In my last post I shared the concept statement for one of the books I am currently working on. The book looks at philosophical reasons for why the multifaceted discussion on creation and evolution is often misguided. Today I provide the chapter titles and descriptions. Let me know what you think!
Chapter 1. The state of the (dis)union
This chapter will describe the creation and evolution discussion and its history within the Church. I will start by briefly reviewing the rise of creationism and its variants. Then I will provide data and several personal anecdotes to illustrate the current state of the creation-evolution debate and highlight why the issue is so important, and yet so often unproductive and derisive. Next, I will argue that the history of division around theology and biblical interpretation has conditioned the Church to reinforce boundaries and is a cause for the current debate, which is but one example in the larger science and faith discussion. Last, I will mention my own story and the internal disunion that I experienced when I became a Christian and adopted a young-earth creationist and fundamentalist mindset while pursuing my Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry.
Chapter 2. The scientific enterprise
This chapter will serve as a review of the philosophy of science from the 20th century on. It will focus on key aspects of the philosophy of science and well-known philosophers of science. The chapter will also include a brief discussion of two strongly held and contrasting theories of knowledge and how they impact the science and faith dialogue. Last, it will briefly describe the sociology of science and how science progresses via the work of a community.
Chapter 3. Scientific ideology (how scientific knowledge is gained)
Science in practice progresses through competition between proponents of different research programs. Research programs can be considered as idea networks, with ordering amongst concepts that enable scientists to relate theory, data, and hypothesis. How these ideas are connected to each other and the real world is a key topic in the philosophy of science and best explained by Imre Lakatos’ philosophy of science. This chapter will introduce the reader to “the practice of science” from the perspective of an active scientist. Key terms and aspects of science (data, theory, hypothesis) that are commonly misunderstood by the general public will be explained and organized using Lakatos’ concepts. Analogies will be used extensively to translate these concepts into accessible, everyday language. In one example I will compare an idea network to a wheel. In this analogy, a scientific theory can be considered as the hub, which is connected to the rim (data) by the spokes (hypotheses). For an alternative analogy, consider a movie’s structure. The director’s theme (theory) is explained in light of the actors’ interaction and interpretation (hypotheses) of events and experiences (data). I will return to these and similar analogies throughout the remainder of the book to ensure reader understanding.
Chapter 4. Cathedrals of the mind
In this chapter I will argue that the idea network concept is not solely applicable to scientific practice. Insights from the psychology of learning, philosophy of education, and cognitive neuroscience will be shared that provide an interesting parallel to the philosophy of science introduced in the previous chapter. I will return to the two different theories of knowledge to highlight how the major differences associated with them greatly impact the foundations on which these networks are built. The practical effects on the creation-evolution discussion of how we learn and respond to new (conflicting or confirming) ideas or ways of thinking will end the chapter.
Chapter 5. Science and/or religion (models for the interaction of science and religion)
This chapter will describe the various ways in which people relate science and religion. How one relates science and religion is key to his/her position on creation and evolution and differences amongst participants can make dialogue strained (at best) or impossible (at worst). For example, many science and religion authors say that the two disciplines are distinct from each other and a priori cannot be in conflict. This model is not acceptable for young-earth creationists as they are committed to the integration of science and religion and are therefore likely to ignore or be defensive of books that espouse it. Because of these differences and to provide a common framework for discussion, the creation and evolution idea networks proposed in the following chapter will include scientific, theological, and philosophical components and reflect an intermediate or dialogue model of science and religion.
Chapter 6. In the evolution-creation fight, science is the undercard
This chapter provides the main thesis of the book, that there are several mutually exclusive creation-evolution idea networks: young-earth creationism, old-earth creationism, evolutionary creation/theistic evolution, and atheism. Intelligent design and deism will be mentioned but each either does not comprise a consistent idea network (as I have conceptualized it) or is not theistic so both will not be an area of focus. It will be further argued that the primary focus of the creation-evolution discussion, the science, is in reality secondary to the greater issues at stake that form the core frameworks and driving motivations of the different creation-evolution positions. Next, the chapter will discuss why the young-earth creationism program is not “irrational” and why calling it pseudo-scientific is not useful and ultimately irrelevant because all of the creation and evolution idea networks have scientific, philosophical, and theological components.
Chapter 7. Why evolutionary creation is failing (but won’t in the end)
This chapter will begin with reasons why evolutionary creation is not gaining adherents (at least at the Gallup poll level). The main reason is that its proponents have been primarily focused on arguing the scientific merits, whereas the more prevalent concerns lie in the realms of philosophy and theology. I will then briefly contrast the terms theistic evolution and evolutionary creation to highlight the diversity of positions and the idea network’s current theological paucity. Next I will pose the question of whether true “dialogue” amongst Christians with greatly varying views can occur with the current, independent idea networks or if an entire new position is required for mutual dialogue to overcome the collective “blurred vision.” I will then explain why evolutionary creation is the idea network with the best explanatory power to me due to its ability to synthesize all of the available data and the numerous examples of fruitful science and religion exploration that it suggests. The chapter will end by highlighting how other “lightening-rod” discussions on science and religion in the Church could benefit from the philosophical framework provided in this book.
Epilogue: Anti-Evangelism and homeless ministries
This chapter will describe what it is like for a Christian scientist to lose his/her “home” when accepting evolution, especially for those who attend fundamentalist churches. It will also highlight how the Church could be considered anti “anti-Evangelical” at times in the ways some arrogantly deride scientists and improperly marry science with atheism. Relatedly, because of the artificial union that some have created between Christianity and young-earth creationism, the Church could be considered as withholding the Gospel from scientists or others that accept evolution. For those that are scientists and Christians, they can struggle with whether they even belong in the Church as they are sometimes deemed “lesser” Christians and can feel “dis-Evangelized.” The epilogue will end with an anecdote from my trip to Westminster Abbey for a moving Church service that included visiting Charles Darwin’s grave.