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    Evolving Faith

    Learning to accept uncertainty in the creation versus evolution debate. March 6, 2015 by Major Kathie Chiu
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    The year: 1991. The place: College for Officer Training, Toronto. The event: creation versus evolution debate in theology class. The people: theology professor—a young-earth creationist; cadets in the Followers of Jesus Session.

    Although I was completely intimidated, this event had a profound impact on my faith journey. As a high school student, math and science were not my favourite subjects. Chemistry formulas, algebra and dissecting frogs gave me headaches and nausea. I enjoyed English literature, got lost in ancient history and philosophy, and excelled in the musical arts. When told I didn't need to take any more math and science classes, I jumped for joy and walked out of the guidance counsellor's office smiling all the way home.

    The professor paired us up and asked us to choose sides for the debate. My classmate had no interest in presenting a case for evolution. He believed in a literal six-day creation. I hesitantly took on the opposing view. My theology teacher was positively glowing at the prospect of me finding out evolution was for the birds. He directed me to our education officer, a progressive creationist, who was equally pleased I was going to study a favourite topic of his and gave me several books to read.

    I took the pile of books back to my campus apartment and began to read about carbon dating and paleontology. It was fascinating. It seemed there was quite a bit of scientific evidence supporting the view of an old earth, one that has evolved over time.
    Eventually, I became comfortable with not knowing, with uncertainty. Strangely enough, this didn't destroy my faith. Instead, it was strengthened

    I also began to learn a new way of studying the creation accounts in the Old Testament. I discovered there were two—Genesis 1 and 2 differed slightly, mixing up the order of creation. I hadn't really noticed this before. What if there were other inconsistencies?

    There were, and each time I came across one I applied the same principles of study. At the same time, I remembered, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NRSV).

    After presenting the evidence for evolution to my class that day in 1991, the teacher challenged me: “So, after all that study, what do you believe now?” I was afraid he'd ask me that, so I had prepared an answer, the only one I could give. “Well, since neither is a proven theory, I guess you could say both views take a leap of faith.” I sat on the fence, because the new ideas I was encountering were overwhelming.

    But researching that presentation made me realize that science has stories to tell about the world we live in. It gave me a new thirst to learn about medical discoveries, climate science, quantum mechanics and string theory (which boggle my mind). And over the years, each of my children in turn has asked me about evolution, prompting me to keep studying and learning. I don't have a difficult time explaining how I feel about both now.

    Eventually, I became comfortable with not knowing, with uncertainty. Strangely enough, this didn't destroy my faith. Instead, it was strengthened. How can you have faith when everything has been proven? What became important to me were the lessons I could learn from each story, always interpreting them through the lens of Jesus.

    Some people might call me progressive. I'm not uncomfortable with that label, although I prefer to say I'm open to learn—as long as God and his plan for our world are included. I guess I'm also raising progressive children, given the way my children often challenged teachers in their Christian school classes. I still hate math, but science is no longer an enemy—just don't ask me to dissect a frog!

    Major Kathie Chiu grew up in The Salvation Army and has been an officer for 22 years. She has five children, including two teenaged boys still living at home, and eight grandchildren. She is the corps officer at Richmond Community Church, B.C.

    ***

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    Comment

    On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, David Pflueger said:

    Open up your dictionary and look up the word "theory". Evolution is a theory and ANYONE that claims to follow God, Jesus or believes the Bible is truth BUT also believes/teaches evolution is a heretic. Now if you would like I know a few people that can explain creation and the flood scientifically. Evolution is the main tool of atheism meant to deceive even the most elect of God's followers, that's why they attack and scoff. (2Peter 3:3-7) (2Thes 2:11,12) I used to be a S.A. soldier in Orlando and if S.A. is teaching gap theory or evolution by God then I will burn my uniform hanging in my closet this minute.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6-cVj-ZRivqKeqAklhYfFFmmAdvwcnCT https://www.youtube.com/c/answersingenesis https://youtu.be/nY6Zrol5QEk https://youtu.be/Aw_1dc-8iSM https://youtu.be/7VDVZ19wy5Q https://youtu.be/fvdHLFEAg5U

     

    On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, Kmclean said:

    Thank you. I have been having trouble with the beliefs of some people I've been feeling are becoming more and more rightwing, believing in the 6000 yr theory. Not knowing for sure means having Faith, helps me get beyond this.

