How BioLogos Saved My Faith


(system) #1
Denise felt confident in her faith until a popular TV show turned everything upside down.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/how-biologos-saved-my-faith

(Richard Wright) #2

Denise,

All I can say is, “right on!”

Richard


(Mark Twombly) #3

Interesting testimony, thank you.

So first off you use the term ‘young earth creation ‘scientist’’ as if that were a non-sequitur. Have you given serious thought to the idea that there have been and still are serious scientists who believe in the traditional interpretation of the Genesis account? The clear assumption here is that science = evolution.

Your testimony indicates that you began to seriously consider if evolution was true. Fair enough - we all need to do that. But have you seriously considered if the traditional interpretation of Genesis is true and scientifically supportable? I believe we all need to do that as well.

I would recommend giving serious thought to both here. I spend time in resources like Biologos.org and Creation.com to have my thinking challenged in these areas. We all need our thinking and assumptions both exposed and challenged, as we seek true knowledge and wisdom in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7. 9:10)


(Denise Howard) #4

Thanks Richard!


(Denise Howard) #5

Hi Mark.

Thank you for your gracious and loving comments.

You are correct, there are scientists who hold to young earth creation and I don’t question their competency. I am not a scientist (I dropped college chemistry :wink:). I am concerned that the majority of scientists disagree. This particular person I was referring to, wouldn’t be considered a scientist by the typical understanding. He was a self taught apologist - which there is a place for (I love apologetics).

Trust me - I wanted, want - to hold on to young earth, and what a plain reading of the Bible says. It has been very painful - and my assumptions have definitely been challenged! And if they get challenged back the other way so be it :slight_smile:

I will say that Biologos has been a resting place for my mind - while I haven’t been able to find my place in the creation vs. evolution debate.


(Marius) #6

Hi Denise, your story is quite familiar but I particularly enjoyed reading your rendition - thoughtful and clearly stated.
Mark Twombly asked “But have you seriously considered if the traditional interpretation of Genesis is true and scientifically supportable?” I certainly believe that it is absolutely true, but I fear that we (most/many Christians) read (especially Genesis) texts as having a literal meaning. Genesis is, to me, a perfect example of metaphor (along the same lines as the Parables that Jesus told to convey a deeper message) used as a literary tool to convey the full meaning of God’s creation story. Because it was originally written in Hebrew, by Jews, I consulted Jewish thoughts on this. Dr Jeffrey Tigay (Emeritus A.M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures at University of Pennsylvania) stresses the allegorical nature of much of the Genesis texts. If we fail to see it as such, much of the deeper meaning of the creation story (with the ‘supposed conflict with science’) is lost to us, and questions arise such as “Where did Cain get his wife from”; “were Adam and Eve real people who actually lived in history”; “the tree of knowledge”; “where was Eden located geographically”; “was it 6 days of 24 hours”; as well as fruitless academic debates about “Original sin” and “Real fruit on a real tree”, and “Free Will”.
So much of the power of God’s message to Christians is lost in the process, while Genesis (Chapters 1 and 2 in particular) just want to say that God created everything and everyone … and it was ‘good’ - if we disobey His will, there are unpleasant consequences because we shall be left to suffer the consequences our own stubbornness, but if we stay true to what He has promised, life becomes much more meaningful and pleasant.
Simply put, there is no verifiable historicity or testable scientific data in the creation story.


(Quincy Hansen) #7

Interesting thoughts, Mark. However, I have a few objections to a few of the things you’ve written.

First, where did you get the idea that a literal young earth reading of Genesis is the “traditional view?” From what I know, that view of Genesis is a new thing. People very rarely interpreted Genesis 1-11 literally before Henry Morris published The Genesis Flood in the 1920s.

Secondly, you claim that we make the assumption that “science = evolution.” This is an assumption myself (and I assume the person in the testimony) holds, however it is a warranted assumption. While it is true that there have been a few scientists who are YECs, more than 99% of scientists in the relevant fields agree that the core tenants of evolution happened. This is crazy, considering that scientists don’t seem to be able to agree on anything these days. Good modern biology includes evolution. Nothing makes any sense without it. Scientists are past “did evolution happen.” Of course it did. They’re on to more pressing issues.

