, i’ve done absolutely nothing to teach on this area. you CANNOT please the Ken Ham folks. you’re either with them or against them. so when the issue arises with students i tell them two truths we must believe: 1) ex nihilo – God created out of nothing. 2) ex amore – God created out of love.

    “yeah, but how did God do it?”

    i’m more comfortable saying, “i don’t know,” than trying to argue a particular view. i don’t think the biblical authors were concerned with the question of “how” so much as the question of “why.” and that’s when i say, out of love and out of nothing. this is a great segue to God’s desire for relationship with us and God’s choosing to demonstrate his love through giving himself throughout history. it’s also an opportunity, s others have suggested, to talk about how we use and read the Bible.

  • race_12_1 (Kelly)

    Chad M-good point. All we know about the “how” is what God stated to us in his word. Any more details then that become a matter of debating our own opinion, and get us away from what God intend for us. The enemy likes nothing more then when believers debate what isn’t in God’s word rather then act on what is.

  • Joshua Wooden

    Kelly at 33, that idea is harmful to students of the Bible and science who think critically, and ask critical questions. Moreover, it is presumptuous- it assumes that everything in the Bible was MEANT to be taken at face-value, but there is much that is written in the Bible that is a lot deeper than a “Take God at His Word” reading allows.

    The point of this discussion is not to affirm one view or another, but to help a youth pastor guide students who are wrestling with what the Bible says and to understand what is essential and what is not. Saying that rejecting literal 6-day creation leads to rejection of Christ’s resurrection of the dead is simply incorrect- people do it ALL THE TIME. The slippery slope is not as slippery as some imagine it to be. Students need to be taught how to think critically, not simply. Having faith like a child and thinking like a child are not the same, as Paul points out in 1 Cor. 14.20: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

  • Joel

    I was once a youth leader at a conservative evangelical community church. Once during a small group discussion, having completed our topic, I opened the floor for general questions. Genesis was brought up. I outlined what I considered to be fairly broad descriptions of points of view within orthodoxy. YEC, old earth special creation, evolutionary creationism, etc. with the main point being that God did it.

    Well, despite some other controversial subjects over the years, this was the only time I had a parent make a complaint to church staff. I hadn’t espoused a particulary point of view as I was fairly “agnostic” about the whole thing. This made me dig into a lot of science – not my strongest subject! With passionate YEC parents, science was generally frowned upon. So imagine my surprise to find that evolution was not only feasible, but the strength of the evidence makes it very likely. Some resources that helped: The Language of God – Francis Collins, Finding Darwin’s God – Kenneth Miller, Your Inner Fish – Neil Shubin, and for a general introduction to all things science – A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson.

    This experience led me to believe that we’re doing a disservice to our youth by being overly sensitive about evolution and YEC. There need to be more voices that say, “Yes – evolution is most likely true. And yes, God did it!”

    Until that happens, more kids will be brought up only to lose their faith when they realize the weight of the evidence against YEC. This shouldn’t be a core belief, but it is shaking many to their core without good reason.

  • Jon

    As a fellow youth pastor, I will describe how I approach the subject. Most of the older generation in our church hold to some form of creationism, including my boss (the senior pastor). I say “I don’t know what I am, but it’s not YEC”. So how do I deal with my group?

    I focus on the questions the text answers. God has a hand in the world. God somehow made the world and everything in it. The Bible doesn’t address evolution or YEC, and neither do I. When it comes up, I generally offer how the two camps would approach the subject (i.e., and evolutionist would say x, while someone who doesn’t believe in evolution would say y). Students are smart enough to decide on their own.

    We also do not allow students to judge each other based on what they say (youth group is a safe place), but allow each to hold onto and examine their own beliefs, so long as they can articulate why they believe it. I challenge students, and they challenge me. We do it out of generosity rather than trying to prove others right.

  • race_12_1 (Kelly)

    To those who addressed my post (#33) I did not say “rejecting part rejects it all”. I in fact said that rejecting one part could lead to rejecting it all. The reality is when we as believers cannot believe what God has said he did, how can we expect non believers to believe what God has said? Since when, as humans, are we the ones who decide what part is or isn’t in fact the case? On what basis do you decide that? How do you expect a non believer to believe your assertion that “this part is true” and “this part, well, not so much”. You cannot assert, logically, that only parts of the bible are true, then expect others to believe you picked the right parts.

