This blog continues a new series entitled “Evolution and Christian Faith Around the World”. During this series, we will be traveling around the globe, hearing from Christians about how evolutionary science intersects with Christian faith in their cultural context.
As an evangelical Christian Arab living in Israel, I am part of a minority within a minority within a minority. Today Arabs make up about 20 percent of the population of Israel (not including the Palestinian areas). Christian Arabs are only 2 percent. And the Evangelicals among all the Christians are a very low percentage. Add on the existing tensions between Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Israel, and it’s easy to see how challenging it is to be an Evangelical Christian in Nazareth.
Back in the 80’s, Sunday schools in Nazareth (as far as I know) had only one interpretation for Genesis—young earth creationism. This is what I grew up on, thinking that it is the whole truth. I joined an evangelical church in my teenage years and I was “reborn”, ready to share my faith and defend the Bible, without knowing that there were other views on Genesis and science.
As I went to college to study information systems engineering, I started learning about evolution from friends and classmates. We did not study evolution in school (thank God they teach it now), and I was always under the impression that evolution is a threat to the Bible, so instinctively, I argued against it all the time. Evolution was, and still is, associated with atheism and secularism, especially in our churches.
I got interested in apologetics more and more. I watched a lot of debates and read arguments and articles about science and faith from people like William Lane Craig, John Lennox, and others. I came to realize that there are views on Genesis and science in the Christian community other than mine. But for me, the real shock came when I watched Francis Collins debating Richard Dawkins. Collins defended his Christian faith, while at the same time accepting evolution! This was a great surprise. In the beginning, I did not accept his views, because for me accepting evolution was very close to heresy!
I searched the internet to see what Francis Collins really believed. Was he really a Christian? I found some lectures, books, and even saw him singing on YouTube. I started to understand that Francis Collins was no heretic. I could see that his Christian faith was as clear as the sun. I got introduced to the BioLogos website from one of his lectures and as soon as I started reading more, my views began to evolve.
After years of following BioLogos on Facebook and reading articles from other sources, I look at the first chapters of Genesis differently today. I doubt Moses wrote it to teach us astronomy or biology. The people of Israel at that time worshiped idols in Egypt for years. They worshiped the moon and the sun, rivers and animals, fire and rocks. It seems to me Moses was trying to tell them things far more important. Such as:
- All these “gods” are created
- Worship God—the one true creator
- Man has a unique value
Evolution does not contradict any of those points, and that is why I came to believe that it does not contradict the Bible. On the contrary, evolution might even help us better understand the God we find in the Bible—A God who seems to prefer to do things slowly. In fact, I believe God has revealed himself to us, not just through his Word, but also through his work. All creation is the doings of his hands, no matter how he did it. When I look at a painting, I can connect somehow with the painter, and the same goes with the universe and God.
Although my beliefs continue to evolve, I still have some doubts about evolution as a comprehensive theory about the development of life, both on a philosophical and scientific level. There are scientists I respect who have raised questions about the science which seem legitimate to me. However, I am not a scientist myself, so I prefer to give science the final word here, and I will not delay its advancement. Rather, I will work to advance the kingdom of God in my own life and work, studying the evidence for God`s existence and preaching it.
Nowadays, I write on an Arabic website called Thabet (meaning steadfast) about apologetics, science and faith, spiritual growth, and my criticism of atheism. I also give lectures in youth meetings, Bible studies, student groups, and Sunday schools, trying to get the people to have reasonable faith in God and not to blindly fight evolution as I used to. Moreover, whenever an atheist uses evolution as an argument to support his/her atheistic position, I respond: “Have you visited www.biologos.org?” and continue talking about the evidence for God’s existence.