Welcome to the conversation! I also want to congratulate you on your studies and affirm that science is a Christian vocation and nothing you learn about God’s world is going to be a threat to God or something he doesn’t want you to find out.
I think evolution was God’s creative process and he was active in creation and engaged with care and provision for his creatures the whole time. I don’t think God just set things in motion and waited around passively for millions of years and then just started caring when highly evolved hominins appeared on the scene. Why wouldn’t God delight in dinosaurs too? He takes care of sparrows, and they are dinosaur relatives.
My understanding of humans being made the image of God is that it means that when the time was right, God chose humans for a special calling, to represent him and help bring about his ongoing purposes for creation. That he would want our help caring for creation to me speaks to both his love of all creation and his special love of humanity, who he picked to be his children.
I think the Incarnation of Christ as a biological human is a monumentally significant event for understanding God’s relationship to his creation. He doesn’t just watch us and then when he thinks he can get something from us like worship, he engages. No, he became part of creation to be with us. And the Bible says Jesus was resurrected into a new imperishable human body, he ascended into heaven in that human body, and rules the universe as a human. Our hope as Christian humans is that Christ will return to resurrect us to imperishable human bodies and God will live with us in creation made new, permanently united and part of his creation, forever. This to me speaks of the tremendous worth of humanity in God’s eyes. We aren’t just another species on the evolutionary timeline, we are the children God brought into his family, gave his name and inheritance to, and chose to live with for eternity.
C.S. Lewis wrote some about the ideas of Logos and Mythos. If I’m getting it right (it’s been a while), the idea was that there are multiple vehicles of Truth. We can communicate and access truth rationally, through propositions and logic and fact (Logos), and we can communicate and access truth relationally, through story and testimony and sharing human experiences (Mythos). So Genesis 1-11 would be an example of communicating truth through Mythos, through metanarratives that tell true stories about human existence and human reality. We can access the Truth of the Mythos by relating to God and other humans, we don’t have to convert the Mythos to Logos and try to distill out of it some historical facts or empirical evidence. It’s the story that tells us the truth about who we are, who God is, what our purpose is on earth, and how we can be reconciled to God who loves us.
Is the Fall real? Maybe not in the Logos sense of two historical individuals named Adam and Eve eating fruit in a Garden as the first humans ever who disobeyed God. But it’s real in the Mythos sense of telling the truth about humanity, about humanity’s propensity to rebel against their creator in pride and selfishness, and about God passionately pursuing humanity to make things right again. We know it’s true, not because we historically fact-check it, but because we relate to God and to other humans and we know our own hearts, and we can see it’s our story. Of course we are fallen. Of course our sin separates us from our creator. Of course we need grace and redemption and those things are transformative. We can experience this story and we can see it play out in the lives of other people. Of course it is real.
I think there is a segment of American Evangelicalism that treats faith like it means believing the right things and their interpretation of the Bible like the contract we sign on the dotted line to show we have faith. The Bible is “the foundation of our faith.” I don’t think that is what faith is at all, or what the Bible is for. Faith is encountering God and knowing he is who he has revealed himself to be. Faith is accepting God’s grace and trusting that his Spirit in us can make us new and unite us to God so we can fulfill our purpose and live in our identity and privilege as God’s children.
The texts of the Bible were God’s communication to his people long ago, and the Holy Spirit can speak truth through them to us today. God can use the Bible to help us understand his love, his holiness, his desires for how we should worship him and treat our fellow humans. The Bible helps mediate God’s relationship with us and reveal God’s character and faithfulness. But the Bible isn’t the only way God relates to us. God is present with us by his Spirit and we can experience and know who he is as a Person by loving and serving God directly, not just by reading and obeying the Bible. We can experience God through others who are united to Christ and embody God’s love for us.
So, I think for me personally, approaching the Bible not as a list of facts I need to believe and rules I need to follow in order to pass a faith test, but instead approaching it as a vehicle for God to communicate who he is and how much he loves his people has been a key component of dealing with doubt. I don’t think we need to rationally figure everything out. I think we need to regularly experience God and be transformed and see our personal place in the larger story of humanity the Bible tells.