How to use this website about
( a sitemap plus practical tips )

      For a quick overview of this Origins Questions website you can read the homepage which ends by describing this page (the one you're reading) as "a clearly organized quide that will show you what is available and how to find it."  And this page ends with practical tips for Origins Education, for using our educational resources to lighten your burden so you don't have to do all the work and take all the heat, so you can tell students "we'll teach the basic science in school, but if you want to explore more widely and deeply, here is a website that can help you learn."

      two options
      This LONG VERSION is an overview-with-explanations that will help you UNDERSTAND what is in each area and why you might want to explore it.
      A SHORT VERSION is an overview-without-explanations that has the same structure as this page but is "stripped down" so you can more easily SEE what's available for you to explore.

      Introduction and Exploration, Selectivity and Censorship
      Our website (is it like Cliff's Notes with a condensed essence of important ideas?) is designed to help you learn quickly on two levels:
      introduction:  First, we'll provide a coherent overview of important ideas, to help you understand the ideas and their relationships.
      exploration:  And to help you explore more deeply, we'll provide links to pages that examine the ideas and relationships in more depth.
      For both phases, we've searched the web and have selected high-quality pages that will help you learn quickly and well.  But our selectivity is not censorship, and — for controversial issues when there is a range of views within the Christian community — the range of views will be wide.  Therefore, our disclaimer is important: "citing a page does not imply an endorsement by the editor or the ASA."

      A Religious Perspective
      The American Scientific Affiliation is a Christian organization, so this perspective is part of our website.  Our theistic perspective can be useful for public school teachers who want to minimize controversy (regarding complex questions about how to treat religion and worldviews in public education) while still providing resources for their students.  And typically, based on statistics, in the U.S. most students either are Christians, or have a Christian background, or more generally (when Jews and Moslems are included) they have a theistic background.

      Using this website for Teaching
      A teacher, in K-12 or college, in a public or private school, has options:  learn from the website, to develop a better understanding of complex issues, and then decide how to use this knowledge for teaching (for example, should any of it be "passed on" to students, and if so how should this be done);  tell students about the website and say "here is something you may (or may not) want to explore";  find appropriate web-pages and assign these for students to read.   links for Origins Education

Two Views of the Website Structure

The structure of this website for Origins Questions can be viewed in two ways, as shown below:
the columns show three perspectives: theological (purple), scientific (green), educational (blue).
the rows show three questions:  When we disagree?  How old is the earth?  Was it all-natural?

• What should we do when we disagree?  
Understanding and Respect
  Theology + Science in Edu  
  3 Questions and 3 Views  
  The Two Books of God
  The Two Books of God
1. How old is the earth and universe?    Age of Earth: Theology     Age of Earth: Science   Theology + Science in Edu
2. Was the origins process all-natural?     Methods of Creation   Design of the Universe 
  Evaluation of Evolutions  
  Theology + Science in Edu
Can a theory of intelligent design be scientific?
  ( + philosopy of science )  

The SITEMAP shows a "three perspectives" view, and
this page (in the tables below) has a "questions" view.

For whole-person education, the perspectives of theology and science should be combined, as indicated by "Theology + Science in Edu."  But in a particular educational context, a teacher may want to emphasize one perspective more than the other.

 Here is a TABLE OF CONTENTS for this page about "the website and how to use it."

