Former YEC now depressed and confused


(JacksonC) #1

I grew up YEC and am having a hard time adjusting to a different view of the Bible. How can we know that all 66 books are the word of God? Has the Bible been accurately preserved over thousands of years? I feel like I don’t know what to believe anymore and have been increasingly suicidal.


(Brady Hornstra) #2

The Bible is the most accurately preserved of any ancient text.

An old source of the Old Testament is the Masoretic Text, which dates to about 800 years after Christ. In the mid 1900’s, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near Qumran. These scrolls have been dated to around the time of Christ. The accuracy between the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrates that the Masoretic Text is reliable and accurate. This is not to say that there aren’t any variations between the two texts, but the variations that do exist are very minor.

The New Testament was also reliably transmitted. There are over 5,700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, which is far more of any other ancient text. To give you an idea, Homer’s Iliad only has 600 copies. The time gap between the authorship of the books of the New Testament and the first surviving copy is also far better than any other ancient text. The oldest fragment we have of any New Testament text, which is from John’s Gospel, is from early 2nd Century, which was only written in the mid to late 1st Century. To compare it with Homer’s Iliad, the time gap between when it was written and the earliest copy we have is about 500 years.

Needless to say, both the Old and the New Testament are reliable documents that were transmitted accurately.


#3

First of all you need to contact the suicide prevention hotline. They will help you.

Next, know that others have made the journey out of young earth creationism with faith intact and so will you.


(Chris Falter) #4

Hi JacksonC,

Two of my children have experienced struggles with suicidal ideation. My heart hurts for you and I pray that you will reach out to someone you can trust for help. Most importantly, do not condemn yourself for feeling confused. The God who created the Universe knows you by name and will patiently reveal himself to you. Sometimes the ones who refuse to question God are the ones who have hearts that are the most closed to him. The God I know and love would much rather that you come to him with your questions than see you give up on your spiritual journey. Thanks for having the courage to share your struggle. We will be praying for you.

Chris and Linda Falter


(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

I Corinthians 13:8 … paraphrase: Love never ends. But as for prophecies and knowledge, all those will come to an end. We only see in part, but when perfection comes the imperfect will disappear.

I think our “certainties” are potently addictive to us, and when life or circumstances begin to pry away cherished bits of knowledge that we fancy we can hold onto with clenched fists, it is a painful ordeal. There are things (people rather — only one in fact: Christ) that are worthy of our highest faith and allegiance. And there are many good and bad ways to build on that foundation. Many prized dogmas (even very biblical-sounding ones) may prove to be more of perishable straw than of true gold. I am always challenged to join with Paul in thinking of all other things as rubble when compared with the riches of knowing Christ. And I invite you to continue in that challenge too. How can I know this – since I read of it among the 66 books you no longer feel certain about? Answer: I don’t hold it as some kind of humanly proven certainty. It is a faith conviction held by one who knows he only sees dimly at the moment. “Certainty” is peddled by those wanting to sell you something. Don’t try to rest in human-generated dogmas that peddle “certainty” in particular interpretations of 66 books. But you can use that collection of books to know in whom your faith should really reside … the true Living Word (John 1:1 – the creation story that so many seem to have forgotten). He, and he alone is the one that is worthy of our total pursuit. If the 66 books haven’t taught us that, then their job remains unfulfilled.

I’ll add my prayers also on your (and my own!) behalf that we can live in obedience to this highest pursuit and continually find renewal and strength from Him for the task.

-Merv Bitikofer


(Jennifer Thomas) #6

Hi JacksonC,

I believe that when we’re struggling with difficult issues – issues that are so confusing and disorienting they affect our biological and physical well-being – God wishes us to draw upon all the healing resources that are available to us. So, as the Falters have said above, it’s important that you not condemn yourself for feeling confused. It’s also important, as beaglelady has said, to seek professional assistance to help you manage the physical symptoms of depression. There’s no shame in using the tools of science to help you manage the overwhelming feelings you’re experiencing. God is, after all, the one from whom our love of science flows.

