We bring you another testimony this morning, this one submitted by a reader who wished to be identified by his first name only. Elements of his journey wrestling with matters of science and faith will no doubt resonate with many of you, as it does with me. I especially appreciated his honesty and self-reflection, the sudden revelation that caused him to finally reject the young-earth creationist doctrine in which he had been raised, and which he had once zealously defended. All links and emphases mine.
I feel introductions are in order here.
My name is Jacob, I am a follower of Christ (of the Southern Baptist variety) and a student of scripture. My story actually begins with a bit of my salvation testimony. I was raised in a Christian home, although I had quite a loose understanding of what being a Christian actually entailed. I came to Christ after a friend wrote an article on the “Good News of Easter” in April 2010, acknowledging that being a Christian meant much more than simply believing in God and doing good things.
I say this because it plays critically into my transition (evolution humor) to an evolutionary understanding of nature. I was raised as a Baptist and was taught that evolution was something completely untrue. Although I agreed with my parents at the time, I really didn’t consider the subject in detail until mid-2011, when I started really trying to grow in my faith. As I began to do research and listened to sermons online, I came across a video of a Catholic priest arguing about how science should be challenged from a Genesis perspective. He went on to say that his argument was not one of “science vs. religion,” but of “religion vs. religion.”
“Evolution is a pagan religion,” he stated, and as I listened to his views of science and the age of the earth, I became at that moment a convinced young-earther. I, thus, began to accept the scientific arguments from my young-earth peers as fact, and often felt no need to actually test what they said. I later learned that this was not only unscientific, but unbiblical as well.
I had gotten into many disagreements with a few evolutionists. They were good people in my mind, don’t get me wrong, but I saw them as ignorant of the truth. As such, I felt it my duty to stand against this “pagan” idea of human origins, full of “immoral implications,” and supply them with what I thought was true scientific data.
However, my journey to where I am now wasn’t initiated because of convincing answers from the evolutionist crowd, but rather, because of the unconvincing and confusing answers from the young-earth crowd. You see, I began developing a dangerous thing called “curiosity,” and I began to do that dreaded and annoying thing creationists hate: Ask questions.
I asked a friend once: Why weren’t the dinosaurs on the ark? The answer I received was that there were dinosaurs on the ark, but they died out shortly after exiting it, because the amount of oxygen in the air was not enough to sustain them. This led me to think, “Why did God save them at all if they were just going to die out so soon anyway?” And how did they know the oxygen level changed, and why would it have? These were only questions referring to dinosaurs alone; there was a host of others on the biogeographical dispersion of animals, why certain marine animals went extinct in the supposed flood but other marine animals did not, and so on and so forth…
As I began to grow in my curiosity, I noticed that my church had attitudes towards science that seemed unreasonable. A deacon at my church once said, “They can tell me all they want that the earth is old, or tell me about carbon dating. I have the book of Genesis, which tells me both are wrong.” It struck me as odd, as these dating methods we called “unreliable” were the same methods that allowed us to find out the age of all the biblical manuscripts we have found, and I saw no complaint made against them.
The biggest questions, though, were the moral implications of the doctrine. I began to think, why would God allow interfamilial marriage but then say it was wrong later in the Bible? If it simply had to do with genes, then would it be moral if such unions were practiced in such a way that there was no threat to the genes (such as if the participants were sterile)? This problem, along with the previous issues, made me realize that my accusations of evolutionary thought having immoral implications carried much less weight.
Finally, I asked myself a very difficult question: “If they absolutely proved to you that evolution was true, and that the world was old, what would this do to your faith?”
As I thought about this, I realized that I had made the book of Genesis into an idol. I forgot who it was that truly made my faith matter. I was in the wrong because my faith was in the wrong thing, and it’s what we all put our faith in when we let our pride get in the way: On ourselves.
Our faith should be rooted in one thing, and a line from one of my favorite hymn says it most eloquently:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
I began to reason that God created the world however he wanted, and me putting him into a box of how he could or couldn’t have went about it actually degraded and dishonored him. I was humbled, as God showed me I still had much to learn about his Word and his world.
With this knowledge in mind, the rest became relatively easy: I rapidly transitioned (think Cambrian explosion-quick) into progressive creationism, to a hybrid of progressive and evolution, and finally, into theistic evolution.
I’m still working out the kinks, and I will not lie and say that finding the scriptural answers to the new questions that have arose will be easy, but that’s OK. I have also been humbled enough to know that being truly biblical means I shouldn’t be looking for answers that are easy anyway: It means I should look for the answers that are there.
Or in the words of the late Stephen Jay Gould: “But what is wrong with messy richness, so long as we can construct and equally rich texture of satisfying explanation?”
Have you also struggled with the conflict between science and faith presented by many prominent individuals and groups, some believers, some not? Have you, like this author, eventually found peace in the matter or have experiences with the church in this realm pushed you away from faith? In any case, we would love to hear and share your story. Please contact Tyler or see here for details.