360° in 180 – The Adventure Begins! (Part 1)

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I never saw it coming. Then again, what fourteen-year-old would expect a single homeschool conference seminar on creation to have such a radical effect?

Honestly, despite growing up in a Christian home, I’d never cared much about Genesis, creation or evolution. To me, creationists’ enthusiasm for staring at fossils, building ark models and collecting rocks from Noah’s flood seemed cute, but irrelevant. Give me a talk on social justice, global missions or the Church’s future. Something important. But my entire perspective—not to mention, life—shifted at age 14, when I heard that seminar by Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis.

Discovering the importance of Genesis:

From the seminar’s opening, the message hit me hard. I saw image after image of European churches transformed into restaurants, shops and night clubs. I listened as Ken Ham explained how the collapse of Christian morals and influence in Western cultures resulted from a long history of compromising the church’s foundation of Biblical authority, beginning in Genesis. He demonstrated that the gospel itself, along with every major Christian doctrine, is founded directly or indirectly in Genesis 1-11. But as the Western church reinterpreted scripture around human assumptions—primarily that rock layers are millions of years old rather than the result of a global flood, a crack appeared in that Genesis foundation. We accepted human words as our authority over God’s word on real-world issues like ‘science’, relegating the church to comment on only “spiritual” issues, like moral doctrines. But now, those doctrines rested on a cracked foundation.

These cracks compromised the missions, ministry and justice issues I cared about as a teen. For example, who would want to accept a gospel founded on ‘myths’? Why would churched youth continue believing a book that’s been ‘scientifically disproven?’ Moreover, if God’s word is disproven and human word is society’s foundation, then who determines morality and justice? We can write whatever rules we want for interpreting right, wrong and what it means to be human. That’s why issues like abortion, racism and euthanasia arise in culture: they’re symptoms of basing our authority on the wrong foundation—man’s word, instead of God’s word.

Meanwhile, our culture is strategically attacking the foundation of God’s word in Western society by attacking God’s word in the minds of Western youth—youth who represent society’s future. And youth are the most efficient population to influence, thanks to the education system. That system, for most students, is thoroughly, exclusively, fatally secular. Now, I could see why statistics show so many young people are leaving the church!

Preparing for higher education:

When I realized all this during Mr. Ham’s seminar, I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to share the message of biblical authority. And especially, I wanted to find practical ways to help Christian students keep their faith in secular education. But first, I had to become one of those students.

To prepare for secular university, I began equipping myself with resources from Answers in Genesis and other faith-building ministries. When my parents perceived my newfound fervor for apologetics, the intellectual defence of the Christian faith, they suggested that I connect with a Christian biologist, Dr. Margaret Helder. I wasn’t convinced a random teenager and an educated stranger could simply “connect,” but hey—what did I have to lose by asking?

A few emails later, I stood on Dr. Helder’s porch, a wide-eyed adolescent clutching a notebook of questions. With that, I found a mentor. She patiently answered my questions, showed me apologetics resources, and encouraged me to come again. I did! A few times every year, we’d meet to discuss the Bible and science all throughout the rest of my homeschool years and into university.

Experiencing secular university:

Ah yes. . .university.

I’d heard about that place. Rumour had it, “university” housed a diabolical labyrinth where nice Christian kids are the favourite fodder of scary professors roving inside. A single glance into a scary professor’s eyes could turn a Bible-quoting student into a blasphemous troll.

But that was just a rumour, right?

I’d soon find out for myself. I hoped to gain a solid understanding of the evolutionary origins stories which students learn in the labyrinth. That way, maybe I could learn how to help other Christian students navigate the same labyrinth without compromising their biblical worldview. So, I began my B.Sc. in general science, focusing on biology and psychology.

As it turned out, my instructors weren’t so much “scary professors” as friendly human beings, albeit with much different worldviews than mine. Having abandoned the foundation of God’s word, the worldview which Western cultures (and their universities) typically embrace is secular humanism—the idea that humans evolved to become their own gods, making man’s word the ultimate authority. This worldview so saturates public education that—to me, at least—university felt less like a philosophical labyrinth and more like an evolutionary wind tunnel. Here are just a few examples of the gusts I felt in that tunnel:

“There is not a single piece of evidence against evolution.”
–A professor of mine.

“There is consensus among biologists that evolution is the core theme of biology. The evolutionary changes in the fossil record are an observable fact.”
–My first-year biology textbook.1

“Intelligent design is a “totally whacked” tea-party movement. . .Like all religions, Christianity is a cultural construct. . In every institutionalized religion, there is at the root shamanism. . .God did not create people. People created God.”
–Another professor of mine.

“Those who accept a creationist doctrine on the origin of the human species as recounted in sacred texts or myths do so on the basis of religious authority, conceding that such views may be contrary to genetic, geological, biological, or other explanations.”
–My first-year anthropology textbook.2

“Creationism is not a fruitful theory. . .Creationism has zero scope. . .On every count, (creationism) shows itself to be inferior. Scientists then are justified in rejecting creationism in favour of evolution—and this is exactly what they do.”
–My second-year critical thinking textbook.3

“The historical reality of evolution…has not been in question among scientists for well over a century. It is as much a scientific fact as the atomic constitution of matter or the revolution of Earth around the Sun.”
–My third-year evolutionary biology textbook.4

“If genes, genomes, and organisms were created by a benevolent intelligent designer, the problem of theodicy5 would never have arisen, and departments of pediatric oncology would never be needed.”
My fourth-year molecular evolution textbook.6

Weathering the wind tunnel:

How did I survive this evolutionary wind tunnel without compromising my biblical worldview? I can tell you it wasn’t always easy. But my experiences in secular university taught me firsthand about three types of personal foundations Christian students can build to keep “every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) from blowing their faith to smithereens.

Along the way, I also learned about students’ need for accessible tools to process any faith-challenging material without panicking, to deal with each component, and to handle any remaining questions, all without draining hours of valuable study time. Having tested these tools myself, I know how useful they are. And I’ll tell you about them—and about the three types of personal foundations Christian students need to thrive at secular university—in my next article. . .

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Footnotes

  1. Reece et al. (2012). Introduction: evolution and the themes of biology: The core theme: evolution accounts for the unity and diversity of life. In G. Bennett, L. Rahn, D. Kamo, E. Bush, & S. Bindernagel (Eds.), Campbell biology (Canadian ed., pp. 12-19). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
  2. Haviland et al. (2014). The essence of anthropology: Anthropology, science, and the humanities. In A. Berg, L. Gaylord, M. Cameron, V. Luu, & J. Chell (Eds.), Anthropology: The human challenge (14th ed., pp. 28-30). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  3. MacDonald & Vaughn (2016). Judging scientific theories: Evolution versus creationism. In, The power of critical thinking (4th Canadian ed., pp. 406-410). Don Mills, Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press.
  4. Futuyama (2013). Evolutionary science, creationism, and society. In Evolution (3rd ed., pp. 631-632). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.
  5. Theodicy refers to explaining why a loving God would allow death and suffering in His creation, as you can read about here: https://answersingenesis.org/reviews/christian-theodicy-in-light-of-genesis-and-modern-science/.
  6. Graur (2016). Introduction. In Molecular and genome evolution (pp. 1-3).Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

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