     

    On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, Christina said:

    Kathy says

    . How can you have faith when everything has been proven?

    I think the question answers itself.

    I myself don't need to see to believe but my faith grows ever stronger each year as science and history prove the bible more and more.

    Science has actually PROVEN the young earth theory. And btw 6 days actually means 6000 years in this case. Not a literal day

    Listen; all scripture is inspired of God so what's to doubt about a young earth? You also cannot pick and choose what parts of the bible to believe in. You either accept ALL of it as the unadulterated Word of God (including the concept of a young earth) or you reject all of it. You cant have it both ways

    On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, Alonzo Twyne said:

    Old stuff. Not a convincing article. Too many things out of order according to the truth. Numerous people take this as truth , therefore, no need for a Creator. I am thankful for scientists that unveil many of the beauties of creation; especially allowing us to look into the cell and give us the beauty and reality of creation. Yes, it adapts and unfolds but the Creator put everything in place necessary for the realities we are allowed to see. Of course, our vision and the object is blurred because of our disconnect (sin) with Almighty God.

    On Monday, April 13, 2015, Jim Ellis said:

    DNA is one of the most substantive sources of evidence in support of the evolutionary process. It proves that all of life is interconnected and shares the exact same building blocks. If Darwin knew what we know now, he would not have been so reluctant to publish his theory.
    See: http://discovermagazine.com/2009/mar/19-dna-agrees-with-all-the-other-science-darwin-was-right

    On Monday, April 13, 2015, Alonzo Twyne said:

    Evolution? Very few scientist would give the Darwin theory a second glance because of the discoveries in DNA. Darwin said, " If it could be demonstrated ............ my theory would absolutely break down". Darwin didn't know about this DNA fact. The problem is that this theory is still in print and many are taking it as truth. Wisdom comes from God therefore a connect with Him gives us the insight that we need. Child, stick close to the Father.

    On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, Kathie Chiu said:

    Thank you all for your comments. Ray, it looks like nothing really has changed, doesn't it?! Well, I'm not sure that's a bad thing! :)

    First, whether or not you agree with evolution, that's not the reason I wrote this article. I suppose when you share your own personal journey, you put yourself in a vulnerable position - one where others can choose to misunderstand you or who will choose to call out your faith and doctrinal position.

    Second, this is about my personal journey. While I hold to a conservative theology in everything that matters in the Army, and I hold fast to all the doctrines, there is wiggle room for people of differing opinions on creation and how it happened, how we interpret scripture in certain parts of the bible (our own Handbook of Doctrine instructs us to interpret carefully taking it in context) and how we look at the end time doctrine, number 11 and our view of just what Hell is. Some people believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, some believe something different. Neither are "spurious" teachings, their just differing views on things that are not essential to the faith.

    There has been a disturbing trend in Evangelicalism these days, to make sure people believe all the right ways in non-essentials before they can enter the group and belong. I would hope we would be moving away from that in the Army and making sure that we hold to this:

    "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

    It's good to have a conversation and hear other sides. The one thing I do know is that however creation took place, there is a Creator God. He loves us so much that we'll never truly fathom. I don't think we're supposed to know everything and that is a good thing, it would probably blow our minds. For now, I have faith.

    On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, Ray Harris said:

    First, I would like to confirm one contributor's hunch and say that Kathie Chiu is "a wonderful person." And this contribution of hers has evoked good conversation. Some things never change, Kathie!! I would also like to suggest there is no need to put a scientific understanding of our universe in tension with a biblical understanding. They ask different questions and use different language, and they need each other. If, however, Genesis is not intended as a scientific account of the origins of our universe and world, what is its purpose? Notice that the first chapter moves toward the writer's assessment of the world as "good," even "very good." That both man and woman are made "in the image of God." And that time has a qualitative dimension: the seventh day is "holy." Notice too that the first two chapter of Genesis introduce the biblical story, like an overture introduces an opera. This story is book-ended by the phrases, "the heavens and the earth," and "new heavens and earth" in Revelation. And this story finds it centre in the events we rehearse this coming weekend: the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It's the story that creates the meaning.

