I grew up in a church where science and faith issues were not discussed very often. However, I do remember the church bringing in a young earth creationist “scientist” to speak to the congregation. I remember absorbing every word, and accepting this person as a professional who could be trusted. I have no doubt that this man meant well, and was just trying to navigate and understand the Bible like the rest of us.
All the way through my college years, I managed to avoid thinking seriously about how science and the Bible fit together. It wasn’t until I was a 25 year old young professional that I had the spiritual crisis that probably should have occurred in my anthropology 101 class. In hindsight, I am embarrassed at how little intellectual thought I put into my faith and reading the Bible up to this point.
My crisis happened during a binge-watching session of the CBS show The Big Bang Theory. The opening theme of the show presents the history of the cosmos in a series of rapid-fire images, including the evolution of life from single-celled organisms to human beings. Sheldon, one of the show’s main characters, has a conservative Christian mother who rejects evolution. In one episode, Shelden moves back into his mother’s home. He quickly leaves after she tells him evolution is just his “opinion” and not fact. I realized that I completely identified with Sheldon’s mom. How could Christianity and evolution be compatible? Wasn’t evolution a process that completely left God out?
I began to ask questions which I had conveniently neglected up to this point. They started out simple. How did we repopulate so quickly after the Flood? Where did Cain get his wife? How did all the animals fit in the ark? Of course, I knew the Sunday school answers (they were of the “Cain married his sister” variety). Soon the questions got a little bit tougher. What does the image of God mean if evolution is true? Was death part of God’s original creation?
Slowly, I started exploring what it would mean if evolution was true. The experimentation was not pretty. I read a lot of material on the ways that the theory of evolution destroys the trustworthiness and truth of the Bible and the existence of the Christian God. At the end of it I felt crushed and deserted, and my faith was in shambles. Nothing made sense anymore. In the end, I was questioning everything about my faith, God, and the world. Most of the well-meaning answers I got from those in whom I confided were “it doesn’t matter” or “don’t worry about it,” which I found deeply unsatisfying. I was at a point where I thought I needed to make a choice between reason and my faith.
Thankfully, through the help of BioLogos, and their many contributing authors, I learned evolution and faith can be compatible. I wish I could say that all of my questions are answered (they aren’t), but I have learned to be comfortable with a little bit of mystery. The most helpful aspect of BioLogos is that it is a community of believers dedicated to Jesus who are on this path together. It has been a great reminder that those who yell the loudest don’t always represent the majority or what is right.
Looking back over the last 3 years, my respect for Scripture and its intended purpose has grown. I realized I had been asking questions of Scripture that it wasn’t designed to answer, and learned to put the Bible within its ancient context. I hope that in the future we can teach our youth that reading the Bible as it was intended is not being unfaithful to God. I hope we eliminate the fear that considering evolution will jeopardize where you spend your afterlife, or compromise your faith. If anything, it might just open your eyes to the beautiful world God created, as it really is.