GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 285-9
Presentation Time: 10:40 AM


RUNYON, Kirby D., Earth and Planetary Science Dept, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218,

Creationists are often unconvinced of scientific claims due to perceived conflicts with the Bible. The consequent scientific illiteracy is detrimental to society. My experience shows the effectiveness of using Biblical evidence followed by scientific evidence to persuade Creationists regarding scientific claims. My approach is non-threatening and does not compromise Christianity, yet illustrates the need for more geoscience educators to become Biblically literate. On two occasions I have taught an adult Sunday school class at my church on scientific literacy. Starting with biblically-based arguments builds trust with those skeptical of scientific claims: I demonstrate that a Young Earth Creationism reading of Genesis 1 puts the Bible in contradiction with itself unless Genesis 1 is interpreted with a non-literalistic meaning. I then deconstruct the schema that the Bible gives any timescale for the development of natural systems. I also establish the idea that science is not a tool that can disprove or even prove the existence of God, and I therefore take away the “sting” of biological evolution and Big Bang cosmology. I promote the theological idea that studying the natural world through science is actually something the Bible compels believers to do, for the glory of God. Thus I open the mind of the skeptical Creationist to be accepting of science. After my audience has given themselves Biblical and psychological “permission” to accept scientific findings about Nature, I then lay out both what we know and how we know it, building up an understanding of the scientific method.

Anecdotally, my church’s reception has been enthusiastic and welcoming. Even ardent Young Earth Creationists are open to considering this perspective even if they’re not completely convinced. Many tell me they pass these ideas to family and friends. My presentation is summarized in the table.

1. Establish a theologically- & scientifically- faithful way of reading origins accounts in the Bible

2. Use the Bible to create a “theology of science” to motivate scientific inquiry into Nature

3. Show the evidences for Gyr-long geologic & biologic processes & evidences for Big Bang Cosmology

4. Show biomolecular evidences of genetic mutation, from which natural selection selects

Biblical literacy is a powerful tool for geoscience educators