Christian Perspectives on Evolution
During the spring of 2012, Dr. Steve Donaldson led a series on evolution. Topics for these Wednesday evening programs for adults were:
- Finding Foundational Frameworks
- Investigating Interpretative Issues
- Exploring Existing Evidence
- Probing Presumed Problems
- Considering Christian Conclusions
Seminar objectives included the following:
Educational: Darwin’s theory of evolution raises a number of interesting and significant issues. Attendees were expected to gain significant insight into those issues, resulting in more informed individuals who know what the theory of evolution does and does not say, who know why almost all scientists accept it without reservation (whether they themselves do or not), and who understand the implications of the issues raised by the theory for religion in general and Christianity in particular (and know some possible responses).
Critical Thinking: Key goals of this seminar were to help attendees engage in critical thinking about both the meaning of evolution and their own personal assumptions (whatever those may have been) and to help equip them to examine and evaluate the various Christian responses to evolution. It was considered very important that individuals have the chance to see that it is neither a Biblical nor a scientific mandate that they believe it is “evolution or the Bible” but to consider that both might have something important to say. Overall, the series was designed to help attendees cultivate a richer, deeper engagement between scientific and religious perspectives.
Outreach: Seminars such as this have the potential (both directly and through subsequent encounters) to foster relationships with those outside the church who perceive Christian beliefs as scientifically naïve. The hope is that we members can become capable of engaging in open, constructive dialogue with such individuals and that doing so will open doors that allow them to get a glimpse of the fundamental message of Christianity without being side-tracked by extraneous concerns.
Spiritual Growth: If there is a God and if evolution as a theory is true, then there must be a relation between the two. Consequently, attendees were afforded the chance not only to obtain a more accurate view of science but to acquire a bigger view of God. The idea that a deeper understanding of the universe and how it works can contribute to both personal and congregational spiritual development is exciting. This had (and has) the potential to be another step toward making the mind a full partner with the heart, soul, and strength with respect to loving and serving God.