What happened to Christian universities? Many Christians, and especially biblical creationists, are wondering. When a college student enters his biology department at the typical Christian college, he is often told there is no conflict in combining Darwinism with Christianity. I know, because I was one of those students.
For almost 1800 years, nearly all branches of Christendom were solidly devoted to the principle of God as the Creator of all things as. By the end of the 19th century, bastions of Christian orthodoxy largely buckled under pressure of “higher criticism” regarding the Bible and the theory of evolution. At the turn of the century, many denominations were still strongly creationist. But one by one, most denominations eventually compromised with theistic evolution or other old-earth views by the early 1960s. They abandoned fundamental Christian beliefs in Genesis for the sake of “social relevance” and scientific “respectability.” Today the descendants of evangelical groups, once adamantly opposed to evolution, are now its passionate proponents, alleging that no real contradiction exists between the Bible and evolution.
I was taught from childhood that a Christian’s job is to be a watchman on the wall (Ezekiel 3:17), to be completely dead to my self-will and to love God and truth above all things. I was taught from Scripture that holding anything back from God is wrong and compromises my ability to know and speak truth, including the truth about the Lord’s creation of all life, as described in Genesis and Colossians 1:16.
When I was a student at a Christian university in Portland, Oregon, all of my biology classes were taught from evolutionary textbooks. Although I am not naturally outspoken, I seized many opportunities to voice the biblical point of view in class. I remembered my parents’ instructions to speak the whole truth and to not be ashamed or put my grades or reputation first. To my surprise, the response was positive. My professor even allowed me to give short lectures to freshmen for the next three years, showing some of the tremendous evidence consistent with biblical creation! Virtually all the students appreciated hearing a scientific point of view in harmony with the Genesis account they learned as children.
Unfortunately, most Christian students don’t speak up as I did to defend Genesis, nor do they ask searching questions about evolution. They have not been taught to completely die to their self-will, seeking to know and defend God above all. Instead, many respect the social code of agreeing with their teacher to protect their grades.
Yet, opportunities to speak up are not to be ignored for fear of offending or contradicting the teacher. Instead, Christian students should take advantage of these opportunities to encourage more thoughtfulness and critical thinking in the classroom.
After graduation I worked as a lab instructor at the same Christian college, where I had more opportunities to speak about origins. Many of my students had never heard evidence for the biblical creation account. Evolutionary theory taught as fact prompted them to doubt the beginnings of the Bible. Yet I was astounded by their receptivity when I shared the truth Christian universities once taught. It was exciting to show the students that there were vast differences between the many kinds of animals we studied and I illustrated that these are not properly explained by an evolutionary account, but are best explained by the Genesis account. I received many grateful expressions from students for the opportunities I gave them to think on their own. One student specifically thanked me for respecting them enough to present both sides and let them decide for themselves.
The opportunities I have had to help educate the next generation of Christians have come about because I was taught to be a watchman wherever I go, no matter the sacrifice. Sadly, as the church continues to fall into compromise, especially with evolution, Christian youth are growing more apathetic. I believe the study of origins can help to powerfully revive interest in the Christian faith among these young people, and can even be very entertaining. It is invigorating to know that we can share with our youth that we are specially designed to be God’s intimate friends and live with Him forever.
To spread the message of creation, Christians must return to the Bible’s explicit requirements of complete obedience and death to self-will. Like so many in the early church, parents and leaders must set examples of heroic truth-telling, which naturally goes against the grain of the world and may involve great personal cost. Authentic Christianity, demonstrated by a complete trust and obedience in Jesus, is the only way to light the torch of the Christian faith for the watchmen of the next generation.
The author lives in the Pacific Northwest and holds a B.S. in Biological Science. After graduation, he has taught biology labs.