    Is the whole bible valid for teaching? Yes! Does it all apply to us in the same way it applied before Christ? No, but that does not change facts. This is a matter of understand the bible as one whole writing, not bits and parts that we choose. Solo Scriptura.

    The whole “new generation” argument is not valid. Every generation was “the new generation” at one point, and God has never changed. God is capable of doing things we cannot understand, period. “The new generation” as you call it, simply refuses to accept that they cannot explain everything, understand everything, and know all the answers. Again, just because you don’t understand how, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen that way. It is a matter of refusing to admit that we are not capable of understanding it.

    On the note of how to address this, if I failed to make my point clear I will. We must first teach students that we are not capable of understanding all that God did. Yes, there are other opinions on the subject, but that doesn’t changed what God in fact did. You either believe God, or you don’t. Tell them the truth.

  • race_12_1 (Kelly)

    I feel I must add, this new generation has nothing new in “thinking critically and asking critical questions”. Critical thinking is not a new found ability. I did not grow up in the church, I did not become a believer until I was 21. Why? In part because when I did talk to believers they often wavered on which of parts of the bible they believed or didn’t believe. My response was always “if they don’t know if it’s true why should I believe it”. I asked critical questions of believers, they often could not answer them in any convincing way. Why, because they were all too often not convinced themselves.

    Now, over 18 years after placing my life at the foot of the cross, I have decided that the church is often it’s own worst enemy because so many think they know more then God about what God did or didn’t do. There is nothing wrong with presenting youth with other ideas, it is however wrong not to teach them the truth first so that they have a biblical worldview.

  • Susan N.

    As a parent of 2 (5th and 8th grade/age) youth, who has been “around the block” in my own journey and with my kids in their faith formation both at home (homeschool) and various church/religious settings, I can tell you what I have learned and what I would wish, ideally, in a youth pastor.

    I would like for them a church fellowship and spiritual mentors which provides a “safe” place to ask questions and express doubts and fears. One in which adult leaders do not shy away from honest questions, and one in which doubting or disagreeing with others — even the church’s stated doctrine — is O:K.

    I also think that this debate between creationists and evolutionists is a cultural reality that our kids should be aware of and prepared to think about and answer for themselves. But, this takes time to work out, even in grown-ups 🙂

    I would like for my kids’ spiritual mentors to emphasize the deeper truths about God, the world, and ourselves — in the case of the Genesis creation story, that God is eternal, that He made us in His image, and loves us above all. Fear of the unknown is a bad conversion strategy, especially if long-term sustainability of “faith” is the desired outcome. If we are all truthful with ourselves and others, there are always aspects of God and the Bible and how these are to be interpreted in the world and our lives which we don’t fully understand. I don’t think we need to fear the Bible, either. Reading and studying it is important for faith formation. I encourage my kids that if they stick with it and sincerely seek to grow in knowledge, God will slowly make it clear. Stick with it; be O:K with not knowing everything; be willing to admit error…Humility with God and others.

    Most of all, though, a youth pastor is important to me for my kids in being a spiritual mentor who truly cares about the kids, and provides a safe, loving place to explore faith and experience a Christian community.

    I suspect that in your situation, from a practical standpoint, you will not have a lot of freedom with the senior pastor/elders or the member parents to deviate from the doctrinal script. I commend your heart for the kids’ best long-term interests, though. May God guide you step by step.

  • D. Foster

    This is so tricky. Here are some thoughts running through my mind.

    Firstly, YEC is not biblical and I think that needs to be taken seriously. You have to maintain your integrity as a Christian and not participate in propagating a philosophy that is spiritually destructive to these kids’ minds (e.g. if Genesis 1 isn’t historical, how can you believe any of the Bible?). Genesis is a creation story that is inspired by God’s Spirit to communicate certain truths by a medium of mythic tradition that was popular in the Ancient Near East: it is not a literal play-by-play of how Creation happened. While I do honestly appreciate some of the tenets of ICR and AIG, their philosophy is overall setting up kids to lose their faith and we as Christians can’t take part in that.

