How Science Shook My Faith | The BioLogos Forum


(system) #1

Note: Connor's story, like many others on this blog, was first shared with us through email. Connor reminds me a lot of myself at age 16. Students like him are a big reason why the mission of BioLogos is so important. We love to share stories like Connor's—not because he has a polished understanding of all of the issues, but because it's important to hear honest stories of how the origins conversation affects the faith of real Christian students every day. I'm thrilled that he has processed through so many of these hard issues at such a young age, and I hope and pray that he will continue to represent Christ as he pursues a career in the sciences. If you would like to share your story, email us at info@biologos.org. -BK

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 fulfilment 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.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blog/how-science-shook-my-faith

(Brad Kramer) #2

The author (@Connor_Mooneyhan) is available to respond to comments and questions. As per usual for personal stories (especially those involving students), please keep the tone of all comments positive and encouraging.


(David Buchanan) #4

Very nicely done. I thank God that you found BioLogos in your search for understanding. Perhaps you have found it already but another good source of information is the Faraday Institute. http://www.faraday.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/

I hope that you know that there are many of us who are professional scientists and are also people of faith. For me, this has been a journey of more than 40 years. For a long time, it did not seem that there were many like-minded folks. However, with the advent of BioLogos, Faraday and the writings of many others, it has been comforting to see serious men and women of science who take their Christian beliefs very seriously.


(Jim Lock) #5

@Connor_Mooneyhan Very well written Connor! I hope you find encouragement in knowing that MANY people have a very similar story. Perhaps you have already considered this, but I’m going to challenge you with it anyway. :slight_smile:

How do you interact with your peers and fellow Christians who hold to their YEC viewpoint?

In full disclosure, this is something that I’m currently working through. Paul repeatedly urges unity and fellowship within the church, yet is certainly not silent when it comes to issues that could threaten the spread of our Good News. In other words, is this a ‘meat sacrificed to idols’ issue? I have no doubt that YEC folks are going to heaven. Or, does this issue present a big enough stumbling block that it is worth an argument?

Jim


(Connor Mooneyhan) #6

Hey Jim,
It is certainly a difficult thing to speak of evolution in front of my YEC friends. In fact, the vast majority of people in my school (I don’t say everyone because there might be one or two more people that accept evolutionary theory along with the Bible) hold a YEC viewpoint. There is a big research project in Junior year (that’s next year for me) that I am planning on doing with the topic: Interpretation of the Evidence for Evolution in Light of the Bible. I will present that in front of my peers very graciously :smile:. As for your last question, I definitely think it is big enough of an issue to talk about within Christianity. It carries to much weight in our culture to not be addressed.


(Merv Bitikofer) #7

Hi, Connor; and thanks for sharing your experiences on your faith journey here.

It’s a fairly safe bet that in any classroom of any size, there are others who secretly have second thoughts or even serious doubts about what they hear, but do not express them (or even jump on bandwagons they wouldn’t otherwise have chosen). The power of peer pressure is immense for both good and ill. I teach at a Christian school, but this will apply to nearly any school or group setting with young people. And older people don’t escape this influence either. So it is particularly valuable when a brave student speaks his thoughts that poke at the otherwise apparent homogeneity of a group. Others then may also gain some courage to step outside the “pep rally” atmosphere to think more seriously about something. No side of any issue is immune from cultivating these enclaves where people feel safe — which can be a good thing in its place. But in such places we also become hyper-aware of the “answers their present company wants to hear”. Being people-pleasers and getting positive strokes is a powerful temptation for anybody, and no more so than for school atmospheres in the presence of instructors who are looking for good answers.

Thanks again for your courage in sharing this here.


(Robinson Mitchell) #8

Thanks very much for having the courage to post your story, Connor. It’s especially important because your story of a crisis in faith prompted by an encounter with scientific evidence represents the stories of many young people who have been raised in Christian homes and whose scientific education based on YEC views collided with the evidence you encountered.
I’m glad you were able to make it through the crisis to a faith which is stronger than ever and now able to pursue scientific truth with full confidence that what we learn about the world can only and ever honor God. I’m also glad you found Biologos as a resource to help you on your way. All the very best to you in your further studies - may God be glorified in and through all you learn in your endeavors!


