Science Drove Me Away From Faith (And Helped Bring Me Back) | The BioLogos Forum


(system) #1

I am an avid science enthusiast and brand-new Christian. As a young person, I fell victim to the dichotomy message. I truly believed that I could not accept both science and Scripture; therefore, I was blind to the Good News for 30 years. Blessedly, in January 2015, the Lord revealed himself to me in awesome splendor, and I accepted Jesus into my life.

My crisis of faith began when evolution was presented in a high school biology class. As an origins story, it made a whole lot more sense to me than a God entity that I could not see and had not personally experienced. Yet, it was not evolutionary ideas that caused me to turn away from God but instead the insistence from my faith community that the science is wrong when I could clearly see the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, as I proceeded through a master’s thesis with a focus in paleontology.

I continued to study this conflict by attending church seminars and reading young-earth creationist materials. Ultimately, I concluded that the arguments were not valid and that the science presented did not reflect what I knew to be the essence of the scientific method. I was not convinced to reject what I understood to be true about our world, as discovered through centuries of scientific inquiry. Instead, I had to reject the Gospel. God become irrelevant, and my faith journey ended. The idea that I could embrace and trust both Scripture and science was never presented by my faith leaders as an option for me to consider.

I was again confronted with the science/faith dichotomy when recently given the gift of Jesus. This time, the Holy Spirit would not let me reject my salvation, but what awful anguish I experienced as I assumed I had to reject my beloved science instead. I was thrilled to learn that I could believe in both! As I investigate my newfound faith alongside my scientific knowledge, the Lord continues to reveal to me that scientific findings and the use of the scientific method are very good, just as his Word is also good.

BioLogos was one of the first resources the Lord directed me to when I discovered his wonderful grace. This is why I place great value in this ministry, as a support towards full exploration on God’s truth, disclosed through both nature and the Bible. The efforts of BioLogos shed light on evidence that for years has been feared by many Christians. I truly believe that I now have the Lord’s blessed consent to understand the Bible differently than what was presented to me in my youth. Genesis has become brilliantly relevant to my spiritual growth. Praise the Lord, I am so grateful to have both science and salvation in my life!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blog/science-drove-me-away-from-faith-and-helped-bring-me-back

(Ethan Rogati) #4

Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

As a student of the social sciences (B.A. in Analytical Geography from Binghamton University (SUNY) in 1996), I was confronted during my undergraduate years by the perceptions of both the faith community at the church I attended and the scientific community of the university I attended. I ended up coming out with a fuller understanding of both, I believe.

With that said, times of testing of that understanding have been ongoing and trying. I still engage in debates with those who think that the faith/science dichotomy is insurmountable and (not always the same people) who think that the dichotomy is desirable and needs to be widened. These are often with people in both the faith and science communities, so sometimes I feel challenged on all sides.

Anyway, thank you again. May your journey continue to be a rich one.


(Dana Oleskiewicz) #5

Appreciate your thoughts, Ethan. Early on when finding my salvation, I shared that view. Does God want the dichotomy in place to bring people to Him, as it ultimately did for me? Having worked through many personal issues due to a life without Him, and also much praying on it, I firmly believe the answer is ‘no’. The Lord certainly would prefer there not be any lost sheep, ever! If a teaching is not fruitful, it should end. (For clarity, I do not refer to YEC. I only refer to the tactic among some YEC to not tell the full story, ie. that harmony can exist between faith and science).

The Lord continues to direct me to Scripture where Paul warns about the dangers of a divided church. Unity does not mean uniformity. There is room for YEC and EC beliefs. Quite frankly, I don’t think God cares what we believe regarding the age of earth, only that we do believe and follow Christ. But, the dichotomy is causing hostility, and Christianity is divided making us much less effective in sharing the Good News, especially with the scientific community that feels alienated due to the science being so heavily on ‘trial’ rather than being respectively investigated and explored.

While the Lord benefits from debates, as it keeps us talking about Him, the conversation needs to be healthy, as well as engaging and inclusive. Belief in a young earth should never be a prerequisite to being Christian. And, YEC education should not result in a complete loss of faith. Admittedly, the Lord has taught me that it was my choice alone to walk away, and I live with that decision daily. But, I can’t help wonder if my choice would have been different had I been taught HOW to read the Bible, not WHAT to think about its intended message.


#6

Appreciate your thoughts. I would say however, that by what you wrote, it seems you rejected God because you had not personally experienced God. Not firstly because of “evolutionary ideas”.

