Vibrant Dance Day 1 Recap
There were seven plenary sessions today and one breakout session. It was kind of a marathon, but worthwhile. The first two plenaries, by Andy Crouch of Christianity Today and Ross Hastings of Regents College, helped set the tone of unity in Christ and the fundamentals we agree on and therefore the proper place of the different theories of Origins in evangelical Christendom. Dan Heinze then discussed “What is Science?” to establish the extent and limits of science. The remaining talks were speakers from the three major ‘camps’ present at the symposium. Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana from Reasons To Believe presented the Progressive Creation view as applied to cosmology and biology respectively. Darrell Falk from BioLogos gave the theistic evolution (or Evolutionary Creation) viewpoint, and Steven Meyer from the Discovery Institute discussed Intelligent Design (ID). This way, the entire spectrum of what is to be discussed was presented on the first day, so that remaining sessions can refer back to this foundation. It is a good plan.
I plan to give a short recap of each day’s sessions and in future posts discuss each of the talks I attended, so that it can be delivered in blog-sized bites.
I missed most of Crouch’s talk because I was helping with registration, but it seemed pretty good. Hastings’ talk was similar (only heard part of it), but we had a lovely discussion over dinner, and I respect and like him a lot. Heinze’s talk on science was a good evaluation of what science can and cannot do and why. Of the four position talks, I have to say that Fuz’s on the biological story of the earth from a progressive creationist perspective was the most solid and tightest. Meyer’s was pretty good, but I think Falk has it right that ID is a single issue camp that is really an umbrella for the others (including the Young Earth folks): Did God do it or not, regardless of the How. Ross as usual had the slickest presentation, yet his reliance on overwhelming the audience with improbabilities makes it hard to truly evaluate the solidity of his assumptions, and some of his predictive tests seem to be God-of-the-Gaps things—‘we haven’t found evidence of X yet, so as long as we don’t, then it makes God a plausible argument.” How often do we find out that God can do things differently than we expect? Finally, Falk’s presentation was poorly done with difficult to read slides, which made it a little hard to evaluate how convincing his arguments really are, and he tried to cram too much into too little time. This last point was a bit endemic to all, and while it is an understandable problem, it might be better to give a more surfacy overview of the position in a few minutes and then thoroughly explore a single point or area to demonstrate the power of that position on that topic as an example of the overall quality of the argument.
I will come back and address each talk more fully after the conference is over. Note: I have advertised this blog to most of the speakers, so I say these things knowing they may well read them at my open invitation. My spirit in these posts is constructive praise and criticism both, and would express these sentiments to them directly were we to sit down together to discuss them, so I invite dialogue. It is in the best interests of all of us for all of the positions to express themselves at their very best for good scholarship and constructive dialogue between them and with the secular scientific community. They are brothers and sisters in Christ, and qualified scholars in their own right. I also think I may do a post on effective PowerPoint presentations!