September 20, 2018

Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona: Chapter 1- Creation, Beauty, and Science

Mere Science and Christian Faith: Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults, by Greg Cootsona: Chapter 1- Creation, Beauty, and Science

We are going to look at the book, Mere Science and Christian Faith, by Greg Cootsona, subtitled Bridging the Divide with Emerging Adults.   Greg Cootsona (PhD, Graduate Theological Union) is a writer, researcher, and speaker. He directs Science and Theology for Emerging Adult Ministries (or STEAM) at Fuller Theological Seminary, and teaches religious studies and humanities at California State University at Chico. He previously served as a pastor for eighteen years in Chico, California, and New York City. He has been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, and the Today Show.  Greg is also the author of the 2014 book, C. S. Lewis and the Crisis of a Christian, that explored how Lewis dealt with the crises that he experienced to his faith.

Greg Cootsona

RJS has reviewed parts of this book on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog as well as her own blog, Musings on Science and Theology.  RJS recommended the book, and she is one of my most influential examples of science and faith blogging. By “emerging adults”, Cootsona means high school and college age men and women who are wrestling with the science and faith issues in American society.  I have six grandchildren that fall into this category, so the subject matter is of great personal interest to me.

Greg begins the book with a story of a backpacking trip he took with his about-to-go-to-college daughter and the delight that the 7-year old child of the youth pastor had in finding beautiful rocks and bringing them to her father, who also had a geology degree.  He notes what that child did—finding beauty in nature—is the beginning of science.  Greg also recalled a discussion with a biologist at a conference who stated, “I find biological science fascinating and have ever since I was young.  In fact, every scientist I know began with a profound experience with nature as a child”.   I totally relate to this.  I remember as a five-year old child being introduced to the “All About…” books by the famous geologist and explorer, Roy Chapman Andrews, and being so totally enchanted with the natural world he described that I decided then and there to become a geologist (very precocious I know, but true story nonetheless).

In Eastern Orthodoxy, it is said, that all theology begins with philokalia, the “love of beauty”, and when we grasp beauty in nature, we are drawn to the source of that beauty.  That is why, with this book, Greg hopes to inspire more ministry leaders to point emerging adults toward studying nature as an act of worship.  He calls the book a manifesto, he says, “…it’s designed to convince you that the church must embrace mainstream science for its future“.

Greg notes that many churches, especially evangelical churches, fail to treat the topic of science at all, even as their high schoolers are trying to put their faith as taught to them in church together with what they learn about the natural world in their classrooms. David Kinnaman, Barna president, noted in one survey that 52% of youth group members will ultimately enter a science related profession, but only 1% of youth groups talk about science even once a year.  Kinnaman also noted that surveys indicate that a third of 18-30 year olds, when asked the question, “Which religion do you affiliate with?” answer, “None”.  And one of the top reasons that “nones” state they leave the church is that it is “anti-science”.  Greg says:

If Kinnaman is right, unless Christian congregations work to bring science back into the church, there may be millions fewer people in American pews in the coming years, and ultimately there may be a visibly diminished church left to engage science.  I’m not arguing that we should integrate faith with mainstream science just to gain converts—though I think that will happen.  Rather, I’m convinced that the church must do the work of integration because if we don’t, we throw away our legacy of Christian’s contribution to natural science… We have science as a birthright in the church and love science at its best because it discovers truth.  And the Christian church is at its best when it seeks truth.

The interesting thing about Cootsona’s own story is that he grew up in Northern California with a happy secularism that, because of his upper middle class environment, simply didn’t see a need for God.  That area, Oakland-San Francisco-San Jose, is found, by Barna, to be the number one “unchurched” area in the country.  At age 17, he started at the University of California, Berkeley, and shortly thereafter became a follower of Christ.  As he puts it:

Grow up in a secular home.  Go to Berkeley. Become a Christian—it’s almost laughable.  But that’s what happened.

