I sometimes speak of this Christian society I used to go to. The post I spoke about it the most recently is this one. If you have time, look at it first. But it’s not vital for this post.
So earlier this a year a friend of mine in my politics class read an allegory by Friedrich Nietzsche. He did this as part of a philosophy assignment he had. This allegory really bothered him. It is about men having killed God. Look it up.
For a few days I could see him really wrestle with his own soul as he was in the difficult position of having to give up a belief in God. He was never a “born again” Christian, but he nonetheless went to a superficial church and believed in God.
I can only imagine what that must feel like. To accept the supposed reality that you are all that you are. And the impact this must have on a believing family. The emotional turmoil. I had a deep sense of empathy for him.
While he was in the process of doubt we spoke about God and the Bible and I gave him a few videos to watch, mostly testimonies and a debate or two. Recently I also lend him a book.
But all of this is very shallow. I cannot just lent him a book or tell him to watch a few videos and expect him to become a Christian. No. If I honestly want to help, I should take in interest in him and in his interests. So I started watching debates by Christopher Hitchens and I’m busy with one by Sam Harris. All of this, the videos I recommended and those of Hitchens and Harris are more philosophical and ethical.
But this week I was wondering what exactly caused him to lose his faith. I was under the impression that it was philosophy, hence I watched these videos and read C. S. Lewis and Chesterton and was planning on reading Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche.
Then yesterday happened.
After class as we walked to his car, he talked about evolution. About how a lot disciplines draw from it and that those disciplines in themselves prove it. He also talked about how it allows biologists to make predictions and progress – for instance in vaccines – by using evolution as their lens. He said a lot more than this. We talked for probably half an hour, but most of it was me listening to him.
I did not have any answers for two reasons. Firstly, a few years ago I shut down my interest in the creation/evolution debate. Back then it seemed like a bunch of highly intelligent people with doctors’ degrees disagreeing, both highly educated Christians and atheists. What sense do I have to think that I can discover the truth for myself when these highly educated people cannot even agree? Also, I saw this debate as incredibly diverse: I would have to be an expert on biology and astronomy and physics and religion and geology and and and. Otherwise if I am only an expert on one, I would have to believe those who are experts on the other topics. While I’m writing this I realise this to still be a valid point. Even evolutionists still have to take the words of their comrades on faith.
Secondly, I thought he was doubting God for philosophical or ethical reasons. Although he did mention evolution before, I did not suspect it to be the main factor. I did not expect someone studying politics and having philosophy as an additional module would be convinced of atheism by biology, a subject not at all in the humanities. He did research it, but still as I’m writing this I can’t help but doubt the seriousness of his self-study. But what the hell, he looked seriously at evolution and I have not yet. So I’ll give him that.
So I was rather pathetic in my questions. Only later on did I think of one or two things which I should have said. But hindsight is an exact science.
What worsened all of this was my own doubts about the earth being young. You see, a few years back Kent Hovind and his videos made an immense influence on me. Knowledge of his videos are perfect for the discussion on evolution, and I’ve watched them countless times. What held me back was the age of the videos, being more than a decade old. I hoped that Kent Hovind would catch up with the last ten years of research and make new videos, but it doesn’t seem as though he does. Because of this I was beginning to doubt the narrative of a young age. And I know that to accept and old earth is to invite a lot of problems.
Thus, when this friend of mine mentioned biology and the age of the earth and how Christians reinterpreting a six-day creation are compromising, I had to agree. There is to be no compromise. My own doubts prevented me from defending the young earth theory.
All in all I guess to him I seemed clueless, with good reason.
As I was walking to my flat shaken with this defeat I passed by the church where this previous Christian society of mine gathers at certain times. I left it a few months ago for other reasons which I think I explained in the post I referenced in the beginning of this one. If I didn’t, I’ll explain it in another post.
As I walked by I had a flashback of two events concerning this fellowship. The first time I went there I met a lot of new people. On that day I mentioned Kent Hovind’s videos to one of them. That guy brushed Hovind off as a “doing christian”. You know, a kind of Christian who actually DOES something. They think he believes in some kind of works salvation which is absolutely not true. It was the way he simply brushed off this whole young earth thing which bothered me.
A few months later I was talking to one of the friends I made in this fellowship but has since gone to another campus. When I talked about how amazing it is that God can be proved in science, philosophy, theology, history and a lot of other topics – in other words, that one does not have to have blind faith – he told me of a time when he was arguing with a nonbeliever who kept asking for proof of God’s existence. This friend of mine simply kept telling the man that he has to accept Christ. My friend, and this whole fellowship, sees philosophy and all the different kinds of debates on Christianity, as mere distractions from Christ himself. I consider this extremely narrow.
When I passed the church I thought by myself: If this christian-turned atheist friend of mine were to go to this fellowship in seek of answers, they would have given him nothing. They would have had no answers and they would have strengthened his belief that Christianity is rationally indefensible. Their narrowness and blindness would not have saved the soul of my friend.
So as I passed by that church I paused and looked at it. With a very strong anger I said in a rather too loud voice, “Damn you”.