• Understanding and Respect
Our "Multiple Positions" Approach,
Three Views of Creation,
Two Books of God
1. Age of the Earth?
Using the Two Books of God
provides two perspectives:
Theological and Scientific
2. Methods of Creation?
(evolution & intelligent design)
using theology/philosophy plus
the evidence-and-logic of science
• Origins Education
in different contexts:
Public Schools, Informal Education,
and Christian (in church, home, school)

      • Understanding and Respect

      Our "Multiple Positions" Approach is explained above and in the home page and the introduction to Respect and Truth which describes valuable lessons learned from a high school teacher:
      "During a Monday debate he convinced us that 'his side of the issue' was correct, but on Tuesday he made the other side look just as good" to help us learn that "in order to get an accurate understanding we should get the best information and arguments that all sides of an issue can claim as support" and "even when we have valid reasons for preferring one position, people on other sides of an issue may also have good reasons for believing as they do, so we can respect other people even when we disagree."
      In most websites you'll find either Monday or Tuesday, but we'll give you both, plus Wednesday and more.  Some website users — especially those who prefer an "only Monday" or "only Tuesday" approach — will not think the result is neutral, but we will try to be fair by letting representatives of different perspectives express their own views and criticize other views, and by treating their views with respect.  Accurate understanding requires accurate information, so our educational goal is to give you accurate information about different perspectives, so you can be well informed while you develop your own perspectives.

      Three Christian Views of Creation lead to three questions about WHO (Was our world designed and created by God, and is it sustained and governed by God?) and WHEN (Is the universe, including the earth, young or old, with an age measured in thousands of years or billions of years?) and HOW (Did the formative history of nature involve only normal-appearing natural process or did it also include some miraculous-appearing changes?).
      Three main views (young-earth creation, old-earth creation, and theistic evolution) all agree that God created the world and governs both natural-appearing and miraculous-appearing events.  All three views agree about WHO created, but they disagree about the WHEN and HOW of creation, as explained in Questions and Views and in the two sections below.

      Searching for Truth in the Two Books of God
      When we ask important questions about creation (who, when, how,...) we can use information from two sources provided for us by God: the Word of God (in scripture) and the Works of God (in nature).  What is the best way to learn from the two books of God, and find harmony in what we learn?
      The sections in this page are:  Is there inherent conflict between science and religion?  What are the relationships between science and religion?  How should we use information from scripture and nature?  Can historical science produce reliable results?   { later, there will be descriptive summaries of these sections }

      1. Age of the Earth?
      Using the Two Books of God — what God reveals in scripture and nature — can help us answer our questions about creation, about who, when, and how.  What are the best ways for Christians to use information from the Bible and from nature, to find harmony in what we learn?  Or is harmony impossible because there is inherent conflict between religion and science?  And if it isn't "conflict" then what are the relationships and mutual interactions between theology (to study scripture) and science (to study nature)?  These questions are introduced in Views of Creation and are explored in the introduction for Age of the Earth & Universe (Theology).
      Here are some ideas about age, viewed from the perspectives of theology and science:

THEOLOGY — How old is the earth and universe?
When we carefully examine a wide range of passages in the Bible, what does scripture teach us about the timing of creation?   A links-page about Age of the Earth & Universe (Theology) contains these sections:

    (This topic is described above.)

    Is a young earth an essential foundation for Christianity?  Is theological humility justifiable (because there are reasons to question a claim that the Bible clearly teaches a young earth) and is humility wise (because declaring that "if the Bible is true, the earth is young" also means "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true")?

    We'll look at interpretations that are chronological (consecutive 24-hour days, nonconsecutive 24-hour days, days of proclamation, day-age, gap) and non-chronological (framework), plus ancient near-east cosmology.

    Among those who think young-earth theology is essential, one of the strongest claims is that death before sin is theologically unacceptable.  Is this claim justified?

    What was the historical context of Adam and Eve?  Were their bodies miraculously created by God?  Did nonhuman "hominids" exist before them?  Are they the parents of all humans?  Are the lists of their descendants complete, and are the long lifespans literal and accurate?

    Was this flood local or global, or just a myth?

    Was the universe created recently in a mature state so it would be immediately functional, with a false "apparent history" that makes it appear to be much older than it actually is?