Boy, talking about God working in mysterious ways.  It wasn’t a necessarily intellectual conversion.  He was not “argued” into the faith (is anybody?), but he became disenchanted with the smug, Randian- “virtue-of-selfishness”, self-sufficiency of his functional atheism, and began longing for “something more”.  He became acquainted with intelligent, irenic Christians, and in the second quarter of his first year, committed his life to following Jesus.

This being Berkeley, he, of course was exposed to the arguments that there is no way to put faith and science together.  As one of his professors put it to him, “What possible sense does faith make after modern science and the Enlightenment?  How could you believe in God after Hume and Kant?  True intellectuals have concluded that science presents decisive reasons for not believing in God.”

So Cootsona has worked through these issues in his own life, and has now made his career of engaging the dialogue between faith and science.  He has discovered that for the Christian message to have any impact today with emerging adults, it must engage science.  Otherwise, for the church to ignore science, or worse, engage in fraudulent science, is to make science, particularly evolution, the “universal acid” that “eats through just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view” that philosopher Daniel Dennett claimed would happen in his 1995 book, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea.

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    Is there any significant discussion among most evangelical leaders or at evangelical universities and seminaries of the need for a new openness to science or engagement with it (except as an enemy)? I’ve heard no such talk, aside from a few posts around the internet like this one. What I hear is a lot of exultation that significant battles in the culture war are now being won, and reinforcement that continued intense culture war is the way to go, since it’s believed to be yielding results. Science? I don’t hear much talk from those quarters about a positive engagement with science.

    • Mike the Geologist says:

      Good question, Robert. Not near enough in my opinion. You do have Walton and Moshier, who teach at Wheaton- the supposed flagship school of evangelicalism. Tremper Longman is at Westmont and Dennis Venema at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, John Schneider at Calvin College, and Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary. BioLogos has had some success. The members of the American Scientific Affiliation, the Christian scientist network, is overwhelmingly in favor of mainstream science. But Pete Enns got the boot from Westminster for not believing in a literal Adam. Ken Ham complains that many Christian colleges and seminaries are “compromising” the Word by not believing in his version of YEC, so there’s that hopeful sign.

      Cootsona has written this book with the express purpose of being a “manifesto” and “field guide” for ministers, especially youth ministers, to engage the “emerging adults” witth actual science.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > who teach at Wheaton- the supposed flagship school of evangelicalism.

        I have heard, more than once, that Wheaton has been taken over by “liberals” – or that there is a war for the future of Wheaton [why does everything have to be a “war”?].
        Perhaps their flagship status is flagging.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          [why does everything have to be a “war”?].

          Because of the Gospel According to Warhammer 40K.

          “IN THE GRIMDARK FUTURE, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE WAR!
          WAAAAGH! DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA!”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > What I hear is a lot of exultation that significant battles in the culture war are now being won

      Ditto

      • Christiane says:

        So ADAM,
        What will the evangelical post-culture war world look like?

        no need to respond unless you want, but I thought I’d offer the question because
        I don’t think people have fully considered the ultimate COST of fundamentalism ‘winning’ in America . . . .

        will we recognize our country anymore?

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > What will the evangelical post-culture war world look like?

          Poverty. Their economic dispositions are arealistic lunacy.

          • Christiane says:

            Hello Adam,

            you gave an interesting response . . . . I once read ‘What’s the Matter With Kansas?’ about people voting against their own interests . . . perhaps someone will someday write ‘What’s the Matter with the USA?’

            but already, the National Debt exploded with the T tax cuts and zilch is ‘trickling down’ as employers are not ‘paying more’

            so the money went ‘upward’ and stayed there, and how many billions did we borrow from China this time to fund the huge tax cut for the wealthiest and the corporations?

            poverty . . . . . an interesting observation is that prior to the 1930’s Great Depression, there was a ‘trade war’ that set into motion a financial catastrophe . . . . . and here we are, again, another ‘trade war’ set up on the whim of one individual, so sure, poverty seems about right for the times that are coming

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            > What will the evangelical post-culture war world look like?
            Poverty. Their economic dispositions are arealistic lunacy.