    At the same time, you’re under the authority to some extent of the Church leadership. Despite the fact that YEC is a faulty philosophy, it is a faulty philosophy that is sincerely believed by millions and millions of people, including your church’s leadership. Part of their role is to keep heterodox teachings out of the Church. Even if they’re ironically in the wrong by defending an essentially heretical teaching like YEC, they’re still stewards of the flock and their role ought to be respected. I think it would be unwise to delve into this contentious topic without their blessing. It’s a shame that so many of us in the Church are having this struggle, but this is the way it is.

    If you do decide to break open this can of worms, you may lose your job. Is it the right decision for you to address this issue now? What will be the result? Should you openly express your views to the leadership in hopes of making a change? Should you silently dismantle the underlying layers of philosophy upon which YEC is built? Should you find another church? Should you be in youth ministry?

    I don’t ask any of that rhetorically; I just think it’s important to make those assessment. You’re doing the right thing by asking other Christians’ opinions. In the end, you have to do what you believe God is calling you to do no matter what is, no matter how difficult it will be. Pray over this and talk with trusted friends, family and mentors. You’re in a difficult position. But Jesus is Lord.

    ~Derek

  • EricW

    @chad m 37.: i tell them two truths we must believe: 1) ex nihilo – God created out of nothing.

    Richard Elliott Friedman in his translation and COMMENTARY ON THE TORAH says that the Hebrew of Genesis 1:2 does NOT teach “creation ex nihilo.”

    Neither does Hebrews 11:3, ISTM.

  • Joshua Wooden

    Kelly @ #42,

    In your words you said,

    “I did not say, ‘rejecting part rejects it all’. I in fact said that rejecting one part could lead to rejecting it all.”

    I think that you were referring to my post, so I should probably say that I’m sorry if I caricatured your argument- I certainly did not mean to. However, I think there’s a misunderstanding here. No one is actually advocating a “rejection” of parts of scripture and acceptance of other parts, but rather re-interpretation of what the Bible says. If it was as easy as “rejecting” the parts that suit us, and accepting the parts that do, then that would be one thing, but no one has suggested that on this blog to my memory. Everyone I’ve read seems to believe the Bible is true, authoritative- the inspired Word of God. What is being challenged is people’s interpretations of what that true, authoritative, inspired Word says, not the Word itself. So to reiterate- the issue is not rejection/acceptance of the Bible as God’s eternal Word, but sound interpretation and hermeneutics.

    “The reality is when we as believers cannot believe what God has said he did, how can we expect non-believers to believe what God has said?”

    Again, nobody is questioning that God created the heavens and the earth and is, therefore, sovereign over his creation. What people are saying is that the Genesis creation narrative is not literally true- it didn’t happen exactly as the narrative describes because the point of the narrative was not to state scientific, historical fact. Rather, the menaing of the narrative goes much deeper than a literal reading allows for, and numerous books have already been suggested on this post that help to explain, illustrate and clarify that point.

    “This is a matter of understanding the Bible as one whole writing, not bits and parts that we choose.”

    But the Bible isn’t one whole writing. It is one book communicating God’s redemptive action in history, yes, but it is written in many different genres, at many different times in history, and in the context of a culture/nation as it changed over time and with time. This does not mean that it is any less God’s Word to man, but it does mean that it should be understood in context, which means that we not only don’t pick and choose, but we understand the parts in their original context knowing that doing so will shed light on the book as a whole unit.

  • Joshua Wooden

    “Again, just because you don’t understand how, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen that way.”

    The problem is not that people don’t understand how, the problem is that there is scientific evidence that indicates it did not happen the way Genesis describes, and that current understanding of how it did happen contradicts what the Genesis creation narrative says. That just takes us back to what I was saying before about re-interpreting what the narrative says. Here, it is probably worth noting that respected Christians as early as Augustine (and his mentor St. Ambrose) rejected the literal interpretation of Genesis on grounds that had nothing to do with evolution (obviously- they lived in the 4th century, long before evolution was suggested). Instead, they read that passage allegorically, and this interpretation, to my knowledge, is not considered un-orthodox or heretical. However, they still believed that it was the inspired Word of God and was authoritative.

    “We must first teach students that we are not capable of understanding all that God did.”

