Dialogue Events – October 2012

Sunday, Oct. 7 at 6pm

“Evolution, Christian Faith, and Human Origins”

Jeff Schloss, T.B. Walker Chair of Natural & Behavioral Sciences and director of the Center for Faith, Ethics & Life Sciences, Westmont College

One evening during a particularly stunning sunset, my toddler cried out, “Daddy, look! God painted the sky!” For many Christians, the laws of optics do not subvert this affirmation but are just construed as “God’s brushes.” Can evolution be seen similarly, as the means by which God created humanity? This question, an abiding and central one in Christian responses to evolution, hinges on which evolutionary accounts, which anthropological and philosophical entailments, and what understandings of human nature one takes to be true. Moreover, faith itself can influence these judgments. This talk will survey emerging scientific data related to common descent, the identity of and trajectory leading to first humans, and the question of human uniqueness.

Sunday, Oct. 14 at 6pm

“Reading the Whole Page”

Christiana de Groot, professor of religion, Calvin College

How can we read a familiar section of scripture so that we can hear its theological message anew? For me, it was helpful to read the opening chapters of Genesis as I would any other literary text. By paying attention to structure, plot, vocabulary and genre, I noticed features of these passages that I had missed. It was as if I was reading the white spaces as well as the black lines. As a result, these chapters became much more meaningful and powerful to me. Join me as I walk through Genesis 1-11 with you and deepen your understanding of God, the world, and humanity.

Sunday, Oct. 21 at 6pm

“A Christian Biologist’s Odyssey with Human Origins”

Hessel (Bud) Bouma III, professor of biology, Calvin College

Throughout much of the conservative evangelical community, the theory of evolution has been disparaged, shunned, and poorly understood. For many, it is perceived as a litmus test of a person’s Christianity and incompatible with Christian faith. In the nearly 153 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, evolution has emerged as a very useful theory in biology, with remarkable explanatory function and predictive capacity in agriculture, biology, medicine, and society. The evidence of remarkable similarities between animals and humans has been steadily growing over the years, most recently in the light of new genetic evidence. Journey with me through my odyssey with the theory of evolution into human origins and the challenges this presents to Christians.

Sunday, Oct. 28 at 6pm

Adam and Eve, the Fall, and Original Sin in Light of Human Evolution”

Question-and-Answer Session

Daniel Harlow, professor of religion, Calvin College

In this talk, I will describe some of the challenges that human evolution poses for traditional Christian understandings of Adam and Eve as the founders of the human race, and of the Christian doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin. Using a printed handout of text excerpts from the work of two scientist-theologians – John Polkinghorne and George Murphy – I will explain why I have found proposals such as theirs helpful in my own ongoing thinking about these matters. There will be plenty of time for discussion after the presentation.


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Hessel (Bud) Bouma III is a professor of biology at Calvin College. His professional interests include cell biology, human biology, human genetics, medical ethics, environmental ethics, and issues in science and Christian faith. His teaching includes January interim courses in Italy and England on the History of Science, Medicine, and Religion. Bouma has held numerous academic fellowships in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and serves on the editorial board of the American Scientific Affiliation. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Calvin College and a Ph.D. in human genetics from the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Christiana de Groot is a professor of religion at Calvin College, where she teaches mainly Old Testament courses. She specializes in the history of women’s interpretation of scripture and is a contributor to Recovering Nineteenth-Century Women Interpreters of the Bible (2007), which she co-edited. De Groot also contributed the chapter on Genesis in The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary (2002). She has a B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago, an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

Daniel Harlow is a professor of religion at Calvin College. His research interests include evolutionary science and Christian theology, the history and literature of early Judaism, and the Jewish context and character of the New Testament. He is co-editor of The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (2010) and of The “Other” in Second Temple Judaism: Essays in Honor of John J. Collins. Harlow has a B.A. from Oral Roberts University, an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Notre Dame. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Jeff Schloss is T.B. Walker Chair of Natural & Behavioral Sciences and director of the Center for Faith, Ethics & Life Sciences at Westmont College. His publications focus on evolutionary accounts of altruism, religion, and human nature, and the theological implications of Darwinism. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in ecology/evolutionary biology from Washington University, and has done post-doctoral fellowships at Notre Dame, Oxford, and Princeton.