Thursday, July 26, 2007
Forcing a Crisis of Faith on Youth
Why? The reason is that our young people, when they leave for college or work, aren't coming back. There are many reasons, but there are two that concern this blog. First of all, when they get to the outside world, they meet people who aren't Christians, and who think that Christianity is stupid. They then get told all of the problems with Christianity. That person is not likely to have heard any of these things before. This brings a few responses:
1) I've been lied to - they think that since their parents never brought this stuff up, and made Christianity sound like it was bullet proof and only stupid or bad people disagreed, that since they've found someone smart, ethical, and with significant doubts about Christianity, this means their parents and Church were lying to them. Depending on what was being taught and how, sometimes this is in fact true.
2) I don't know what to do about my faith - they then have a crisis of faith -- what if this Christianity stuff isn't true? Now, since they were sheltered from this while they were in church with their family, not only are they having a crisis of faith, they are having a crisis of faith with NO ONE around who can help them through!!!
3) I never want to be in that position again - this isn't quite as common, but it happens quite a bit. The person feels stupid and embarrassed and exposed, and they never want to suffer from that again. So they swing the other way. They'll NEVER let themselves be fooled again.
All this happens because they were over-insulated while at Church with their family. What we should be doing is exposing everyone to the strongest arguments against Christianity while they are still young, and force them into a crisis of faith while they are around people who care for them and want to help them work through it. Almost EVERYONE has a crisis of faith. The only question is, would you rather your child's crisis of faith happen when they have no help at all, or when the Church is there to help them through it.
The Church has to wake up and be honest with the difficulties of all its positions if it wants to remain relevant. While we should be "ready to give an answer" that is not the same as pretending to have answers when you don't. If we give our young people the room and freedom to doubt, and care for them and help them through that process rather than keeping them from that process, we will have a better, stronger church.
In Implications, Kerkut describes how he would 'drill' a student on the subject of evolution. At one point, he tells the student:
Well, now, if you really understand an argument you will be able to indicate to me not only the points in favour of the argument but also the most telling points against it
Along similar lines, Stahl states something like the following (I don't have the book at hand):
Too many books in this or that field spend most of their pages laying out the theories to the extent that they successfully explain natural phenomena. Though this is understandable, there is precious little time spent detailing the problems and difficulties of these theories. That's what this book is about - the paleontological problems and difficulties for the theory of evolution.
She goes on to say that not only should students be taught these aspects of [any] current theory, such problems will remind the student that there is much work to be done; things are not 'all wrapped-up'. This, in turn, will motivate students in that it shows them that there are still mysteries to solve.
Teaching them about such problems will also give them a 'set of targets' at which to aim their intellectual efforts.
Thus, a compendium of Difficulties in Creation Theory would serve many purposes:
1) To, as you put it, force upon them a 'crisis of faith' at the hands of friends and allies;
2) Cultivate a proper humility in the creation/evolution debate;
3) Promote a more fully-orbed understanding of Creation Theory (ala Kerkut);
4) Give our youth who choose to pursue science a sense of scope of the mysteries of God that still await resolution - a wonderful motivator;
5) A list of 'targets' at which our scientifically inclined youth can focus their intellectual energies.
Again, an excellent idea and post
That's why I'm glad that there is the publication of the new "Perspectives" book, though I have not had a chance to order/read it yet.
In this vein Reed & Oard edited the forthcoming book Rock Solid Answers: Responses to Popular Objections to Flood Geology (mentioned in the proceedings link you posted).
If memory serves, Oard has stated the inspiration for this book was Dembski's The Desgin Revolution: Answering the Tough Questions About Intelligent Design (one of my favorite books).
Though not exactly a compendium of Difficulties in Flood Geology, it's a step in that direction. Perhaps this will become a trend. Maybe an 'enclyopedia set' would be in order; a volume for each field as you proposed.