How to Respond to Being Called Unchristian for Accepting Evolution

(David Greathouse) #1

I personally accept Evolution (micro and macro), think Adam and Eve were not the first humans, I think the flood was regional, I think biblical “giants” were 7-9 feet tall at absolute most, and I think “Hell” is annihilation (plenty of evidence, but too much to get into in this forum. Also off topic).

I, naturally, get called a liar, son of the devil, demon, etc. for these beliefs. How do you usually respond to being told “you don’t believe in the scriptures, but you believe in science”? Its like they think a literal reading is the ONLY reading. How do you respond?

(Christy Hemphill) #2

I tell people I also believe God’ grace is sufficient to cover me if I’m wrong about science. And that in my Bible (which I take seriously, though not always literally), it says a tree is known by it’s fruit. I’m more concerned about my life showing the fruit of the Spirit than proving to others my theology and interpretations are the correct ones.

If they are that entrenched and rude, what would be the point of further conversation anyway?

(Jay Nelsestuen) #3

You and I are not far off. I have my doubts about annihilation, but you are correct in stating that that is a discussion for another time.

Thankfully, I have never been called un-Christian or even non-Christian for holding the beliefs I do. Perhaps it is because I have not done too much to voice my opinions (although I’ve posted a number of things on Facebook, enough to give people a pretty good idea), or because in the circles I run in, people often don’t base one’s salvation on their particular view of origins.

If someone were to call me un-Christian or “non-Christian” for believing (and, I would say, being able to prove) that God used evolution to create, I would likely respond in much the same way as @Christy - with grace and respect to the other party. It’s one thing to be called names; it’s another thing to respond in like manner. If they are intent on excluding me from the fold, it is most likely that they are not open to further conversation, and therefore my time would be wasted trying to point them to resources where they could learn more. My understanding of the Bible and of science has been deeply enriched in this last year or so; I wish others would see what I see, but sometimes one just needs to shake the dust off one’s feet and move on.

(Phil) #4

I feel much the same way. Sometimes you just have to find more supportive company. Sometimes you can just say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” and move on.

(David Greathouse) #5

Which is probably going to be my new route; attempting to prove myself to them is pointless and, well, dumb.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #6

I admire your frankness with them.

“How do you respond?” you asked? Well, in my case, usually by avoiding the topic in the first place, sadly. I save talking about these matters for conversations with trusted friends, or with those who are already struggling with this issue and have expressed an earnest desire to understand how other people harmonize their Christian faith with their embrace of the scientific consensus. Thankfully, I’ve never had someone hostile to EC ask me point-blank what my views are, although our senior pastor came close once, advising me that I should probably not “like” BioLogos on Facebook because people might think I actually support them…

(David Greathouse) #7

Lol, I thought I was the only one who dodged my pastors questions in fear of getting verbally stoned by friends and close family at Church.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #8

Well, for me it’s partly fear but partly also a deliberate strategy.

Folks from my church know I went to an Ivy League school, even though the congregation itself trends anti-intellectual. The way I figure, some day some of these youth group kids will grow up and go to college and a handful of them might say, “You know, I wonder what that AMWolfe did with all this. Surely he had to struggle through this, and yet his faith seems vibrant enough. I’ll go ask him.” So far, no one has, but my hope is that if I manage to live a life where people can see my faithfulness to the Lord, this will continue to build bridges and build relational capital to where when the topic arises, I will have earned a place in the questioner’s “Circle of Trust.”

Besides which, I feel it really is unhelpful for me to foist my journey upon them. I honestly would not wish the challenges of grappling with these issues on anyone, if their faith is strong. If their faith has been torn down elsewhere, let me help them find a way to build it back up in a way that integrates their understanding of science. But if their faith is strong (albeit simple), Lord bless 'em. Really.

[Edited for typo because of silly constant touchpad malfunctioning.]

(David Greathouse) #9

Amen to that. Let me ask you this, what’s your take on Noah’s sons “repopulating the whole world”?

8 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.

I believe the flood is regional, but this seems a bit extraordinary… I mean, that’s a lot of incest.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #10

Well, I don’t really have time to dig into this question this evening, but perhaps others will want to chime in. You may want to start a new topic? Sometimes that draws in more interest whereas otherwise it just gets buried in a comment thread and people who would love to respond about Noah don’t even see it because they think the thread’s about being called unchristian.

