ACI Professors Explore Creation, Evolution, and Points In-Between
2006. 10. 24.
America is divided when it comes to thinking about the origin and development of planet earth and its life forms. The majority of scientists believe that evolution plays a central role in any adequate explanation. Public opinion polls show, however, that the general public believes that the traditional idea of God creating everything is a better explanation than evolution. And a growing number of people think that the best explanations have a role both for a creative God and for evolution.
Professors from Albertson College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University will discuss these issues in a free public forum November 7. The panel discussion will take place on the campus of Albertson College, Jewett Auditorium, at 7pm.
Northwest Nazarene University professor, Thomas Jay Oord, says that Christians believe that God created the heavens and the earth. "Christians look to the Bible as a primary source for reflection about God and the world," says Oord. "And the book of Genesis is often seen as offering key scriptures affirming God as creator. But exactly how God creates is an open question. Christians differ among themselves as to whether God could have used, and still uses, evolution."
Denny Clark, professor of religion at Albertson College of Idaho, however, doesn't think it is helpful to use 'creation' and 'evolution' as though they are comparable sorts of terms. "Creation," he says, "is a way Christians and other theists talk about the value, meaning and purpose of life, whereas terms like Big Bang and evolution describe physical processes. It's not that scientific descriptions of those processes deny value and meaning, but that scientific methods are incapable of saying anything at all about such issues. Whether value and meaning are real and how they are connected with the physical universe are more than just Christian issues."
Americans have recently focused on claims of Intelligent Design, and whether that is a legitimate scientific concept. Pennsylvania was the most recent site of disagreement about whether this can be included in school science textbooks. Almost all advocates of Intelligent Design believe that God had some role in creating the world, but some, like biologist Michael Behe, a star witness in the Pennsylvania trials, also affirm evolution.
"In some ways," says Oord, "the Intelligent Design debate is more about culture wars and what should count as science than it is about whether God creates. Many scientists are wary of allowing religion a voice in their empirical work. They remember a time when the Church alone decided what was good science and what was bad. On the other hand, some Christians worry that scientists today are making claims about ultimate reality that far exceed the domain of science."
Clark agrees. "Science and religion both have striking limitations," he says, "but each tends to recognize the limitations of the other far more clearly than they recognize their own. The so-called 'Intelligent Design' issue is one area where science and religion easily talk past each other."
Panelists from Northwest Nazarene University at the November 7 event include Wendell Bowes (Old Testament), Tim Anstine (Chemistry) and Tom Oord (Theology). Albertson College of Idaho's panelists include Eric Yensen (Biology), Scott Truksa (Chemistry) and Denny Clark (Religion). Audience questions will be addressed. The panel discussion is sponsored by the Faith and Life Institute for Theological Education (FLITE) of Albertson College.