Aaron Tabor

How Science Almost Ruined My Faith

I was sitting on the couch, staring into space, with no clue what was next. I had just graduated college and things were definitely not moving along as planned. Since I was six years old, my dream had been to go to medical school; but that dream was crushed when the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) didn’t go so well, and I was unable to recover from the disappointment. I was unemployed and as a result had moved back to my parents’ house, where I spent most of my days applying for random jobs and wishing things had turned out differently.

I graduated summa cum laude from a liberal arts college where I had begun to hone my skills as a scientist, confirming my passion for learning in biology, chemistry, and medicine. I had entered convinced that I would believe in young earth creationism until the day I died, and I had prepared for the “lies” that I would encounter in college, where professors would try to “brainwash” me with ideas of evolution and atheism. Instead, my limited views expanded, and surprisingly I didn’t feel as if anyone had even tried to brainwash me. I actually admired my professors because they presented solid research and data, and encouraged me to come to my own conclusions. After years of studies, there was just too much about evolution that made sense to me. But what about my faith? What about God? The Bible? Jesus? What about creation?

I had only ever sought to know truth and to have an understanding of the way things worked. But as a result, I felt as if my whole world had come crashing down. There was now a dichotomy that was present in my life that didn’t seem possible to merge. On one side, there was my faith, where I believed that God created the world, Jesus died and rose from the dead, and the Holy Spirit empowered me to serve him. On the other, there was the science that I had devoted my life to learning and seeking to understand; the biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, and physiology that had demonstrated realities I couldn’t escape. I now viewed evolution as the most likely explanation for how life developed, but this didn’t fit with my worldview. It couldn’t fit my worldview. I had to choose. It had to be one or the other. It was science…or it was God. How could I possibly make that choice? If I chose science, allowed my intellect to thrive, and continued the pursuit of understanding how things work, I was convinced that I would be condemning my soul and forsaking my faith. If I chose God, I would continue to grow in knowing his love for me and develop my relationship with him, but I would relinquish my passion for science—or would I? Could I even truly know God without accepting how he created me? If he was really my creator, then why create me with a desire to understand science? I spent my senior year of college leading a Christian ministry, all while not even sure I could believe that God existed anymore. I was distraught. I was tormented. I felt as if I was losing myself. The dichotomy existed and the scales were tipping heavily towards me believing in science without a creator.

I was raised in suburban Chicago, where my father worked for a chemical company and my mother functioned as a full-time stay-at-home mom and teacher for my four brothers and me. As part of a small non-denominational church, with many homeschool families, we were provided with opportunities for social engagement and group learning fairly similar to that of a small private school. We were raised with strong Christian values, attended weekly church and youth group activities, and had devotionals built into our daily schooling. I placed my faith in Jesus when I was five years old and committed to serve him with my life. When I was six, my grandfather died very suddenly of a major heart attack, and learning medicine became my passion. Over the years through high school, I explored all the science I could from the limited resources in our home, preparing myself for my future in medicine. I read every book we owned three to four times, until I had them memorized, and my parents and I performed science experiments and animal dissections on our kitchen table.

Sitting on the couch that summer after college, I had gone from a child filled with curiosity, wonder, and passion for learning, to someone lost, confused, and with no hope of a future. I finally decided it was time to crack open the gift that a lifelong friend had given me; he thought it might help with my struggle to understand how science and God could fit. The gift was a book titled The Language of God by Francis Collins. What first hit me were the similarities between us. He was homeschooled, graduated high school when he was 16, went off to college and pursued a career in science and medicine—there hadn’t been many with a similar path that I could relate and look up to. As I started to read, I felt as if he was someone who understood my struggle. He seemed to wrestle with the same loss of balance. What was more surprising was that after he mapped out the genetic code, he called it the “Language of God.” He had found a way to be a scientist and hold on to his faith—he was nothing short of my hero.

If Collins had found a way, then just maybe there was a chance for me. The statement Collins made that resounded deepest in me was, “I do not believe that the God who created all the universe, and who communes with His people through prayer and spiritual insight, would expect us to deny the obvious truths of the natural world that science has revealed to us, in order to prove our love for him” (p.210). A whirlwind of emotions started inside of me as a glimpse of hope shimmered. This was the answer I needed to hear. Collins also quoted Galileo, who said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use” (p.158). Two great men of science who had found a way—and all at once I had found them.

To say that all of my confusion dissipated immediately would be far too much of an exaggeration; however, the hope that I read in Collins’ words inspired me to seek a balance and keep going. The excitement of even the possibility that science and faith could co-exist invigorated me and over the next two years, I obtained a master’s degree in public health and retook the MCAT. My rekindled dream became a reality when I was accepted into Rush Medical College in Chicago. During my four years of medical school, I explored science at a depth I did not know existed and again began to marvel at the composition of the human body. I connected with other doctors and scientists who shared my faith in God and the desire for the understanding of the natural earth, and I continued working in ministry, leading worship in church. Thanks to Dr. Collins’ inspiration I found my niche in medicine and started a not-for-profit organization, called Make a Change International, which provides support and opportunities for healthcare professionals to do medical service work to underserved communities all over the world.

Sometimes the simplest of moments can alter the course of a life, and for me it was picking up a book and reading the words of scientist that would forever change me—and as a result, many more lives beyond that, all over the world. I will probably always struggle with finding a balance, but I have found that a theistic evolutionary approach has allowed me to unite my views the best, and I continue to utilize the information from BioLogos to further unite them. I thank God for revealing his language to Dr. Francis Collins, and I thank him for sharing it with me. To rephrase Collins, I now know that the God who created all the universe, and who communes with his people through prayer and spiritual insight, has offered us the chance to learn the obvious truths of the natural world that science has revealed to us, and through them has proven his love for us.