Saturday, December 23, 2017

Discussion Guides

If you are interested in doing a similar seminar using Origins (Deborah & Loren Haarsma), these discussion guides may be of use to you:

The discussion question numbers that I listed with the notes for each chapter are questions from the Origins book (they have many great discussion starters with each chapter, many more than we had time to cover).

The Haarsmas also have a discussion guide that aligns with their video series which you might find helpful.  You can find that along with the free video resources here:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wrapping up

Thanks to all who joined us for these discussions in Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design. I hope many of you will make time to read the remaining chapters and learn some of the ways Christians approach human origins specifically.

I want to wrap up with a couple examples of Christians who hold different views engaging with one another:

  • Discussing Origins: BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, and Southern Baptists - This 4-part series is a transcript of a session entitled "A Conversation on Origins" at the Evangelical Theological Society. (Unlike Biologos and Reasons to Believe which advocate for EC and OEC views respectively, Southern Baptist theologians hold a range of views on origins.)
  • Christian Perspectives on Origin of Species and Humanity (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) - These presentations and conversations took place at LeTourneau University and represent dialog between Answers in Genesis (YEC) and Biologos (EC).

Monday, May 15, 2017

Final week of seminar

Just one more seminar to go!  We'll be covering chapters 8-10 this coming week.  The first two will present evidence for evolution and the evolutionary creationist view and the last is on intelligent design.  The remainder of the book focuses on human origins and the specific questions surrounding historical Adam (interestingly the authors themselves aren't completely in agreement on this issue). If there is interest, we can schedule a time this summer to get together again and discuss.

If you haven't already checked it out, the website that accompanies this book has six short video sessions that briefly summarize the book.  This would be a good review of what we've covered (or give you an overview if you haven't had time to read along with us):

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Week 2 notes

This week we are reading chapters 5-7 which cover the multitude of interpretations of Genesis 1-2 and evidence for an old earth.  In chapter 5, which covers concordist interpretations, we'll get some basic history of how the YEC and OEC views/movements got their start. Chapter 6 will cover non-concordist interpretations.

Make sure to read Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 104 as suggested in chapter 5. When we meet, I would like for us to read Genesis 1-3 together and take note of some of the interesting features that the different interpretations highlight.

Moving over to God's world, chapter 7 provides evidence in support of an old earth.  If you typically stick with Apologia/AiG etc for your science curriculum, this chapter might be new material for you. Likewise, the following two chapters on evolution will at least be new for some in that they are presented by Christian authors who hold an EC view and don't find a necessary conflict between evolution and creation.

It's good to be familiar with the evidence the authors present even if you favor a YEC view. Reading the explanations and arguments for a particular view directly from someone who holds that view helps me by reducing the chance that I will dismiss a view based on a caricature/straw man. Interacting with the best evidence also helps me see why a view is persuasive to many people even if I myself don't hold that view.

Also these next two times we meet, I'll be bringing in a few additional resources that I've found helpful in exploring these issues...both theology and science.  So if you have some great resources you'd like to share with the group, bring them along!

Edited: Corrected wrong chapter numbers, sorry!  Maybe you now have some of next week's reading done :)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Get ready for week 1

It's time to start reading! In preparation for the first seminar on 5/8, we will be reading the intro and chapters 1-4 of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. I know this seems like a lot but it's laying the groundwork for understanding the four views we'll be discussing.

Each week I will post a discussion guide with the main topics for those chapters written as questions.  You don't need to look at this before class unless you want to and I'll have these printed out for everyone in class. Most of the questions are answered in the chapter and I'll review in class to make sure we understand the authors' points, but we'll also discuss how you would answer some of the questions.  For some chapters, I also listed a few Discussion Question numbers...these refer to the "Questions for Reflection and Discussion" at the end of each chapter.
Week 1 Discussion Guide

The discussion guides refer to charts that I've put together into a packet that we'll use in class. All of the charts mentioned in the guides are in the packet, except the "Genesis 1 Framework" chart which is from Mark Barry and downloadable on his website.
Chart packet (updated on 5/18)

The first time we meet, you'll get a folder with the discussion guide and charts and you should bring this each time we meet along with the Origins book.  Can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Approaching origins

I wanted to start off with a little pastoral message from JD Greear (The Summit Church). In this sermon snippet, he gives his general interpretation of Gen 1-2 but also talks about being comfortable with not having all the answers.

It's easy to want this issue to be black & white, and often it is presented that way, as if there is only one valid way for Christians to think about origins.  I've read at least a few books from each of the 4 major perspectives on creation, in addition to geology and biology texts (not all recently, but over the past 20 years)...and I think each view has strengths and weaknesses. I personally find YEC less compelling that the other three views, but I see why many find it appealing. Regardless of view, it's helpful to consider Proverbs 18:17, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him".

Throughout this seminar, I want to follow JD's encouragement and create a space for conversations that promote understanding. "In essentials unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity"

See also: Blog post summarizing this clip, full message.


Welcome to Perspectives on Creation!

In this 3-session seminar, we will discuss different ways Christians approach origins. Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different perspectives can help you understand why Christians come to different conclusions and why it's ok to admit we don't have all the answers. We will cover all 4 major categories of views (Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Evolutionary Creationism, Intelligent Design).

We will read and discuss chapters 1-10 of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design (Deborah & Loren Haarsma) and the reading will be the only work outside of class.

Class schedule (these are the chapters we will discuss, please read them before we meet):
  • 5/8 - Chapters 1-4
    • Main topic: Methods for Studying God's Word & God's World
    • Views: Overview of 4 views
  • 5/15 - Chapters 5-7
    • Main topic: God's Word - Interpreting Genesis, God's World - Age of the Earth
    • Views: Young Earth Creationism (YEC), Old Earth Creationism (OEC) 
  • 5/22 - Chapters 8-10
    • Main topic: God's World - Evolution
    • Views: Evolutionary Creationism (EC), Intelligent Design (ID)

If there is interest, we will have an additional optional meeting to cover the remaining 4 chapters.  I felt that chapters 11-12 were more complex both in terms of theology and science (many participants have not yet taken biology and I think the theological issues are difficult even for adults to wrestle with).  Chapters 13-14 are more of a FAQ and wrap-up, so you can read those on your own.