    I absolutely agree. However, we should also teach them humility in interpreting what God says, rather than indoctrinate them with arrogance that they know the answers to questions that they simply do not know the answers to. Doing this isn’t flippancy- it’s honesty and it’s humility.
    “Yes, there are other opinions on the subject, but that doesn’t changed what God in fact did. You either believe God, or you don’t. Tell them the truth.”
    Again- no one is questioning that God did it. In fact, that is assumed by both theistic evolutionists as well as YEC. What is in question is the manner in which God did it. Does Genesis communicate something that was meant to be read literally or allegorically?

    “I asked critical questions of believers, they often could not answer them in any convincing way. Why, because they were all too often not convinced themselves. Now, over 18 years after placing my life at the foot of the cross, I have decided that the church is often it’s own worst enemy because so many think they know more then God about what God did or didn’t do.”

    I don’t understand. On the one hand you became a believer despite Christians that were in your opinion flippant and un-confident in what they believed, but on the other hand you are convinced that the church is its own worst enemy because people think they know more than God about what he did or didn’t do? You don’t see how those two statements are actually contradicting? How can they be unconfident on the one hand, but over-confident on the other?

    “There is nothing wrong with presenting youth with other ideas, it is however wrong not to teach them the truth first so that they have a biblical worldview.”

    Well, for what it’s worth (and this is especially true in the evolution/creation debate), what constitutes a Biblical worldview is often quite subjective, and usually means the sum-total of a given Christian’s individual assumptions, presuppositions and in some cases a projection of their individual desires, rather than that which is in accord with actual historic orthodoxy. 


  • RobS

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics is also science (and it’s a law… not just a theory!) and it says something about entropy and disorganization being a pattern to things left alone.

    I’m far from a great scientific mind, but that may be a scientific fact that is worth consideration for those that enjoy the details of science.

  • Janet Rea

    I would like to address the original question concerning what the youth pastor should teach his kids concerning creation/evolution. Should he go along with the YEC party line, or interject a new way of thinking by proposing theistic evolution? Should he present all the theories, and let the kids decide which one they think is best?
    First, I don’t think it is ever wise to allow for any kind of relativistic thinking when dealing with spiritual matters. For example, we don’t say, “here are the different viewpoints on how to get saved – you can pick whichever one you want.” We know that there is only one way to be saved – by grace through faith. However, some may say, salvation is pretty clear, creation is not. But, I would respond, like all matters of Christian belief, truth does exist at the bottom of it all, and, regrettably, we are not nearly as diligent as we should be at exploring the mysteries of that truth. How much thought has the church (evangelicals in particular) really given to creation? It has been my experience that many just absorb the teachings of whoever – a quasi-scientist YEC’er or a trendy theistic evolutionist. As for understanding the actual science behind creation, or interpreting all the Scriptural references (not just Gen. 1&2) to creation – well, that’s just too hard.
    I started thinking about this question a couple of years ago, and as a result, I have been writing a book on this and other commonly raised questions. I learned so much when I really started to think about it and research it. Also, my husband (a science teacher) and I teach a class on science and faith at our church and we have both taught on this subject to high school students. I won’t bore all of you with the details of what I’ve discovered, but here are 4 things that I hope the youth pastor will keep in mind. 1.) Don’t give in to relativism. There is ultimate truth about creation. It’s better to say, “I don’t know, but I’m learning,” than to throw a bunch of ideas up in the air and see where they land. 2.) Stop to consider the cultural background of Gen. Why was Moses writing these things to the new nation of Israel? A good book about this is The Galileo Connection by Hummel. 3.) Get to know the old-earth creation position. Frankly, I’m very surprised that in the 40-some comments on this post that no one has mentioned this way of looking at the Creation/evolution debate. Look at Hugh Ross’s Reasons to Believe website for more information. 4.) Don’t be a science wimp! God has revealed himself through nature, and the way we learn about this is to study science. If you’re going to talk about evolution, make sure you understand what its saying. If you’re going to learn about God and his work by looking at nature, make sure you’re willing to tackle the biology. One more thing – about theistic evolution – when we look at the Bible and nature (St. Augustine’s 2 books!) do we see God creating or evoluting? (Ok, I made that word up!) Is life purposeful, or aimless, as evolution suggests? I don’t think we can attribute evolution, as it is commonly defined today, to God. But we can allow God much more “room/time” to create – we can let him out of the literalist 24/7 box.

