From fighting the ‘evilutionists’ to teaching the truth

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Editor’s note: Though stories of those who have been rejected from their churches due to their acceptance of evolution are indeed familiar to us, today’s testimony has a decidedly different ending.

In 1995, I had already been a Christian for 13 years. Evolution was something I had not thought about. I had read some creationism booklets, which I naively thought were telling me the truth. As a result, I simply dismissed evolution as secular bias. I really never ran into anyone promoting it.

Two incidents coincided to make me pay attention to it. One, unusual circumstances had me at a job for six months with 20 hours or more per week of free time at my desk. I discovered CompuServe, and I debated religiously (excuse the pun) in the religion forum.

I considered myself to reign in the religion forum, and my posts were well read. Then some evolutionists dared to enter my domain. I knew I had to engage and overthrow them.

At the same time, a friend introduced me to some Christian programs on evolution that aired every Saturday morning for an hour. I watched them for three weeks, and I assumed (again, naively) that I was equipped to handle the “evilutionists” who had invaded my forum.

To keep a long story short, it took the evolutionists about two months to reveal the misinformation I had been given and to present enough real evidence to convince me they were correct. Fortunately, I had been an avid student of the second and third-century Christians for about five years, so the idea of evolution didn’t really affect my view of the Bible. My view of the Hebrew Scriptures was already quite figurative.

It did, however, affect the people around me. Even after I was “converted” — which involved not just the arguments on CompuServe, but reading eight books, four pro and four con, that I had checked out from the library — I spent two weeks having trouble sleeping. I was terrified! What would I tell my wife? What would I tell my best friend?

Both of them used to love to read my posts on CompuServe and celebrate my theological triumphs. For about three weeks, I printed my anti-evolution posts for them as well, but I stopped doing that when I started asking questions.

I didn’t have to worry about my church. We were new to the area, and we were used to home churches, but we couldn’t find one. We were attending a Presbyterian church, and I was confident no one there would ever bring up the subject.

After two weeks, I got up the courage to tell my wife, who was as horrified as I was afraid she’d be. We had been married for seven years, though, and she trusted my diligence and honesty in research. I have a wonderful wife, and within a year or so, she was completely with me.

Eventually my best friend cut me off, citing evolution as the reason, though I suspect it had a lot more to do with the church I was about to join.

A few months later, I was delighted to find a group of Christians both zealous for God and inclined to finding land we could live on together. Not long after joining, I was asked to help teach history to some of the home-schooled children.

Terrified all over again about what would come out, I went to the elders to tell them that I believed in evolution, but I was willing to never bring that up. I might not be able to avoid it, however, if they asked me to help home schoolers with history.

Surprisingly, they laughed. They told me to teach the history class and not worry about it.

About a year later, I showed up at a men’s meeting, with all the men of the church present (about 30), and told them it was time to talk about evolution. Eventually it will come up, I told them, and we do not end up with egg on our face like the Catholic Church in facing Galileo.

Again, I was surprised to find that all except perhaps three or four men understood what I was saying and agreed with me. In the more than 15 years since, one of those men left the church, and two more have given in. New members have had to come in knowing the vast majority of the church believes in evolution. It has turned a number away. But it is not a required belief, nor is it even much discussed, unless someone new comes who is horrified by the idea.

This story comes to GOE via Paul Pavao, a teacher, author, small-business owner and moderator of several websites, including ones on Christian history and evolution.

Readers, do you have a story like this author’s? If so, and you don’t mind sharing, email it to Tyler Francke for consideration on GOE’s Testimonies page. The American church needs to hear from you.