I apologize in advance if this is already on the forum. I don’t really think so, but someone else may disagree.
I often find myself trying to find the right balance between faith and intellect. What I mean is, on the one hand, while I find discussions about faith and science endlessly interesting and I feel like I could spend a lifetime learning more about it, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not what I would think of as “mission critical.” Whether one interprets Genesis as literal or not isn’t exactly a prong on the sheep vs. goats test. But at the same time, as Dr. Collins pointed out in his book, it is immensely important that the world knows that this school of thought exists and understands the foundation of it. I can attest to that importance as I was once the wayward 20-something who no longer felt fulfilled by what I saw at the time to be my parents’ “cartoon god” who makes the dinosaur bones look old to test our faith and mostly exists in a pile of platitudes and meaningless cliches. And when atheists and Christians alike seem to agree that you can’t believe in God and science, that leaves budding young minds with little choice but to pick one.
So I often find myself torn between these two concepts in my mind of how to handle communication with other Christians as well as non-Christians. For the most part, I don’t think it’s all that detrimental that creationists change their mind because, as I previously mentioned, it’s not ultimately mission critical. And even though I might not agree with their literal interpretation, oftentimes they are still demonstrating childlike faith, which in itself I can admire–even somewhat envy–and I believe is also pleasing to the Lord. (Granted, they could also be acting out of pride and arrogance, so it really depends on the individual.) Also, considering that I live in the southern part of the United States, how Genesis should be interpreted can be a touchy subject. Even well-meaning discussion can quickly devolve into a kerfuffle. People here are very protective of this central tenet, and I feel as though I may be unintentionally placing a stumbling block in front of them (Romans 14:13-23) know that the subject will upset them so I tend to avoid it altogether. But at the same time, that’s not helping those who are silently wavering and drifting away. I see this happening with my 17-year-old niece, and I want to both respect her parents’ wishes and also reach out to her without it seeming like I’m trying to influence her away from their views.
And then on the other side of things, I have a desire to be respected and thought of as intelligent by my non-Christian circles and I often work–perhaps too hard–to distance myself from the stereotypical Southern Baptist Christian common to this demographic. For instance, I have a small ichthys tattoo on the inside of my left wrist. Not too long ago, one of my Biology professors caught a glimpse of it and it seemed in that moment his perception of me in terms of my ability to truly appreciate and participate in the field of Biology started to change. I then found myself looking for opportunities to make sure he understood that I accept science and evolution and I have no intention of bending Biology to fit Theology and how I see the relationship between science and faith. And perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but also it reminded me of the book The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis where he talks about Christian intellectuals who have become so engrossed in proving the existence of God that they treat him as though he has nothing more to do than to simply exist.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on finding a good balance between all these dynamics so that we faithfully and graciously fulfill our duty to these different segments of society, being other Christians who disagree, those who are confused and at a crossroads between their faith and science, and the outside world who often sees Christians as blind and ignorant and therefore not to be taken seriously.