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Colossian Blog

Displaying all posts tagged "Evolution".
A Faith and Science Teaching Resource: Expanding the Promise for STEM Education
March 28, 2018 | Michael Gulker
A Faith and Science Teaching Resource: Expanding the Promise for STEM Education
This post originally appeared on the ACSI blog (Association of Christian Schools International). Thanks to ACSI for the chance to share our passion for faith and science learning! Since the beginning of The Colossian Forum (TCF), we’ve used the conflict between faith and science as an opportunity for virtue formation in the midst of often-heated debate. In Christian schools, this debate takes on added emotional intensity because biblical reliability, historical reality, and human value seem to be in question. It is easier to avoid these pressured conversations altogether or charge into them, guns blazing. Much is at stake when believers engage science in either of these unproductive ways. That is why TCF, along with the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, launched the Faith and Science Teaching (FAST) Project, which focuses on the productive relationships found at the intersection of faith and science rather than on the polarization that often occurs in Christian schools and faith communities. Faith and Science Teaching (FAST) According to project co-lead and director of Kuyers Institute, David Smith: “Teaching FASTly means allowing both faith and science to remain in play, each with its own integrity, neither canceling out the other” (CEJ, 5). Such an approach expands the conversation, allowing other interesting and fruitful questions to be explored, such as: What are the character qualities needed to be a good scientist, a good colleague, and a good learner? What virtues are involved in doing careful lab work, in measuring and writing accurately, in observing well, and in thinking rigorously? Are any of these related to Christian virtues? If so, how do we grow in them? What about collaboration? Since professional science is usually practiced in teams, what virtues are needed for collaboration and how might we teach them? How much time is given in school to considering ethical issues that arise from scientific practices? How about the impact of science and technology on society? How do applied science and technology fit into faith-framed visions of human flourishing and love of neighbor? Is there anything about how science is taught that leads students to beauty, wonder, and gratitude, rather than just task completion, deadlines, and grades? What kind of relationship between the Bible and science do we implicitly model in the classroom? Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the FAST Project produced a website that offers free faith and science teaching resources, to equip high school teachers to broaden the faith-science conversations beyond Genesis. It guides teachers in the many ways to look at how faith and science intersect. Considering the Intersections of Faith and Science Most often we relate to the intersections of faith and science according to the truth claims each makes about the world and whether the claims conflict or are in harmony. When these claims align, we celebrate the wonders of God’s creative work and our human capacity to explore and understand it. When they don’t seemingly align, Christians often begin from the conviction that since God is the Creator, faith and science cannot, ultimately, conflict. Therefore, any current disputes between the two must be due to human error and sin. This approach encourages a tendency to think that faith and science only interact when they make conflicting claims. It also offers us little remedy for the error or sin that is causing disharmony and provides little help for relating to non-Christians who reject Christianity because it seems to conflict with science. Relating faith and science based on their truth claims is of obvious importance, but there is a larger context that must be considered if we are to do justice to either faith or science, for both are more than sets of propositions about the world. As Christians, our primary calling is to love God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40), and science is one of the many arenas in which we have the opportunity to live this out. Thinking FASTly means relating faith and science not only according to their truth claims, but also as a way of practicing the virtues called for in these “greatest commandments.” The concept of virtue is a rich area to explore. We often think of virtues as moral traits, like humility, patience, or courage. But the term virtue, in its broadest sense, refers more generally to capacities or abilities acquired through repeated practice to accomplish a particular goal. Considering virtue forces us to also think about practices and our motivations. Read the full post on the ACSI blog.
