Thursday, 12 January 2012

Evolution and Church - What to teach? My thought for the day...

It is no secret that I believe Christians should accept evolution and that it would be beneficial to their faith and the church. Would that mean teaching evolution in churches? Not necessarily. It might be necessary to teach that evolution is not an enemy, that it is compatible with faith, and maybe how it can be reconciled with Christian beliefs, but teaching what it is should not be necessary (though extra seminars could be beneficial).

For a non-scientist preacher or theologian, that approach might seem risky. If we seemingly dogmatically hold to one creation belief and it turns out to be wrong, then it could cause harm (naturally I believe evolution is correct, but I'm not a non-scientist preacher).

Another approach is to teach the diversity in creation beliefs. Teach that many different creation views have merit and are acceptable for Christians. Of course, this then runs the risk that some of the fringe views will increase in popularity, with no support from the evidence, until people start proclaiming it dogmatically as the only acceptable belief for Christians. This has already happened.

My own church tends to teach that you can accept evolution and the vast majority of senior clergy and theologians explicitly accept it. The Catholic Church tends to teach the same sort of thing, but also presents it in ambiguous language which makes it appear as though the theory of evolution is not well supported.

Ideally I would say that this approach is fine, but in reality there is so much doubt from the public about evolution that such vagueness can only make matters worse. It's about time that the clergy were taught just how strong evolution is as a theory.

I'm not sure what prompted this post, it might have been something to do with this poll amongst American pastors:


Anonymous said...

In 1999 Phillip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial, said on CNN: "I think we should teach a lot about evolution. In fact, I think we should teach more than the evolutionary science teachers want the students to know. The problem is what we're getting is a philosophy that's claimed to be scientific fact, a lot of distortion in the textbooks, and all the difficult problems left out, because they don't want people to ask tough questions."

But in the ensuing dozen years, how much has really changed in science classrooms?

The Palaeobabbler said...

Odd response, as my post was talking about what we should teach in church.

With regards to schools, would you teach the complexities of quantum mechanics to high school level students? They need the proper foundation first.

Teaching evolution does not omit information due to some fear (as Johnson appears to imply) but simply because the things missed out are more advanced. If you want that stuff, go more advanced. The problems involved are not problems for the theory as a whole, but within the theory.