If you’re having a hard time adjusting to a new view of the Bible, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything “wrong.” It simply means you’re struggling with some of the matter-of-fact biological realities of your human brain. Most of us have been raised with the idea that the brain is a simple, homogeneous organ like the heart or the liver. But the brain is actually extremely complex, with a whole lot of different sectors and a whole lot of different networks. You can think of it as a complex garden with many different kinds of plants and trees. Or as an orchestra with different sections and instruments.

Right now, your brain is struggling to rearrange a whole bunch of connections – to weed out the beliefs that no longer serve your growing relationship with God. But when you’ve held a belief for a long time, and are now switching to some new questions and new insights, your brain has to slog along and do a lot of rewiring/weeding. (There’s a reason a brain neuron looks so much like a turnip!). It takes a lot of time (several weeks at least) and lot of energy (healthy foods) for your brain to do its job. To help your brain during this process, you can try some simple things like trying to eat and sleep (though I know these two daily activities can seem like a struggle at times).

You can ask God to help you with the process of weeding, but try to keep your prayers simple during this phase of your healing. Here’s a prayer I was given a few years ago during my contemplative work. It works best if you reflect on it once in the morning and once in the evening before you got to bed. I hope you’ll find it as helpful as I did. God bless you, Jackson, for having the courage to ask new questions about your relationship with God.

Jen


The Courage Prayer:
Blessed God, I believe in the infinite wonder of your love. I believe in your courage. And I believe in the wisdom you pour upon us so bountifully that your seas and lands cannot contain it. Blessed God, I confess I am often confused. Yet I trust you. I trust you with all my heart and all my mind and all my strength and all my soul. There is a path for me. I hear you calling. Just for today, though, please hold my hand. Please help me find my courage. Thank you for the way you love us all. Amen.
— from Jesus, December 3, 2007


(Laura) #7

Hi Jackson,
I am so sorry you are feeling this way. I hope it comforts you to know that you are not alone, that others have felt quite rocked in their faith when they let go of YEC, which is why so many of us have avoided confronting hard questions for so long.

I remember a cartoon Answers in Genesis often used, showing the church as a castle which was under attack, and the attackers were aiming at the foundation, which in the cartoon simply said “Genesis.” The difficulty in shifting from a YEC mindset is that many of us have been taught (maybe more implicitly than that cartoon) that our foundation is our own interpretations – things we can prove – rather than Jesus Himself.

I encourage you to cling to the person and spirit of Jesus… and as others have said, please reach out for help from those around you, or from a hotline. I will pray for you as well. May God give you peace and remind you that he is more powerful than any of our biblical interpretations.


(JacksonC) #8

Many well known YEC, such as Eric Hovind and Ken Ham outright say that the creation issue hurts or discredits whether or not Jesus is God. I suspect they do that to scare Christians away from evolution and into the arms of YEC. I just want to know why Christianity is the truth, since I previously based it on intelligent design.


Epistemology, apologetics, "feel-good religion," and evolutionary creationism
(Christy Hemphill) #9

Let’s be honest. Any foundation for “why Christianity is true” can ultimately be deconstructed. There is no argument or proof that can get you from skepticism to faith. At the end of the day, Jesus is Lord, or he isn’t. But you are only going to be convinced Jesus is Lord by personally encountering Jesus. There is no path to Jesus via science, logic, or philosophy.


Epistemology, apologetics, "feel-good religion," and evolutionary creationism
(JacksonC) #10

You make it sound as if it is only emotion. One could explain feelings of joy or spiritual health as an illusion caused by the brain. You really think there are not logical arguments for Christianity being true? I’m not looking for absolute proofs, I’m looking for practical proofs.


(Chris Falter) #11

Hi JacksonC -

Emotion is not the same thing as faith, experienced personally and put into practice. A strong fundamentalist background can lead someone to believe that only the strictest inerrancy can provide a foundation. But what did Jesus teach? Putting His teachings into practice–not intellectual assent to inerrancy–is the foundation that protects the house during the storm. (Matthew 7:24-27)

There are many ways to put His teachings into practice. You could volunteer at a homeless shelter, or in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or Habitat for Humanity. You could work in your church’s nursery – always an understaffed operation. I’m just scratching the surface here; there are thousands of ways to put the Sermon of the Mount into practice.

