Colossian Blog

Displaying all posts tagged "Creation".
Why Some Christian Schools Are Teaching Evolution
October 18, 2017 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Why Some Christian Schools Are Teaching Evolution
One of the reasons Jim Klima sent his son to Front Range Christian School (FRCS) in Littleton, Colorado, is that he knew the school taught that God created the earth in six days. After his son attended a symposium offered by the school where a proponent of evolution explained his views to students, Klima attended a follow-up session later that evening. “We had an interesting discussion over dinner,” he laughed. Why would a Christian school that holds to a young-earth creationist point-of-view invite an evolutionist to address its students? “It’s foundational to who we are,” explained FRCS head of school, David Cooper. “Yes, we’re a young-earth creationist school, but if we’re going create Christian scholars who will be respected and heard, they’ve got to be able to engage in the scientific dialogue with meaningful knowledge. At the same time, we also want our students to learn how to discuss sensitive issues in a way that honors Christ.” To that end, FRCS partnered with us at The Colossian Forum and offered a day-long Symposium on Origins featuring two scientists: Dr. Todd Wood, a young-earth creationist and Dr. Darrel Falk, who believes God used evolution to create the earth. “We want our community to be able to speak their convictions with boldness and courage, but also be able to hold love as part of the process too,” Kevin Taylor, director of the school’s Veritas et Caritas Institute and a Spanish teacher said. “When the world looks at the church, I’d like them to see it appealing because we behave virtuously and civilly in a world so polarized.” Why Teach Evolution? Many Christian schools embrace young-earth creationism, likely for the same reason as Klima: they want an alternative to the evolution that is being taught in public schools. However, when those Christian-school students graduate and head off to college—even to some Christian colleges—they are expected to have at least a rudimentary understanding of evolution. Christian colleges such as Calvin College, Taylor University, Spring Arbor University, Seattle Pacific University, Point Loma Nazarene University, Samford University, and others generally teach from an evolutionary perspective in their science departments, as do virtually all non-religious affiliated colleges and universities. Introducing evolution to Christian-school students is not without its challenges. Head of school Cooper acknowledges resistance from some parents. “We ask them to be patient, to trust us, but I know it’s difficult for some,” he said. Teachers also approach it with mixed feelings. Leslie Bloomquist, who teaches advanced placement biology at FRCS, covers a large unit on evolution with her ninth-graders. “If I didn’t, my students would have a very hard time taking their standardized tests required by the state because there’s just so much evolution on those tests. But I don’t feel real comfortable teaching it.” Though not every state includes questions about evolution on their mandatory student assessments, an increasing number do. In a 2005 questionnaire sent by Education Week to twenty-two states, seventeen reported at least one question on their tests specifically mentioned evolution—some tests had as many as seven questions about evolution. How Do We Have This Conversation? At the FRCS symposium, approximately 250 middle and high-school students listened to Wood and Falk explain their views on origins and then question each other. Students also met in small groups to share their own thoughts on science and faith and interact with the scientists. “There’s definitely disagreement on this topic among the students here,” eleventh-grader Carissa Van Donselaar explained. “This event has helped us learn how to talk about our opinions without fighting each other, and that’s so important because the image that non-believers have of Christians is that we’re always fighting over something.” Both Wood and Falk have been meeting privately for the past three years with The Colossian Forum, putting to test the ministry’s belief that “all things hold together in Christ.” Both believe the other is not only wrong, but harming the church as they promote their respective views of origins. “Todd believes my views could lead students away from faith, while I believe the young-earth creationist view makes it easy for scientists to dismiss the Christian faith altogether, and we really need a Christian presence in the larger scientific community,” Falk explained. “It has not always been easy because, in a way, Darrel Falk is a mortal enemy of creationism,” noted Wood. “In fact, sometimes our discussion gets quite heated, but we’ve been able to have these difficult conversations and still remain friends.” Both credit TCF for providing a God-honoring process for dealing with conflict. “Our role is simply to remind them what they already believe, which is that the gospel is relevant and powerful—especially where there’s conflict,” Michael Gulker, president of TCF, said. “Rather than being a threat to the faith, conflict actually gives us an opportunity to let the gospel work in us and in our culture in ways the culture can no longer imagine. In doing so, we have the opportunity to witness to the reconciling power of the Prince of Peace. It’s great to be able to show the next generation of Christians that it’s possible to contend for what you believe in a way that honors Christ.” How Can We Utilize These Resources? teachFASTly.com is a faith and science teaching resource curated by TCF and Kuyers Institute. Faith and Science Teaching (FAST) helps equip high school teachers to engage big questions around faith and science with confidence and creativity. FAST aims to use the way young people consider these big questions as occasions to press into Christian virtue. The teachFASTly.com site is filled with a large collection of teaching activities, training materials, background essays, book reviews, and more. Where faith and science are so often seen as a source of conflict, FAST creates a space in which teachers and students are invited to engage them as a fruitful opportunity to learn and grow. FAST explores hard questions with integrity, encouraging the very best teaching practices within the context of Christian faithfulness. We hope teachFASTly is a great asset to teach science well in a Christian context.