SCIENCE — How old is the earth and universe?
When we carefully examine a wide range of natural phenomena, what does nature show us about the timing of creation?   A links-page about Age of the Earth & Universe (Science) contains these sections:

    Can scientists, by a logical analysis of evidence, reach reliable conclusions about what happened in the past?  Young-earth creationists challenge the credibility of all historical science (as in the geology, physics, and astronomy below) by asking "Were you there? Did you see it?", and claiming that "no" means "then you can't know much about it."

    Our scientific explorations begin with introductory overviews that explain the basic principles of conventional science in geology, physics, and astronomy, plus the logical principle of Multiple Independent Confirmations.
    Next, a list of arguments from conventional old-earth science for why the earth is old, plus counter-arguments, and vice versa, with young-earth arguments plus counter-arguments.

    Is flood geology (young earth) or conventional geology (old earth) more consistent with observed geological phenomena such as coral reefs, varves, sedimentary deposits, coal beds, fossils in context, and plate tectonics?

    questions about a global flood:  Is there enough water to flood the entire earth?  Could all species of animals and plants, plus their food and fresh water, fit on the ark?  After the flood, how did all of the species get to their present locations?

    Do any of the commonly used dating methods (based on ratios of potassium-argon, argon-argon, rubidium-strontium, uranium-lead, samarium-neodynium, carbon-carbon,...) reliably produce accurate results?

    Does evidence from astronomy show that the universe is old?  And if the universe is only thousands of years old, how can we see light from distant stars, from stars so far away that light coming from them would take billions of years to reach us?


2. Methods of Creation?
      For questions about creation — about who, when, and how — we should consider the perspective of both theology and science by wisely using both of the revelations (in scripture and nature) provided for us by God, as discussed above.   We can ask interesting questions about what happened at the beginning of history and during history:

      Was natural process designed by God?
      Scientists are discovering that many properties of the universe are "just right" for a wide variety of life-allowing phenomena, ranging from the physics of sunshine to the chemistry of life.  Two explanations are that  1) the universe was cleverly designed, or  2) there are an immense number of non-designed universes with variable properties, so extremely improbable things (like properties allowing life) will occur in one of these universes.  Is there evidence to support either theory?  Could a "big bang beginning" occur naturally, or did it require an act of supernatural creation?  These questions are explored in Design of the Universe.

      Questions (theological and scientific) about the History of Nature
      When things happen by natural process, should we "give credit to God" or assume that "if it isn't a miracle then God didn't do it"?  And if God creates some things (or all things) by natural process, we can ask "Why isn't God more more obvious?"  Can natural process be guided by God, and is it guided?  What makes "theistic evolution" theistic rather than deistic?  In science the usual assumption is that natural process is always unguided, but is this interpretation correct (is it true, does it correspond to reality) and is it useful in science or theology?  If "all atheists accept evolution" does this mean that "all who accept evolution are atheists"?  What are the similarities and differences between the formative history of nature and the salvation history of humans?  In the Bible, are there general principles or specific verses clearly indicating that God used one creation plan instead of another?  Should a Christian be willing to praise God for his plan of creation, whether it was all-natural or involved some miracles?  Based on a logical evaluation of evidence, are there scientific reasons to question any aspects of a theory proposing "an all-natural history of nature"?  Is either theory — proposing "all natural" or "with miracles" — so firmly established by scientific evidence-and-logic that it should be declared a "fact" or is scientific humility justifiable?
      These questions, and others, are examined from the perspectives of theology (and philosophy) and science:

    THEOLOGY & SCIENCE — Was nature intelligently designed to allow life?
    A links-page for Divine Design of Nature contains these sections:

    Scientists agree that many properties of the universe are fine-tuned to be "just right" for a wide variety of life-allowing phenomena.

    But they disagree about which of three popular theories — proposing that we live in a designed universe, designed multiverse, or nondesigned multiverse — is the best explanation.

    What existed before the beginning of our universe?  And then what happened? 