My wife and I visit a maximum security prison every Tuesday to have fellowship and Scripture study time with men who need friendship and encouragement. I always feel like I get more from interacting with the men than I give.

Inerrancy is no shelter, as you have discovered. Better to build your house on the rock in the way Jesus taught.

Continuing to pray for you…

Chris Falter


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #12

Jackson,

Christianity is about God. We believe in God and not man’s explanations of God.

We believe in God because God the Father sent Jesus the Son to die for our sins.

The God Who created the universe, saves us by dying for us, and keeps us firmly in the Love the Spirit does not require a human explanation for why the good news of Jesus Christ is true.

We know that it is, because God is good to us and for us. We should not need reassurance that the Bible is inerrant, when we know that God cares and will make a Way even when there is no human Way, because Jesus is the Way, not the Bible.


(JacksonC) #13

Yet you cite Bible verses…
Jesus clearly taught from the Old Testament.


(George Brooks) #14

@JacksonC

I think there is some variation from individual to individual. I’m sure there must be some people who come to Jesus through logic - - if only because stranger things happen in this world. But fundamentally speaking, the road to Jesus is through the heart, not through processing logic.


(Christy Hemphill) #15

I think don’t think it is irrational to believe the Bible is true, and I don’t think reasons for belief are just emotional or experiential. There are good arguments for faith being warranted and for faith being a means of arriving at knowledge.

I think the coherence of the testimony of the transformed lives of Christians across so many cultures, time periods, and historical situations is a powerful witness for Christianity being true.

What I don’t think is useful or productive is making anything other than God’s own character and work the basis of faith. I think Ken Ham has things totally backward when he insists that we first establish that the Bible is true by imposing a bunch of tests of our own creation on it. Then once we have assured ourselves of the Bible’s truth, we are licensed to believe what it says about God. No, we first accept that the Bible is the revelation of the one true God. The Bible’s truth and value flow from from the fact that we believe it is God’s revelation of himself, and we believe God is the source of all truth. Truth starts with the person of God, not the Bible. The Bible does not become God’s revelation because we as humans have established its truth using some outside tests of factuality or historicity or logical necessity.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #16

I know you addressed this to Chris, but I hope you don’t mind if I butt in earlier with a response since I’m here!

Yes, Jesus did teach from the law and the prophets. We could find places where he says not one jot or tittle can be dropped from the law. We also find him teaching “let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone” (which left the self-appointed guardians of said law scratching their heads because the law is very clear about what was to be done with adulterers). So when you invoke what Jesus taught, you don’t come away with some sort of simplistic endorsement for the “we must enforce every law” enthusiasts --at least not without ignoring major swaths of New Testament teaching. In fact, what do you think about this teaching that Jesus gave to the ‘doctrinally astute’ of that time? “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” This was from Jesus himself as recorded in John 5:39. What kind of teaching about the Bible do you think this is? I find it interesting, challenging, and not often brought up.

Regarding what some have said here about various paths leading or not leading to Jesus, I’m not as sure about this as some others might be. I think it quite possible that Jesus might use the words of an absolute charlatan and fraud (perhaps some TV preachers?) to get a person at least started down the right track to him. Maybe some come to faith through perceived human wisdom or this or that flaky cause. Maybe they get argued into it in a debate. The main point would be, though, that if that planted seed never takes root into the true foundation of Jesus himself, then it will remain a faith in something or someone else. So if it is the charismatic evangelist who is the only fuel for your faith fires, then your faith is in him rather than in Jesus. Or if it is some particular Genesis 1 interpretation that you make foundational, then your faith again is in human wisdoms rather than in Jesus. All of those things may be an initial hook of interest that God may use to reach us, frail children that we are, but it is always to move us toward that real foundation, not leave us where we were found. Once we have a relationship with Jesus, some of the former props might begin to fall away. And that may not be pleasant to us when it happens. You can continue to find courage and sustenance in Scripture, though! Especially if you read it in the context of having let go of the need to jump through all the hoops of explanatory certainty about every passage. Reading it devotionally as a response and desire to get to know Jesus better, rather than as a debate text prop to wield against skeptics is I think a positive shift.