Refresh, Rethink, and Reshape the Way You Teach
September 13, 2017 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Refresh, Rethink, and Reshape the Way You Teach
Could there be a way forward, a way of exploring the intersection of faith and science that isn’t fearful but hopeful? We certainly think so! teachFASTly.com is a faith and science teaching resource curated by TCF and Kuyers Institute. Faith and Science Teaching (FAST) helps equip high school teachers to engage big questions around faith and science with confidence and creativity. FAST aims to use the way young people consider these big questions as occasions to press into Christian virtue. The teachFASTly.com site is filled with large collection of teaching activities, training materials, background essays, book reviews, and more. We're really thrilled to announce the addition of 70 new activities to the teachFASTly site. Our latest batch of activities cover topics in Bible, biology, chemistry, ecology, and physics. These activities are grouped in the following seven Activity Maps: Stewardship, Science, and Faith Science and the Internet Wonder and Wisdom Homework Models, Humility, and Truth God and Natural Causes Water, Ecology, and Neighbors We are also excited to announce a new section of the website focused on helping teachers and administrators run faith & science forums within their school communities. Like the current activities, these new materials are free and do not require sign-up or registration to download and use. Where faith and science are so often seen as a source of conflict, FAST creates a space in which teachers and students are invited to engage them as a fruitful opportunity to learn and grow. FAST explores hard questions with integrity, encouraging the very best teaching practices within the context of Christian faithfulness. Please check out these new resources and please pass them on to teachers that you know. We hope teachFASTly is a great asset to teach science well in a Christian context.
A Striking, Intelligent, and Respectful Dialog
April 26, 2017 | Jennifer Vander Molen
A Striking, Intelligent, and Respectful Dialog
Last fall, we participated in an event at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI, called Beyond the Creation Wars. It featured talks on origins from our partners Darrel Falk and Todd Wood as well as expanded conversation about their journey together in friendship. We stumbled on this blog post written by Andrews student Mykhaylo Malakhov. He talks about the event, how it shaped him as a scientist, and how it embodied what universities stand for: Here was a roomful of scholars who hold vastly different views on a very controversial issue, yet they were engaging in intelligent, respectful dialogue, viewing each other as both real scientists and real Christians. To me, this was striking. All too often controversial issues such as origins are either approached through a debate format where each side tries to prove the other wrong or through an ecumenical, let's-forget-our-differences-and-focus-on-Jesus approach. It is either a battle to determine who is right or an utter disregard for truth as if it doesn't matter what we believe as long as we can agree on something. I always found both approaches unsatisfactory. The debate approach leads to anger and division, and both sides leave even more determined to keep fighting for their preconceived opinions. I cannot agree with the ecumenical approach either, because being a scientist myself I cannot say that it does not matter what one believes. Either 2+2=4 or it doesn't. Either a theorem is true or it isn’t. Either the earth is young or it is old. To set aside all controversial issues, especially ones as fundamental as the question of origins, would be to commit intellectual suicide. In other words, neither one of these approaches leads to any progress. Neither one leads its participants to a fuller and more accurate understanding of the world, and neither one will ever lead to a knowledge of truth. The Andrews Autumn Conference on Religion and Science, however, took an entirely different path. All attendees acknowledged that truth does matter, yet all agreed to seek that truth together in an open-minded approach where we not only respect each other, but sincerely acknowledge that each of us is a legitimate scientist and a sincere Christian. You can read the entire post here. Thanks for your insight, Mykhaylo!
