Monday, September 29, 2008

Deeply Ingrained...

So, I am sitting in my Sunday School class, which is on parenting and we are discussing the roles of men and women. Then this verse popped up:

11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day. (Genesis 1: 11-13, NIV)

Then one of my friends piped up: "That is so great because it just invalidates evolution."

Eh? What was that? How does it do that, exactly? Sensing that the true focus of the class was not the E/C controversy, and in a moment of true cowardice, I said nothing but sadly shook my head. My minister said, at that point, "well, Jim, I know you think differently," at which point, I said "I'm not saying a word." The uncomfortable moment passed and we went about our business. It reminded me, though, how deeply ingrained this teaching is. My friend has no biology training or background. She is just regurgitating what she has been taught.

On the other hand, my minister did approach me afterward and said that he would like to sit down and talk with me about the subject. That might be promising. We shall see...

10 comments:

  1. Jim,
    I really wouldn't call that a moment of cowardice ... there are absolutely times we must remain silent. (I commented on this awhile ago in a post called Dialogue, Debate, Silence, or Confrontation. Frankly, I suspect you chose the right approach in this situation ... and in the end, it may work out for the better. Now your pastor is coming to you knowing that you aren't in this to cause trouble (which, unfortunately, is often the accusation against EC folk).

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  2. ++ Please use Jim to strengthen his minister's ability to live as a person of faith in this world (and not a different one). ++

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  3. Thanks, Steve. Kind words. I never know quite what to say in those situations and have resisted taking the gloves off even when speaking one on one with people. What I said to my minister is that before I have a conversation like that with someone, I need to know their motivations and typically I ask them "Do you really want to walk through that door?"

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  4. Thank you Jon. It is nice to have the prayers of an old friend.

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  5. Wow, I always feel a bit awkward during those moments and I am not even "out" yet. But you did the right thing, a impromptu debate during a Sunday school class on parenting would not have been very fruitful I imagine. Did your friend, the woman who made the comment, know you accept common descent?

    In my church, instant creation is synominous with Christian. I don't think people think about it all that often and I know they are fairly ignorant of any actual scientific theory or data. It is easy to boldly assert (and feel good about your faith) in a literal Genesis when your ignorant of the vast amount of evidence which reveals a different history.

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  6. What a coincidence. Just last Sunday the teacher in my Sunday School class was going through a passage in Colossians which has zero to do with origins, but he managed to work in an anti-evolution statement to general nods of approval.

    I also remained silent. I'm pretty sure that if I ever bring up evolution in a Sunday School setting it will have to be as part of a weeks-long series of lessons in which I lay out my viewpoint and the evidence. Opposition to offhand comments will only lead to uncomfortable situations and, in a worst case scenario, ostracism.

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  7. You are quite right, Pete. That is part of the problem. As far as the future conversation with my pastor is concerned: how do i get him up to speed? I have had fifteen years of post graduate evolutionary biology and geology education. Most people are comfortable in their YEC beliefs because they have no idea how much evidence there really is and they don't want to know. I suppose I could always start him out here.

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  8. AMW, I have nearly been ostracized several times and, once when asked if I would do a Sunday school session on science and the Bible I politely said 'no' when what was really going through my mind was "Not just 'no,' but 'Hell, no!'"

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  9. Jim,

    Your class must be pretty far gone (or you must think it is) if you didn't take up the offer. I'd take it up in a heartbeat if given the chance and enough weeks to prepare/present.

    Of course, I once did a lesson on why I'm a Christian libertarian and think things like drug use, prostitution and gay marriage should all be legal, and nobody gave me any grief for it. (In fact, all the feed back I got was pretty positive, though I don't know what people were saying when I wasn't around.) But maybe we're a more tolerant bunch out here in Kansas!

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  10. You are correct, things must be more tolerant in Kansas. All of my attempts have resulted in people asking me to submit to 'the truth.' I dang near walked out and never came back.

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