How Science Shook My Faith
Aspiring evolutionary biologist Connor Mooneyhan shares how he learned that he doesn't have to choose between science and Christianity and how this helped him to recover his faith in God.
I have always attended Christian schools. I went to preschool at a church in town and ever since then, I have been at the same Christian school. At this school, I was taught to affirm a young-earth creationist view. When my high school biology class covered the subject of evolution, we all did individual projects on different aspects of evolutionary theory. I researched sexual selection. As I was studying it, I realized that all of the mechanisms I was reading about made sense. But, I was determined that this only applied to microevolution, since I had been taught that the Bible said that the Earth was 6,000 years old and that the Bible is the ultimate authority.
After we had done our projects, we watched the infamous Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate. We were asked by our teacher to take notes on what both sides were saying, as it was important that we know the arguments on both sides. As we were watching it, if Nye would say something about the “fact of evolution” or any other such claim, my class would vocalize their disagreement harshly, yelling things like “you idiot!” I couldn’t stand it! Although at that point I still agreed with Ham’s point of view, I was slowly being driven away from it —not because I agreed with Nye, but because I felt bad for the verbal abuse his side was receiving. So, as I continued to listen to him speak, I realized that Nye’s ideas were not as crazy as they originally seemed to me. But I had to remind myself that no matter what anyone says, evolution and the Big Bang did not happen because God says so.
I decided to research the Big Bang a bit more, and I was overwhelmed by the strength of the evidence. The strongest piece of evidence, in my opinion, is the fact that the universe was predicted to have a certain level of radiation in the background if the Big Bang happened; the prediction was later affirmed by empirical findings. At this point, I was convinced that the Big Bang theory must be true. I felt like I had to choose between believing what God says in Genesis 1 and affirming the Big Bang. But I convinced myself that there had to be some happy medium between the two. They had to coincide. I knew I couldn’t deny the evidence that the Big Bang happened, but I also couldn’t deny what the Bible said. So, I looked on the internet and found a video that explained the harmony between the Big Bang and Genesis 1. I was so excited that the science could match up with Scripture! My girlfriend, however, did not reciprocate this excitement. She thought that I was losing my faith in God. She was right. Little did I know, my faith was getting weaker the more science I studied.
As tenth grade was about to start, our school decided to offer a course on philosophy. The teacher was to be none other than my girlfriend’s father. I knew that at some point we would address the controversy between science and faith, so I was very nervous that her dad would ask me what I believed about it, because he strongly denied the Big Bang theory. It turned out that very early in the year, the topic of origins came up, and I raised my hand. My girlfriend wasn’t too happy about this. When the teacher called on me, I voiced my opinion that maybe the verses in Genesis weren’t talking about 24 hour days. He asked me why I felt a reason to stray from what Scripture explicitly said, and I said that I was trying to understand the Bible in light of my belief in certain scientific theories. He then asked what those beliefs were, and I had no choice but to muster up all the strength inside of me and tell my conservative girlfriend’s father, “I believe in the Big Bang theory.” While he didn’t seem too stunned, this exchange made me realize that my faith was beginning to come apart at the seams.
During that time, I had begun to wonder about the theory of evolution again. I realized that if the Big Bang really happened, it wouldn’t make sense for God to create the universe over a long stretch of time and then just plop all the animals and humans on the Earth afterwards. But I began to realize the theological difficulties associated with evolution. Didn’t the Bible say that there was no death before Adam? Weren’t Adam and Eve the first humans? Aren’t humans made in the image of God? These questions plagued my mind. I was convinced that the Bible was incompatible with science and therefore that the Bible was not completely true. And, if it wasn’t true in one part, how can I know if anything else in it is true? This drove me to disbelief in God. He just didn’t seem necessary anymore.
In the back of my mind, however, was a hope for some way to reconcile the Bible with science. I decided that I would search the Internet for answers, and if I couldn’t find any, I would be done with God forever. So I searched, and I found BioLogos. They addressed all of my questions, showing a respect for the Bible’s authority and the findings of science—even related to evolution. I was so excited that I didn’t have to choose between science and God that I devoured the site for weeks. Eventually, I recovered my faith in God, as well as being better educated about the science of evolution. The more I learn about evolution, the more I just wanted to praise God for his magnificent creation. Sometimes when I am studying evolution, I take a step back and worship my Lord because I am so in awe.
I have found that science complements my faith. It shows the fulfillment of God’s marvelous plan. It shows his omniscience, in that in the split second of the Big Bang, he knew exactly how all of the planets would be formed, how one planet would be just right, that from this planet would spring life that would diversify over billions of years, and how it would all come together to become the overwhelmingly magnificent creation that is humankind.
I am now very strong in my faith, and I thank God every day for the gift of science that he gave all of us. The ability to study his work through natural processes is an unbelievable joy, and BioLogos helped me realize that God was the one who started these processes. I pray that many more people will come to faith as they realize the harmony between Christianity and science, and that God will continue to use BioLogos in this most wonderful mission.
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