Our Faith Is Not Too Fragile for Science

An excerpt from The Sacred Chain: How Understanding Evolution Leads to Deeper Faith.

I sat by myself at one end of the boardroom, fidgeting with a few notes on the table in front of me. At the other end were about ten older men in suits and ties peering over their tables, arms crossed. It wouldn’t have been difficult for someone just walking in to determine which end of the room held the power.

After my brief opening statement, the rest of our time was set aside for “discussion.” The two-hour meeting felt more like an inquisition. The first questioner hardly let the silence settle after I spoke: “Jim, I went to school with your father. We even went on a mission trip to Mexico together. I’ve known you since you were a kid. What happened to you?”

I’ve replayed this scene in my head a hundred times, varying what I say in an attempt to get my accusers to stand up, shake my hand, and say, “Oh, now we see. That makes sense. Sorry for the trouble.” But every time it ends the same way: I have to give up my position as a tenured professor of philosophy and leave the college I’ve served for 17 years.

My crime? Believing what 99 percent of those who have a PhD in biology or medicine believe: that human beings evolved over time and share common ancestors with every other life form on the planet. But this was a small Christian college, one of the places where evolutionary theory is deemed incompatible with Christian beliefs. And not just incompatible—evolution is considered dangerous. These men believed that hearing anything positive about evolution would make students doubt the Bible. If you can’t believe the creation account in the very first chapter of the Bible, their thinking goes, then why believe any of it?

I do not believe …

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