            At which point, a LOT of Christians will “AAAAAAAA-MENNNNNNN!” because doesn’t prosperity lead people away from God? When everyone’s grubbing for food and dying of old age at 25, then People Will Have To Rely On The LOOOORD!

            I’ve heard the runup to this (without actually going to the conclusion) a lot both In-Country and in the Blogosphere. From Christians who I’m sure have never experienced REAL poverty themselves.
            A “Poverty Porn” analogous to “Persecution Porn”.

      • Stephen says:

        “What I hear is a lot of exultation that significant battles in the culture war are now being won…”

        But in fact the “culture war” has been completely lost. This is why evangelicals have put all their eggs in the Trump basket and are sold out to political action. It is an open acknowledgment that they have no more power to influence people.

        • You hit the nail on the head!

        • Robert F says:

          Trump and Congress will appoint an extreme right justice to the Supreme Court very shortly. He or she will occupy the chair formerly held by a justice who sometimes swung right, sometimes left, but the new justice will be a doctrinaire conservative, and his/her vote will be capable of turning back the court on several important issues, and resetting its position to the 1970s. This will have a major impact on our society, and that’s without mentioning the multitude of extreme right justices Trump and his party have gotten into the federal courts in the last months. If you don’t think this is a major victory for conservative culture warriors (though a ultimately a Pyrrhic one), I think you are wrong. It will have a major effect on developments in our society for at least half a generation. I don’t know how you can think otherwise. As Cokie Roberts on NPR said yesterday (quoting the first half of the line in the REM song), “It’s the end of the world as we know it….”

          • StuartB says:

            +1

          • Robert F says:

            You know, I was wrong to characterize this culture warrior victory as Pyrrhic. This is exactly what they wanted, the ability to control the shape and direction of our societal development via legal constraints, and to move in the opposite direction from popular preferences. Now, if Trump convinces McConnell to take the nuclear option in the Senate and do away with the requirement of a supermajority to pass bills, there’s almost nothing Trump and his enablers can’t do. The conservative Christian culture warriors are sending up ululations. This is something akin in quality if not extent to the Iranian revolution, wherein a national population that preferred liberal Western values was hijacked to another destination by the backward-looking moral and religious preferences of a powerful minority. Don’t expect much regard for science from this group. The Trump adminstration’s anti-science agenda is what we should expect for the foreseeable future.

          • Christiane says:

            I’ve heard that there is no fixed number of Supreme Court justices, SO . . . . if SCOTUS is politicized by the far right, when the Dems come to power, they might just equalize the Court again by increasing the number of Justices who are not locked into loyalty to a far right entity.

            Imagine: twelve Justices, and six of them not having to answer to the extreme right

            then maybe the Court can become again non-politicized and again serve the Law above ‘loyalty’ to political entities 🙂

    • I think it’s another of the disconnects between evangelical academia and the general population of evangelicalism. The academic and theological cadres know things are on the wrong track – the large majority of laypeople see no problems with how things are, especially as Christian radio, Fox News, and the culture war parachurch “ministries” are all telling them so.

      • Mike the Geologist says:

        When I taught my Science and the Bible course at my old evangelical church, my fellow evangelicals seemed to respond to me as a scientist who had faith in Jesus. In other words, they were looking for leadership in this area that would give a reasonable accomodation to mainstream science, which they were uncomfortable opposing outright, but without disparging their faith as stupid and ignorant. That is why I am adamant that local scientists in their congregations must speak out. If they know you personally, you will gain a hearing that no outside “expert” will ever be afforded.

        • john barry says:

          Mike the G Man, Your point and life experience is right on point and has the seed for the conservative church to gain in acceptance of science and its implications. I believe your approach of understanding where they were at in their beliefs and approaching them in a respectful, non mocking manner. Most conservative Christians do not dwell or fret , sounds like such an old fashioned word, they put science in a compartment and either ignore it or do not give it much analysis even though they have issues with the Ken Ham approach

          To cut to the core of the issue , it does come down to this issue that leads many conservative Christians to be hesitant to fully not take the Bible literally. The very essence, the absolute bedrock, the whole point of the Bible is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To them it is a slippery slope and it will take leadership , that has not been demonstrated yet to move t the average lay person, who is not hostile to science personally, to a point where he can trust and abide in their faith.