You are convinced that YEC arguments are not valid, and I agree that many of them do not address the scientific issues. However, I defend YEC because I think evolution gets a free ride. The scientific problems of evolution, and the poor logic of evolution does not often enough get addressed or challenged. Evolution should not be equated with science; that would be unscientific. Science is the examination of nature, which is much greater and grander and more comprehensive than evolutionary theory. Most science is entirely irrelevant to evolution, and evolution is irrelevant to most science.

So it is fundamentally important to know that YEC are not against science. And so most YEC would agree that it is amazing and wonderful to have both science and salvation in their lives.


(Dana Oleskiewicz) #7

You are correct. As a young person, I had not yet fully experienced God (although I did identify as a believer). Therefore, It was extremely difficult to reject what I could experience with my five earthly senses in lieu of a faith that takes time to develop. At issue, then, is the dichotomy barrier that was put into my path that stopped me seeking Him all together. This barrier is not necessary, as the walk to salvation is in no way connected to our acceptance or non-acceptance of evolution. Many who have reached this barrier, and had a stronger faith, survived with their faith intact. What about those with weak faith, no faith, or atheist who even argue against His existence? How do we effectively reach them when we anchor Christianity to a teaching that is not necessary and potentially dangerous (again, the dichotomy, not YEC following)? Doesn’t Jesus teach us to share the Good News with all, not just a select few who happen to believe in a young earth?

I also defend YEC, not their scientific arguments, as I personally disagree with them, but their right to believe the earth is young and also believe in God. I was not given this same right. For years, I just kept silent with the YEC among me for fear of being judged as ‘less than’ or, in an extreme, ‘evil’ because I accept evolution. It wasn’t until I finally stood up for what I believe in a debate regarding the science that the Lord revealed himself to me. I thank Him daily!

I can tell you that my rejection of Young Earth Creationism in favor of Evolutionary Creationism had less to do with the scientific conclusions, and more to do with the methods. The scientific method is brilliantly conceived by our Creator to always keep himself relevant. We can never disprove him using science because He exists outside the constructs of the natural world. The Lord is protecting humanity’s ability to believe in Him, provided we follow the rules of science and keep the pursuit and conclusions firmly rooted in the natural domain only. Atheists already reject the God concept because science can’t find Him. Once we blur the distinct line between the natural and supernatural (as I have felt some YEC do), not only does the inquiry get confusing, but we could potentially cast off faith all together when science does not, on its own, effectively deliver the God we seek.

Science and religion are simply two different ways of gathering information. They are wonderfully complementary and can significantly add to the richness of life, provided the integrity of how and when and where each should be used is respected.


#8

Appreciate your thoughts. It is ironic that YEC are motivated in exactly the same way that biologos is; to explain how God is relevant through science. To reduce barriers to belief. To acknowledge that God is bigger than science.

While some YEC do say that evolutionists are non-believers by definition, most YEC do not accuse creationary evolutionists or evolutionary creationists as being atheists necessarily. They merely say there is an inconsistency. You may have experienced the less charitable YEC.

On the other hand, it is undoubted that some of the more prominent evolutionists promote atheism as a corollary to evolution. Dawkins is a good example of this. Even those evolutionists who believe in God, often find themselves trying to re-interpret basic doctrines, and re-interpreting scripture in a way that appears to change or deny some basic doctrines related to the christian faith. Not all do this, but many do. So it is understandable that some YEC wonder about the orthodoxy and understanding of our relationship to Jesus in this context.

I’m not sure, however, that it is illegitimate to blur the line between the natural and supernatural. I think God blurs the line. Whatever was created supernaturally, has become natural. Supernatural miracles created natural wine, healed eyes that could subsequently see in a natural way, caused a man to leap and walk in a natural way. The supernatural works on the natural, and the natural could ultimately not have come into existence naturally, unless you believe that something could create itself out of nothing… which does not match logic.

Bless your faith!!


#9

So good to read your thoughts. I may say that I had the opposite experience of yours. When I was a child I was given a Scoffield Bible that made me think and believe in Evolution. That was wonderful, seriously. But still there was something in my mind that kept me unconvinced. Some lack of articulated coherence. Later a friend who was studying Agriculture Engineering, introduced me to YEC. Here’s where I had the opposite experience of yours. Don’t you find it interesting? Both you and I have been reached by God by quite different views of origins. I may say here… praise the Lord! However I still keep asking myself about the huge amount of people that have as their main strong, drastic and definitive basis for rejecting God, the Theory of Evolution. In contrast with YEC, by definition, simply put in terms of the occam’s razor, you cannot explain the universe but solely by the direct intervention of a supernatural God. Thank you for your kindness in accepting my reflexion.