Growing Virtuous Youth through an Origins Symposium
February 22, 2017 | Andy Saur
Growing Virtuous Youth through an Origins Symposium
Students at Front Range Christian School in Littleton, Colorado prepped for months to participate in the all-day Origins Symposium that was held at their school in late January. They met in their weekly small groups to discuss faith-and-science questions, worked through teachFASTly activities in their Bible and science classes, and registered for breakout sessions on topics as varied as “How would a young-earth creationist explain ape man fossils?” to “Is it appropriate to go to the Bible for scientific truth?” But even with that preparation, many were unprepared for the experience of listening to TCF partners Darrel Falk and Todd Wood explain their different perspectives on human origins. How is it that two faithful Christians could disagree so significantly on such an important issue and still care for each other? Who had the “right answer” to the origins question? When teachers heard their students voicing these questions, they knew the symposium was on the right track. As Kevin Taylor, director of the school’s Veritas et Caritas Institute, explains: “We want our community to be able to speak their convictions with boldness and courage, but also be able to hold love as part of the process too.” To know one’s convictions, a person has to understand both what he or she is moving toward and away from. Even as the students began forming their own opinions on the origins topic through what they learned in preparation for and at the symposium, they also started developing an equally important skillset of holding in tension their growing opinion on the issue with their care for a Christian brother or sister who holds a different viewpoint. This hard work of forming thoughtful disciples of Christ is at the heart of The Colossian Forum’s mission and we were delighted to partner with Front Range Christian School to continue this work among its student body through this symposium. And we whole-heartedly echo the words of Kevin Taylor: “When the world looks at the church, I’d like them to see it appealing because we behave virtuously and civilly in a world so polarized.”
A New Book: Evolution and the Fall
February 1, 2017 | Christopher R. Brewer
A New Book: Evolution and the Fall
Rooted in communities of practice, we here at The Colossian Forum seek to equip leaders to transform messy cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness. That said, a variety of resources are needed to equip or train these leaders so that they might be enabled to transform messy cultural conflicts into opportunities for spiritual growth and witness. We recognize that behavioral change takes time, often requiring numerous “touches” before a shift is observed. Moving from the common engagement strategy of competition to one of communion requires imagination––a new image, or series of images––what some have called a “traditioned innovation.” TCF sees publishing as one means to build and support a network of leaders practicing The Colossian Way, bringing value in the following ways: To capture (miracle) stories and learnings so they can be disseminated more widely. To provide mental images or pictures of the move from chaos and competition to conversation and communion. To invite leaders into a deeper contemplation of texts important to TCF’s formation and current ministry. To provide deeper, complementary training tools for The Colossian Way. To support the gathering of small groups willing to face into the fear and confusion that stems from cultural conflict, a concrete attempt to re-imagine faithful practice. Evolution and the Fall We have been working on a number of publishing projects over the course of the past year, and one of these has just been released: Evolution and the Fall, edited by William T. Cavanaugh and James K.A. Smith, and published by Eerdmans. Evolution and the Fall represents the culmination of three years of intense work with some of the church’s brightest theologians, biblical scholars, philosophers, historians, and scientists. The interdisciplinary group wrestled with a wide array of theological tensions resulting from evolutionary science and the doctrine of the Fall. As Christian scholars who take seriously the pressures of both science and faith, their shared goal is the shaping of an intellectual imagination that is “carried” in the practices of Christian worship. Practically, this means that their intellectual work is pursued as an act of service to God and to the church, with prayer and worship framing their questions and influencing the range of possible answers. The concerns of fellow believers are engaged and responded to with the “love pursuing truth” that ought to distinguish us as followers of Christ. Evolution and the Fall is available from the publisher at a 30% discount using the code 1071 at checkout (through May 31, 2017). If you prefer ordering by mail, you can send in this form for the discount.
Teaching faith and science? This new website changes everything.
September 14, 2016 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Teaching faith and science? This new website changes everything.
From TCF’s earliest days, our staff has worked closely with high school teachers to help students engage with difficult questions in the arena of faith and science. Young people so often feel the pinch of our culture’s inability to handle conflict well—but we’re convinced that the church can show them a better way. In order to help educators address these unique concerns, TCF has collaborated with the Kuyers Institute on the three-year FAST (Faith And Science Teaching) Project to create and launch teachFASTly.com. Designed by teachers for teachers, teachFASTly.com promotes an integrated, intentional, and creative approach to teaching and learning at the intersection of faith and science. The site offers hundreds of free, ready-to-use activities organized by subject area. It also features a robust resource section containing practical teaching strategies and conceptual resources. Teaching FASTly means teaching in a way that allows both faith and science to remain in play, each with its own integrity, neither canceling out the other. The website was designed to support teachers in their efforts to engage students as whole persons, honoring their range of beliefs, commitments, feelings, and relationships. TeachFASTly.com focuses on both information and formation as students engage big questions. The FAST Project is a collaborative endeavor that draws on the expertise of high school teachers, scholars, writers, and web developers. It is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.