Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do we teach evolution?

I teach science at a Christian college. Do we teach evolution?


Pure unadulterated, scientific evolution. Not intelligent design.

How do we handle the Faith vs. Science debate? Well first off, we reject the idea that there is a dichotomy between the two and they are mutually exclusive.

We discuss in several courses (freshman, senior, and a smattering in between) the philosophical underpinnings of various views that people can have everywhere from non-teleological naturalism (it all evolved accidentally and randomly) to non-overlapping magesteria (its really not the business of religion to explain science and vice versa) to seven day creationism (it all happened exactly as outlined in Genesis). And we DO NOT support one of these views in our teaching. The students must choose their own understanding of how scientific evolution fits into their faith.

Now the faculty are (by selection) Christian believers to varying degrees (see here about selection and here about culture at work). And, of course all scientists. I would say that most of my colleagues fit on the left hand side of this scale in their personal beliefs (evolution is completely true as science sees it, but God is somehow the creator), myself included.

It is interesting to see how students come into a Christian college having some pretty strong fundamentalist beliefs about evolution and (usually) leaving with a much deeper understanding of the natural world. I would say most of them find a good "place" that rejects dichotomous thinking between evolution and faith. I certainly wouldn't want to work at a place that did perpetuate the dichotomies.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post. Not many people can provide this perspective (or are willing to do so openly). The linked posts are also very interesting.

    I have a fair number of colleagues who attend church, and I have always wanted to ask them how they make peace between science and faith
    (it seemed intrusive, so I never did). Thanks for helping us understand this issue a bit better.