          There is an old hymn “He Lives” , he lives within my heart. I can go to the Grand Canyon, kind of understand how the Colorado River , erosion and all the science made the Grand Canyon and still believe God had a hand in it as he made everything including science. It gets back to the Bible and why God ordained it.

          If there were enough Mike the G Man to go to conservative belief churches, have a month long seminar bring forth your perspective the slow moving glacier would accelerate and people of faith could begin to reconcile faith and science.

          Here is a term that may catch on, you do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

          One of the problems I see is that many of the progressive, well meaning and “educated” leaders of reconciling faith and religion do not have the approach you do of teaching and bringing people along to a new understanding. 2000 years of teachings, belief and understanding survived for a reason as they served a purpose of God at that time and place.

          It is a complicated issue that you bring forth well.

          Again thanks for your series , always good , as I have lost touch with science since the absence of Mr. Wizard.

          • “To cut to the core of the issue , it does come down to this issue that leads many conservative Christians to be hesitant to fully not take the Bible literally.”

            This is the heart of the issue – how we approach the Bible. If we take a literalist approach, as though it were written directly to US in the 21st century (western culture) we will fight against science and stand on (our interpretation) of the Bible. But if we approach the Bible for what it is – an ancient book (or collection of literature of various kinds) written directly TO and FOR ancient people, written in light of THEIR culture and THEIR understanding of the world and how it works (their ‘science’) we can avoid the war on science (as well as more fully understand what God wants to say to us). It is not really a question of the Bible verses modern science; it is really a question of understanding the Bible as an ancient book – it’s the Bible versus modern thought.

            God did not give us the Bible to teach 21st-century western Christians about science. In fact, he didn’t give the Bible to ancient Israel to teach them science (as John Walton notes many times in his ‘Lost World of’ books). The creation accounts in Genesis are theological in purpose, not scientific. The whole point is that GOD created the universe, and the universe is ordered and under God’s control (as opposed to the chaotic universe of the pagan gods). God never intended to tell the Israelites (or us) HOW or WHEN he created the universe, just that he DID! The whole point is that there is ONE God and he created everything, not that he created it in six literal days some 6000 years ago. Genesis was not written to oppose 21st-century science; it was written to oppose 14th- (or 6th-) century BC pagan religion. If I try to use the owner’s manual for my car to program the clock on my microwave oven I’ll probably come up with some wrong conclusions.

            The challenge is that the world of the Bible is foreign to us, not merely in its language, or that it happened long ago, but that just about everything in that world is different. People had different values based on different value systems, different ways of relating to one another (e.g. the ‘biblical family’ model looks more like what one would find in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan than in suburban Atlanta), different economic systems, and so forth. If we really want to understand the Bible we have to learn and understand that world, and that culture.

            Unfortunately, most people see the Bible as a magic book that one can simply pick up and understand without any background – a Holy Spirit powered Ouija board. And you can’t trust those ‘scholars’ who really do try to understand the ancient world to better understand the Bible. God gave the Bible so everyone could understand it! If that’s the case, then the question Christian Smith (‘The Bible Made Impossible’) asks comes up once again: If biblicism is the way to approach the Bible then why are there so many different views on essential questions of the faith?

            John, as you said ‘It is a complicated issue that you bring forth well.’ It is complicated, much more than most Christians think.

            • john barry says:

              Greg, well said. I think that the “dreaded” evangelicals who all think are so fundamental in their beliefs actually have found a personal way to reconcile their faith and science in their own personal way that they do not publicity share. People with the head and heart of the authors Mike the G man has exposed us to could bridge the gap . I really believe that , This would be a generational change.

              I would say that our understanding of the “stories” in the Bible can, must and do change with the advancement of civilization but the big story, the overarching story , the whole story, the greatest story of the Bible remains certain and unchanged. God offers salvation to all who believe and trust in Jesus Christ . It is a matter of faith not science I believe that.

