Shattering Expectations: From Amish to Evolutionary Creationist

(system) #1
We love God with our minds when we ask the difficult and uncomfortable questions and when we are willing to hold our views with humility.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #2

Welcome, Mahala.

Please note that the word mind was introduced into the Great Commandment b by the Greek translation of the OT. We learn through dialog.

Also when the Bible capital izes Word of God, it refrs to Jesus Christ, not the Bible. See John 1:1

(Phil) #3

Beautiful story and best wishes along life’s journey. I find you never stop learning and as life changes, so too does your perspective. The rational can lead you to a deeper understanding of the spiritual, as you have experienced.

(Alex Staton) #4

Interesting story. It’s good to read about your positive memories of being brought up in the Amish Community and particularly of the way it shaped and encouraged your thinking. Also coming from a conservative background with many good things to commend it, I’m a little impatient with lazy caricatures that see it simply as intolerant. Of course that’s not to say it isn’t without its problems. All the same, I remember its love, community and emphasis on using my mind (it wasn’t ‘fundamentalist’ in the strict sense) with considerable affection - even if I now find myself in a more ‘liberal’ congregation.

As a geologist, I’ve struggled with science and faith issues for a long time. There are relatively few professional geologists speaking about these isdues.(Davis A. Young is a notable exception.) Personally, I was often viewed with suspicion. This is despite the fact that not only were many of the earliest geologists Christians, but man historical figures from my own tradition (the evangelical reformed presbyterianism of the Free Church of Scotland and Princeton men) took a very positive view both of geology and evolution. David S Livingstone has produced an excellent survey of this. The too often loveless and censorious young earth creationism that has infected so much evangelicalism didnt really come to the fore until the 1920s. James Barr deals with this in his book Fundamentalism.

Like you I’d probably describe myself as an evolutionary creationist; and like you, I’m still working out what that means. I believe in a Creator but I also believe God is the Logos behind the universe. The laws of nature, including natural selection, describe the way he ordinarily works. I think there may be an openness and unpredictability in evolution, as in quantum mechanics and chaos, that on the face of it appears problematic. I’m starting to explore the openness theology of Clark Pinnock and others in an attempt to resolve this. I’m afraid I have no sympathy for so-called intelligent design. Here in Scotland, ID appears to have become the only show in town for many.

I think it’s a pity the science-theology discussion almost invariably defaults to creationism. There are so many other interesting things going on. Whilst a non-specialist, I’ve developed an interest in neuroscience and theories of mind. I’m interested in issues to do with mental illness, responsibility and determinism. I’m also interested in the evolution of the human brain and religious observance. The other issue I find interesting is the science of sexuality. All these things impact our understanding of the Bible. Sufgice to say my intetest in some of these is more than merely academic.


You (Mahala) wrote: Because of my upbringing, I know the value of and seek to embody the traits of working diligently, serving others, cultivating humility, practicing and developing my faith…

These traits clearly show throughout your blog. And these are traits so sorely needed at this time in our world. God continue to bless you.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #6

Thanks for the story of your continuing faith journey, Mahala, (and for the instructions on how to pronounce your name!)

It is good to hear from other folks that have some roots in Anabaptist traditions who embrace both the courage to risk changing their deeply encultured opinions and even convictions on some things, and yet who also continue to embrace their faith, growing in that as well instead of trying to walk away from it.

I imagine there are a growing number of people in this nation who wouldn’t mind learning quite a few lessons from the Amish about life and living, and how to truly be masters of technology instead of enslaved by it. I count myself among those interested.

My wife (who also has family in the Mishwaka/Goshen area) learned with some discouragement how much support and involvement the ark project had from Amish/Mennonite communities. But we are encouraged by stories like yours that there is great diversity of people from within any large and healthy community and that there is much to celebrate in that even though we feel the heat of the friction at times. Blessings on your journey.