In high school I was taught that the Earth is about 10,000 years old. But I also learned the basics of evolution from my evangelical teachers. School administrators knew that students taking Advanced Placement biology exams and heading off to state universities needed to understand secular scientific reasoning, if only to combat it properly.
Here’s something creationists and evolutionary naturalists agree about:
Darwin’s theory of evolution leads inevitably to atheism. John F.
Haught disagrees. In Making Sense of Evolution, he proposes that one need not choose between God and Darwin.
Ordained an Anglican priest after a career as one of the world’s top quantum physicists (his work helped lead to the discovery of the quark), John Polkinghorne vigorously argues that science and religion are not at odds: “Science looks to empirical evidence and bases its theories on being able to explain that evidence. Religious belief, at least Christian belief, looks first of all to the general evidence for the existence of God in the wonderful order and fruitfulness of the universe, and second to the way that Christians believe that God has made God’s nature known in Jesus Christ.”
One of the most serious challenges a person of faith confronts is the classic tension between faith and reason, religion and science. Some people live thoroughly and comfortably in one realm or the other. Some travel back and forth (perhaps only on Sunday mornings).
There were two great, abiding mysteries in my life when I was a young boy; mysteries that I puzzled over for years but never solved. I discovered them while lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Bedtimes are convenient for adults but they may or may not align themselves with the sleep patterns of a child.
The current conversation concerning science and religion is urgent, but it is neither obvious nor easy. On the surface, that conversation is vexed by shrill advocates on both sides who contribute nothing to the conversation and are not really interested in serious engagement.
Dear Ed: Thank you for your book addressed to a “Southern Baptist pastor.” As a Baptist pastor on the western edge of the South (and a Southern Baptist until a few years ago), let me say that it was good to hear from you. I appreciate your southern civility and good manners, as you put it.
Had I been able to read Larry Witham’s book before I delivered the Gifford Lectures at St. Andrews, I would have been able to make my argument more compelling by locating the story I told in relation to Witham’s account of addressing the challenges of science.