My ID Challenge

My studies in (Christian) college convinced me that the TOE was true, which plunged me into a faith crisis. I emerged from that crisis an atheist and remained that way for more than 30 years, reasoning that if life could be explained by purely natural processes, God was not necessary, and therefore, must not exist. It was only when the evidence from the information of life convinced me in 2005 that life requires a Creator that I returned to God. Today I am convinced that evolution turns believers into atheists. Here is my challenge: Let’s role play. I am going to be “young Joe,” recreating my faith crisis. You will play the role of my wise Christian mentor, out to convince me that there is no conflict between the Bible and evolution, in an effort to diffuse my crisis. One warning though: I reserve the right to an unfair advantage. I may elect from time to time to bring “old Joe” into the conversation to respond to your wisdom:

young Joe: “I am really struggling with two questions. How do we know that evolution is true and if it is true, how do we know that God exists?”

In what ways does the veracity of evolution negate the existence of God?

The conflict arises only if you accept that TOE and God are incompatable. Had you not gone into college having been taught that they were mutually exclusive, do you feel you would have still had a crisis of faith?

It’s interesting because I was taught that. It was a challenge I “survived” through compartmentalization and then through a gradual re-integration. My 17-year-old son, headed to university next year and pursuing a career in medicine, does not seem to have a problem with this because he was not taught that.

The centre of Christianity is Jesus, the Messiah, not 6-Day Creation.

So, basically your faith as a college student was based purely on the necessity of God’s existence, not on personal experience with God? Maybe that was part of the problem. I went to a Christian college and learned about evolution and it wasn’t a big deal. But my faith wasn’t based purely on some sort of apologetic that required a Creator. It was based on personal experience with grace, forgiveness, answered prayer, evidence that my character had changed and grown stronger empowered by the Holy Spirit. It would not have been so easy to throw away deeply meaningful spiritual experiences that I knew at the core of my being simply because a scientific theory saw no need for God.

I don’t think “necessity for God’s existence” is a good basis for faith, and I’m curious how ID led you to the God of the Bible and Christ anyway. Even if you are convinced that life needs a Designer, why would you then accept that Jesus Christ died for your sins to reconcile you to God? Or by “return to God” do you mean just a return to a general kind of theism?


Good observations. I agree with what you are saying. If you hold that salvation is dependent on the Bible, that would mean if you were illiterate, or had no translation of the Bible available, you are doomed, which is obviously not the case. Certainly the Bible has an important role, but the central foundation of Christianity is the person of Christ.


Because evolution says that life happened in a way that is completely contradictory to the way the Bible says it happened. But even if that were not the case, evolution says that the unfolding of life was a completely natural process. If purely natural processes are capable of bringing forth all life, then God is obviously not in the process at all.

No matter how you look at it, if evolution is true, God is out of a job.

So do you have an answer to my questions?


I wasn’t taught that they were mutually exclusive. I didn’t have to be

Are you following Jim’s blog series this week? This is the very issue being addressed.

I appreciate your answer, but if I am hearing you correctly, you do not really buy into evolution. I am learning that evolution unfolds through purely natural processes. You seem to be saying that this is not so. If you are saying that there is something more than natural process, then that could be evidence for God, but it would have to mean that evolution is not true.


My experience differs from yours. I went through a non-religious education system and evolution (Darwin) was one of a number of theories that we as students debated. Some eventually put so much focus on TOE that they disregarded established science - we argued they did this not based on scientific grounds, but because as atheists, they needed to place there faith is something materialistic that sounded scientific. Their main response was to criticise religion in general and especially Christianity which explicitly teaches God created the heavens and earth.

Anti-religious atheists, in my experience, often adopt an extreme materialistic belief, and they rely on the TOE to sustain their outlook. Most scientist I know either see TOE as just another area of science, or prefer to regard its overall impact as a belief system. In either case, it has not carried such weight regarding the physical sciences, to cause me any concern.

I think the problems (to put it in this language) stem from arguments put both by anti-theists, and religious people who make TOE central regarding their outlook on faith vs science (i.e. often regarded as fundamentalists of creationists).

Our understanding of God stems from revelation and faith in Crist - science has never been an enemy in this regard.


young Joe: That’s right. I am interested first and foremost in what is true. Until I began to learn the TOE, I accepted stories like yours at face value, but let’s face it: buddhists, hindus, and even atheists, claim to have spiritual experiences and transformations. I also accepted that God is real because it made sense. But the TOE clearly says that God is not necessary. And it also says that life unfolded in a manner that cannot be reconciled with how the Bible says it unfolded.

old Joe: It was a process. It is fair to say that as a youth, I was a spiritual corpse among many corpses; dead in the pews. When I became convinced that life required a Creator, I did not immediately go back to the God of the Bible. I began a search for my Creator. Again, the evidence was primary. And it was the evidence for the Resurrection that finally convinced me. My heart was the last thing to come around Christy. But when it did, He began working mightily in my life. Today, I am more alive than I ever was, and my personal experiences with Him are amazing.

But none of that was possible as long as I believed that evolution was true.

I will try to look into it as time permits. This has been a very busy week for me. Thanks

Well said. We (in the church) have been trying for decades to “give students the tools they need” to survive in post-secondary education. We attempt to fill their minds with apologetics and dubious science expecting them to miraculously “stand up to godless, atheist professors with a bent to destroy the faith of students” (“God’s Not Dead”?). There may be a minority of professors like this–a small minority. I’ve heard one or two first-hand stories. But even if this were the case, what are the chances of a first or second-year student successfully standing down a professor with a Ph.D. and years of experience in his field based on youth group level material?

Not only is it unlikely, but we’re actually setting up our students to fail!

We say that the center and foundation of Christianity is relationship with Jesus, but then our discipleship material begins with apologetics!

My story: yes, I struggled in university to bring together what I had learned about scripture and what I was learning about science. I survived. How? Regular daily devotions and engagement in my local church. Relationship.


That’s a narrow definition of evolution. Whether it happened with or without intervention, though, is not a scientific claim. It’s a metaphysical claim.

This is an enjoyable and enlightening post. I have to admit that while I am in the ET camp for the most part, there are some aspects of ID that are attractive, and my feeling is that evolution is essentially ID on another level, reflecting Proverbs 16:33 -We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

Thanks for your input. Yes, your experience was different that mine. And for me (as well as many others) the TOE was a central issue for my worldview. I didn’t have to make it central. It was central by nature.

The truth is that most young people will, on the threshold of adulthood, begin to naturally question things they have been brought up to believe. Often times this will coincide with going off to college and being away from family and friends for the first time. it will also coincide with their being taught the TOE. In this caustic crossroads, many (I being one) will find themselves in a crisis of faith, and some (I being one) will emerge from that crisis as atheists. My wife never experienced that crisis. You obviously did not either. But many will.