The fellowship breakfast was a fabulous couple hours of fellowship and discussion. I was pleased to meet a few significant names in academia and some great thinkers. We heard a speech from an outstanding professor of one of the nation's top chemical engineering departments (I'd like to check with him before putting his name in this blog, just in case) who discussed the problem of anti-intellectualism in the Church. He dealt constructively with four problems he sees in some areas of Christianity:
- Teaching that evolution is an evil atheistic myth.
- Teaching that stem cell research is inherently evil.
- Teaching that Christians should support one particular political party.
- Thinking that the Church should take a stand on global warming.
I also strongly agree with the critique of Christians putting faith in a single political party. People need to think critically about the issues and not simply assume that one party is going to be "God's party." From my perspective, one can debate about whether there has been a major apostasy in Christianity over the centuries, but when it comes to politics, there should be no room for doubt: both major parties have apostatized at least in some degree from the principles this nation was founded on -- so why trust them unthinkingly?
I was pleased to meet Robert Enick of the University of Pittsburgh, author of the book, Evolving in Eden. (I'm buying the book - it looks outstanding.) He made the salient point that every step of the Creation process does not need to be miraculous for God to be a good Creator. Using a system that includes natural evolutionary processes does not detract from His divinity and brilliance. This may be a key weakness of the philosophical approach in the Intelligent Design movement, implicitly linking God's skill as a Creator to items in nature that appear to be too complex to have originated naturally. When natural explanations can later be derived, it can be disappointing and challenge faith. Isn't it even more skillful and marvelous for God to have created a system where such complexity could arise with no or relatively few acts of subsequent intervention, rather than one that requires extensive intervention along the way? I really appreciate his perspectives.
I tend to think that intervention must have occurred in many matters and at many points, but who knows? Why get hung up in the details that are muddy to both theologians and scientists?
As for my personal belief in free food, it was sorely shaken in this meeting when a collection plate was passed around at the end. Since the breakfast was not sponsored by AIChE and was done with pricey hotel catering, the suggested donation was $20. Yet I gladly ate that cost, and soon found my faith renewed when I was blessed shortly thereafter with an invitation to a free dinner. Sweet!
(San Francisco is an amazing place.)