You have the mindset that we should consider every option, and this is a great mindset to have. However, myself and many others have looked at the evidence, and like 99% of scientists, think that evolution is the best explaination for the life we see on earth today. ECs aren’t a simple minded bunch that accepts evolution without considering the evidence. We’ve come to the conclusion of evolution because of the evidence. The real question is not “did evolution happen.” The real questions are ones concerning squaring evolution with our Christian beliefs. That’s what biologos is for.

Have a blessed day!
-Quincy


(Marius) #8

Hi Quincy, I found your comments on Mark’s submission very interesting and thought-provoking. As a committed Christian, I contend that my faith in God is totally independent of whether Neo-Darwinian evolution is true or not. There is also no doubt in my mind that God created (and maintains) absolutely EVERYTHING that exists, including humankind as “the crown of His creation”. That assertion does not preclude the theoretical possibility (the general scientific claim) that creation happened over long periods of time through processes like “the transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring through the mechanism of genetic transfer” plus natural selection. Furthermore, I am absolutely convinced of the validity of my faith, but I must admit that my belief in evolutionary theory is not anywhere nearly as strong. There are simply too many high profile non-believing scientists and philosophers who propose solid arguments against evolution, particularly with regard to speciation.
The challenge that many Christians seems to be faced with is more about the assumptions/conclusions that many prominent and outspoken non-believers hold regarding ‘scientific findings that prove the non-existence of a God’. Confusion is created when some equally prominent non-believers in the scientific community assert that “evolution is a theory in crisis”. Their ‘proofs’ sound equally convincing to ‘mere Christians’ (probably 99% of the total world population of Christians). Others in the same camp (non-believing scientists and prominent academics), get quite vitriolic in their commentary and writings when they do ‘God-bashing’ and make lots of money in the process. Names like Dawkins, Krauss, Dennett, Pinker and many others spring to mind.
Modern scientific enquiry has never before been so readily accessible to everyone as it is today, given the technology tools that we have access to. This spawned reaction from theologians and ordinary people who often are equally harsh in their reaction.
My point is; science and faith in God are not in conflict - it is what many people on both sides of the divide do with acquired knowledge (and their ‘uninformed opinions’ about the antagonist’s point of view) that is in conflict.
I therefore argue that we (Christians) should focus more on what and Who and why we believe, rather than on trying to refute the opinions of other people who are not like-minded.


(Quincy Hansen) #9

Thanks for the reply, Marius. I appreciate your thoughts, and I agree with most of what you’ve written here. I think you do make a good point in the thought that we as Christians should celebrate what we have in common rather than rebuking what we don’t. I would agree with you that unity in the church is a top priority for Christians, especially Proteststents. However, I think this forum is specifically for wrestling with questions that have to do with science and faith coming together in unity. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to state in a post what I disagree with.

You can disagree with evolution. I mostly just want to see Christians admit that Christianity and the scientific theory of evolution are fully compatible; something that you of course do. However, I am a bit worried to see you compare your faith in God to “faith” in evolution. God falls into the category of spirituality, and I’m glad your faith is strong. However, I think there’s a category error going on here. Evolution is not a religious belief, and it’s not something to be taken on faith. It’s something that is taken in the theory’s ability to accurately make predictions and explain phenomena. Your faith in God cannot even begin to compare to your acceptance of a scientific theory! I believe in God as I believe in God. He is the beginning and the end of my religious faith. I accept evolution as I accept gravity. God and gravity don’t compare with each other; God is much greater than gravity, evolution, or nuclear fusion. The fact that you think that evolution is something you have faith in represents a fundamental misunderstanding of both evolution and faith in my view.

Also, what are the arguments that make you see evolution as invalid? I’d be very interested to hear them, especially if they’re good. I’m so used to seeing anti-evolution arguments that are easily refuted if you understand the theory, so I’d be very pleased to see some good ones to make me think a bit! (Though, I think the question stands: if there really are pieces of data out there that seem to refute any and all of evolution, then why aren’t scientists flocking away from the theory altogether?)

