Excerpt from Youth & Science White Paper (475 downloads)
These days, doubt is not anathema in American youth ministry. As evidence of this, even the conservative youth ministers testified to the fact that they want their ministries to be safe places for students to express and wrestle with their doubts. In this way, there was overlap between the conservatives and the other two groups.
But in the course of the focus group discussions, it also became clear that differences exist. First, belief in God is a given. This is not a tenet of faith to be doubted:
How does God do that, whether it’s miracles and stuff, I don’t have a clue. If I could figure that out, I wouldn’t need God and as I teach the Bible, that’s one of those I want to find the answers to. But there’re certain things I don’t get, I don’t understand, and I want students to know. And, you know, for me it drives me back to God.
And second, the Bible is the foundation for every aspect of faith and ministry. In a discussion with science—or any other non-theological mode of discourse—the Bible gets the first and last words.
What that means practically is that a dialogue with science will only be entertained as long as science corroborates theism and the biblical witness. But when it doesn’t, then science is jettisoned in favor of God and the Bible. As one youth worker told us, “When [science’s] content supports something that scripture’s said forever, then it’s a bonus.”
In this way, science is sometimes used as a tool of apologetics. But more often, the stance is one of hostility. These youth workers are suspicious of or even outright antagonistic toward American culture writ large, and science is very much a part of that. One conservative youth minister mentioned the lack of transitional fossils as evidence of science’s weaknesses in the face of biblical truth, and another said that miracles are the “moment of impasse” between faith and science.
As one might suspect, the conservative youth ministers were the most suspicious of science. However, they were not totally foreclosed to the idea that science and faith can be in dialogue and can even enhance one another.