Today’s guest post comes from Stacey Hammons, one of an excellent class of students from Bethel Seminary who recently studied the intersection between theology and science.
About 4 years ago, I finally agreed to some medical tests to see what was making me sick. The results showed a severe food allergy. I was reluctant and afraid to get this testing done, because it would mean giving up things I really loved (like pizza!) and I was worried about the impact on my family. But my fears were mostly unfounded. My life has improved drastically since I no longer eat what for me amounts to poison. In the end knowing the truth was much better than denial; it just took me awhile to get there.
When it comes to issues of science and faith, there are those that approach it with the same hesitancy I had in finding out what was wrong with me. Most Christians in my corner of the world have no problems with science when it comes to things like medicine, nutrition or technology. However, if you find yourself in the middle of a dull conversation, just drop the word “evolution” and hold on for the ride.
One thing I’ve learned in regards to evolution is that the earth is old – to the tune of 4.5 billion years. Opposed to this is the view of young earth creationism, which holds the earth is no more than 10 thousand years old. That’s a huge difference! What do we do with this difference? It’s ok for us to have disagreements; people can believe whatever they want. What I struggle with are the extreme views, like equating belief in a young earth to believing the gospel.
At the very extreme ends of this issue we find two competing worldviews – one is Christian and the other Atheist. One says that evolution is true and therefore, God does not exist, the other says God does exist and therefore evolution cannot be true. It occurs to me, rather ironically, that both parties actually believe the same about evolution – that were it to be true, would have to mean God does not exist. So, one side staunchly opposes the other, line by line, word for word, all the while with this underlying fear that “I must prove my point because I must prove my world view is right.”
I understand there is a fear there – much like my fears regarding my medical diagnosis. What will I have to give up if I embrace something different? How will this impact my friends and family? Will there be fights and hurt feelings over this? Most importantly, does it mean my faith is no longer real? I say emphatically no. Christianity stands on the truth of Jesus Christ, the cross and the resurrection. Without that we have no religion. Just because a person does not believe the creation story in Genesis was ever meant to be read literally, it does not follow that the person doesn’t believe Scripture is truth or hold a very high view of Scripture. It simply means a belief that God is the Creator and that he reveals to us through science more of that creative process.
We should hold on to our convictions, yes, but we must learn to hold them with humility. There is room for discussion and conversation. Maybe we learn something new and it causes us to think a little differently about an issue, so what? That should not destroy our faith.
Ultimately I wonder if maybe, just maybe we could let God be – well, God. In opening ourselves up to discovering the truth we might, after all, drastically improve our lives, thus discovering our fears were unfounded all along.