Sunday, September 23, 2007

Needed a new look, sorry.

Came across this post while wading through the various blogs/articles regarding the debate taking place on our campus. It helped me, especially since it's from someone who was at the meeting.

This is from Dr. Carrigan, a prof in our Earth Science department. His PHD is from the University of Michigan. He is responding to a blog on a sight at Calvin College.

". . . Secondly - I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on the events that have been occurring here at ONU regarding the removal of Rick Colling from teaching the general biology course here this year. Rick and the university have gotten some pressure from anti-evolutionists since the publication of "Random Designer" a few years ago. In the book, Rick basically tries to argue that evolution is compatible with Christianity. Although the majority of our constituents have no problem with our science here, there is a vocal minority that leans strongly toward Young-Earth Creationism. I believe that 2 members of the University's Board of Trustees are against evolution being taught at ONU, but most are not. The Nazarene Church has a tradition of a "big tent" approach to science from the theology standpoint, and so not many in leadership positions are so strongly opposed to evolution that they would ask for a professor teaching it to be removed. Dr. Bowling has written about this and made that case very strongly that Rick is not outside the bounds of Nazarene doctrine & tradition. When one YEC advocate asked Pres. Bowling if there were any YEC scientists here at ONU to 'provide balance', he stated that ONU doesn't have anyone like that, and that he doesn't think there is anyone like that in the entire Nazarene educational system. However, the pressure against Rick has been building. This past summer, President Bowling met with the natural science faculty and explained what he was asking from the Biology Department and why. It was clear to me that he was attempting to help the situation die down by removing Rick from the "bull's eye". In my opinion, he was doing his best that he thought necessary for the university and for Rick. I strongly support Pres. Bowling's decision here. The hope was and is that, after some time, the turmoil that is out there will subside; in Pres. Bowling's words, he was attempting to "make peace". However, I am not sure that Rick saw it this way, and the article in Newsweek has come since that meeting. I was very disappointed that the Newsweek article chose to state that Pres. Bowling "banned" the book from ONU courses. While I suppose that is technically true, the word carries with it too much baggage. Pres. Bowling stated that it was certainly possible that things could change in the future if the situation were to become less volatile. I was disappointed that the article was phrased in ways that made the good name of Pres. Bowling and ONU look bad, because it discredits the good science that is being taught here by many of our professors. In my opinion Pres. Bowling has been one of the greatest advocates for the science faculty here. He gave a message in Chapel in Jan. of 2006 where he discussed science & faith; I can send a copy of this to those who are interested.

Here are a few important facts that were not mentioned in the Newsweek article:
1) the science of an old Earth/Universe has been taught at ONU for at least 40 years that I know of - I'm sure it goes farther back than this but I'm not aware of who the faculty were before that time. ONU has been around for 100 years, but has not in all of those years offered college level science courses.
2) Other faculty members here at ONU have taught these same scientific concepts for many decades, and there has never been this kind of reaction to any of them.
3) Pres. Bowling made it very clear to us in the early Summer meeting that he was not in any way attempting to alter the content of the Gen. Biology course that he removed Colling from - Colling's removal from the course is not a content issue.
4) None of the other books out there that talk about science and Christianity have similarly been "banned", such as those by Falk, Collins, Young, Polkinghorn, Murphy, Ramm, Miller, etc.etc.

Best Regards,

Charles W. Carrigan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Geology
Olivet Nazarene Univ., Dept. of Physical Sciences"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Well. I'm really pained over this most recent conversation, and feel more ignorant every day (see Thursdays rant). Not sure whether I need to quit reading, or read more. I do know that there is much to learn from both sides.

I'm perfectly content not being able to fully understand. My hope is we don't forget there are good people involved on both sides of this conversation. Sometimes our deepest convictions and need to be right can really get us in a lot of trouble.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried. The question is not, 'Why is Christianity so bad when it claims to be so good?', but rather 'Why are all human things so bad when they claim to be so good?'"

G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Okay, here I am again,

So much for ordinary days. If you're familiar with what's happening at Olivet at all, you know what I'm talking about. I don't have the time or desire to unpack everything going on, except to say the debate between science and faith is alive and well. It's made me think. . .

I wonder, is this really about science and faith, or more about authority. I'm not trying to denigrate either side. It's just that I've noticed in our culture no one wants to be called to account for anything anymore. Is that too general, well it's how I feel.

If, when I was growing up, I had a disagreement with my father in the area of discipline, dad won. That's a picture of authority for me, not one of abuse, although I realize there are stories involving that as well, and I hope you will extend enough grace to me understanding I know the difference between authority and abuse. I understood my father loved me and ultimately wanted what's best for me. I trusted him to have my best interest at heart.

So, do we have an authority problem? Is the student who was removed from the forum with John Kerry no longer needing to be respecting of the authorities that live in all our communities to keep the civil peace? It used to be that parents would back up the discipline a school levied against a student not following proper guidelines, support the discipline of their student-athlete, that is less the norm anymore. Okay, maybe I'm naive, or do we have an authority problem?

I'm just asking; is there no one to hold me accountable for what I claim to believe? When what I believe is questioned, am I open to correction? When correction is brought into my life from well meaning, caring people in authority over me, what do I then do? When two worlds collide, what determines who gives. In the church, is Scripture still in it's proper place, or are other things dictating to us who God is, what he looks like, and how we relate to each other?

Now, it may sound like it, but I don't worship the Bible, and don't like being labeled a fundy because my faith at times is simple. I do believe what it teaches us about God, though. I don't always get it right, and I know you don't either, I'm just wondering if this is an issue of authorty?

Faith and Science will continue to clash. My faith may be too simple for you, but like my friend Jim Hampton says, I'm with he and Barth. Knowing I will never fully understand, when I can't fully know, God wins.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm getting a new perspective on what the church called, "Ordinary Days", because that's kind of what we're living. Maybe for some of you, that would be great, to live an ordinary day. So I'm feeling a little guilty about not posting for the 1-2 of you that read this, so now your trip to the sight wasn't a total waste.

I'll try and give you something more substantial next time, but after all these are ordinary days. Except when it comes to my new grandson. Don't really think I could write without mentioning him, do you. He's awesome. Terry calls him, minime, I'll let you be the judge. Until next time.