Big Questions for High School Students

 High School

Graduating high school students often leave the confines of their church and go off to college or the job market where they discover that there are issues from which they have been isolated. Some of these issues can rock their religious faith (and some probably should) but that is frequently because the students have been given little background to prepare them for such a confrontation and many times the people who expose them to such issues have little concern for the student’s spiritual development. Many of the issues are directly related to topics at the interface of science and religion.   

During the spring of 2012, Dr. Steve Donaldson led a four week series on Big Questions in Science and Religion for high school students at Dawson Memorial. Sessions included:     

Seven bad assumptions that make the relationship between science and religion problematic 

We currently have the best possible understanding of the Bible and science.
The Bible must be interpreted in a certain way.
The Bible is an authority in every arena of human inquiry.
Changing our views on even one issue is just too risky.
God is not really omnipotent.
As science grows, God shrinks.
People want to know the truth.   

Interpretation and Cosmology 

The answers to four key questions can open or shut the door to understanding the relationship between science and religion. These are:
Must I be bound to one way of reading the Bible?
Are my assumptions valid?
Am I interested in the truth (or in just defending my current position no matter what)?
How big is God?   

Evolution

No student should leave high school without an understanding of the key issues surrounding the theory of evolution and how they relate to Christian faith. Premises for this session included:
Despite scientific evidence for the theory of evolution, there is no requirement that someone believe it.
However, evidence should not be avoided just because it seems inconvenient.
Neither should one fabricate implausible scenarios to justify pre-existing biases.
Fortunately, a person can be a Christian and accept evolution.
And, when people say that is impossible, it is probably because they have too small a view of God.
In any case, this is not the central point of Christianity!   

Faith 

Faith is ridiculed by the irreligious as scientifically deficient, rationally infirm, and only manifest by the naïve. On the other hand it is regarded by the religious as a necessary evil, a poor excuse for knowing, and something people (and especially Christians) will, eventually, not need. Both views misunderstand the nature and role of faith which is the inevitable product of human brains and impossible to escape.