Our New Book: All Things Hold Together in Christ
January 17, 2018 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Our New Book: All Things Hold Together in Christ
The Colossian Forum was founded (and our name is rooted) in Colossians 1:17, where Paul points out that "all things hold together in Christ." When we live into this truth and practice Christian virtues, we know that even in the midst of the most hopeless conflict, we can see in a new way how Christ truly holds all things together. This truth is the cornerstone of our new book, All Things Hold Together in Christ: A Conversation on Faith, Science, and Virtue. Conceived by TCF president Michael Gulker and TCF fellow Jamie Smith, this anthology includes foundational readings in theology, philosophy, and science that make our work possible.  It's a fantastic resource to help frame a distinctly Christological engagement with science and culture. Each essay comes from a scholar who exemplifies theology as a practice rooted in the worship of the church, shedding light on how our work at The Colossian Forum has managed to turn conflict into opportunity. These top Christian thinkers show how attending to the formation of virtue through the practices of worship creates the hospitable space we need to deal with difference and disagreement in the body of Christ. Contributors include Robert Barron, Timothy George, Stanley Hauerwas, Alasdair MacIntyre, Mark Noll, and N. T. Wright, among others. All of these essays are an invitation to find resources, inspiration, encouragement, and hope for faithful, creative thinking in the riches of the church's theological heritage and its worship traditions. This is the foundation and frame of The Colossian Way (which is set up as a worship service with a fight in the middle). All Things Hold Together in Christ is available from the publisher for a 40% discount through January 31, 2018.
Second Colossian Way Cohort Kicks Off
September 27, 2017 | Jennifer Vander Molen
Second Colossian Way Cohort Kicks Off
Last week, we hosted 22 leaders, 7 coaches, and 4 observers at our second Colossian Way leader training. This was the first training held in our Grand Rapids office, and we enjoyed hosting these leaders from across the country as they were trained to lead the Colossian Way experience in their local churches and schools. The cohort delved into the mission and vision of The Colossian Forum, unpacked what it means to tackle conflict as an opportunity for deeper discipleship, and got hands-on tips and experience leading a small group. This cohort will lead their local small groups through both the sexuality and origins experience. Leaders came to this training from Alaska, California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Michigan. Please join us in praying for these brothers and sisters in Christ as they gather their small groups to run The Colossian Way in early 2018. We look forward to hearing and sharing more about their journey through The Colossian Way! How you can get involved If you're interested in leading a Colossian Way small group in your church or school, please visit our Colossian Way page to find out more information about upcoming cohorts, training, and details. Our next leader training is in May 2018. We hope to see you there! Scenes from Colossian Way leader training [gallery size="medium" ids="8340,8350,8341,8342,8343,8344,8354,8346,8347,8348,8349,8352"]
TCF at Bryan College
February 27, 2014 | Lori Wilson
TCF at Bryan College
TCF recently hosted the third in a forum series on the origins of human existence, this one held at the site of the Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, TN. The four-day event included a private gathering of scholars in related fields, as well as a public forum at the Rhea County Courthouse featuring TCF Fellows Todd Wood and Darrel Falk. During our time in Dayton, TCF and our partners were also invited by Bryan College to lead a chapel service for their faculty, staff and students. You can read about the service on the student news site here. The college has also made available an audio recording of the event, posted online here. We are grateful to Bryan College for creating space for this important and difficult conversation.
