On one fateful weekend in the summer of 2013, my husband, whom I viewed as a strong Christian from the day we met (over 12 years prior) told me that he seriously doubted whether he even believed in God anymore. He had doubts about three things in particular, which had started eating away at him for the previous 3 years:
- Compatibility of Christianity and science. This included doubts over miraculous events described in the Bible, supernatural beings/actions detailed in Scripture, and evidence for any existence after death. He also had a growing sense that science was close to completely disproving any divine intervention in the universe.
- Theological, logical, and ethical challenges with Scripture. This included unresolved tension between violent passages in the Old Testament versus the teachings of Jesus, and salvation questions for anyone outside the Jewish remnant prior to Christ.
- Historical credibility of the Bible. Did the events described in the Old Testament, particularly prior to Abraham, really happen? What really happened on Easter? As with science, he also had a growing sense that modern historians had disproved most of the significant biblical events.
I was both afraid and relieved because for so long I had lived with cognitive dissonance resulting from simultaneously accepting evolution and believing in a mix of old earth creationism and intelligent design. While never embracing a pure young-earth creationist viewpoint, my husband and I grew up learning about Adam and Eve as the historical founders of the human race, Noah building an ark to survive a global flood, and evolution being incompatible with Scripture. But we also both majored in chemical engineering in college, where classes in microbiology and molecular biology assumed biological evolution.
During this time I was taking my young boys to the zoo regularly and saw how many highly-trained professionals it took to keep the animals alive and healthy. I saw how precarious the aquatic ecosystems were. I saw the animals’ varied diets. Yet I disregarded this knowledge every time I heard children’s songs about Noah’s Ark. And then the doubts began surfacing. How on earth could anything survive in the violently brackish water that the flood produced? Where did Noah get all that specialized food? How did the kangaroos and polar bears and penguins get to the ark? What did the carnivores eat? How did eight people do all that work? I was sliding off the atheism ledge as surely as my husband was.
When my husband told me what he was going through, I begged him to contact two mutual friends who were strong Christians, one of which had a strong micro-biology background and the other was a philosophy professor. Both these men provided answers to some of my husband’s questions that made rethink the route he was headed on. During the next couple weeks we both started looking for helpful material to read. I came across The Language of God by Francis Collins while trying to find resources on the reconciling of faith and science. An evangelical Christian who also affirmed biological evolution? It felt like stumbling across a unicorn. That’s how rare this combination of beliefs seemed to us. In the book, Collins proposes to rename theistic evolution “Biologos” because “bios” is Greek for “life” and “logos” is Greek for “word”. From John 1:1, “word” has theological significance in its reference to Jesus. A quick internet search of “biologos” pointed to BioLogos.org and the great wealth of information on its site.
Through BioLogos my husband and I were exposed to authors such as N.T. Wright, Tim Keller, John Polkinghorne, Alvin Plantinga, Peter Enns, and John Walton, to name a few. We voraciously read their articles (and many others) on BioLogos and some of their books, which greatly strengthened our faith. John Walton’s book, “The Lost World of Genesis One” provides a reading of Genesis One that is scholarly, takes the Bible seriously, and helped reconcile a lot of my questions about faith and origins. Paul Seely wrote a three-part series on BioLogos called, “The Flood: Not Global, Barely Local, Mostly Theological” which helped answer many of my questions about the Flood account about what it meant and why it is in the Bible. My husband and I learned that we had been reading the Bible “literally” from a very modern, post-Enlightenment worldview rather than the ancient Near East worldview of both the authors and readers of Genesis. Here were godly, learned people who held different views than those with which we grew up on the topics of origins, Adam and Eve, Noah, and a host of other things. And that is okay. There is room at the table for disagreement over the non-essentials of the Christian faith. How freeing that is!
We learned that God is big enough for our doubts, our confusion, our concerns, and our questions. In reading through the BioLogos site, we discovered that the tension we felt between science and faith was being seriously addressed and we found resolution to so many of our doubts and concerns. We went from slowly disengaging with Christianity before finding BioLogos to actively seeking answers to the hard faith questions. Thank you to BioLogos for restoring our faith, our lives, and our Jesus.
Are you asking the same questions as Jen’s husband? Here are some starting places to begin your own exploration:
- Ard Louis on miracles and science
- Robert Bishop on science and the doctrine of Creation
- Richard Hess on apologetic issues in the Old Testament
- Our “Common Questions” page on how to understand the Flood story in light of modern science
- Jim Stump on belief in God in a world explained by science
- N.T. Wright on why scientifically-informed Christians can still believe in the Resurrection