One Example of Engaging Parents of YECs

May I suggest one example to explore further?

If so, I want to point you to a talk I gave recently that was very recieved by YEC parents and children while I did not hold back about my own beleifs. I would ask you listen to the talk, and we discuss with some questions that might highlight why this strategy worked here and elsewhere.

It there is not interest. That is okay too :).

That would be great. I would love to listen to it and discuss it with you.

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The talk I am pointing you was this Fall, when I was the main speaker for FaithAscent, an apologetics ministry. About half their constituency is YEC, about one third is home schooled, and most the rest are ID and OEC. At the time I gave this, DI was publishing (largely friendly) critiques of my work. Several people in their constituency were unsettled.

Still, @JSmith asked me to give the main fundraising talk. Many of them had heard about me from their children. (I am a speaker at their summer boot camp). Jeremy wrote this phenomenal invitation to the banquet: Jeremy Smith: I Disagree with Dr. Swamidass, which is worth reading before you watch the video.

The reason I’m pointing you to this is because this was a talk that entered into the controversy with YEC parents, and it was received well by them. They raised quite a bit of money. As I understand it, there was not major complaints from people. The way @JSmith explained it: “It just seemed like everyone left feeling happy.” Something like a weight being lifted.

The Video (With Disclaimers)

A few disclaimers.

  1. I have a style that is not for everyone.
  2. This is a context (main speaker at a fundraiser) that is not for everyone.
  3. I have personal beliefs that are not agreed to by everyone.
  4. I am rhetoric that is not for everyone.
  5. I certainly have room to improve, and this is not even the best example of my work.

With that, here is the video of the talk:

The Questions

  1. What were the fears of the parents that I addressed, and how did I do it?
  2. What sorts of common ground were established and how?
  3. How did I reframe their reasons for wanting to reject my personal views?
  4. What was the “better society” I described and pointed them to?
  5. What was the actions and risks I invited them into? (ignoring the fundraising appeal)

And then finally:

  1. What might work in your context?

Of course, this is not an exam, nor is it a test. I also am not normative “model” everyone should follow. Focus on the questions that are most helpful for you, and ignore the rest. Or give me your own take on this. I’m curious also what @jordan, @Troendle and @cwhenderson think about this, as they are in a similar situation.

That is a great talk, thanks for sharing it. A couple of your comments really stood out to me. First, I liked how you opened by explaining science as a way to study nature/God’s creation. I take my biology and chemistry classes through a brief history of the development of modern science, beginning in the late 1500s, and highlight the role Christians played, particularly those whose faith was the driving force in their motivation to study science. I also liked your point that scientists are just trying to explain what God has already demonstrated - and presumably knows. I once had a student ask me if I thought God understood quantum theory. Um, yeah. I’m pretty sure God knows about that.
Secondly, I really liked your point that God is greater than science and is not threatened by our questions. I have had students object to assignments that require them to learn about abiogenesis and evolutionary theory. Fortunately, my dean is supportive and in a very nice way tells them to get over it. Third, I like how you describe yourself as someone who believes in evolutionary theory, but is not an evolutionist because your worldview doesn’t rest on evolution. I think that’s an important distinction. And finally, I really like your views on disagreement. I try to facilitate a respectful free exchange of ideas in my classes and I am constantly reminding students that rejection of evolution is not a condition of salvation. Or, as I like to put it “Jesus didn’t ask the thief on the cross if he was a young earth creationist.”
As I may have mentioned, I am speaking at a conference for high school students next month and you’ve given me some good ideas. I speak at this conference every year. The first year the students had no idea what I was going to say and I was warned in advance that some of them had spent weeks preparing to “argue with the scientist.” They were pleasantly surprised to meet a real live scientist who was a Christian and was happy to answer their questions. Since then, word has gotten around and my session is always packed. I’m flattered, but it also increases the pressure and I really want to do a good job for these kids. You’ve given me some great ideas and I’ll continue to go through your blog for more. Oh, I checked out Faith Ascent. It looks like a terrific ministry and the kind of thing I want to be involved in. Thanks so much!

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A very good talk @swamidass .

  1. I think the fear I see most is that mainstream science will necessarily lead to rejection of the Bible as authoritative and Christianity in general.
  2. Certainly the most significant common ground would be the Gospel. I think also caring for the students.
  3. I think most people would see you as a unicorn, you’re not supposed to exist.
  4. To me it seemed like one of the things you described as a “better society” was one where questions are encouraged and true accounts of the world are valued.
  5. I think the biggest risks was that their children or grandchildren may not end up thinking they way that they do or share all the same beliefs. That a creative, independent, and thoughtful child is better than a mindless clone. They have to let go.
  6. I think much of what you did would work well in my context. I think one thing that is a little different is that those of us in Christian higher ed are often held to some sort of doctrinal standard (quite often in our contracts) and so we sometimes have to walk a pretty tight line between academic exploration of the world and upholding the “values” of the institution. We have to be true to our disciplines, which are constantly evolving and being made new, while also being accountable to hundreds of years of church tradition and doctrine. And of course we may not have any training for how to navigate that part.