Monday, September 29, 2008


I'm looking forward to seeing the Alabama crew at ASTA this week. I'll be there on Wednesday, and I'll be presenting 2 sessions:
  • At 10:30, I'll be presenting on teaching evolution to religious kids. This is the session I've done in the past on the topic, but I've updated it some to include the big ideas that I'm covering in the book.
  • At 2:00, I'll present on the what and the why of inquiry. This is the same session on inquiry I've done several times, and if you heard it before, there's not a lot that's new. Feel free to come, though, especially if you want to share what's working on inquiry in your classroom.
Other than that, I'll just be hanging out and looking forward to catching up with you.  

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Science Notebook Tips, á la Susie Q

Susie Quillan is a science teacher extraordinaire in the Orlando area, and she has posted some really top-notch tips about science notebooking. She's new to blogging, but I betcha her blog is one to watch. (Thanks, Leyla, for the lead on Susie's blog.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Dialogue on Genesis

A few weeks back, I posted a Facebook note explaining the basic idea of my book. Some people there had asked about it, and I wanted to have a summary available for them. A guy I know named Dave saw the note, made a comment, and that turned into a back-and-forth dialogue between him and me. With Dave's permission, I'm posting our conversation. One of the commentators here, Chris, also joins in the dialogue. (If you're a Facebook user, you should be able to click the title of this post and go to the original conversation.)

Chris Morrow has told me a lot about your book, and on a recent trip to North Carolina, the two of us had a very long discussion about evolution vs. creation (or to be more specific, perhaps I should say theistic evolution vs. spontaneous creation).

The difficulty I keep coming back to is twofold--one are the events of Genesis, which I just can't see how they would ever be meant to be taken metaphorically--and the other is the soul. I just don't see how a soul could evolve.

At this point, I'm afraid that if I became convinced that evolution was real, I would end up being an atheist, or at best, an agnostic.

Can you help me out here?

I think I understand completely your confusion and questions. The kind of concerns that you express are ones that so many people face when they think about evolution, and in my book I hope to help science teachers address evolution with grace so that students who feel your concerns aren't afraid of evolution.

I do think that Genesis 1-3 is not literal, but it is true. The Song of Solomon is clearly poetic, not literal, and Genesis 1-3 read to me more like an artistic perspective than a scientific one. An obvious indicator of that is how the creation story is told 3 different times and in 3 different ways in those chapters.

I don't believe, though, that the soul evolved. God breathed life into us to make us human, whether he created our bodies with a zap from dust or via millions of years of evolution, like the fossil evidence seems to say.

P.S. Accepting evolution as God's mechanism for creating life doesn't force someone into atheism. I'm becoming more and more convinced that the scientific evidence is piling up about how life evolved, but that in no way convinces me that life evolved on its on. I just don't think the amazing wonder and beauty we see around us was a cosmic accident.

What's the whole point of the Adam and Eve story, though? If it's meant to be metaphorical, are we to assume that Adam and Eve never really existed? And if so, then why is Adam included in the geneeology? What's the meaning of their story? These are the things I can't get past. I might be able to accept that God created the rest of the world through evolution but then spontaneously created Adam and Eve. But if Adam and Eve are a myth, I don't know that I can take any of the Bible at face value.

I think Adam & Eve were real people.

Do you think they were the only two people on Earth at the time, or do you think they were just two of many?

Probably the only two on earth at the time (as far as really human, in the sense that God had breathed a soul into them), but I'm pretty murky on all of these details. I need to look into all of that more. The real push on all of this for Christians, though, is the wealth of scientific evidence about pre-human species. The fossil record is pretty clear about human-like species being on the earth.

I see. So theoretically, there could be a scenario where we have a bunch of sub-human neanderthals running about, but Adam and Eve are the only truly human people? Interesting.

It would be a lot easier for me to deal with the "days" of Genesis one being eons and animal and plant life evolving on Earth. It's human evolution where everything breaks down for me.

I think a lot of people are like you--human evolution is the biggest problem they have with evolution. I was the same way up until a few months ago when I started looking at the fossil evidence. (It all started with a chance/Providential visit to Lucy's bones at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. ) I begin to realize that there was a lot more fossil evidence for human evolution than I had ever realized.

Chris Morrow (adding his perspective):
Lee, this question about Adam and Eve is a tough one. I really don't have a problem with evolution when it comes to my faith. I think Genesis 1 reflects evolution metaphorically. Simpler forms of life come on the scene first followed more complex ones.

The hard part is the intersection point where scripture picks up the literal story humans, the lives of Adam and Eve. From the viewpoint of a Christian-theistic evolution person like me, our family tree bottlenecks at Adam and Eve. Now-a-days, that would cause a whole bunch of genetic defects for latter generations. Were genetic conditions different back then?

Although evolution sits well with my faith, the story of Adam and Eve in time and space does not.

So now the question becomes, did Adam and Eve arrive on the scene via the evolutionary ladder, or did God create them spontaneously? I would tend towards the latter, as the Genesis account describes God creating them separately, making Eve out of Adam for a help-mate. Did God then plop them down in the middle of Eden, away from all the mindless neanderthals running about?

Looks like we're ending this in questions, which is really where I am now. I don't have a nice, neat package for how it all fits together, but I think that's part of what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.