  • rjs

    Janet,

    I like much of what you have to say here – except, theistic evolution (or evolutionary creation) is not “trendy.” It is an honest attempt by many of us to wrestle with the clear evidence from nature and the divine nature of God and the word of God. This is not a picture of evolution as a purposeless process in any fashion.

    If you look on the sidebar you will find links to many many posts on science and faith on this blog. We haven’t dealt much with the old earth creationist position, but it is unconvincing because it makes no sense of the data that is so pervasive for an evolutionary history.

    As a scientist and professor the position of evolutionary creation is where I stand because nothing else makes sense of the data – both the data in support of the Christian story and the data we observe in nature through science.

    Sometimes though the best we can do in the church is try to make room for a variety of acceptable Christian positions. That may be all a youth pastor should do – refuse to take a position on this issue.

  • AHH

    RobS @49,

    My Ph.D. work was in chemical thermodynamics, so I can’t let that pass by uncommented.
    When I taught a science & faith course at my church a couple years ago, one of the things I said was that if you see somebody using the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as an anti-evolution argument, that’s a pretty sure sign they don’t know what they are talking about. Maybe in the same category as somebody lecturing about church history who uses The DaVinci Code as an authoritative source.

  • Joe Watkins

    I wonder if there’s not a way to look at Genesis 1 from a different angle and circumvent the discussion of creation and evolution altogether. For instance, when I looked at Genesis and creation with the youth group I pastor, we came to the text asking the question, “What does this say about God?” I used it as an opportunity to teach about God’s holiness, love, creativity, power, etc., and pressed the point (that I believe) that this is what Genesis 1 is really all about.

    I worked pretty well because it does three things:

    1. It focuses the discussion on God.
    2. It disarms some of the YEC v. Evolution rhetoric because we weren’t too concerned about the debate. It’s probably an appropriate conversation to be had, but it’s just not what we were talking about as we looked at Genesis 1.
    3. It gives the students different handles by which they can grab the story. It may not answer all their questions about evolution and the bible and God, but it begins to show them that there might be a different angle from which they can read the text.

    In a way (I hope) it demonstrates that they can still have faith in the message of the passage even when questions about details still persist. That might not be the angle that works best for the above situation, but looking for less explosive directions from which to approach the subject might prove valuable.

  • Percival

    Sorry that I did not read all the comments above because I’m sure there is a lot of wisdom there.

    However, here’s another approach. Outline the “battle”, the different sides, and what happens when christians go to war over this issue. Then ask them if their generation wants to continue this war of if they wish to be peacemakers.

  • AHH

    Percival @54,
    I like your suggestion but it may not work in a lot of churches. I think there are many places where “contending for the faith”, “battling the enemy” and similar slogans are promoted, and where being a “peacemaker” would be equated to compromise with the enemy.

  • Percival

    AHH,
    Of course you are right. Our church went through this battle. Some people left so as not to “compromise” but others stayed to live at peace with differing opinions. Our church is stronger because some YEC people decided to stay and promote grace with those with whom they disagreed.

    I think this generation may make different choices if it is laid out with these options. We can hope anyway.

  • The real question is: Are you going to teach God’s Word, or are you going to teach man’s word?

    This is the question our kids are asking…do they trust God’s Word, or do they trust what the world is trying to tell them. If the Church allows man’s opinion to supersede God’s Word, then we are answering that question for them by saying “trust in man’s word.” Allowing the theory of evolution to compromise what the Bible says is doing just that.

    The good news is that God’s Word will always defend itself! This is more and more obvious as science and new discoveries continuously are proving that there is no merit to the theory of evolution. From the Big Bang that shows something outside the universe is responsible for it’s beginning, to the awesome wonder of DNA that shows information comes from an intelligence…science is proving what the Bible has said all along.

    What we need to get away from is the “we say, they say” way of teaching and help students begin thinking through the process and making conclusions for themselves. One of the best resources I have seen for helping students understand how to think for themselves and come to logical conclusions is the True U series by Focus on the Family.