            • StuartB says:

              But if we approach the Bible for what it is – an ancient book (or collection of literature of various kinds) written directly TO and FOR ancient people, written in light of THEIR culture and THEIR understanding of the world and how it works (their ‘science’) we can avoid the war on science (as well as more fully understand what God wants to say to us). It is not really a question of the Bible verses modern science; it is really a question of understanding the Bible as an ancient book – it’s the Bible versus modern thought.

              This is the heart of it, but there’s more to it. If you admit those things, then you have to admit things change and progress and improve, and that the old ways just don’t cut it anymore, even if they were good for their time. That throws so much theology out the window wholesale or piecemeal, and eventually the bigger questions come out, like…why am I following the religion and principles of people who lived 1000, 2000, 3000+ years ago…as if I were them in their culture and setting, or as if I were their direct descendent who didn’t want to change and progress and improve.

              That’s a hard question. And so far my answer for myself is: I don’t, and that’s silly and stupid, but I understand why others do, and no amount of compulsion or arguing or force, even by the sword, will change my mind.

              Period.

            • StuartB says:

              God did not give us the Bible to teach 21st-century western Christians about science. In fact, he didn’t give the Bible to ancient Israel to teach them science (as John Walton notes many times in his ‘Lost World of’ books).

              Also, God did not give them the Bible or Torah or The Law or anything. God spoke to them, allegedly, through prophets. AND THEN dozens or hundreds of years later, people wrote things down.

              Did God give us written scriptures? Directly, no. By inspiration, yes.

              People conflate those two.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              (e.g. the ‘biblical family’ model looks more like what one would find in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan than in suburban Atlanta)

              Because both came from Semitic Tribal cultures.
              And because of history, the Arab/Islamic tribal culture has hardly drifted from the original.

        • Christiane says:

          Hello Mike-The-Geologist,

          I have wondered how it is for people who are taught a strict literal Creation story but who also find themselves awakening to the beauty and mystery of nature which witnesses to the existence of the Creator. What I see that disturbs is that some cling so to the ‘cult’ teaching of six-day Creation that they cut off any tolerance for the spirituality that comes naturally when our kind ‘experiences’ the natural world in all of its moods.

          The more a ‘church’ becomes cult-like in presenting Genesis literally, the farther it seems to go from the ‘God of the Natural World’. In this way, have these cults formed along the same lines as the early Christian heresy that saw the material world as evil? It would at least explain something of their contempt for the natural sciences, and possibly for their contempt of the preservation and conservation of nature. It all can’t be that these ‘cults’ have been influenced just by extreme right-wing politics.

          • American Christianity has *always* had a strong gnostic streak. From its conception of heaven (disembodied spirits floating on clouds playing harps) to its consistent hostility to physical pleasures (dancing, alcohol, tobacco, sex) to its innate suspicion of any “knowledge” not directly derived from Scripture- gnostic, through and through.

            • Christiane says:

              in short, we ‘Americans’ may unwittingly harbor an innate Puritanism that we over-react to in two opposite directions:
              EITHER a controlled strict structured cult-like behavior
              OR outright openly hedonistic rompings in a futile attempt to way to break from our national ‘Puritan’ DNA?

              is there any way to re-adjust to a normal, healthy ego?
              . . . a way of encountering reality that is sane? 🙂

              Our country is not behaving well these days as a country, so something is on the move.

              You can’t buddy up to dictators while trashing your allies,
              and dis-engage from honorable commitments on the whim of a spoiled narcissist,
              and pull babies and toddlers out of their parents’ arms;
              and WE THE PEOPLE ‘look away’ and say ‘it’s fake news’ and back the monsters who keep the public from investigating the emotional carnage being wrought on broken-hearted little children.

              You can have sanity or Hannity, but not both, America. As for the ‘why care about kids from another country’ please know that those saying such a thing are also pushing for a ‘Christian’ nation. Yeah.
              Thanks for letting me rant.

              what is that poem? ‘ this is the way the world ends . . . not with a bang, but a whimper ‘

              and how did Fred Phelps’ group destroy their own empathy for other human beings on their journey to bring hatred to the families of the fallen soldiers???? By what mechanism does this happen.
              And where is the outrage against those who will not comfort the innocent little ones???
              And why are they trying to SILENCE those who speak up for justice for those children?

