Mark Folta

I Resisted Teaching Evolution in Fear of Abandoning My Faith

I taught biology, without an accurate understanding of the theory of evolution, for seven years. I resisted teaching the topic in fear of abandoning my belief in the literal interpretation of Genesis. After having an intense conversation with a brilliant engineer about my own understanding of Genesis and failing to convince him that an old earth doesn’t fit with the Bible’s story of creation, I was compelled to further my learning about the theory of evolution.

In the midst of earning my master’s degree at Miami University, I signed up for a class on evolution. The night before the first class, I grew fearful of having my faith shaken and dreamt about having a conversation that left a profound impact on my heart and provided a clear perspective while attending my first class. The dream spoke of John 14:8, where Philip asks, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Philip wanted proof that God exists (as do many people today), and Jesus responded, “Believe me when I say that I am the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14:11) That simple statement could anchor my faith. The age of the earth does not change what happened thousands of years ago but it does change my view of Genesis. For the first time, I was able to learn the theory of evolution without fear, which was foundational for understanding the mechanisms of evolution with an open mind.

Today, I teach the theory of evolution fearlessly, thanks largely to the insights I have received from BioLogos and its community of scientist-believers. I was strongly influenced by publications from Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Ken Miller as well as other members of this important ministry. Identifying with a community of scientist-believers such as BioLogos, gives me additional resources to offer my students who struggle with embracing evolution. The resources offered on BioLogos’ website are invaluable to Christian and Jewish students who hunger to read and learn from scientists who are believers.