Molly Worthen | Science and the Journey to Faith

Molly brings her research that explores the history of evangelicalism in America to her newfound identity as an evangelical herself.


I was reading the other thread asking why YEC people changed their mind. And I wanted to butt in and speak for those of us who were not raised in Christianity and how the YEC people leave the rest of us out in the cold without Christianity. They obviously think Christianity is more important and science shouldn’t stand in ones way. I couldn’t agree more, but from my perspective THEY are the ones making science stand in the way of Christianity. Anyway I hesitated posting in that thread and thought this thread would be a better place to speak up.

Aggressive atheists want people to believe that science proves Christianity wrong. And these YEC Christians agree with them. They are on the same side arguing against Christianity for the majority of people in the world.

As for anti-intellectualism… I can sympathize (with anti-intellectualism) to a very great degree. This sympathy, however, is not enough to let me leave the lifetime habits of thought which are a part of me. I have often complained of feeling stuck in my own head – much like some of the things Molly Worthen says of herself. But being raised by a couple of psychology majors and all the psychobabble that came with this, one can get a little tired of the excessive intellectualism which excludes too much which is very important to our lives as human beings. And now with the proof in AI that the vast majority of what we call intelligence is something machines can do better than humans, shows me that equating humanity to intelligence is a huge mistake.

Regarding this idea of “cogitating your way to Jesus” and how she says if anyone has done this then she did. I am very similar and could say the same of myself. I remember actually asking God not to show me any miracles as a way of convincing me because that would just be a waste of His time – I CANNOT base my decisions in life on something like that. But, of course, thinking our way to Jesus is not what we did at all. It is more a matter of getting our own heads in order, because our heads just won’t alloy us to agree and follow along with something which doesn’t make any sense.

I wrote the above before I got to the part where Molly Worthen says she was frustrated because she didn’t get one of those miraculous experiences… which made me laugh. …hmmm… now she doesn’t sound as intellectual as I was… What could such an experience possibly prove anyway??? Sounds to me more consistent with the existence of malicious aliens who want me to believe a bunch of nonsense… (yes, like the plot to a sci-fi which I read and watched a lot). Such a miracle would be too much like the special effects of one of these movies which obviously don’t prove anything.

I"m enjoying this point of view by Molly Worthen. Thanks (still listening).

This caight me:

the reaction that CS Lewis records I think in Surprised by Joy, where he says, “Listen, I’ve read a lot of mythology. I know what that genre feels like. This isn’t that.”

Though not because of the content, rather because it sounds so much like a book I bought several times because I would loan it and it sometimes wouldn’t come back – and I couldn’t remember the name of the book!

So I just spent a chunk of time hunting and tracked it down: Ring of Truth by J. B. Phillips.
Ring of Truth: A Translator's Testimony by J.B. Phillips, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®)

1 Like

I think you’re right–I’m not familiar with the book by Philips, but I thought Lewis wrote that it was in the category of myth–just “true myth.” So, if I recall, he wrote that even if the Eden story wasn’t literal, its layers of meaning in regards to sin, etc, were so deep, he hadn’t plumbed near the bottom. Also, I believe his quote was that a myth is a story that once we heard it, we realized we had known it all along (sorry, I’m trying to find the quote, and I’m not getting it yet).

1 Like

I remember that, but don’t recall which book it’s in.

It sounds like it could be from Surprised by Joy, The Pilgrim’s Regress, or perhaps Weight of Glory.


That was a fascinating conversation, with very insightful questions.

I think faith looks and feels very different for a “thinker”, which I would consider Molly Worthen to be. Others are more intuitive, for whom I think faith is a different experience. I think we need both types of people, but they need to respect one another.

I would tend to consider myself on the thinker side of the spectrum, but I recognize my intuitive nature as well. What I try to get rid of in myself is intellectual dishonesty – not pretending to understand something intellectually that I don’t. Ultimately, every human being has to take things on faith. Even the most thinking type of person will get to the point where they need to take on faith things that other trustworthy people say, or just to be honest and say “I believe this in my heart”.

I would consider C.S. Lewis a thinker. Whatever you may think about his weaknesses as an apologist, he wrote this classic account of a thinker coming to faith:

You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. – C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy


That’s a nice takeaway. I haven’t had a chance to check out this conversation, but I heard her story in a TGC interview last year. I particularly liked how she said she met Jesus in the place she least expected, in a Baptist megachurch worship service.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.