Are you confused by
To get a feeling
for commonly asked questions, imagine that:
• In a sermon your pastor says, with confidence, "because
the Bible teaches a young earth, I believe it and so should you." But
at another church you've been attending a Sunday School class because it's taught by a close friend, who has explained (as an expert geologist)
why science shows the earth is old, and (as a theologically conservative Christian who has studied the Bible carefully) why Genesis does not teach a young earth. But your pastor insists that Genesis 1 must be interpreted as six 24-hour days. And what about the geology? You're
not a scientist and neither is your pastor, but when you ask him about this he
loans you a book by young-earth scientists, and their arguments seem to make
sense. Your pastor wonders why the pastor of the other church lets your friend teach (even though he has earned your respect as a Christian and a scientist), and you have questions.
• You are a flexible agnostic, uncertain about
God but willing to search for truth. You hear Richard Dawkins declare that
evolution did happen, so God isn't necessary, and smart people don't believe
in God. But another respected scientist explains why evolution (astronomical
and biological) is possible only because the universe was cleverly designed with
the detailed fine-tuning that is necessary for life. And a third scientist
explains how evidence for "intelligent design" is evidence against
a totally natural evolution. You're confused, wondering whether Intelligent
Design claims that evolution did or did not occur. And is design scientific? Some
scientists claim that design (but which one?) is scientific, but other scientists
claim it's religious (so do they believe the earth is 6000 years old?) and it
has no basis in science. These scientists disagree, but all of their arguments
seem logical, so you're baffled, wondering "what is science" and "what
is (probably) true" and you have questions.
• You're a science teacher in a private
Christian school, and last year several parents didn't like what you
said about the "when
and how" of creation, about the evidence for an old earth with a long
history of biological development. They
removed their children from your school and began a campaign in local churches,
encouraging other parents to also boycott your school. Now
your principal is blaming you for the school's damaged reputation and financial
problems, and is saying "if you want to keep your job, you will change
the way you teach science," so you are anxious and frustrated.
• You're a public school teacher who is wondering
what to teach about origins: Is there any scientifically justifiable controversy
about the "how" of origins, about evolution and/or design? If
you think "maybe there is" and you explain why in class, will you get
in trouble with school administrators who fear the threat of an expensive lawsuit? But
if you don't, will you get in trouble with parents? What is the best way
to survive and thrive in the current climate of controversy? *
you explore your questions.
Yes, this is a fascinating area, with
hot debates about tough questions in science and theology. We want
to help you explore and learn. We'll begin with simple explanations,
and then if you want more depth we'll help you dig more deeply.
What will we teach? A variety of positions
have been adopted by intelligent Christians who are dedicated to serving God
and are searching for truth. Usually you don't see this rich variety, though,
because most websites give you strong arguments for only one view of origins. But
our goal is education, so we want to help you understand the diversity of views
in the Christian community and in the American Scientific Affiliation (*).
Therefore, instead of claiming to provide The
Origins Answer, we'll explore Origins Questions. While
we're doing this, there will be a sharing of ideas by people who enthusiastically
advocate different positions, so interpersonal tensions are possible. But
we'll try to minimize unproductive hostility by disagreeing in an agreeable way,
by combining rigorous critical thinking with respectful attitudes and accurate
portrayal of all views.
After looking at the essential ways in which we agree,
three basic views (young-earth creation, old-earth creation, and evolutionary
creation) will be clearly expressed by their proponents. And you'll see
how three types of divine intelligent design differ from, yet overlap with, each
of these views. Our goal is to help you understand a wide range of perspectives
about how to interpret the Bible and evaluate scientific evidence. We hope
our "multiple positions" website will promote accurate
and respectful attitudes and will be a valuable educational resource for
students, for Christians and non-Christians.
website is part of the overall website of the American
Scientific Affiliation. It's edited by Craig Rusbult, at the request of ASA's Science
Education Commission. ASA takes no official position on
the details of "when and how" God created — What
is ASA's approach for Origins Questions? — so the ideas in
our website will be those of the editor and page-authors, not ASA.