‘I don’t believe!!!’
A young man’s tragic slide into darkness started
with trying to make the Bible fit with evolution.
8 February 2001
How often have you heard someone claim that it is possible to believe in evolution and be a Christian at the same time?
In fact, many churchgoers today hold that view. When challenged to defend their position, they might respond by saying that science explains the ‘how’, while the Bible provides the ‘why’. [To help people away see the dangers of erroneous thinking, see for example Some questions for theistic evolutionists (and ‘progressive creationists’)]
Frequently such people are antagonistic towards those who accept Genesis as being literal history—scoffing at Christians who contend that the Earth was created in just six days and is only about 6,000 years old.
For example, one young man (‘Chris’) felt so strongly that he set up his own anti-creationist website.1 This site mocks creationists and creationist thinking, but incredibly there is a section entitled Wondering what I believe?, in which Chris identifies himself as ‘a North American Baptist’, who holds that the Bible has ‘wonderful moral guidelines’. He says he believes that ‘we should attempt to follow its moral teachings, if everyone did the world would be a much better place.’
Why then, is Chris adopting an anti-creationist position? He writes,
‘This may seem odd considering that my church does not support evolution or the big bang, but I am entitled to my own beliefs. … Some of you still may say that it is impossible to believe in evolution and God, well, it may be for you, but it is not for me. Science answers my how, what, where, and when questions; the Bible answers my who and why questions. You need both. They are not only compatible, they are complementary.’
So, is it really possible that someone can simultaneously believe in evolution and yet continue to profess their faith in the God of the Bible? In the above paragraph Chris asserts that it is. But what about in the longer term—will Chris ‘stand firm’ in his faith (Mark 13:13; 2 Tim. 2:12)?
Amazingly, the Internet provides us with an electronic post-script to Chris’s words above, giving us an insight into his subsequent life experiences. For the webpage quoted above is now flagged with the words: ‘This page is officially closed’, and includes an intriguing invitation to follow a new link to see what Chris is working on now.
‘As you will find out at my new site, the reason why I have closed this one was mainly due to a change in my belief system. Don’t worry, however, I’m still not a creationist.’
A change in belief system? Following the net-linked trail to Chris’s new website2 reveals that
‘The purpose of this [new] page is the publication of my religious and philosophical views of the world. This is done through a number of essays that I have written, … and my personal statement of faith, or rather lack there of [sic].’
A lack of faith? Following the net-link to subsection ‘Beliefs’ opens up a new page with the title (in large lettering) ‘I DON’T BELIEVE!!!’, under which Chris has written:
‘I don’t believe. … Many people ask me what don’t you believe? The answer is everything—I don’t believe everything, in fact, I don’t believe anything. At least I try not to. I really think that everyone should really think about what they believe and why they believe it. If you think about it long enough you’ll end up confusing yourself. You’ll find that you have many conflicting beliefs and worse yet there are virtually an infinite number of things that you’ve never thought about. You never can think about them all, your mind is to [sic] small and you don’t have enough time. All of this thinking brought me to a crisis of belief. How can I, or anyone for that matter, possibly know what to make of this immense universe? What should we believe?
‘Everyone’s answer to this question is different. … I now, however, have reached the conclusion that the best thing for me to believe is nothing at all. I have no doctrine to defend, no contradicting beliefs to worry over, and nothing blocking my view of the world. I can see things more clearly than ever now, but I still don’t believe … ’
How utterly sad. If only Chris, presuming that he really wanted answers in his heart of hearts, had availed himself of information freely displayed at the Creation Ministries International website, showing how the six-day Creation account of the Bible is actual, literal history, and that the Bible should be trusted, perhaps he would not be in such a confused state today.
For the Bible should not be mentally separated from reality—the Bible in fact explains perfectly the world around us, what we see and how it got to be this way. It is significant that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, when asked about the ‘most important’ commandment, replied that we should love the Lord our God with all our mind (as well as with all our heart, soul and strength—Mark 12:30). It would appear that Chris is a tragic example of the consequences of not doing so. It has been said that when a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.3 Looking at Chris’s essays at his website bears this out. Since his ‘crisis of belief’ and slide from any trust in Christ and His Word, Chris read up on Celtic Druidism and Neo-paganism, and then organized a pagan ritual with some of his friends:
‘I arrived early and set up the altar in a hidden area towards the back of the park. … The priestess began by saying her first line: “The Presence of the noble Goddess extends everywhere—throughout the many strange, magical and beautiful worlds—to all places of wilderness, enchantment and freedom. … The Goddess is awesome. The powers of death bow before Her.” … I then, being the priest and the next in the circle, placed a candle behind where I sat while reciting “Our Goddess is a Goddess of Love. By Her will, the sun brings forth life anew.”’