    On Tuesday, March 31, 2015, Jim Ellis said:

    It is hard for me to believe this conversation is still happening. It reminds me very much of my own journey, entering university in 1962, while living with a similar theological perspective as this author espouses. Setting up these mutually exclusive alternatives (the bible is literally true or Christianity is false) is both totally unnecessary and destructive. Zoology quickly became my discipline in those early 1960s, eventually resulting in receiving M. Sc. and Ph. D. degrees from Western in London Ont. In this process the evidence for the existence of an evolutionary process in the development of life on earth became convincing and integral to understanding the phenomenon I was studying (parasitism). Becoming convinced re. this was not surprising since 99.85 % of scientists fall into this category (Cf. http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_proof.htm). This took me into a faith crisis which in the end was a growthful experience, but which is the tragedy of perpetuating this dilemma today. Expecting young people today to believe in a young earth and a historical version of the creation myth in Genesis is a sure way to encourage them to abandon a faith which cannot be integrated with an understanding of the cosmos and the amazing story of the development of life which evolution clearly demonstrates. Michael Dowd's "Thank God for Evolution" (endorsed by 6 Nobel Award winning scientists) is a relevant and helpful read, and if you google his name you will find many videos of his talks on Ted Talks and other settings, including the United Nations. We are indeed fortunate to be living at a time when it is possible to affirm the nature of the universe as revealed by careful study of the information available, and find our place as having come FROM the universe, not TO it, and now to understand ourselves as the universe in human form, able to reflect on itself!

    On Monday, March 30, 2015, Robin Reid said:

    @Bruce: I once was very sure of the Biblical truths that I was taught as a child. Experiences in the Las t few years have me unsure about anything. I can appreciate your certainty about the Biblical account of the Creation story. One question I have struggled with of late is this: who witnessed it? The recorders of the account were not there and how would they have heard about it? Please accept these questions in the spirit of confusion in which they are asked. Thanks.

    On Monday, March 30, 2015, Deanna said:

    @Bruce: Simply because people have a different opinion than you, it does not mean that they have ‘finite minds.’ I feel that, for certain people, it takes bravery to fully and openly believe despite not knowing the answers, and insulting those people is simply unkind and insulting.
    I applaud your faith, but I question your statement that you are ‘uncomfortable not knowing.’ Do you have all of the answers that human kind has been searching for since the beginning of time? If so, please share with us and put an end to the faith-based wars that are happening all over the world.
    You say that you fear for the future of the army due to people who openly admit that they have questions, but I tell you that I fear for the future of Christianity due to people who insult those who say they are uncertain and who shame those for bravely admitting that they are not as knowledgeable as God.

    On Monday, March 30, 2015, Phil Winter said:

    If creation is a historical account then I am confused, is Genesis 1 with the order being plants, then fish and fowl, then land animals, then men and women at the same time the historical account, or is it Genesis 2 with the order being man, then plants, then birds and land animals and then a woman? It appears unlikely that we are to read either of these accounts from a very modernist and literalistic point of view, that has become very popular over the last couple of centuries, but rather as a guide to help us understand that we are indeed created in God's image and all that then comes from that particular truth.

    Too often we find non-scientist Christians trying to make scientific explanations for their faith. This is totally unnecessary and implies a lack of faith. Science does not prove God to me, Christ reveals God to me. I do not need to square any of my faith with science, otherwise it stops being faith and become something else that only exists until science disproves it. Books like Lee Stroble's "The Case for the Creator" are a good example of this. They speak to the non-scientist using bad science that we are not able to recognize. Look at what current scientists say about the book and you will see how bad it is.

    To demand that scripture be literally true in a quantifiable way is to take a very low view of it. Scripture needs to be honored for what it is and not degraded into what it is not. Scripture is the record of humanity's growing understanding of its relationship with God, explained through, story, poetry, metaphor, history, song, and wisdom teaching. It is not a science book full of historical facts. It is a revelation of the truth of God and who He is. It is the exploration of mankind's understanding and misunderstanding of him (Job being the most prominent example). If we fail to deal with scripture on its own terms then we miss out on the richness that it has for us and it becomes simply a tool with which we can beat each other.

    I am very glad to see officers of this caliber, who are not afraid to wrestle with scripture and its meanings beyond the simplistic and literalistic interpretations that are so often cheap and irrelevant.

    I spent the majority of my Christian years reading and defending the Bible in this way and have now realized how small it makes God, how clinical the faith becomes, and how ridiculous the Church can look. I am the product of creation but, hallelujah, my faith is evolving.

