Disarming Student Suspicions of Evolution

Disarming Student Suspicions of Evolution January 8, 2019

Rev. Dr. Charles Allen leads the wonderful progressive Christian campus ministry at Butler University known as Grace Unlimited. He has shared some of his own experience of being persuaded to adopt young-earth creationism, and then again to abandon it, in a manner that mirrors my own experience to a large extent. Here is an excerpt from what he wrote:

Fortunately, my “evolution” out of that intolerant phase was not traumatic. Oddly enough, my creationist pastor played a bigger role than he realized in slowly undermining the worldview he wanted me to promote. He kept encouraging me to investigate things for myself. He made it clear, of course, that he expected me to wind up thinking pretty much the way he did. So I kept investigating things and instead came to realize that I couldn’t possibly think as he did.

Even when I gave most of my attention to writers he endorsed, I kept running into problems. They made claims about the Bible that even the Bible didn’t seem to make. They insisted that there was no room for disagreement on how to read the Bible, yet they often disagreed with one another. They claimed that reading the Bible would answer all questions, while I found it raising more questions than answers.

By the time these problems came to a head, my creationist pastor had moved on. Our new pastor, to my relief, saw the early parts of Genesis as origin myths, stories telling us that, for all its shortcomings, this world is exactly where we and God belong. He also encouraged me to do my own thinking but didn’t expect or even want me to wind up thinking exactly as he did. So I returned to my more tolerant upbringing, though with a far greater sense of how complicated things could be. And I finished college convinced that my theology would be enhanced and challenged to grow if I didn’t try to second-guess the peer-reviewed work of other fields, including, of course, biology.

Click through to the Grace Unlimited website to read more! See too Allan Bevere’s summary of Jim Stump’s list of misconceptions about evolution, as well as this useful graphic below:

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  • jekylldoc

    Well, this is a helpful ministry, but really we need a whole new mindset about what our faith means. The expectation by your pastor that you would reach the “expected” conclusion is part of a systematic subordination of mind to authoritarianism. We had become all about loving God with all your strength, but left off all your heart and all your mind, and I conclude, all your soul.

    The excellent memoir “Educated” comes at this issue from an unexpected but revealing direction.

  • Summers-lad

    Actually I disagree with the graphic. The Bible is not evidence against evolution. To be sure, it isn’t evidence for it either, but if I follow the advice in your own song, “it’s poetry, not science, let Genesis be”, I cannot regard it as an anti-evolutionary or anti-scientific statement. Many theologians from Augustine onwards have recognised that physical explanation was not the purpose of the Genesis creation accounts. I believe that they give a deeply meaningful description of God’s purposes in creation, which complements, and leaves room for, cosmological/geological/evolutionary understanding (but does not leave room for the “steady state” theory of the universe which was popular some decades ago).

    • I never imagined that anyone on the internet would ever quote my song lyrics in making an argument!