THEOLOGY — Did it all happen by natural process?
When we carefully examine the Bible, what does it teach us about the process of creation?   A links-page for Methods of Creation contains these sections:

    What methods of creation were used by God?  What does the Bible say (and not say) about this, in specific passages and in general theological principles?  As usual, we'll provide resources from a wide range of perspectives — evolutionary creation (theistic evolution), old-earth creation, young-earth creation, plus intelligent design and miscellaneous perspectives (secular, atheist,...) — to help you explore and learn.

    What can we learn from our studies of scripture (in theology) and nature (in science) and how can this information be combined in a way that makes sense for both theology and science?  What is the historical context of Adam & Eve?  Were they actual people, or symbols?  Were they the first biological humans, the parents of all current humans?  Or did God convert them into the first spiritual humans through interaction with the Holy Spirit?  When did they live?  If they were preceded by nonhuman hominids, what is the relationship between hominids and humans?

    What does "God of the gaps" mean?  And if it has many possible meanings, how can we cope with the resulting confusion?  How can we communicate with more accuracy and precision, so we can think more carefully about important questions in theology and science?  What are the connections between views about "gaps" and about origins.

SCIENCE — Did it all happen by natural process?
When we carefully examine the scientific evidence and logic, what does it show us about the process of creation?   A links-page for Scientific Evaluations of Evolutions contains these sections:

    What are the similarities and differences — between the scientific principles relevant for different evolutions, between the "effects on science" of methodological naturalism and theological theories, and between questions about age and process — when we look at theories proposing natural evolutions for the aspects of nature that are studied in astronomy, geology, chemistry, and biology.

    Some young-earth creationists claim that evolution is impossible because it requires an increase of complexity, which would violate an "entropy principle" that requires a decrease of complexity.  Is this claim scientifically justifiable?

    Is standard cosmology — with a Big Bang followed by a natural evolution of stars and galaxies, heavy atoms and solar systems — a satisfactory explanation for what we observe?

    Is standard geology — proposing a long history lasting billions of years, with slow-acting uniform process plus fast-acting catastrophic events — a satisfactory explanation for what we observe?

    Based on standard chemistry and biology, how plausible is the natural formation of carbon-based living organism?

    Is standard evolutionary biology — proposing a natural production of biological complexity and diveristy by mechanisms that include mutations and natural selection — a satisfactory explanation for what we observe?

PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE — Can a design theory be scientific?
A links-page for Design in Science contains these sections:

    A design theory can propose four types of design:  a design of the universe (and the properties of natural process), an undetectable guidance of natural process during history, or detectable design-directed action during history by a natural agent or supernatural agent.  What are the similarities and differences between these types of design?

    What are the logical and sociological relationships between different ideas (about design or nondesign) and between people (with differing ideas).  What mutual interactions occur between ideas and people, and among those who think God "did it" by young-earth creation, old-earth-creation, or evolutionary creation, or who think "God didn't do it"?  What are the similarities and differences between theories of design and creation?  What should be the function of intelligent design in Christian apologetics and in public education?

    Can any type of design be detected and evaluated using the methods of science, in principle and in practice?  Is "proof" required or is a "rationally justifiable plausibility" sufficient?  Design theories make claims about history, but is historical science inherently unscientific?  What are the similarities and differences between a mechanistic theory and an agency theory?
    Should scientists always conclude — no matter what is the evidence and logic, for every question about the history of nature — that "it happened by natural process"?  What are the effects (beneficial and/or adverse) of methodological naturalism?
    How should we define science and non-science, and in what ways does each (or should each) influence the other?  What are the limits for what can claim to be science, and for what science can claim to explain?  If a design theory does not try to explain the details of design (the how, why, and who), is this a serious weakness?  Can a theory of design be scientific?  What are the arguments for and against including various types of design theories in science?

note: There will be significant overlaps and interactions between the final three sections, as indicated by the lack of "spacing" between them.





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  A Guide for Teachers shows you "where to look" in this website for Origins Questions.


HOMEPAGE for Origins Questions