I’ve enjoyed our (as of yet) short correspondence! Thanks again for the reply.
-Quincy


(Christy Hemphill) #10

Where are you seeing all these non-Christian scientists promoting the idea that evolution is a theory in crisis? I’m just curious.


(Marius) #11

[quote=“MariusPotgieter, post:8, topic:5831”]
Hi again Quincy,
No, I think you read too rapidly; what I said was " … but I must admit that my belief in evolutionary theory is not anywhere nearly as strong". Not faith in evolution theory, because I certainly agree with your point that “faith” would be a totally wrong word in the context of evolutionary theory … or anything other than the Trinity.
[/quote]. It might be (if you will allow me to ‘hide behind’ something) that I chose the wrong word, because English is not my first language and I know that I sometimes write what I do not mean to communicate - perhaps I should have said “my commitment to” or “my total acceptance of” evolutionary theory is not so strong.
Having said that, the “high profile non-believing people” that you asked for (just a quick recall from memory) who question evolutionary theory would include Thomas Nagel who wrote Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False in 2012; and the inimitable Dr David Berlinski who has much to say on this topic; Then there is the Australian (or New Zealander?) Dr Michael Denton who is well known for his outspokenness on this topic, and who wrote extensively about that. That is by no means an exhaustive list - merely some important names that I could quickly recall.
You see, Quincy, My personal take on evolution (stated as a non-scientist, but who absolutely adores scientific topics) gets formed by what I perceive to be positions taken by ‘opinion leaders’. I am presently not convinced of the absoluteness of all stated tenets of evolutionary theory - even Dr Francis Collins, a staunch supporter of this theory, admits in (as I recall) a presentation to the Veritas Forum that he “fully supports evolution, even though he has some important reservations regarding speciation”.
What then, is the general public supposed to make of something that is considered (by many) to be the sole cause of them losing their faith in God when they attend College or University? The Pew Centre surveys recently reported that as many as 70% of young people discard their faith before they graduate. Virtually a whole generation of “non-believers” are created in this way.
This is, to me, an extremely serious matter. For decades, America has been seen as “The Last Bastion of the Christian Faith” in the world, but that is changing at an alarming rate.
I have spent many years trying to comprehend this trend and am only now beginning to feel that I am approaching appreciation of some aspects of that.
Lastly, I wish to state categorically that BioLogos is the very first site that I have come across where respectful interchange of ideas and opinions can be openly discussed without the vitriol that often oozes from such exchanges of ideas.


(Marius) #12

Hi Christy,
I have just a minute ago completed my chat with Quincy (see below), where I mention some names - can I refer you to that? If you want greater clarification (e.g. names of books published, URL’s, et cetera), please ask and I shall do some digging for you.


(Christy Hemphill) #13

@MariusPotgieter I think it might be more accurate to say that the scientists you reference find Neo-Darwinsim inadequate for explaining certain phenomena. That is not the same thing as believing the evolutionary model is wrong. I know Denton accepts common descent.


(James McKay) #14

Just a couple of comments here.

First of all, concerning scientists who you say are questioning evolution: be careful that you don’t confuse debate about how evolution happens with uncertainty about whether evolution happens. As far as I’m aware there’s a lot of debate among serious scientists about the former, but there’s no debate whatsoever about the latter.

Second, it’s not evolution itself that causes young people to lose their faith, but people in their churches who take a hard, dogmatic position on it that is demonstrably untrue. They’re brought up being taught that there’s no evidence for evolution, that radiometric dating makes unverifiable assumptions, and so on, and then they are confronted with explanations of exactly how radiometric dating verifies the supposedly “unverifiable” assumptions, and how evidence such as endogenous retroviruses and pseudogenes and so on provide very compelling evidence for common descent, and they don’t know who to turn to for advice on how to make sense of it all because they’ve got modern-day Pharisees proclaiming loudly to them that anyone who doubts that Noah had dinosaurs on the ark is a “compromiser” and a “faithless so-called Christian.”


