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A Tale of Two Schools

Karl Giberson

Writer’s Log: Stardate 13-2-12

Today, for the first time I can recall, I spoke to an audience  that included several atheist biology professors. I had been asked by one such biologist, Carrie Glenney—the sister of my friend Brian Glenney who teaches at Gordon College (but is not an atheist!)—to talk about why the evangelical rejection of evolution is so vigorous and enduring.  This is something I have talked about many times and discussed at length in my books so I felt on secure ground. (I was at the University of Washington in Seattle, where it was--surprise--drizzling.)

The Q & A was quite challenging however. One questioner asked me why it wasn’t obvious that religion was defective and should be encouraged to die. “We need science to secure our future,” he said. “Science is empirical and reliable. Religion is not empirical and based only on faith. If religion prevents us from following the wisdom of science on things like global warming, aren’t we better off without it?”  Unlike the typical questions I get from conservative evangelicals, I didn’t have an immediate answer to this one in my arsenal. I challenged his assumptions and suggested that religion has values he wasn’t acknowledging. But his question is a powerful one.

After my gig at U of W I headed over to Seattle Pacific University where there are no atheistic biology profs.  I love SPU. My host here is Cara Wall-Scheffler who I suspect has to be one of the top research biologists in the entire consortium of 100+ evangelical colleges in the United States. She is an amazing teacher, which you can determine in about ten minutes by talking to her students.  And she is friendly and engaging to talk to.

SPU students are thoughtful and inquisitive.  I led a discussion this afternoon with 80-100 of them, almost all of whom had read some of The Language of Science and Faith. And many had read portions of Saving Darwin. (I sent on a box of copies ahead of my visit.)  The asked great questions—thoughtful, open-ended, non-confrontational. SPU is doing a great job at helping young Christians make peace with science. After our discussion I signed books for some students and then had some pizza.

Good day, overall.