INTRO BY KATHRYN: How I Changed My Mind About Evolution is a collection of 25 personal stories about working through implications of science and faith. Richard Mouw is now retired from a long career in Christian higher education as a professor and administrator. In this excerpt from his chapter, he makes a plea for “safe spaces” where we can work together toward greater understanding.
Between ages fourteen and sixteen I worked summers at a fundamentalist Bible camp, where there was an older student who was already studying at Wheaton College. He discovered a book by Bernard Ramm called A Christian View of Science and the Scriptures published in 1954. Ramm was one of the great leaders of the post-World War II neoevangelical movement. In that book Ramm discussed, in a way that I had never heard anyone discuss before, the problems with believing in a universal flood… This friend of mine read the book the way other kids our age were reading Playboy. We kept it in a paper bag and sneaked off into the woods to read passages out loud to each other. This book and the experience forever formed my own understanding of these issues.
Much later, when I was a professor at Calvin College, I invited Bernard Ramm to the college to speak. We spent several hours together, and after telling him how much the book had influenced me, I asked him—since this book was very controversial, and there were many attacks and many people questioning whether he was a real Christian—”Do you ever regret writing that book?”
“Oh, no,” he said. I’ll never forget what he said next: “All the criticism I ever received was worth it, just to know that there would never be a student of mine who, after studying with me, went off to Harvard and lost his or her faith because I never allowed them to wrestle with the kinds of issues that I raised in that book.”
We face a younger generation that’s wrestling with these issues, and we need to wrestle with them ourselves. . . I still haven’t settled on a plausible answer to the historical Adam question, for instance. . . I’m struggling with it, but I need safe places in which to explore with other Christians who are also willing to explore.