(Dana Oleskiewicz) #10

Thank you kindly for your comments. You actually have illustrated two of my main points. God simply does not care how we worship, as long as we truly follow Jesus and use his Word to always seek and obey Him. The doctrine battles we humans devise (young vs old earth, baptism by sprinkle or immersion, music vs no music, etc. etc.) are for our benefit, not His. Much like the Pharisees, it provides us a list of ‘how to’ do our religion with many of us simply gravitating towards the church that fulfills our needs best. I wonder if this is why I am at peace accepting evolution, while you are at peace not doing so, yet we are both CHRISTIAN! We can both be right in His eyes. The only thing that matters is that we believe in Jesus Christ as our personal savior. The problem is, at times, these doctrine battles become all out wars, resulting in a redirect away from the Good News as people get distracted over doctrine details. From my perspective, the Genesis controversy has been a brutal attempt to use one book of the Bible to discredit centuries of really good scientific inquiry. During my faith journey, by trying to discount the science, the Bible itself was inadvertently, and unnecessarily, discredited instead.

The second point being that the pursuit of science is for the natural, physical world only. The Theory of Evolution is simply a scientific explanation on origins. This model says nothing about the existence of God, contrary to what many perceive and promote, atheist and theists alike. Evolution neither agrees nor disagrees with the idea of a God, and it is by far not synonymous with atheism since that is a statement of faith (or lack of) in a supernatural deity, which is again outside the ability of science. So, your comment, “you cannot explain the universe but solely by the direct intervention of a supernatural God.” may be entirely true, in fact I agree with it, but that explanation can not be used in a scientific, academic setting to explain our origins. It is instead up to each individual to take the two pieces of information, gathered in very different ways, science and Scripture, and reconcile them personally.

So, while I don’t advocate bringing God into the laboratory or a science class, because I believe it is dangerous to blur the lines between natural and supernatural, I do agree with all Christians that we need to recognized and glorify the Lord much more than we do now. This division in Christianity over the age of the earth and evolution is not helping us in this cause. Science and faith must be in harmony, wonderfully overlapping, in our minds, churches, at the local pub after a day in the lab, at home, conferences, internet, forums, and of course, in BioLogos discussions. Peace be with you all!


(mike) #11

Dear Dana:
Welcome home! Like you, I found BioLogos to be a very wonderful site. I took a degree in geology years ago, chasing the wonders of the earth, trying to discover what lay behind the mystery of all that we see. Unfortunately, I conflated scientism with science and got lost in a materialist form of worship, praising the creation instead of the Creator. After I accepted Christ, I reasoned that God, having created all that we see as well as the Word, would not put the truth against itself, that the created world would not conflict with divine inspiration. That saved my new found faith! Now, a much richer reality has opened to me and I approach my faith with the same attitude as I do science. Just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean that there is an essential conflict. One has to assume that the Truth is out there and one will eventually find it. The conflict has evaporated and only wonder and mystery remain. Praise God! Thanks for your story. It helps folks like me who have long thought that a literal interpretation of scripture might be doing more harm than good where it was misapplied.


(Dana Oleskiewicz) #12

Thank you kindly, Mike. My hope in sharing is to affirm what others might be experiencing. A literal interpretation of Genesis is accepted by many, and I respect that view. However, like a large number of other Christians (and sadly, non-believers), especially scientists, a young-earth understanding of the Gospel simply did not work for me. It was not until I felt permission from the Lord to see things differently that I discovered alternative views. I am now able to reconcile the science with Scripture, and am finally able to believe in Him. Accepting an old earth or evolution has not diminished His authority over my life, or my desire to serve Him. Quite the contrary. I find worship through my fascination and study of nature to be the ultimate form of glorifying God. I praise the Creator by better understanding and respecting (protecting) His creation. Alternative views should not be feared, but instead brought out into the light. If we truly trust our Lord, He can handle the exploration and so can we to strengthen our faith. If Christians are commissioned to share the Good News with the world, including the scientific community, we can no longer connect Christianity to a young-earth doctrine only. If we do, the Gospel is done a disservice as a good number of people will be turned away from His divine grace. Believing in a young earth is not required. Sharing the Good News is all that matters!


(system) #13

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