(Jennifer Thomas) #17

Hello, Jackson. I hope you won’t mind if I gently suggest that the words you’ve written here about emotion and illusions caused by the brain do point to a particular issue that causes a lot of unnecessary suffering in the world. The issue I’m thinking of is a rather widespread desire to separate not only science from faith, but to separate logic from emotion.

In Mark 12:28-31, the core of all Jesus’ teachings is presented in this way: " . . . ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’"

Yes, I’ve quoted from the Bible because these words happen to express in a timeless and uplifting way what Jesus knew and what Jesus taught us about having a relationship with God. The key is not to choose mind over heart, or strength over soul, but to respect and balance within ourselves these four foundational traits or pillars of our humanity: our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength.

Each is equally important and valid to the path of faith. If you try to raise any one of these pillars above the other three, you’ll have an imbalanced foundation, and the experience of faith will elude you. When you get the balance right, though, faith kind of pops out inside you like one of those 3D illustrations where you have to right the right balance between focus and non-focus in order to see the 3D picture that’s hiding inside all those simple 2D bits and swirls and simple patterns.

Is Jesus’ idea about balancing these four pillars just a bunch of emotional baloney? Well, no. There’s been an recent avalanche of research in neuroscientific fields that tells us Jesus was absolutely correct to insist that if we want to be happy and healthy (in so far as human beings are able to be happy and healthy) we must learn how to use our hearts wisely and how to use our minds lovingly. Reason alone won’t cut it.

Is it easy to balance these four major pillars? I’m going to have to be honest and say no. If it were easy, we wouldn’t have to struggle so hard to find our way back to our loving God. If it were easy, we wouldn’t have to try so hard each day to be a good neighbour, not only to our friends and families, but to God. But this is the good part! It’s in trying so hard each day to follow Jesus’ two great commandments that we gradually come to love and know ourselves, our neighbours, and our God.

The explanation I’ve given may not sound to you like a logical or practical explanation, but I can assure you that the neuroscience behind living a “two commandment” life is pure science at its very best. To feel love, to feel joy, to feel forgiveness, to feel faith, and to feel the safety of God’s love is not – and cannot be – a simple illusion of the brain. It’s science. It’s neuroscience. It’s quantum physics, chemistry, biology combined with classical physics, chemistry, biology all contained within an exquisite 3-pound universe which is so complex its beauty is almost (though not quite!) indescribable.

You can’t get more practical than this.


#18

It seem to me that if yiu have been brought up with some sort of fundementalist faith it can be very shocking to face up to criticism of the bible.

I have been brought up seeing the bible in a very different way, with a much more dynamic view of inspiration, that although it may be limited by historical circumstances and by people’s cultural situations is still the greatest revelation of wisdom. The bible was written by fallible people with limted knowledge in their time and place, but the glory of it is that the Holy Spirit can help us see new things related to it in then present.

So do not despair at the challenges of seeing scripture in new ways.

The Old Testament is full of difficulties of historical accuracy etc but the gospels and letters in the New Testament are much closer to the events that occured, with living witnessess who gave their testimony to what they saw and then tried to pass on the amazinng truth of what they had found in Jesus. We may not be able to trust the OT completely but we can trust the NT much more!


(Christy Hemphill) #19

4 posts were split to a new topic: Epistemology, apologetics, “feel-good religion,” and evolutionary creationism


Epistemology, apologetics, "feel-good religion," and evolutionary creationism
(Daniel Mann) #20

I see that Biologos has removed my responses.


Epistemology, apologetics, "feel-good religion," and evolutionary creationism
Epistemology, apologetics, "feel-good religion," and evolutionary creationism