              ?

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                Because Trump is LOORD.
                Just ask 80% of American Evangelicals.
                The way they Praise and Adore, you’d think Christ himself bends the knee and burns the pinch of incense to The Donald.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > another of the disconnects between evangelical academia and the general population

        Agree; the following is spot on – https://skyejethani.com/whos-really-leading-evangelicalism-the-shepherds-or-the-sheep-hint-its-not-the-shepherds/

        The leadership is such in name only, they’ve lost the people.

        • Mike the Geologist says:

          From the Skye Jethani article: “As the divorce between elite and ordinary evangelicals becomes more likely, one question remains unanswered. Who will get the kids?” That’s the question Cootsona is trying to address.

          Also from the Jethani article: A 2016 survey by LifeWay Research found that despite claiming to be Christians, most Americans hold unorthodox and even heretical beliefs. That’s not very surprising. What is surprising, however, were the findings when LifeWay used strict criteria to isolate the responses of committed evangelicals. As reported by G. Shane Morris, “Everyone expected [evangelicals] to perform better than most Americans. No one expected them to perform worse.” LifeWay found that evangelicals were more likely than Americans in general to hold heretical beliefs about Jesus, the Trinity, and salvation. Based on the survey, if you’re curious about the Bible and Christian faith you’re better off asking a stranger on the street than the average churchgoing evangelical.” Ha! Senecagriggs, please call your office.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            “””if you’re curious about the Bible and Christian faith you’re better off asking a stranger on the street than the average churchgoing evangelical”””

            How many people does this even mildly surprise [outside of Evangelicals]?

            A Catholic friend, when walking past a street-corner Evangelical screaming about baby murder and coming judgment, described them as the “CW network’s version of Christianity”. The Evangelical was there, next to plaza, while many families with children were playing games of mega-jenga, connect-4, etc… as happens every Thursday; the discordance between the message and the scene could not have been more profound.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > Who will get the kids?

            Enough of them will stay for it to remain a powerful political block – they have off-the-charts cohesion when it comes to voting – and effectively provide a hermetically sealed subculture. I’m afraid the Evangelical Collapse is not coming anytime soon. If they can keep just 1/3 of their youth, they can likely maintain their privileged position – and the numbers I hear are about pastors panicking as they are loosing 1/3 – so they are keeping 2/3 (???) – that does not a crisis make. They should be excited about 2/3rds retention; that’s really high.

            Time will tell – at least future historians will have no shortage of things to write books about.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

              Especially if that 2/3 gets to Hold The Whip after we become A Christian Nation once more.

          • Christiane says:

            “As reported by G. Shane Morris, “Everyone expected [evangelicals] to perform better than most Americans. No one expected them to perform worse.” LifeWay found that evangelicals were more likely than Americans in general to hold heretical beliefs about Jesus, the Trinity, and salvation. Based on the survey, if you’re curious about the Bible and Christian faith you’re better off asking a stranger on the street than the average churchgoing evangelical.””

            But within the evangelical group, you have soteriological (sp?) divides which are stunning, so if those who question evangelicals, hopeful of learning ‘what they believe’, of course the answers given will be at odds with one another and confusing (very confusing) to the inquirer.

            Then, you have disagreements about ‘who Christ is’ and the ‘Doctrine of the Holy Trinity’ among evangelical people, so that SOME, hopeful of augmenting their doctrine about the subordination of women, have stated that Our Lord was ETERNALLY subordinate to the Father.
            Also, among evangelical people, if you ask ‘Is Jesus God?’, you may get this response, ‘No. Jesus is the Son of God’, which is telling that these evangelical people don’t have a traditional ‘c’atholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and it is as if they do not even know about the early Church councils.

