Anonymous asked a question:
So I’m taking an honors world history class taught by an atheist teacher and we’re learning about evolution and it’s really really testing my faith. Honestly I don’t know what’s true right now. My theology isn’t the greatest because I’ve only accepted Christ for two years now. I’m just now finding it hard to believe in the Bible and God right now.
Hey dear friend, thank you for sharing this with such honesty.
The truth is, every single type of belief system will eventually get shaken somewhere. When this happens, we can 1) investigate deeper into what we really believe, and 2) incorporate the new information into our beliefs somehow.
We each experience a kind of cognitive dissonance when our worldview is shaken. It can actually make you disoriented, nauseous, and depressed. Sometimes it’s from learning more about the world, or it’s from a terribly brutal tragedy, or it can be a very persuasive argument that uses flowery language. And these experiences will inform our theology and philosophy, and vice versa. But none of this has to be a threatening, stomach-punching trauma.
While we’re certainly going to feel what we feel, we can still explore this new information in light of what we currently know, and then navigate a way through it. It’ll be tough, and you may be scared or surprised by your conclusions, but it can actually make you a more thoughtful, whole person, too.
For me, I simply don’t buy into “faith versus science.” I don’t buy into this binary war between religion and reason. I grew up an atheist with supposedly liberal leanings, and then went to a hyper-conservative Baptist seminary, and I can safely say that both sides of the spectrum have many worthwhile truths and values. There’s a lot more overlap than we like to think.
I know plenty of wonderful Christians who hold to evolution and biblical allegorization and open theology. I know very passionate Christians who run the entire range of politics and doctrinal positions. What matters to me is that they love Jesus and love people. We major in the majors; the extra stuff is extra.
Also please consider that nearly everyone, myself included, has some sort of proselytizing agenda, whether it’s from a professor or preacher or political party, or it’s from one spouse to another arguing about how to raise their kids. We each enforce our own worldview in obvious and subtle ways, and if you’re easily convinced into someone else’s persuasion, you can just as easily be convinced right out of it. It’s easy to be won over by presentation or vocabulary or charm, until we’re simply being jostled around between the more winsome slide-show.
What I mean is: When someone presents a very strong case for their view and you’re pulled in, please pause and back up and really meditate on what’s being said. Consider your own response, too, and why the appeal is so strong to you.
Please remember that the first time you hear something new is almost like “love at first sight” — we fall so easily for hormones and chemistry that we don’t explore the actual person. I say all this to inoculate you from the illusion of first feelings, so that we can use both our brains and hearts when we encounter something for the first time.
A last thing. What’s happening to you is what has happened to everyone in all of history. Nothing is new under the sun. When I was an atheist, I felt the existential pull towards the pulse of divinity. As a Christian today, I still feel the nihilistic grippings of a godless universe. We each doubt, and then we doubt our doubts. We each run into these “otherworldly panics” that press into our beliefs — but at the end of the day, I still find Christianity to be intellectually sturdy and existentially satisfying. That’s enough for me. Where ever you land, I pray that it will be enough for you, too.