TCF at the Courthouse
February 19, 2014 | Lori Wilson
TCF at the Courthouse
TCF recently hosted the third in a forum series on the origins of human existence, this one held at the site of the Scopes Monkey Trial in Dayton, TN. The four-day event included a public forum, featuring TCF Fellows Todd Wood and Darrel Falk. Friend of TCF Don Huizinga graciously agreed to share the following reflections on his experience that evening. Recently I had the privilege of listening in on a thoughtful, gracious conversation between a young earth creationist and an evolutionary creationist, a rare treat indeed. One can quite easily find debates between the two, but respectful dialogue is rare. Questions were answered head on, no evasion, no trying to score points, no reciting the party line. I simply experienced two people being authentic with one another, seeking reconciliation and seeking truth. Those who attended recognized this is the way things are supposed to be and were inspired to go and do likewise. Surprisingly, this particular conversation took place in Dayton, Tennessee, inside the very courthouse where the Scopes Trial was held eighty-nine years earlier. Although the courthouse crowd was large enough to be standing room only, they were not drawn to what they expected to be a circus-like, hyper-adversarial, media-pleasing conflict. Rather, they were drawn to something spectacular, perhaps one could even say historic: a virtuous conversation between two individuals whose common allegiance to Jesus trumped their strong convictions to opposing truths about the nature of Scripture and the scientific origins story. Two Christian scientists engaged in this conversation: Todd Wood and Darrel Falk, each committed to following Jesus, each committed to the authority of the Bible, each committed to doing good science. Nevertheless, their common foundational commitments led them to draw quite opposite conclusions about the age of the universe and the nature of God’s creative processes. Why have this conversation then? The answer begins with confession. Unfriendly Christian divisiveness has been the norm concerning origin issues. Defending turf with more passion for one’s position than for civility has been the norm. Humility—the willingness to admit one may possibly be wrong—has been absent. Expressed dire consequences of holding the opponent’s position have been exaggerated. Besides, they both love truth.  Could it be possible that conversations between those who hold opposing views could advance truth? May seeking truth together with those who hold divergent ideas have significant advantage over a more parochial approach? They also both love Jesus. They believe Jesus is through whom and for whom creation was made. They believe Jesus is reconciling all things to Himself, and they need to be part of that reconciliation process. They trust that He is at the center of the truth. All things hold together in Him. This was the third of three extended conversations these two scientists have had. I’ve had the privilege of listening in on portions of the first, which occurred last July, and the third, this month.  The difference was striking. Their first interchange had a raw edge to it; this one did not. Todd Wood, a young earth creationist, impresses me with his vulnerability and transparency. In July, Todd confessed that many creationists find it easy to see Darrel, an evolutionary creationist, not as a Christian brother, but as a ‘dirty rotten compromiser.’ As one who claimed to be evangelical only to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is difficult, Todd explained, to refrain from stereotyping when you don’t know someone personally. He wondered, “If Darrel is a Christian, why doesn’t he agree with me?” He asked the attendees, “I don’t know how to pray for Darrel, help me.” At the same time, he complimented Darrel on his answers, praising him for appealing to Scriptures rather than to science as the final authority. Later he professed that after intense interaction with Darrel, he had come to a place where he could tell his friends that there are real true evangelicals who believe in evolution. (Emphasis his.) Darrel Falk recognized Todd as a bright scientist, one who published in peer-reviewed journals. So he asked Todd, “With all your knowledge of the science behind evolution, why don’t you just accept it?”  Todd was an enigma to him. He listened carefully to Todd’s answer and respected it. In fact, Darrel’s response was, “I admire your willingness to be non-mainstream.  Your answer enables me to pray for you.” Darrel emphasized more than once that conversation about origins without the presence of young earth creationists is unhealthy; in addition he believed that the headship of Jesus expressed in Colossians 1 demanded inclusive conversation. In contrast to their first conversation, during the third Todd and Darrel seemed much more relaxed with one another. They used the word “friendship” to describe their relationship. I witnessed a profound trust I had not seen the first time. That atmosphere of trust enabled tough questions to be asked without the need to “tiptoe.” Todd asked of Darrel, “Do you feel the primary problem underlying Young Earth Creationism is ignorance? What do you think about the lack of progress evolutionists have had in finding satisfactory natural answers for the origin of life from non-life?” At the same time, Todd felt safe enough to admit to sometimes thinking he may be wrong, that some of the best evidence for his position remains to be found. And he acknowledged that even among creationists, for example, there remains some disagreement about the Fall, the curse, and death. Wood agrees with other creationists that the curse resulted in physical death for humans and some animals – but in some senses the “jury is still out” as to whether there may have been death among some in the animal kingdom before the Fall. For his part, Darrel felt free to ask Todd for the best scientific evidence for ‘no macro-evolution’ rather than asking for his biblical reasoning. He felt safe enough to admit that he does not doubt the  ‘overwhelming and beautiful’ evidence for biological evolution even though tough theological questions are raised and remain unanswered as a result.  