            No one is ‘faulted’ in this confusion:
            for the people who have isolated themselves from the mainline orthodox Christian communities and have used sacred Scripture alone to try to sort out a lot of what the early Church dealt with in the first councils; and they tried to do their best to figure out some very deep theology on their own. So, if there are variances, I would say that it is because of how people isolated themselves from other Christians and did not communicate with them even in ‘dialogue’ for periods of centuries. That doesn’t make all of them ‘heretics’, no. It just means there are some who had the Holy Scriptures ‘alone’, and did what they could to understand, so since we know that there is sufficient information given in sacred Scripture to help people come to Christ, do not pity or blame the ones who do not follow the teachings of the early Church and are outside the mainstream of traditional Christian orthodoxy.

            I cannot have the same regard for those who created ESS in order to shore up a terrible misinterpretation of the dignity of women as full participants in the faith in their own right as children of the Creator. For those people, they have failed in their attempts to convince many of their scheme and ESS is not widely accepted as much more than an attempt to manipulate acceptance of a man-made doctrine bordering on disrespect of the full personhood of women as made in the image of God.

            And finally, don’t expect to sort out what ‘the gospel’ means to evangelicals by asking just one group. The variety and breadth of definitions of ‘the gospel’ is what you will encounter, and sometimes, you might find a certain anger and contempt that you even asked, which I believe signals that the people you are asking are not themselves so sure and have relied on ‘inside’ code words rather than to have searched the Scriptures for something they could digest and make their own and relay as the reasons for their faith . . . which seems to me to explain the deep need many seem to have to ‘exclude’ those who are ‘not like themselves’ . . . . but I think at heart, they may regret not being closer to their Christian brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who do not hesitate to speak confidently of the Good News in terms that are hopeful and joy-filled.

            some thoughts, rather dis-jointed 🙂

          • Several years ago I taught a semester of ‘Biblical Survey’ at a local Christian liberal arts college. It was a required course for all freshmen. What I found was that the kids who grew up in church did worse in the class than those who did not (even those not friendly to the faith). The ‘unlearned’ kids were much more open to following the ‘story’ and connecting the dots. The churched kids thought they had all the answers (they learned them in Sunday School), but were usually wrong. It was a lot easier to lead the unchurched kids to understand the Bible and its message than the churched kids.

            • Christiane says:

              Greg, I think that for people raised in Churches that follow the Church Year Calendar of readings of sacred Scripture, that there is a chance to ‘absorb’ over years of exposure to those readings, and an added feature of following the Church Year liturgy is that the readings are ‘co-ordinated’ (example: the readings of St. Luke’s Gospel during Advent are prefaced by the readings of the prophet Isaiah, so that the ‘connection’ is presented every year . . . . if you are brought up in such a Church, you likely may have ‘absorbed’ a fair amount of scripture from its exposure in the liturgy.

              In short, those evangelical Churches that follow the Church Year Calendar of readings and have some form of liturgical practice in their worship will likely produce a faith community that is far more comfortable with scripture.

              And those evangelical Churches that have no ‘structure’ to their focus on sacred Scripture may be at a disadvantage, unless their Sunday School programs fill in the ‘gap’ (hopefully). Maybe the lack of co-ordinated readings publicly in the sanctuary is a DISADVANTAGE to those who pride themselves on their separation from the mainstream Body of Christ denominations??? That is my theory, such as it is.

              • Yes. Most of these students were from evangelical churches in the free church tradition. Lots of bits and pieces but no overall understanding of the ‘story’ (just a soterial gospel faith).

    • Waaaaay back in the 60’s the evangelical college I attended had a very active science department with excellent faculty and a particularly strong pre-med program.

  2. Burro (Mule) says:

    I barely recognize it now, although for different reasons than you do. I don’t think I’d send a child to die or be dismembered overseas for the loose collection of strip malls and office parks that this country has turned into.

    Adam is the go-to man for this. He has a better grasp on the way the US has changed in the last 50 years than any of us, especially as it relates to the results of actual policy decisions.