    Instead of using the “we say, they say” way of teaching, True U teaches and uses deductive reasoning. They use science to look at the way things really are then look at what world view has the best explanation for reality. (The series looks at the origin of the universe and the origin of life.) It’s like CSI…what does the evidence show and what best explains that evidence.

    While the series does not answer or address the question of the age of the earth, it does show students that the world and it’s theory of evolution simply don’t have the answers to the questions. As they start to see that God’s Word does have the answers, they are much more able to trust what the Bible says over what man says.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Haley

    PS: Don’t be afraid of how people will respond when you teach Truth. If you lose your job because you chose God’s Word over what the world says God will honor it! “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 NIV

  • Janet Rea

    Dear rjs — Sorry about the word “trendy,” I guess what I was trying to say is that I’ve observed that some just put evolution with God merely to justify teaching evolution. I do agree with you that when we look at the biological evidence, we do see evolutionary processes at work; something that looks very much like evolution is happening. I don’t think, however, that as Christians we can subscribe to the secular, purely naturalistic way of looking at evolution. I appreciate your comment that “theistic evolution is not a picture of evolution as
    a purposeless process.” Also, I do agree that old earth creationism gives a better explaination of the age and development of the universe (astrophysics) than of evolution (biology.) But the question of how life began and developed is explored and accounted for — too much to explain here!

  • Joshua Wooden

    Haley @ #57,

    When you say, “The real question is: Are you going to teach God’s Word, or are you going to teach man’s word?”

    But this just begs the question. If we answer that question in the affirmative (that is, if we say that we are going to teach God’s Word over and against “man’s word”), then the question is not only, “What does God’s Word say?” but also, “What does God’s Word mean?” (Please refer to my former post in response to Kelly (#47-48). That is what is being discussed. It isn’t only about God’s Word as opposed to “man’s word,” but sound interpretation of God’s Word.

    Second, as I said to Kelly about the use of the phrase “Biblical worldview,” the term “God’s Word” when spoken about in stark contrast to man’s word, very often means, “my word” vs. “their word.” Which is to say, it is a way of caricaturing other people’s views as “the world” and assuming that your own interpretation of God’s Word is itself God’s Word. Such terminology can be utilized in any context to make the Bible mean whatever we want it to mean, and a way of disregarding other people by saying that it is “of the world.”

  • Joshua Wooden

    Haley,

    Also, the theory of evolution is not an “opinion”. Scientific theories are based on empirical evidence- they are not the same as saying, “My favorite color is blue,” or “My favorite ice cream is Chocolate Chip”. Just because it is a theory, rather than a law does not mean it is merely subjective and, therefore, a matter of opinion. Second, I don’t know what books you are reading, but saying that more and more evidence is disproving evolution is a fallacious statement. I think science always has and always will point in the direction of God, but there are many people who believe in evolution who say the same thing (some of them post through this blog). Saying that it is “all those evolutionists” vs. “us Christians” is a false dichotomy- there are Christian scientists who believe that evolution is a sound theory and we must take into account what they have to say if we wish to be fair (and perhaps even learn) from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Finally, Focus on the Family uses deductive reasoning selectively (in fact, they use reason itself selectively). I am reminded of a quote by Andrew Lang (slightly modified to fit this topic): “He uses [deductive reasoning] as a drunken man uses a lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” I saw there production of “The Truth Project.” It was good for the most part- but it most definitely had a Conservative, Republican Focus on the Family bias that was cloaked in an objective, historically orthodox Christian garb.

  • theonewhowrotetheletter

    @ #19 Nathan –
    “Especially since most YP don’t have even a semblance of a theological education…”

    I have a BA in Religion and am currently working on an MDiv. I have plans to continue my studies with either an MTh or quite possibly a PhD after my professional degree is done. I probably don’t have as much of a “semblance of a theological education” as you do yet, but don’t assume that I am an uneducated hillbilly because of the demographic to which I am ministering.

  • crm

    Haley,
    i wouldn’t wish “True U” on anyone. i’ve seen the “Truth Project” and felt as though the presenter was a bit pompous. so if it’s God’s truth we’re after, let’s look at God’s truth, not Focus on the Family’s, Ken Ham’s, or any other “man’s.”

    it’s quite ironic that the arguments for God’s truth over man’s truth are largely espoused by a bunch of men who have become arbiters of truth!