Faith and science, not faith versus science

Dr. Robbin Eppinga, Biology Dept.—Guest Writer

Thank you, Amelia, for your previous Diamond article calling for more student access to understanding biological evolution and engaging this topic from a Christian perspective.

A recent study from the Barna Group and Impact360 highlights just how timely this is [1]. The trend shows that individuals in the younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z) are more likely to report a conflict between science and the Bible (~43% vs 31%) than Boomers and Gen X. Increasingly, young adults are choosing to “side with science” and adopt atheism.

Of those that remain in the faith and attend church once a month, half say, “the church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world.” One-third report, “The church is overprotective of teenagers” and Christianity feels “stifling, fear-based and risk-averse.” More than a quarter of respondents claim, “the church is not a safe place to express doubts” [2].

The fact that more than half of Americans do not think there is a conflict between the Bible and science is surprising to many young adults because it often feels as though the most vocal groups are those that promote the conflict and insist on the need to choose either religion or science. Sadly, a few of the more abrasive individuals in the two “In Conflict” camps use remarkably similar tactics of misinformation, shaming, fear, and name-calling to mischaracterize the “other side” rather than try to understand others or find consensus. Often, the two conflict camps talk past each other, using keywords like faith, evolution, science, theory, religion, etc. in very different ways. This can make it difficult to hold meaningful discussions in certain settings.

The good news is that, as a Christian, your value is in Christ alone, not in your opinion on this topic. If you are struggling with evolution and faith, you do not need to rush toward an uninformed choice. You have time to work through this.

eppinga response graph.jpgFortunately, Dordt has many great resources available to you. Numerous courses address the scientific, theological, pastoral and historical aspects of evolutionary theory and other seemingly difficult topics. Dordt’s online publication InAllThings frequently publishes articles that provide perspective on many issues including questions at the nexus of faith and science [3]. In addition, faculty at Dordt received a grant last summer to generate resources that help students integrate science and faith while navigating these tough issues. These resources will soon be available through the Dordt Digital Commons.

Dordt also has many staff and faculty who have walked this road before you, or who are still searching for satisfying answers. Certainly, this was the case for recent Dordt grad and former Diamond writer Lydia Marcus, who published her story in the Apr. 30, 2016, issue of Perspectives Journal [4]. I believe those with such stories would be happy to chat with you as well.

Read Lydia’s story and you will see that Dordt is a special place. Here we do not reject science or the Bible, but rather claim every square inch for Christ. We study God’s revelation to us, both in scripture and nature, and try our best to understand and respond well. We expose students like you to challenging ideas, but then walk with you as you wrestle through these. We try to create a safe place to doubt, even while assuring you of our firm foundation.

Thanks again, Amelia. It is time to have this discussion and to help the church move beyond this and other issues that divide us unnecessarily.

 

References:

  1. https://www.barna.com/product/gen-z/ is a link to the actual data from the study, which can be purchased.
  2. https://www.barna.com/research/atheism-doubles-among-generation-z/ and https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church contain articles written by Barna Group focused on reasons young adults are leaving the church
  3. https://inallthings.org/can-christians-believe-in-evolution/ contains an iAt article titled “Can Christians Believe in Evolution.” Use the search feature to find more articles.
  4. https://perspectivesjournal.org/blog/2016/04/30/science-and-faith-my-personal-journey/ is a link to Lydia Marcus’ personal story of how she experienced the navigation of evolution and faith while at Dordt College.

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