Recently, I completed the work for a course called “Evangelism in a Scientific Context.” The course was administered through Reasons To Believe in their Reasons Institute (Reasons Institute – Reasons to Believe). I took the course to maintain my certification as a Volunteer Apologist with that organization. With the perspective of a few weeks after completing the material, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on the course.
The course proceeded through eight weekly sessions. Each week’s assignments included readings, video lectures, and study questions on the material that had been presented. There were two major projects that I completed at the end of the course. The weekly readings came from two books, Science v. Religion by Elaine Ecklund and Always Be Ready by Hugh Ross, an excellent work that I have reviewed on this blog. The video lectures were a wide array of presentations in major areas of science, astronomy, astrophysics, biochemistry, and geology. Each lecture was given by degreed scientists in each field. Each presenter is a Christian who is affiliated with the apologetics ministry of Reasons To Believe.
Although the lectures were filled with scientific information about the incredible amount of design present in physical, chemical, and biological systems, the key idea behind each lesson was the principle goal of building relationships with those who would be considered thinkers. Many scientists and thinking-oriented individuals have a perception of Christians informed by adamant Young-Earth Creationism and disdain toward science. This course allows even the non-science oriented Christian to see that we do have certain foundational issues which we share with scientists and thinkers, such as a desire for precision in language and the avoidance of logical fallacies in thinking. The scientific information in the course is a means to an end. The relationship which makes inroads for the Gospel in the overarching goal.
This focus on building relationships was the focus of the two major assignments. First, each of the participants were required to review the video presentation Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the 2008 movie which feature prominent Intelligent Design advocates. This assignment was not a simple movie review, but an assignment with the view of assessing the usefulness of this film not only in its content, but in building relationships with the scientific community. Second, we were tasked with having a conversation with a non-believer in the STEMM field. The goal of the discussion was not a debate, but an inquiry into their religious perspective. In my discussion with an expert in computers in education, I was able to see this person not as a project, but as a person. I also was able to come up with a plan for mutual acquaintances to further develop relationships with her which was the goal of the entire course.
I would recommend this course not just for the scientifically-oriented, but for anyone interested in apologetics and evangelism toward those who are thinkers.