Weekly Buzz: 9/29/14

God, Darwin, & College

This week’s buzz features a French atheist becoming a Christian scholar and an evolutionary biologist giving his students “The Talk”—about God and evolution.

“God, Darwin and My College Biology Class”

In The New York Times last weekend, evolutionary biologist David P. Barash wrote a great article. He describes “The Talk” he gives college students about the relationship between evolution and God:

My animal behavior class, with 200 undergraduates, is built on a scaffolding of evolutionary biology.

And that’s where The Talk comes in. It’s irresponsible to teach biology without evolution, and yet many students worry about reconciling their beliefs with evolutionary science. Just as many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a “theory,” but the underpinning of all biological science, a substantial minority of my students are troubled to discover that their beliefs conflict with the course material.

Barash makes four main points:

1. Stephen Jay Gould’s understanding of science and religion as “nonoverlapping magisteria” is wrong.

2. So is William Paley’s 19th century argument from design. (The famous watchmaker analogy.)

3. Human beings don’t possess any supernatural traits that other animals lack.

4. Darwin makes the problem of suffering and evil worse, since pain and death are built into evolution.

This article is worth reading, but I wish he’d just tell his students to watch Conor Cunningham’s documentary: Did Darwin Kill God? 

Seriously, set aside an hour to watch this documentary. It will defuse the “God vs. evolution” false dilemma for you.

“From staunch atheist to Christian theologian”

You have to read this short, fascinating account of how a French atheist—who was an engineer and a volleyball player—became a Christian scholar.

Guillaume Bignon’s description of attending a church service made me laugh out loud:

I got the address of an evangelical church in Paris. I really went there as you would go to the zoo, in order to see some weird, exotic animals. I don’t remember a thing that the preacher said, but I was very, very uncomfortable.

Through conversations with this church’s pastor, and many other influences, he became a Christian:

I hated God and religion, but God called me and loved me when I was a sinner. He saved me by grace alone, through faith alone, to his glory.

His story is worth reading. Do you identify with any part of it?

“Loud, Proud, and Atheist: ‘Openly Secular’ Encourages Nonbelievers to Come Out of the Closet”

My friend Vlad Chituc wrote an excellent article for The Daily Beast last week. He’s one of my favorite atheist writers.

In this piece, he looks at discrimination against atheists:

The new ‘Openly Secular’ campaign illuminates prejudice against atheists. Will it convince Americans that nonbelievers can be trustworthy, moral, and even electable?

You can always count on Vlad for a bright and thoughtful take on these issues. He’s the editor of NonProphet Status, a great Patheos blog.

“Stephen Hawking Confirms Atheist Beliefs: ‘There Is No God,’ Physicist Says”

The title says it all. The Christian Post quotes Hawking:

“Before we understood science, it was natural to believe that God created the universe, but now science offers a more convincing explanation,” Hawking said in a video made public by El Mundo newspaper. “What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is we would know everything that God would know if there was a God, but there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”

Two thoughts:

1. We all need to understand what the doctrine of creation is really about. (Hint: Science can’t disprove it, and that’s not a cop-out.)

2. As David Bentley Hart argues in his latest book, many atheists misunderstand and misuse the term “God.” (To be fair, poor Christian theology produces this misunderstanding!) This point about the word “God” reminds me of a classic scene from The Princess Bride.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

What do you think of this week’s buzz?


3 thoughts on “Weekly Buzz: 9/29/14

  1. I came for the theology… I stayed for the Princess Bride.

    In all seriousness, I think “Did Darwin Kill God?” is an excellent resource. I wish it was shorter so I could convince my friends to watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

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