How one Christian student guarded her faith in God’s Word at a secular university
You were taught in Sunday school that God created the world. You may have even studied some of the evidences for a young earth. You consider yourself a creationist. But what happens when you enroll at a secular university (or even one of the many Christian colleges that have compromised God’s Word) and hear the professor confidently lecture on evolution, perhaps even ridiculing the creationist perspective? When confronted with supposed evidences of evolution, will you doubt what you’ve always believed?
Through this interview with Laura—a chemistry student at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri—learn how to strengthen your faith in God’s Word, finding it a firm foundation in the midst of seismic deceit and doubt.
Laura, would you consider yourself a creationist before you entered college?
Yes. Using a good homeschool science curriculum in high school brought my attention to the debate, and I quickly began to enjoy reading other books on the topic. In fact, the reason that I chose to study science was because I love seeing God’s hand in His creation. Studying the intricacies of the human body, the orderliness of chemical properties and the laws of nature, and the awesomeness of space continually cause me to praise God and stand in awe of His nature as it is displayed in His creation.
How have your beliefs been challenged or changed through science courses that promote evolution?
The greatest influence that science courses have had on my beliefs is that I have begun to understand more of the underlying issues in the debate. When I entered college, I had only really been exposed to pro-creationism and the evidence for it. It seemed like a ridiculous idea to believe anything but God could have made the world like we know it. However, as I listened to my biology teacher lecture on various evidences of evolution, I saw that many things in science could be used as “evidence” for either side. What a person saw depended on the assumptions and biases they started with. Of course, there were many, many things that my professor and textbook never tried to explain with evolution, and I would have been curious to hear how they would have explained things like the complexity of the human eye! But I still began to wonder: if the “evidence” could go either way you wanted it to, how could I know that creationism was the right choice? I began to read more, particularly looking for books and articles that discussed the underlying reasons for believing one way over the other. One book in particular was helpful: The Ultimate Proof of Creation by Jason Lisle. I finally had words for what I had begun to see. The “evidence” can be whatever you want it to be. The real issue is what your ultimate source of truth is. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and it should be taken at face value. Rather than interpreting it with popular scientific beliefs, it is the book through which science and the world should be interpreted. I finally understood that the creation/evolution debate was not a question of evidence; it was a question of ultimate truth.
Did you ever express your creationist views? How did people respond?
I never spoke up in class or talked with my professor about it. Honestly, evolution was not stressed much in class at all. Even my professor’s two or three lectures on evolution and natural selection were not overbearingly dogmatic. He just explained the four or five “evidences” I expected (such as vestigial organs and homologous structures) and then moved on to the different types of natural selection. In the second semester I sat next to a girl whose side comments during class slowly revealed that she did not buy into evolution either, and for the rest of the semester we would make comment to each other like, “He thinks that happened by chance?” It was somewhat encouraging that I was not the only one who didn’t buy into what the professor was saying.
There have only been a few times when the topic came up when I was with a group of students who were not all creationists. Each time, after a few strong comments were made, followed by an awkward silence, someone directed the conversation somewhere else. It appeared to be an emotionally charged topic that both sides believed strongly about and would have just become a pointless argument.
What advice would you give to a freshman creationist student about to enter a secular science course?
As I didn’t have a confrontational class situation, I can’t say much from experience in that area. But something I have learned (and am still working on making a habit) applies to science classes that have removed God as well as the many other classes that seem to take the joy out of learning. Always seek to be fascinated by what you are learning. I love learning new things, and I especially love seeing the intricacies and beauty of God’s creation, but it is very easy to lose that excitement between long lectures and stacks of homework. I often have to be very deliberate about enjoying my new knowledge. Sometimes that means finding something interesting to share with a friend or parent. For science classes in particular, when the professor tells us something new or unique or interesting, I try to praise God for it right then, reminding myself that He is an awesome Creator and that He made me to enjoy discovering His creation (Proverbs 25:2). This is especially important at a secular college where the professor does not highlight such things.
If you are struggling with processing different viewpoints or you are feeling discouraged with the unbiblical content in textbooks and lectures, find someone to discuss it with, whether that is someone in class, a friend from church, or a family member. Otherwise it can be easy to fall into thinking that your professors are so knowledgeable and have had so much education, they must be right, even though they are not basing what they say on the infallible Word of God. Share your struggle with someone who is able to bring you back to Scripture and help you look at everything through that lens.
Laura brought up a valuable point about who we look to as an authority on any particular science issue. Many students are awed or intimidated by their professors as though their teaching were inerrant. While professors should be respected for their position and level of study, they are still just students in the Creator’s classroom of this world. Their knowledge is minute compared to the omniscient God, and their interpretations of the scientific evidence will necessarily be colored by their worldviews.
God asked Job, “
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). Your professor was not there, and neither were any of us. But the eternal God has told us in the Bible what happened in the beginning when He created the heavens and the earth. No matter how many degrees a professor holds, if what he says doesn’t line up with Scripture, doubt his word, not God’s Word. God has given us His authoritative, infallible Word, so as Laura said, you can “look at everything through that lens.”