But anyway, just taking an uneducated stab in the dark: Remember that every time you hear the word “world” in the Pentateuch, it’s the same as the “the land” or “the known world at the time,” which was the Ancient Near East. Still a lot of incest, if taken at face value.

There are other ways of looking at Genesis that view the earliest chapters through different ancient genres that would allow for a looser interpretation. I don’t have time or energy to dive into that or give it the critical reflection it would merit today, but perhaps others can take the baton and run with it.

(David Greathouse) #11

I appreciate the input, God bless you and have a good day/night.


They say that in the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is king. However, I suspect a more likely case is that the blind people get together and stone the one-eyed guy out of spite.

(Phil) #13

I feel fortunate in that my pastor accepts me pretty much where I am, and as his wife is a facebook friend, and I share quite a few Biologos posts, am sure he is aware of my association with Biologos (I even invited him to the conference and he seemed open to it) but he is in a difficult position, as I am sure a good percentage of the church like Ken Ham. I try not to publicly make it a discussion involving him.

(Jay Johnson) #14

The second part of your statement is crucial. People are much more inclined to listen when some level of trust has been established. An important insight that many fail to understand. At the same time, I want to focus on the first part of what you said. I have observed you answer wisely on a number of topics for a long period of time, and so I want to encourage you to stop waiting for the youth group kids to come to you, and instead find a way to go to them. It doesn’t even have to be in a church setting. Just working with kids, you are constantly surprised by what they ask and share, but they only care about your answers if they know you care about them, as individuals. I’m sorry to be so presumptuous, but since you seem to have the heart for that kind of work, I just wanted to encourage you to think about and pray upon the matter.

(Andrew M. Wolfe) #15

Wow, thank you, Jay. That really means a lot. I’ll think and pray on that.

It’s a bit tricky in my situation because my work keeps me far from our home church for substantial periods of time, but… I need to chew on what you said. Thank you.

(Sue A.) #16

There is a lot of symbolism and metaphors in the Bible, including in stories that Jesus told while on Earth found in the New Testament. These people calling you a “liar and demon” certainly must believe that, you could point that out. Also, God is so big, there is no way we can ever know everything about Him. Even the Bible can not contain all the information about who God is. Studying God’s creation (Science) is a way He has provided for us to know Him better.

(Jay Johnson) #17

I’m glad you reacted positively to it. Right after I hit reply, I thought, “Maybe that should have been a PM?” Oh, well. Haha. Timing is everything, in your case, too. But while you’re chewing on it, don’t be afraid to let yourself think outside the church box, too. As I’m sure you know, people are often more honest about their struggles outside the church setting than inside, where everyone is afraid of saying the “wrong” thing.

Good luck and God bless!

(James McKay) #18

I personally try to avoid framing my position in terms of “accepting evolution.” Instead, I appeal for honesty and understanding about it.

I allow them the possibility of a recent creation with the appearance of age, or that the appearance of common ancestry between humans and animals might be just that—an appearance. However I do make it clear that that would involve the creation of evidence for a history of events that never happened. Surprisingly, some YECs do seem to find omphalos more palatable than evolution.

The main point that I make is that while rejecting science may be faith, misrepresenting science is dishonesty. I point out that anything you claim about science can and will be fact-checked, and demonstrable falsehoods will just undermine their credibility in the eyes of anyone who happens to do so.

Some of them say, “Science needs to be interpreted to fit Scripture, not the other way around.” My response is, fine, but you need to do so without introducing maths errors, fudging or cherry-picking the raw data, taking shortcuts, exaggerating or downplaying the significance of errors and disagreements, quote mining, or resisting critique. Basically, without lying. If you can’t do that, then you need face the fact that maybe you have misunderstood Scripture.

One thing that I’ve recently been starting to say is that anyone who wants to tackle the subject of evolution in the church needs to be properly trained to do so, by getting a university degree in the subject. If you don’t properly understand how science works, you will get things wrong and you will end up trying to debunk a straw man caricature of science that bears no resemblance whatsoever to what real scientists actually do.


Excellent point. And for what we do know, there will be some things where the biblical authors must resort to simile, metaphor, and myth, because how can mere human language always express the things of God in a straightforward fashion?

btw, I like the name “cytogirl.” Are you a cell biologist?

(Sue A.) #20

Hi BeagleLady,
I was a Cytotechnologist for 30 years and now retired. My last position was with LabCorp where the bulk of the work was screening Pap smears. The creation of “the cell” itself is a miracle! (We had a beagle when I was a kid, so cute!)