    On Monday, March 30, 2015, Deanna said:

    @Jeff: Kathie is referencing the year 1991. More than 2 decades ago evolution, while still proven, was largely considered a theory. Even in todays world (especially the Christian world) evolution is still considered a theory. I do however, think that it largely has to do with the popular wording 'the theory of evolution.'

    On Monday, March 30, 2015, Bruce Wagner said:

    I was troubled after reading Kathie Chiu’s “Evolving Faith” article. While I am glad she has developed a love for science, I think she needs to revisit the evidence. I will address some concerns commencing with the fifth paragraph where Kathie describes being introduced to “new ways of looking at the creation accounts.” She then describes old and discredited ideas stemming from liberal theology. I find it sad that she chose to reintroduce the erroneous interpretations of so-called “higher criticism.” These obsolete and ill-conceived liberal tenets aim directly at diminishing the authority of the Bible.
     
    It may surprise readers to learn that neither creation nor evolution are theories. Creation - as described by the Bible - is not a theory, but rather a historical account. Evolution is not a theory (which requires supporting facts), but rather a weak hypothesis. On the other hand, “Intelligent Design” is a theory.
     
    It is important to know that Christians are not enjoined to make a “leap of faith.” This is a ridiculous and abhorrent belief. The Christian worldview lines up far better with empirical evidences than the materialist worldview.
     
    In her eighth paragraph Kathie implies that Christianity conflicts with science and/or vice versa. This is not the case as science has benefited greatly from the Christian worldview and there have been (and are) numerous scientists who are orthodox Christians.  
     
    While it is clear that finite minds cannot fathom omniscience or the myriad wonders of the universe, I personally hope I never become “comfortable” with “not knowing.”
     
    Jesus, by his own words, believed the Genesis creation account (Mark 10:6) as did the apostle Paul (I Tim. 2:13-15). The “lens of Jesus” places him in is a historical genealogy leading back to Adam (see Luke). What would be the point of the “last Adam” if there were never a “first Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45)?
     
    Kathie claims that she is "comfortable" being called a progressive. While the appellation may have a positive sound - as does pro-choice - it is similarly pernicious and cloaks a move away from Christian orthodoxy and towards liberal ideas and interpretation. While Kathie is likely a wonderful person, I fear for the future of the Army when officers/pastors offer such spurious teaching.
     
    For those who are inclined to pursue further reading, I suggest exploring Lee Strobel’s, The Case for a Creator.

    Bruce Wagner

    On Sunday, March 22, 2015, Kathie Chiu said:

    Thanks for your comments!

    Terry, that's sounds like a good book. I'll have to check it out.

    Unfortunately, Jeff, many of the Christian community actually believe in a literal six day creation story. That is what makes for a debate. While our God is powerful enough to do that, the evidence just doesn't support that idea.

    Kathie

    On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Donald Jefcoat said:

    A while ago I began to question time. Was Gods time the same as ours? I came to the conclusion that was a no. That the seven days were time frames not necessary a literal day. Science has backed up that theory more often then not. Which would allow for some of creationism and evolution theories to exists in harmony.

    On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Jeff Brown said:

    While the article written by Major Chiu may give the reader the impression that there is a debate in regards to evolution, there most certainly is not. A scientific theory is a set of claims supported by facts and evidence, which is what has been provided consistently for evolution since the 19th century. While reconciling your religious beliefs with scientific facts may be difficult, to contradict reality just for the sake of appeasing your faith is a disservice.

    On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Terry Aitken said:

    I am writing in response to Major Katie Chiu's article on "Evolving faith - learning to accept uncertainty in the creation versus evolution debate." As with all her articles it was very informative and thought-proving.

    I recently read "Creation and Time - a Biblical and scientific perspective on the creation-date controversy."

    I have had a life long problem with reconciling the literal six thousand year date of the Earth's creation and the evidence of fossils. This book has been very revolutionary in my thinking on this matter without in any way detracting from the validity of Scripture. Many scientists have been able to come to terms with the Biblical account of creation if one understands that the word DAY in the original texts has a far wider meaning than a literal single 24 hour day, and "Creation and Time" explains this very well. I would therefore recommend it to all seekers after the truth.

    Terry Aitken

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