Young Adult Faith Leaders' Approach to the Evolution and Faith Dialogue

Bryson A. Menke, April Maskiewicz Cordero


Over the past two decades several studies have sought to understand the general public's views regarding the relationship between religious faith and mainstream science21, 18. While the findings of these studies vary slightly, there is an overwhelming consensus among the public that Christian doctrine and biological evolution are in conflict6, 9. Yet many scientists who are also Christians reject that a conflict exists2. In an effort to help college students reconcile mainstream science with their Christian faith, researchers at Point Loma Nazarene University are conducting studies to identify evidence-based best practices approaches for Christian universities. This current study aims to identify how members of the clergy and other faith based young adult leaders (YALs) (e.g. university resident directors/advisers) communicate with students about origins issues (e.g. diversity of life and human evolution). Specifically, we tried to identify the factors that influenced their perceptions as well as the resources they bring to bear as they communicate with young adults who are in the midst of reconciling their own understanding of both Christian doctrine and mainstream science. Findings reveal that while YALs appear to be open to compatibility within the evolution and faith dialogue they still hold some misalignments about and distrust in the work of evolutionary scientists that will likely continue to impeded dialogue and understanding. Our results suggest that there is an openness on the behalf of YALs to engage in future interdisciplinary educational opportunities (e.g. workshops) which could bridge the divide and begin to help these leaders understand that the two sides are actually closer than previously thought.


Faith leaders; Origins and Evolution; Young Adults

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