Evolving Certainties; book and website

I didn’t realize that my FB acquaintance Terry Defoe has his own book.

From the Amazon descriptions:

Should science influence theology? Is the Bible a book of science as well as spiritual truths? Few topics are more controversial among certain people of faith than the theory of evolution. Evolving Certainties reviews major scientific discoveries since the scientific revolution - discoveries that have a direct impact on traditional interpretation of the Bible’s creation accounts. Nicolaus Copernicus set off alarm bells in the sixteenth century with his radical proposal that the earth orbits the sun. The publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859 did the same in the nineteenth. Evolving Certainties brings together the abundant evidence that God used evolutionary processes to accomplish his ongoing creative activity.


My experience as a retired pastor in a young-earth creationist denomination (Lutheran Church - Canada, sister synod to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod) is that there are a variety of views on the science / faith topic and that the laypeople are significantly more willing to engage in dialogue that are their pastors.


The higher up the food chain you go, the less likely it is that individuals will be willing to engage in dialogue over this critical relationship of science and faith. There are exceptions, however. It’s ironic that the more controversial ( and thus important to discuss openly and respectfully) the topic, the less likely it is to be discussed at a conference or similar venue,


Welcome @Terry
I see you found your way here just fine.

My first marriage brought me into the LCMS, and at that time I had no idea there were people who try to interpret the Bible literally.

I looked for a long time (~2005~2016) before I found any organized pro-science Christian groups online, and many of those are affiliated with Biologos. I know there must be YEC would are more willing to discuss faith and science in a reasonable, but as far as I can tell very few are engaging online.


Welcome, @pastorterry! Thanks for participating by sharing your experiences.

I used to speak at Lutheran Church Missouri Synod conferences. The only one I can remember by name so many years later was something like the The National Association of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Greek and Hebrew Professors. (They had a difficult time fitting it neatly on T-shirts and even the banner hung across Main Street in the host city.)

The conference I recall was held at the old St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran College campus in Winfield, KS, probably around 1985. I remember my “host” [the professor who arranged my visit; I think I might have stayed in his home] saying that the campus was in a major crisis because they discovered asbestos throughout the large dormitory building on the campus—and the government just weeks before had evicted everyone for safety and put yellow tags on all of the doors. Sure enough, I see that Wikipedia says that the school operated from 1893 to 1986 when they sold the campus to the City of Winfield.

Yes, the ol’ guy is reminiscing again . . . and nodding off in his rocking chaaaaiiiiirrrrr… … …
ZZzzzzzz …
zzzzzzz …
zzzz …




I would love to see Missouri Synod conferences focus on science / faith issues more often and not in the context of debate, but dialogue, with irenics as a guiding philosophy rather than polemics.


I’m wondering if anyone is part of (or knows of) a denomination that changed its official position on biological science from young earth creationism to evolutionary creation. I’m interested in the process – the series of steps it may have gone through and the length of time involved.


As far as I know, no denomination had any official position on biology or science before someone got the idea that evolution made a good stalking horse to blame their troubles on.

I’m of the opinion that many YEC’s reject evolutionary science not because of the evidence per se but because of the very real possibility of disapproval from others in their social circle [or, in the case of clergy in certain denominations, the very real expectation of a rapid and unexpected career change!]. I would think that many never actually get to the evidence. Not rocking the boat may be the best choice socially, but not scientifically.


Oh absolutely! You may be familiar with Joel Anderson on FB, who lost his job for being reasonable.

That exact fear kept me from going public for a very long time. The publication of my book and my story being told brought several other pastors in my denomination out of the closet, so to speak. Stifling discussion doesn’t make the issue go away.


I have struggled with the issue of God’s involvement in the evolutionary process for a good while. Orthogenesis seems like it might be a viable option. I’m interested in what would be considered the pros and cons of this perspective.

From what see on wiki, Orthogenesis is no longer considered to be scientifically viable. That doesn’t rule out having a philosophical view of that sort of evolutionary progression.

I sat in on Katharine Hayhoe’s presentation (April 9th) to the Affiliation of Christian Biologists on the topic of global warming. This was one of the best presentations I have heard for a very long time. Her talk was thorough, relevant and engaging. Katharine mentioned that when we answer a person’s objections to an aspect of science with more science, we miss the point of those objections, which, in the context of global warming, is to put off doing anything. Answer one objection and another immediately pops up. She quoted a philosopher who said that human beings are more likely to respond positively to scientific information that adds something positive to their life rather than having something taken away. Our task is to reframe the message so as to induce hope rather than dread.


That viewpoint makes a lot of sense, but does raise the dilemma, for the average scientist at least, that the ‘right’/“reframed” answer would seem likely to be more of a political or entrepreneural answer than a purely (or even mostly) scientific one. This would seem to force the scientist to ‘pass the buck’.

Katharine Hayhoe says: “Caring about God’s creation, the people and other living things that are already being affected by climate change today, is a genuine expression of our faith.” And I would add it is certainly an aspect of good stewardship. Having dominion over the earth really means being a good steward or manager.

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Putting a positive frame on the picture, so to speak, helps individuals trust the scientific message. I suppose like an entrance ramp to a freeway. It gets you up to speed, and then you can carry on. Once the trust is there, the science makes more sense to the listener.

One of the best responses, which I think I picked up from author David Brin’s blog, is that things we need to do in order to reduce carbon emissions are things we ought to be doing anyway to reduce dependence on foreign energy suppliers. There is also the environmental aspect (aside from climate) which has a lot of positive aspects,

This is the link to information on the Katharine Hayhoe presentation to the Affiliation of Christian Biologists on Tuesday, April 9th, 2024. Christians, Climate, and Our Culture Around the World – Katharine Hayhoe

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On March 5th of this year I attended a video seminar hosted by the Affiliation of Christian Biologists featuring Francis Collins. During the Q & A I asked Dr. Collins the following question – “… what would you say is the most important insight gained by having to deal with the science denial that emerged as a result of the recent pandemic?” If you were asked this question what insight could you share? Check 1:21:00 on this YouTube video.