Christians reading this will no doubt be shocked that someone formerly professing to belong to a mainstream Bible-preaching church would fall away to the point of experimenting with such practices, in blatant defiance of God’s commandments. And though Chris claims to believe in ‘nothing’, his essays are highly opinionated, with a distinct anti-Biblical thread. In one essay (which he calls a ‘parable’), the people of a certain village worship a god ‘Ecnarongi’, but when their daily worship dwindles without any sign of harm, they are rebuked by a prophet. After some debate, the villagers decide to kill him (along with two others, by hanging them from gallows) and with his last breath the prophet says, ‘Forgive them, Ecnarongi, they know not what they do’.
A more recent essay though, shows just how pitiable Chris’s outlook has become. He talks of his periods of abject depression and hopelessness in terms of terrifying mazes:
‘In the midst of a maze I can rarely see further than the dark, foreboding walls that loom all around me. The depression and isolation become unbearable. … No one is there to help, no one understands, no one cares. I feel completely worthless, purposeless. I have difficulty finding a reason to bother to continue at all. How can anything be worse than this?
‘I’ve been in many mazes, each one worse than the last. … The mazes are becoming darker; there are more pits, trenches, and deadly precipices waiting for me around each corner. … I still trudge blindly onward, trusting that I will be able to climb back out of their depths. Once I am in the darkness, the void of the abyss, however, I often lose my self-confidence. So far I have been able to regain it, I have been able to use my spirit as a ladder to help me crawl back into the light on the far side … [but] I fear that I may lose my confidence for good one day. … The darkness would consume me, destroy me. I know this because of the damage it does when I am down in it. Limited exposure creates wounds whose scars never seem to heal. Prolonged exposure would bring certain death. … Someday, perhaps even at their best, my mental and spiritual abilities will not be enough to save me from the darkness. … A map does no good when there is no light to read it by.’
Amidst all this, Chris reveals that it’s as if he’s on a quest to find something, but ‘I can’t tell what is real. I’ve never been able to, thus I am often forced to make what I’m sure are incorrect assumptions.’ He concludes:
‘As a note to anyone reading this, you don’t have to worry about me, yet. Writing this has helped me to get out of a very dangerous pit … [but] I am already terrified of the next. I know I haven’t reached the end yet, but I hope I don’t have too much further to go. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Where else is there to go? What else is there to abandon, to accept? What else can there be? Maybe I’m just dreaming.’
How tragic. This young man’s slide into despair began with trying to reconcile evolution with the Bible. How many more of our young people in the church today could be equally vulnerable to being ‘blown here and there by every wind of doctrine’ (Ephesians 4:14), because they do not yet understand that Genesis is foundational to the Gospel. [See Q&A: Creation: Why It Matters]
And it’s not just young people at risk—famous evangelist Charles Templeton’s descent into overt unbelief demonstrates that even church leaders are not immune—see Slippery slide to unbelief . The problem is magnified when, in falling away from the faith they once professed, their influence drags others with them (Chris through his website and Templeton through his book Farewell to God4).
These two case histories highlight the importance of the church not compromising Genesis with fallible man’s ideas from outside of Scripture. In any case, it is not necessary for Christians to ‘bend’ Scripture to make it fit the ‘reality’ of this world. For the evidence from all areas of experimental science (including biology, geology, astronomy) is absolutely consistent with the Biblical account—exactly what one would expect from an eyewitness account of the Earth’s history. [See ‘The Earth: how old does it look?’ and ‘How would you answer?]
So, as the Bible can be trusted in areas of biology, geology and astronomy, it can also be trusted in areas of history, morality and salvation. Therefore the Good News for people like Charles Templeton and Chris (and indeed, everyone) is that God’s Word is faithful and true. Thus we can know that our Creator God sent the ‘true light’, Jesus Christ — our ‘great God and Saviour’ (Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1) — into this world so that no one who believes in him shall stay in darkness (John 1:9; 8:12; 12:46). Instead, those who follow Christ will have the light of eternal life, for ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5).
- 301 Startling creationist lies and misquotes, <http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hall/3083/>, 6th February 2001, which despite its title is ostensibly a rebuttal of a book by Peter and Paul Lalonde, 301 Startling Proofs and Prophecies: Proving that God Exists. The footer of this webpage reads: ‘This Darwin’s Web Ring site is owned by Chris Patton.’ Chris also operates under the web alias ‘Aeikkin’, and identifies himself as being male. Return to text.
- Aeikkins Grove, <http://www.geocities.com/aeikkin/index.html>, 25th January 2001. Return to text.
- The American Chesterton Society, 31st January 2001. Return to text.
- Templeton, C., Farewell to God, McClelland & Stewart, Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1996. Return to text.