(Preston Garrison) #9

You did a fine job with that essay Connor. I too was raised in a Christian home and church, but I went to public schools. It was back in the '50s when the evolution thing was not such a big deal. I didn’t hear much about it, although I suppose if I had asked the people in my church they would have said they didn’t believe it. I always felt free to be undecided on these issues. I did biology and philosophy majors at a Christian college (Westmont College - a fine school if you can afford it,) went to med school for a couple of years and then switched into grad school to to do a Ph.D. in biochemistry. It wasn’t until 20 years in research that I looked at the evidence from comparative genomics that was coming out and was convinced that evolution happened. It’s o.k. to study and think about things for a long time if that’s what you need. You’re young and there’s no hurry. If you know Jesus as savior everything else is a secondary issue, and not worth the fights people get into, which almost never change anyone’s mind anyway.

One thing that was very helpful to me was the American Scientific Affiliation, a fellowship for people in science or who are interested in it, who are Christians. They have a lot of good material at their web site, and they do a meeting every summer. I don’t know where you are, but the meeting this summer is in Tulsa, OK. You might be the youngest one there if you come. :slight_smile: http://asa3.site-ym.com/

The ASA doesn’t have official positions on the issues, although most of its members accept evolutionary creation and I would guess nearly all accept an old earth. The young earth creationists tried to get the ASA to make their position the official ASA position back in the '50s, but they didn’t succeed and mostly went off to do their own things.

The ASA used to have a very useful discussion e-mail list that had a number of very well informed people about various areas of science, theology and philosophy. Unfortunately, when they switched to a web format it quieted down quite a bit, although there are discussion forums on the ASA web site. If you post questions there, you might stir up some activity, which would be a good thing.

The Lord Bless you on your journey.

Preston Garrison


(Lou Jost) #10

Connor, even though I don’t share your belief, I enjoyed reading your story and found it very well written. I know how much courage it takes to stand up for truth against the views of an entire school (and girlfriend’s parents!) Congratulations for that.

If you do end up questioning anew, I can also tell you from my own personal experience that losing one’s faith is not the end of the world, though it may seem that way when one is surrounded by people whose lives revolve around that faith. The world doesn’t change from wonderful to horrible overnight, it is still the same world, and perhaps even more wondrous when you realize there is no one behind the scenes directing it.


(Dennis Venema) #11

Connor, thank you for sharing your story. I found it very encouraging!


(GJDS) #12

This account highlights some matters which have come into sharp focus for me since I heard of BioLogos and participated in a number of discussions and exchanges. I am still surprised to learn that in the USA, discussions surrounding Darwinian thinking are central to Christians. My background is Orthodox Christianity (and a scientist who has spent his professional life doing research), but during my student days, I was curious to know of all beliefs, and also views that are broadly atheistic. I am acquainted with views that span the entire spectrum, from a literal day by day and/or instantaneous creation of Genesis (and thus the creation of heaven and earth), through to random, chance events that are then lumped into what I more or less regard as the atheist’s theory of everything. What has surprised me is the centrality that is brought into the debates I have encountered – so much so that people may lose (or perhaps gain) faith over issues that I had concluded many years ago, were >90% speculation – besides understanding that God is revealed to us as the Creator, it is difficult to draw theological conclusions that would be based on brute scientific facts – whichever side of the evolutionary fence one sits on.

One reason I think I had not experienced any turmoil regarding this issue, is probably my grounding in Orthodox teachings, which essentially say that as humans we have often put forward many ideas and outlooks regarding nature, and all of these are examples of us exercising our intelligence and reason, which is our God-given ability. Many ancient theologians (I am particularly fond of Patristic writings) have put forward their own views, many of which have been shown to be in error to varying degrees – but all of these have been examples of how we may try to understand God’s creation and our limitations in doing this. The only controversy has been that of denying God, or seeking to support heresy by using secular ideas – by and large, I have noted most atheists who are scientists can understand why an absence of belief in God requires an alternate view of nature to that of a theist. Yet both sides often hold to similar views on science.

One tentative conclusion that I may draw at this point in time, is that a number of scientists in the US and England over the centuries, have become ministers of various denominations, and they have added emphasis to a science-faith debate initially involving atheists. I suspect this has put the science-faith (and more often Darwin/faith) debate centre stage, or essential to having faith in Christ. I think it is a mistake to conscript the Physical Sciences into such debates, as they are more in keeping with world views by groups that are always in conflict.


(system) #13

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