Guest Post by Amanda Fischer

The other day I was listening to a montage song from the movie God’s Not Dead. It is the song “God’s Not Dead,” interspersed with audio clips from the exchanges between Josh, a Christian freshman in college, and his antagonistic professor. I’ve listened to this several times, but this time, my mind caught on something Josh said.

“It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand. Or, what you don’t want to understand.”

 I stopped the track and thought this through, pondering the implications. How many times have we dismissed an idea, person, or cause, without hearing it out and truly understanding the message first?

I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about a year ago about evolution, an issue we disagreed on. The phrase from the movie reminded me of something my friend said: “You’re not really looking at the other side.” Though at the time I argued that I had indeed looked at the other side, I remembered those words long after the conversation had passed. And soon I realized that no, I had not really looked at the other side.

It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand.

 Why didn’t I understand this other side to the origins debate? My friend hit the nail on the head: because I hadn’t really looked. Sure, my creationist high school biology textbook had given a basic overview of the evidence correlated with evolution, and explained why it didn’t measure up. And of course I had heard various things about evolution in museums, TV, and just about anywhere science was mentioned in public. But I certainly hadn’t done research on the other side. I hadn’t given evolution that much thought or attention. It was incorrect, and I knew it. So why bother learn about it?

On the one hand, this seems like a reasonable conclusion to draw. If you know something is wrong, it’s usually not logical to continue devoting mental and/or physical energy and time to it. For example, if you search for a nearby grocery store in Google maps and come across a listing for one a friend told you has closed recently, you don’t select that store and hit the “directions” button to start driving.

But on the other hand, different situations require different levels of treatment. And with issues that have two (or more) sides, it’s often worth it—or even necessary—to investigate viewpoints other than the one you currently hold. Especially if you adopted your current viewpoint rather unconsciously, because it was what everyone around you talked about.

So why hadn’t I, and why haven’t many other Christians, given evolution much study? Let’s take a look at the other part of this quote.

“It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand. Or, what you don’t want to understand.”

 This is the part that really gives you a bit of a gut-punch, isn’t it?

Why don’t we “look at the other side”? I think it’s because we don’t want to understand evolution.

While I mulled this over in my car that morning, I identified two reasons I think this happens: pride and fear. This is the heart of what I’d like to examine today.

First, let’s deal with the pride aspect. We all have this tendency to want to be right, because being right is a good thing. But we have this driving need to be right that sometimes causes us to argue quite passionately and stubbornly about something, even when it’s not important or when we don’t have all the necessary info. Just consider the infamous Facebook comment debates.

Certainly, the question of how the universe began and how life came to be is an important one. And if you know you have the true answer, it’s good to share that. But when our attitude looks less like informed confidence and more like arrogantly refusing to even consider any other option, I think it’s safe to say we have an issue with pride. That’s an attitude that says “I have nothing to learn from you. You are unintelligent for holding such a position.” This kind of attitude is not helpful in any conversation, and certainly not in one where we hope to ask the other person to listen to what we have to say about God.

Second, and perhaps less obvious, is the issue of fear. This one was a lot harder for me to accept, even as I saw it in my own heart. I’ll be honest with you right now: I was afraid to look too closely at the evidence regarding evolution. Where does this fear come from? I believe it comes from a lack of faith and trust in God. I was not trusting that His Word was strong enough to counter any doubts. I was not trusting that He would be with me, guiding me as I walked through the information presented. I was afraid that if I really looked at the evidence, I would find too much for evolution and not enough against. I was afraid that my faith would waver.

Friends, this is a serious concern. If we do not ever study the evidence for something we are against, we are not well prepared to face the world. And if the reason we don’t study that evidence is because of fear…this is something we need to address in our own hearts. We must know our God, and know that He is trustworthy, that He is true, and that He made the world in an orderly way. We need to know with every fiber of our being that creation proclaims His glory and that, therefore, we can trust that we will find evidence of His fingerprints in this world. We must have faith that the God who created science did not leave misleading clues there with the intent to “test” us or distract us, and that the truth is there to be found. He has promised “seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).

When the character Josh spoke these words we’ve been discussing, they were directed toward someone who had rejected God. We know why people don’t want to understand the case for a Creator. They do not want Him to exist. They are afraid that if they look too closely, they will see Him and then their life would have to change drastically. Their fear is a reasonable one, then, because they are running from something. They are hiding from Someone. But as Christians, we have nothing to fear.

Instead of shying away from science, instead of pushing back against any contradicting ideas or different lifestyles, instead of shutting down questions, instead of conveying the message to the world—and even more seriously, to people in the church—that Christianity is weak and needs to be shielded carefully lest it fall apart…let us boldly engage the world. Let us not live in willful ignorance in the areas that matter. Let us learn with thoroughness, let us look with care, and let us live with confidence in the God of truth.

A note: Of course, this does not exclusively apply to evolution, or even to only science. It also applies to the LGBT movement, to people of different political affiliation, and to anyone else “on the other side.” Let’s work to understand, and then we will have a much more respectable ground to stand on.

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