(Marius) #15

Christy, you are right of course - Denton does support common descent and ‘the tree of life’. My point was rather more about what you state as " … find Neo-Darwinism inadequate for explaining certain phenomena". Denton’s rejection of the role of ‘randomness’ in the neo-Darwinian model motivated him to rather talk of ‘directed design’ as (what he holds to be) an explanation for evolution. He remains agnostic (cannot accept the existence of God, without ‘proof’, that is), but I postulate that many scientists agree with him, because there is much discussion about a “Force” or “Power in Nature” that would appear to be “guiding” progress or change over time.
I cannot, in all honesty, say that I blame those scientists for not saying outright that “God did it!” (borrowing a favourite phrase that Dawkins and Krauss use often), because I share their dislike of uninformed opinions that far too many Pastors and some ‘mere Christians’ raise at times.
My inputs on this Forum must not be seen as being (energetically; feverishly; or even just strongly) in opposition to evolution - frankly, I could not care two hoots whether evolution is true or not, because scientists will eventually be able to verify that unequivocally. Right now, my faith in God is not even slightly influenced by the work-in-progress of scientists all over the world. I am happy to simply enjoy the fruits of scientific efforts, because without that, we would not have the advanced technologies that keep us alive, healthy and informed.


(Marius) #16

Hi James, your remarks are sincerely appreciated.No, I do not confuse the two types of debate - I am very aware of the difference. However, I must disagree with you that “whether evolution happens” is not being debated among scientists. Perhaps the most prominent example would be the website of The Discovery Institute, the home of Intelligent Design proponents. Mike Denton is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute (although he sticks to his guns regarding evolution, albeit with a different view of ‘how it is achieved’), and Thomas Nagel also makes some flattering remarks about them.I make these statements while assuming that you mean “Darwinian-style evolution” when you say " … there’s no debate whatsoever about whether evolution happens". It is clear to me that the Discovery Institute is quite focussed on refuting Darwinian Evolution.
I am 100% with you on your second point - to my mind, uninformed theological opinions on scientific matters often create ‘pseudo-friction’ where no real friction should exist. On the other side of the same coin, far too many prominent scientists (notably Dawkins, Krauss, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many others) emphasise that “there is not any difference between animals and humans”, and relativistic ideas such as “It might work for you, but not for me - everything is relative”. This is most certainly one of the biggest reasons why many young people discard their faith in God when they attend university - peer pressure and ‘academic bullying’ causes young, inexperienced and immature people to rather follow the ‘ruling trend’, because they have no idea how to defend their faith in classrooms.
When highly acclaimed people like Steven Pinker quotes H L Mencken who said “The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not-true” (Page 554 of How the Mind Works), and then he explains in great detail how silly it is that people still believe in God! That is a very serious matter that should be taken seriously.
This was undoubtedly one of the most boring books that I have ever read. Pinker is careful to note that he sees himself as a “Evolutionary Psychologist” (emphasis on how Darwinian evolution saw to exactly how the human brain functions). It is clearly not just warped opinions of misguided theologians that is perceiving friction between religion and science - scientists have to carry at least an equal amount of blame for the current phase of destruction of the general human condition.


(Mark Twombly) #17

Thank you Quincy, these are great points to consider.

My understanding of the historical view is quite different, namely that there was very little in terms of questioning a 6 day creation prior to Morris’ book. Augustine, for example, thought that the timeframe was even shorter, i.e. instantaneous!

I’d like to understand what you mean by the ‘tenets of evolution’. My understanding is that micro-evolution, i.e. adaptation of species, is not controversial, even among various types of YEC’s. What is in question is the extrapolation to macroevolution over millions of years.

That said, let me press in on the 99% you’ve mentioned. Increasingly, government and educational funding of science is dependent on taking on an evolutionary and even atheistic world view. I suspect the lack of true academic freedom impacts that number. We see this in many areas of academia, e.g. the transgender revolution overriding real, evidentiary medical science (e.g. the controversy at Johns Hopkins over this issue). I believe this is worthy of consideration.

Thank you again, and have a blessed day yourself!

Mark