QUICK HIT: One of the best small group overviews of the scientific evidence for a Creator, The Case for a Creator manages to cover every major area of contention between creationism and evolutionism in a small period of time. It’s not an exhaustive conversation (be prepared for a discussion of young earth vs. old earth), but for my youth group, it was quite the conversation starter.
In my estimation, Creation vs. Evolution is probably the primary question that I get from young people. For most, this is the first time they have one set of authority figures (schoolteachers) telling them something that another set of authority figures (church leaders, parents, pastors) probably disagree with. Adults don’t have this problem because, unless you work in the sciences, you don’t encounter it on a daily basis. Our kids do, and they have questions. The Case for a Creator does an excellent job of answering those questions.
The small-group series is divided into six sections, each about 17-20 minutes long and divided into three sections. Like its companion studies—The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith—The Case for a Creator begins with a teaching segment that’s about 10 minutes long and followed with group discussion.
I really love the way the series creators decided to break up the video teaching into segments. I’ve often found that ten minutes is about the limit before attention spans end, cell phones begin to light up, or eyes begin to close. Like any real teaching environment, there needs to be something to break up the passive viewing of video with some sort of active discussion. It’s a model I hope other small group series creators begin to emulate.
The study guide gives about five or six questions for reflection, along with about five other “optional” discussion questions. With my group, I took to picking the questions that I felt were most needed and wrote a few of my own and created my own handout. I’d also let the kids ask questions and give their opinions. Often we’d run anywhere from 15-45 minutes of discussion before heading into part two of the video.
The second teaching segment is usually a bit shorter, building on the concepts discussed in the first segment. Again, the study guide contains some suggested questions that, in my experience, always invited conversation. The final video segment is a short wrap-up video with Lee that summarizes the lesson and looks forward to the next.
The six lessons are as follows:
- Science and God
- Doubts about Darwinism
- The Evidence of Cosmology
- The Fine-Tuning of the Universe
- The Evidence of Biochemistry
- DNA and the Origin of Life
My only real criticism of the series is that I think it could have been more expansive. Strobel’s The Case for a Creator book has about twice the topics covered here, and while my guess is that they wanted it to fit into a six-week model, I would have been happy to have seen this one go 10-12 weeks.
I also wish they had spent a session discussing—or at least acknowledged—the fact that The Case for a Creator comes with an acceptance of an Old-Earth view. The majority, if not all, of the scientists in the series agree with this view, contrasting starkly with the Young-Earth view taught by most evangelical churches. My youth group actually spent about three weeks after The Case for a Creator discussing creation from a biblical standpoint and weighing the pros and con of Young-Earth and Old-Earth theology. In fact, one of the first questions I got was “They seem to be teaching the earth is billions of years old. I thought that was what evolutionists believed.” Strobel and his team would have done well to clarify their position here. I understand their desire to stay out of this rather contentious “in-house” debate, but not talking about left a rather large elephant in the room.
The positives are really too many to list. This was an incredibly productive study. My youth group originally went through it almost a year ago and they’re still referencing it today. It’s a six week series, but with the added theological discussion of young-earth/old-earth and some lessons that took two weeks to cover because of lengthy discussion time, we ended up expanding it to twelve.
I think that just goes to show what a vastly needed resource this is and what a great job it does of promoting discussion. Just remember that no matter how great a resource it is, it is not a substitute for great teaching and great leadership. Let Strobel and the DVD series be a jumping off point for the questions and thoughts that your youth group (or adult small group!) has.