School Forum: Overview
Discussion of the relationship between faith and science can, it seems, easily lead to fear and hostility. Communities can end up avoiding the topic for fear of provoking conflict and division, letting unquestioned assumptions and fixed positions reduce the possibility of genuine engagement and learning. Some parents may place their children in faith-based schools in part to shield them from engaging with different perspectives on faith and science. The school’s ability to teach well in this area may be affected by the degree to which parents and the wider community are able to embrace virtuous dialogue and learning. The prospect of hostility and conflict may inhibit genuinely fruitful engagement with learning about faith and science.
What if disagreements could actually be received as gifts, as opportunities to grow together in faith and understanding? What if we were to imagine a new way of engaging with controversial questions that helped us love God and love each other more? What if we were to see the faith/science conversation as a formational project that builds community, expands our knowledge, and deepens our faith?
Teaching FASTly involves exploring faith and science connections within a commitment to one another’s good, as well as a concern for both truth and love. It includes considering how to honor and engage the school’s wider community.
This section of the TeachFASTly website offers some guidance on how to facilitate this kind of discussion within the school community, either through a single event, or through a series of small group discussions on faith and science. It draws on a model of interaction developed by The Colossian Forum for engaging church groups around contentious issues. It is also rooted in the experiences of teachers and administrators at Front Range Christian School (Littleton, Colorado), as they have experimented with leading challenging discussions with, and for, their community.
What is offered here is not a tight template, but an invitation to reflect thoughtfully on the needs and possibilities of your specific context, and to adapt the guidance that follows to that context.