Dordt biology professor Jeff Ploegstra participated in a discussion on Iowa Public Radio. The discussion centered around faith and science. During the discussion, Ploegstra talked about how he approaches evolution in his classroom.
“I think we try to do a pretty good job of setting students up to take a critical view of everything. Part of what we talk about is the idea that regardless of what you think about the relationship between scripture and evolution, if you don’t understand evolution, if you don’t actually understand what it’s saying or what the evidences are or any of that, you really can’t even object to it,” he said.
Ploegstra called evolutionary language a “critical part” of the field of biology. He added that he “also (finds) it to be personally a very beautiful paradigm for describing the relationship among living things — it makes good predictions, it has all the characteristics of really good science… At the end of the day, it’s up to you… how you reconcile your faith beliefs with this description of reality — of the physical reality of biological life. But it’s my duty… to make sure that you understand what exactly it is you’re talking about.”
As the discussion turned against a literal interpretation of scripture, Ploegstra continued.
“The idea of what it means for something to be true becomes very, very narrow too. That in fact, fundamentalists are actually operating out of a very Western, modern worldview… Maybe they don’t even realize it, but they’re expecting the Bible to be relating that kind of truth. That when they see a number, it’s representing a quantity… when, in fact, most Christians would actually say that the purpose of the Bible is actually this grand narrative of the nature of reality in a much different way. It’s about the telos of reality, the purpose, the meaning, the direction in which reality is headed. I know many Christians who think that the Bible can be very true, even the Genesis 1 and 2 account can be very, very true, without necessarily being a materialistic, mechanistic description of reality.”
Throughout the dialogue, religion was heavily criticized. One caller pondered what kind of world it will be if kids continue to be taught in Creationism. Another said fundamentalists are just like the Taliban and Boko Haram. Another guest added that fundamentalists believe everything in the Bible is factual, “and that just is not true,” he said.
All of those assertions went unchallenged by Ploegstra, a Christian college professor.
But Ploegstra did note behavior that appalls him during the interview.
“When I hear people objecting to climate change, which is far less frequent than… objections to evolutionary theory in general… they’re not theological reasons — they’re political reasons,” Ploegstra said.
“Most people don’t actually know anything about it (climate change), and that’s quite refreshing actually. It makes it pretty easy to get them on the train sort of speak.”
“The disrespect that some people have for… all the work and all of the data and everything that’s gone into the construction of and development of these ideas is just… sort of appalling to me actually.”
There was one person who stood up for the Bible, a caller.
“If you can discredit the Bible… if you can prove that evolution is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, which is what science is supposed to be… consensus is not science,” he said. “If evolution is true, then you’re basically labeling Christ as a fraud because He sanctioned the idea of Creationism.”
See full interview here: