Why I Never Had a Faith Crisis Over Science

Science is a growing factor in people leaving church, doubting God, and dropping away from their faith altogether. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

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I never had a faith crisis over science because I started with science and never accepted anything in Christianity contrary to science.

Why should we accept the things contrary to science any more than we should accept things contrary to morality and common decency? Should we embrace examples of priests molesting children and say that is the way it should be just because it is part of what we find in Christianity?

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way! Christian beliefs can actually support the investigation of God’s creation

Indeed, and the statistics just means people are ripe for a revival when religion can get up to speed in terms of both science and morality.

P.S. This is not to say that religion needs to just accept morality as dictated by society. Religion can also lead the way in looking for a better standard of morality than what is commonly accepted.

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Enjoyed the article, and as from that same general era, relate to it a lot. My seminal moment came when in high school growing up on the farm, we drilled an irrigation well into the Ogallala aquifer and pumped up “clam shells” from 400 feet below the High Plains of Texas My dad looked at them and commented on how there must have been ages unknown to us buried below. That gave me permission to see the world not as a known entity, but rather to feel awe of those amazing things I did not yet understand. It was still a conflict in education looking at comparative anatomy and reconciling it with the literalistic interpretations at church, but I was able to do so fairly uneventfully. I would have had an easier time with that class had I not had that conflict, but made it through it anyway.

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It is not because of science that people leave the church but because of church. A religious institution that tries to please its followers by becoming yes wo/men to society isn’t worthwhile the membership fee. There are better value for money memberships in the pool for having your wishes fulfilled and reaching sexual satisfaction.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Just found BioLogos and have questions

So because the church keeps its nose out of people’s sex lives, they’re leaving?

So this isn’t true in fundamentalist America (it isn’t true in the Olde Worlde of course, apart from the Church being sexist and homophobic, which is, of course, about scientific issues)?

In research over a decade ago, Barna asked millennials who grew up in the church why they left. Although respondents gave several reasons, 29% said “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” and 25% said “Christianity is anti-science.”

In 2018, Barna surveyed the next generation (GenZ), the teenagers currently attending church, and science was an even larger concern: 53% agreed that “the church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world.” And in 2019, Barna surveyed young people all over the globe, asking them why they doubt things of a spiritual dimension, and found that “science” was one of the top reasons they doubt, second only to “hypocrisy of religious people” and even greater than “human suffering.” Science is a growing factor in people leaving church, doubting God, and dropping away from their faith altogether.

Hypocrisy is the greatest reason. What form does that take in the minds of the smart young I wonder? What hypocrisy do they see? What hypocrisy is there in the Church being dragged kicking and screaming in to the 1960s?

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Nice article. Well written and explained.

I never had a God crisis, growing up. But I did have a Religion crisis. There are things that Religion says that do not make sense. Yet, I have always believed in God and felt like there are simpler answers than the ones Religion invoke.
Recently, it dawned on me that many of us are trying to define creation rather than realize that we have been defined by creation. If one is able to look beyond what we know and can know and consider what we don’t know and cannot know (unless we are privy to divine information), some intriguing insights occur; at least they occurred to me.
I am glad to share them if you are interested (I wrote them in story form as a way to not be too dry and scientific).

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Good question. Our pastor seems to be going that direction, and quotes Walton every now and then. So far, no major objections have been voiced, but he is pretty subtle in his messages. Overall, I think it is healthy to expose the congregation to the wider world of theology.

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I would be relieved if pastors could start with considering the culture of their churches and congregations and spending a good deal more energy on ecclesiology and what it looks like to live and behave as the Body of Christ, recognizing that there will be important things that Christians differ on and must learn to differ graciously on.
I have strong views on how we should and should not deal with science, politics, information, etc. But even more important than those things, because humans will never ever all have consensus, even in one church, is learning to lovingly live with those differences. At least to start with.

That alone would be enormous.

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Indeed. I can fully understand why a pastor would not want to hit the wasp’s nest. What might be helpful is highlighting the fact that views on creationism and evolution aren’t salvation issues and shouldn’t be topics that cause division in the congregation. The same would apply to the other hot button topics.

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You dear innocent. This is exactly why it is so hot right now, because people are being lead to believe exactly that (i.e. salvation issues).
AIG and maybe others have tied the truth of the Gospel to YEC. It is their apologetic. THE apologetic.
In their eyes I am deluded damaged goods, because all I am left with is the Gospel based on the birth, death and resurrection lf Jesus, which now seems to have been deemed insufficient by the ham-fisted gate-keepers and wall-builders.
It’s aparently a tricky position to be in.

Well, not really.

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There is some irony in that old earth types and ECs in particular find little problem sharing community with YEC types, as the age of the earth is of no great concern to their theology, whereas as a young earth is foundational to the YEC view, it becomes difficult for some (not all as some are essentially cultural young earthers, but hold no real strong ties.)

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Todd Wood spoke on this as well.

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This is one of three major reasons we eventually left our former church and expressed to the pastors, when we wrote to explain our departure. I don’t know the person you quoted, but he expressed (better) things I have said and things we discussed over in the The End of Apologetics thread.

I have never been YEC (ruined from before the first Henry Morris movie I saw), and to see this stuff becoming so huge is just crushing. Along with so many other irrelevant issues that are taking over evangelical christianity in the US. We are pushing people out of churches and locking the doors behind them.

I’m not sure I understand. I appreciate that he accepts that there is evidence. However, Dr Wood seems to be completely ignoring overwhelming evidence, just not subverting it (in contrast to AiG), to keep his worldview of YEC. At what point is that no longer tenable? I really think (I have read “The Fool and the Heretic”) that he is mistaken in what he labels as idolatry. Rather than idolizing evidence, he’s possibly idolizing (unintentionally) his own comfort in what he has chosen to believe. We, as Christians, can have a big blind spot there, it seems.
Maybe I’m wrong, and completely misunderstanding. I am sorry if so; please correct me.
Thanks.

That’s why I want my students to know the truth about evolution. It’s not bogus. It’s not a failure. There’s lots of evidence in its favor. But that just doesn’t make it true. Have faith in the risen Christ, and it will not matter what scientists tell you (or anyone else, for that matter).

Wood seems to be a complicated guy.
As far as the idolatry goes, I think he’s speaking Penner’s language. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had read Penner.
I whole-heartedly agree with what I bolded here. This is exactly what we were talking about over in the thread for The End of Apologetics. The apologetic arguments themselves have replaced our witness to what Christ has done. The arguments become idols, when belief in the arguments replaces belief in Jesus. In the discussion we were having about TEA, it didn’t matter what the arguments were, but that the arguments were what one assented to, put one’s faith in.

All emphases and bracketed additions are mine.

I have actually expressed in different words, the very same sentiment he expresses here:

Whenever people have learned to believe that YEC and AIG, or ID, or whatever are the support for their faith, later to find out it’s not true, they may conclude that the faith they built on those “apologetics” was as faulty as the foundation.

Where I live, I can see that there are a number of options for dealing with this.

  1. Remain where your beliefs will not be challenged, where you are surrounded by other people who support your YECism, dig deeper into anti-intellectualism, ban more books, insist that YEC be taught in the schools, separate from “the world” more, etc. Your YEC-founded faith might survive.

  2. Come in contact with challenging information and people. This can now go a number of ways, certainly more than these five

examples:
a) Lose YEC. Maybe because you meet healthy Christians (maybe different race, different country, different Christian upbringing) who don’t hold to YEC, who can demonstrate a robust faith in Jesus Christ, independent of any C-ism, or you figure it out on your own.
b) Loosen your grip on YEC and look for other reasons for faith in Jesus. Be willing to learn to live with tensions.
c) Lose YEC and the faith it supported. There are surely lots of variations on this, which may include: feelings of betrayal, feeling foolish, feeling guilty for having been gullible, any assortment of feelings that could go with loss of faith.
d) Fight all the harder to maintain YEC in the face of the evidence against it. Because you are trying to hang on to your faith.
e) Do what Todd Wood has done:

When he says things like this [from the blog post link about idolotry]

That’s why I want my students to know the truth about evolution. It’s not bogus. It’s not a failure. There’s lots of evidence in its favor. But that just doesn’t make it true. Have faith in the risen Christ, and it will not matter what scientists tell you (or anyone else, for that matter).

Randy, I think you understood perfectly what he was doing. Just that what he is doing doesn’t really make sense.

For some reason [which is to maintain a literalist Bible reading], he feels he must pit faith in Christ against evolution. He’s not able to reconsider his hermeneutics.

(This is personal for me; Scott and I have had to discuss the girls’ AIG Sunday school lessons with them, because there was relentless indoctrination that if you weren’t YEC, you weren’t a real Christian.
The church also holds a discussion group by invitation of a student sponsor at the local public high school, which uses the same AIG apologetic methods. The non-christian kids think it’s nuts, but the pizza is free, and it’s entertaining. The YEC kids are well-prepared and know all the talking points and lists. The other Christian kids are just frustrated and confused. But the pizza is free. They’re hoping for SOMETHING to hold on to. They were looking for more than pizza.)

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That was certainly the case for Libby Anne.

I think that’s a pretty accurate run down. It’s really a question of how well someone can deal with cognitive dissonance and how they were brought up in the faith. In the case of Libby Anne, YEC was a central part of Christian faith. Later in the blog post she stated:

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Every last word.

Kids dutifully learning the YEC curriculum content, not just to learn the content assigned by their science teacher/“teacher”, but ultimately to save their souls. And don’t forget the disaster to follow finding out that dragon stories are just stories, not evidence of late living dinosaurs.
Yes, if you haven’t heard about that, it’s there in AIG stuff and stuff presented at Pizza Group at the local high school.
They are set up, propped up for disaster by well-meaning, indescriminate people.

I know that BL is not every participant’s dream destination, but to hear people talk sense about science again and a lot of other things) is fantastic for me. To be able to breathe here. You have no idea.

(Well, you actually might. I don’t know your background. )

Thanks for sharing these blog posts. I hope they speak to other readers, who are trying to figure out why or why not to teach YEC to their kids.

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It is very refreshing to find like minds in the Christian community. I have found myself being frustrated, mystified, and angered by what has happened in some (I stress some) segments of Christianity over the last few years. When I was part of the church I knew these segments existed, but they always seemed like the crazy uncle that everyone just put up with. Now it seems to be gaining a lot of momentum, and it is really sad to see. Even my mother has been swept up in some of it. So yes, it is very fantastic to see that there are Christians who are just as frustrated with what is going in in the church as I am.

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the science vs religion crisis is an embarrassment of american evangelical proportion. there was an interesting recent unbelievable podcast about the origins of the science vs religion conspiracy theory

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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