Wayne Philmore

A Debate Changed My Mind

On January 24, 2020

Before You Read ...

Dear reader,

A new poll shows that for young adults in particular, belief in God is plummeting. From research, we know a primary driver behind a loss of faith among young people is the church’s rejection of science. To put it bluntly: Young people aren’t leaving the faith because of science, they’re leaving because they’ve been told to choose between science and God. That’s why BioLogos exists—to show that science and faith can work hand-in-hand. And although the challenge is clearly daunting, our work is having an impact!

As a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of grassroots donors like you to reach those who are being told, “It’s God or evolution!” or “It’s God or vaccines!” or “It’s God or science!” In this urgent moment, we need your help to continue to produce resources such as this.

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If somebody were to ask you, “Why do you believe what you believe?” What would your answer be? For me, in 2015 if you were to ask me what I believed, I would tell them that I believed in Jesus, the Bible, and that the Bible tells us the universe, the earth, and all that is in it is no older than 6,000 years old. If you were to ask me why I believed what I believed, honestly, I wouldn’t be able to exactly tell you. Don’t get me wrong, I had the typical young-earth creationism (YEC) responses in my arsenal of scientific arguments, but as for the underlying reason as to why I believed the Bible taught the universe was 6,000 years old, I couldn’t exactly tell you my reasons—because even I didn’t know. And I think for the majority of the church, it may be the same way.

Let’s start from the beginning. I became a Christian on October 30th, 2008. I grew up in a Christian household, but we didn’t have in-depth talks about Christianity. The understanding of Christianity in my household from my perspective were simple core Christian principles, but not much more information that overlapped that understanding. I did have questions about my faith. I had questions about the Bible, God, and then questions about creation. Questions that I think people of all backgrounds ask themselves and each other; how was the world made? What’s the purpose of the universe? Why is there even a universe at all?

silhouette of person shining flashlight in front of night sky

I always had a fond curiosity about the world as far as creation is concerned. That fondness followed me to adulthood, and I even became a high school science teacher.

The Debate

Prior to taking the teaching position, I spent a lot of time on internet forums debating and having conversations with people about belief in a young earth, the global Genesis flood, and how mainstream science was wrong about evolution. Then in 2015, I was introduced to a community of fact checkers. They called themselves The Great Debate Community (GDC) on the Google Plus platform. When I first entered into this community, I was a hot shot young-earth creationist. I thought I had all the answers, and the people in the community hadn’t met me, somebody who obviously knew more than anyone there (was I ever so wrong!).

I thought I knew some things. The GDC is a community filled with all kinds of people—different ethnicities, nationalities, and belief systems. It’s a place to argue ideas using logic and evidence, which is something I thought I had a lot of. The community was filled with scientists—from biologist to physicists—whom I had the great pleasure of talking to and debating with for hours and hours. I soon came to know people in this community as my friends, including one of my closest friends, Robert. Robert was a Christian and accepted evolution, something that I had never seen before. And I thank Robert for our many long talks and conversations. Without them, I may have a different set of beliefs about creation than I do now.

January 27, 2016 was a turning point in my life. That is the day I debated the creator of the GDC, Steve McRae. We debated on the topic of macroevolution. As you can already assume, I argued that macroevolution does not exist. At the end of the debate, I had another talk with Steve and other members of the GDC that would be the beginning of my journey from young earth to evolutionary creationism. It was revealed to me that what I thought I knew, wasn’t so. I was shown the definition of macroevolution from a science textbook side by side next to the definition of macroevolution from a young earth website. The definitions couldn’t be any further from one another.

Seeking Truth

It was that moment that started me on my journey out of young-earth creationism. For almost 4 or 5 weeks, I didn’t talk to any friends I made in the GDC. I dedicated all of my time to researching what science textbooks said about evolution, and comparing to what YEC literature said about evolution. I came to realize that this was not a matter of Biblical truth, but rather a matter of evidence and understanding. As I did more research, I began to understand evolution more and more.

I was always open to the possibility of evolution being true, but I hadn’t been taught correctly how evolution works. My understanding of evolution was flawed until I learned  how it actually worked, became familiar with a long list of transitional fossils (Tiktaalik, Pakicetus, etc.), genetic evidence (human chromosome 2, Vitellogenin, etc.), and mountains of evidence verifying that it was indeed true. No matter how far fetched the idea may have sounded, the evidence had spoken! As the saying from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle goes, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true.” It was this saying that I let guide my search for truth.

hands typing on a computer

I was down to the last dragon I had to slay: I wanted to figure out, why the church (or at least the young-earth crowd) believe what they believed about the Scriptures. Why did they believe that the earth was 6,000 years old? Where did this idea come from? After hours and hours of research, all roads kept leading back to links to Answers in Genesis, where they stated that the church has always believed the earth was 6,000 (or so) years old. I got in touch with a historian, and then I found out the truth. To my surprise, the church actually embraced evolution when it first came onto the scene!

After further research and finally finding this new information, it was then that I realized why I had believed in YEC. It wasn’t because I had solid reasons or scientific evidence. It was really because I had never been exposed to anything outside of my own worldview besides what I had been fed from prominent young-earth proponents and literature.

A few weeks after my debate with Steve, I changed my mind about evolution. I accepted evolution as fact. And yes, I still hold to my faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, I was kicked out of many of the YEC groups I was in on Facebook. I lost a lot of Christian friends who held to the young-earth position. And I still get criticized by young-earth advocates that I’m not a “true” Christian. But I think people need to remember that evolution doesn’t challenge the core values of our faith. No matter how old the universe is, no matter what mechanism was involved in giving rise to humans, we still believe in One God as creator and that Jesus Christ is Lord.

You don’t have to be afraid to change your mind about evolution. You don’t have to be afraid to be wrong. And you don’t have to choose between your faith and accepting scientific evidence. They work together. From somebody who has been there, who has never questioned the existence of God, but rather what mechanism God used to diversify life, you don’t have to be afraid of the unknown, but rather the unknown is something that Christians should proudly embrace! I’ll end things with this:, Never stop asking yourself, “Why do I believe what I believe?” and never stop trying to test your ideas. Who would have thought that thinking like a scientist is actually comparable to having the humility of the mind of Christ?

Wayne Philmore
About the Author

Wayne Philmore

Wayne Philmore is a former science teacher and former young-earth creationist. In 2016, Wayne changed views from the young-earth position to evolutionary creationism while maintaining a strong faith in Christ. Wayne is an active YouTuber, making videos about science, faith, and evolutionary creationism.