Amelia Rens—Guest Writer
Faith and Evolution. Those two words together are seemingly the biggest paradox in the Christian church today; at least where I grew up they were. Growing up in Northwest Iowa, I was blissfully ignorant about the entire debate on evolution in regard to faith for the first 14 years of my private Christian education.
So, then what? I’m sheltered for my entire life, shoved out into the real world, and exposed to a culture that believes in a world developed over millions of years and began by chance; and to top it off they have scientific evidence to back this theory up. Being told I have to choose one or the other, what am I, as a young Christian, supposed to do with this?
Thankfully, when I took my first college science course, I was presented the different perspectives on faith and evolution by one of my professors who believed that the two could, and should, have an amicable relationship. Other people weren’t so lucky. Many young Christians are left to fend for themselves when dealing with large questions such as the science/faith relationship. According to recent surveys and statistics, the “conflicting” views of science and faith is a major reason that young Christians today are leaving the church. I’ve heard it said that it was unnecessary for Christians to take a hard and fast stance on evolution because it wasn’t a salvation issue, but due to the major drop in church members, it’s now becoming one.
I’ve talked to several people who grew up in the same situation as me, but were never given the different perspectives on the way science and evolution can coexist. Most people in this situation don’t know what to do when they’re exposed to this and they go out in search of their own answers. One of the people I talked to said, “All I knew (about the relationship between evolution and faith) was that they conflicted. I watched videos supporting both sides, I read books, read articles, and talked to other friends to try and figure it out. I couldn’t deny that evolution was true.”
When first introduced to evolution science class, we were given a chart. This chart showed how scripture and science were supposed to work together to reveal God to us, not work against each other- Evolution through a Christian lens. After all, who are we to translate scripture so literally that we put God in a box? 2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” If God wanted to use billions of years or if He wanted to use two seconds, that was up for Him to decide. Instead of pining the two against each other and looking for ways they conflict, why don’t we take both, learn more about God through them, and be amazed at the complexity of our creator that we, with finite human minds, will never fully understand.
Talking to somebody who was raised in almost the same situation as me, I asked them some questions in regard to this debate:
Q: If you were told that evolution/science and faith can work together, how would that have changed your faith life?
A: “I think it would have helped me a lot. If I were taught this while growing up, I feel I would’ve had a much more open view to religion when going into science. It would have taught me right away that you don’t need to pick between believing science or believing in God.
Obviously enlightening younger Christians on evolution will not stop anybody from leaving the church, but it will help them to understand the world they live in better, and show it as a unified body of worship to God as opposed to two conflicting sides. If we don’t begin educating young Christians on the different perspectives they can have, they begin doubting and search for answers outside of the faith and that is where we run into a lot of issues as a church.
“It took me almost 18 years to even begin questioning why on some of the most foundational things I believed.
This is not me saying that every Christian has to believe in evolution, but it is me saying we need to let Christians decide for themselves. We can’t keep sheltering young Christians from the very real theories and telling them the only right idea is the literal interpretation. We should present them with all the different theories. This will allow young Christians to learn more about God in an environment where they can not only be presented with science in a Christian perspective, but they can also ask questions that can be answered with a combination of scripture and science. Their faith will be their own and they can start answering those big question for themselves, not being exposed and culture shocked all at once like too many young Christians are today.
“If they are going to truly be Christian, they need to know why they believe what they believe. Isn’t it better to have people going to church because they want to and not because it’s just because what you do?
God does not call on us to be complacent and He doesn’t call on us to deny an entire spectrum of His creation. Science and the theory of evolution have to long been a taboo topic in the church. The more educated we become, the more we can use it as a way to see and honor God and his complex creation, whether you believe in a 6-day creation or a 6-billion-year creation, they are both equally amazing and whichever stance a Christian decides to take will be an example of the infinite God we were all created by, but each individual Christian should have the right and the knowledge to choose which perspective they believe.