    The Fundamentalists are miles from ‘winning’ in America, unless their crab-like retreat into their hermetically sealed subculture counts as some kind of victory. Trump and his malcontents don’t draw as much energy from ‘fundamentalism’ as it does from secular working-class yobbos like Ray and Bobby and Janice at the Dollar Store who never liked brown people much and resented being told to shut up about it. They inhabit the same world as the happy-shiny managerial class driving up real estate prices inside the urban beltlines, but by-and-large ‘fundamentalists’ don’t.

  3. john barry says:

    Burro(Mule) Could you be any more elitist and condescending in your stereotyping of the working class yobbos and people named Ray, Bobby and Janice, why Janice? I have only met one Janice in my life and I travel in the yobbos circle. Also most of us shop at the Dollar Tree not the high priced Dollar Store. Of course , we save a lot of money on toothpaste as we only have one or two teeth. The yobbo class have more in common with the brown and black people as they are usually in the same work and economic sphere compared to the open border advocates who need more cheap labor. As someone on the View, do not remember who, said who will be the maids, the gardeners, the custodians, the nannies, the cooks, etc. if we stop illegals aliens from coming in?

    Is your neighbor working at the grocery store, your dental hygienist, a police officer, Wal Mart, you mechanic, your appliance delivery man, the factory worker, the state agency employee, your mailman and a child care worker part of the yabboo working class ? Is Donna Summers a yaboo, she works hard for her money? Dolly Parton works 9 to 5, does she qualify but surely Johnny Paycheck does not qualify as he does not work.

    What is your definition of yobbo working class? Remember in your answer that I thought Manual Labor was the President of Mexico until recently , so keep it simple.

    How did this tie in with science and belief? I thought the earth rotated around the sun but now it seems to rotate around Trump. Mike G. Hope you appreciate the science factoid I threw n.

    • Iain Lovejoy says:

      I may be wrong, but Burro is using the word “yobbo” to mean “unpleasant ignorant racist”, given that he is talking about people who “never liked brown-skinned people much and resented being told to shut up about it”. I am hopeful this is not descriptive of America’s entire working class.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > not descriptive of America’s entire working class

        We are sfaw from that thanks to the unwillingness of people to be clear what they mean by Working and/or Middle class. :). Go there in America v-e-r-y carefully.

        Ever tried to tell an American that they are not Middle Class?

      • john barry says:

        Iain, If I wrote ” the upper class elite, aristocratic snobs like Corey, Poppy and Chelsea never liked white skin people too much are finally glad they can display their racist, elitist believes openly if they do it in opposition to the evil Trump,

        You would be okay with that or Mule would because I was not talking about the entire upper class? I think the point was petty clear unless we get into the habit of rationalizing every statement and explaining it in retrospect.

        • Robert F says:

          I can’t tell you how surprised I am that you and Mule are arguing. Yeats prophesied that the center would not hold, but apparently neither do the right nor the left.

          • john barry says:

            Robert F, not arguing just discussing a difference in our point of view and perspective. Mule or anyone has the right to disagree with me and be wrong.

            I would argue over the last McDonald fry left in the bag. I would argue that Sean Connery was the best Bond, James Bond. I would ague Harrison Ford is the biggest movie star of all time. But in every scenario I would be right in my own mind, maybe even far right.

            I would never argue anyone cannot have a different opinion than me. I am married and know how it is when opinion does not count, I am not even allowed to buy Snickers, which in my opinion is a health food as they have peanuts in then and milk .

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      The humor aside, what is the working class? The unionized auto worker? Or the poor student holding down 2 jobs, all at minimum wage (and a third in summer) just to survive?

      Is it the white mechanic or the black/Latino worker at the airport coffee shop making minimum wage ?

      Is it the white aggressive mom in her 10 year old SUV that tells at the b
      black kids to get out of the pool because they don’t belong (check the news today), or is it the poor family that takes buses and walks because they can’t afford a car??

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    If Kinnaman is right, unless Christian congregations work to bring science back into the church, there may be millions fewer people in American pews in the coming years, and ultimately there may be a visibly diminished church left to engage science.

    At which point, they still won’t get a clue.
    They’ll just pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves for being The Righteous Remnant.