Darrel boldly stated that physical death was not necessarily a result of the Fall, although spiritual death was. All three conversations between these two Christian scientists were hosted by The Colossian Forum, this last one in partnership with the Core Academy of Science.  The Colossian Forum is committed to facilitating charitable conversation among opposite though Christian points of view on controversial topics such as origins. The Core Academy works to help Christians better understand science, including – but not limited to – educating about young-earth creationism. This co-hosting is evidence of a reconciliation, a building of trust that honors Christ. Many of those who attended this conversation were students at Bryan College. For these young people, and for the rest of us who were present, the model of friendship and trust that has grown between these two men, and the respectful but difficult conversation they had were powerfully inspirational! The evening began with worship. We listened to Scripture, not as proof text, but with encouragement to submit to its teaching, allowing Scripture to shape us rather than us manipulating it to prove a point. Then we prayed, bound together by the Spirit of Christ. At the end, Rob Barrett, representing The Colossian Forum as moderator of the event, asked this question of each of the participants, “What good is coming from this kind of conversation?”  Darrel emphasized that Christians on any side of this issue benefit from worshipping together. “We owe it to each other to ease misunderstandings,” he said. “We need to work through issues differently than those not in the body of Christ.” Wood explained that Christians must let go of the need to win: “[We] have to trust the outcome of this process to the Lord.” He recognized that the difference between six thousand years and thirteen point eight billion years was too great for both of them to be right. This irreconcilable but very pragmatic difference, this recognition that one perspective is closer to the truth than the other, points to something else we hope from these events, which does not yet seem to have happened. Has progress been made toward increased understanding of origins? Todd and Darrel have accomplished amazing things in their relationship, but has the content of their understanding of origins changed?  Maybe it’s too early in the process. Maybe it’s not a proper goal? Can we hope that this conversation/friendship will lead to an understanding of the truth about our origins that is a step forward, taking advantage from but not identical to either of their current positions? These tensions were alive and well at the end of this conversation, and will continue to demand the attention of The Colossian Forum and its partners. However, as Todd reminded the audience, this work can move forward with confidence and hope: “The Spirit of God won’t let us go! He is bigger than wrong answers.” We listeners experienced all that Todd and Darrel hoped for: Easing of misunderstanding. Letting go of a desire to win. Trust that the Holy Spirit won’t let us go because He is bigger than our wrong answers. Thank you, Colossian Form; thank you, Core Academy of Science. Thank you Todd Wood; thank you Darrel Falk. You are the models we need. You are an inspiration!
Frustration, Disappointment, and Deciding to Trust
January 16, 2014 | Lori Wilson
Frustration, Disappointment, and Deciding to Trust
The Adam Quest, recently released by Tim Stafford, has shown itself to be both a source of conflict and an opportunity for transformation. One of its featured interviewees, TCF fellow Todd Wood, blogged yesterday about his response to the book, including his disappointment over what he feels is a misrepresentation of himself and of his young earth creationist perspective. Wood’s frustration with this project—the book was initiated and supported by TCF—leads him to question his ongoing collaboration with our efforts to facilitate dialogue about divisive issues. We’ve been grateful for his willingness to enter into conversations, hosted by TCF, with scientists who openly support an evolutionary theory of creation. We also understand, however, that any attempt at such dialogue is fraught with fear and defensiveness, and that motives on all sides are apt to be questioned. Which is why this post is such a beautiful picture of God’s in-breaking kingdom. Wood doesn’t shy away from the pain and fear that characterizes much of this difficult work. But in the midst of his frustration and disappointment, he embodies the persistence and hope without which we can’t possibly participate in God’s work of peace and reconciliation. If you read one piece online today, it should be Wood's post.  

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