Questions my students asked

Over a period of two years I spent many hours in my office at a liberal arts college in northwest Georgia talking with a variety of students who had signed up for my philosophy classes. Many students were not Christians but were very interested in spiritual matters. A number of these seemed to want to be Christians, but were held back by various questions.

Berry College

Here are the three questions that seemed to trouble them the most.

1. Can I be a Christian and still believe in evolution?
2. Why would God send people to hell just because they haven’t heard about Jesus?
3. Why would a loving God let so many bad things happen?


These are extremely important questions.

If my students are indicative of what other young people in north America (not to mention the rest of the world) are thinking, they represent scores—or more likely hundreds—of millions who think very highly of Jesus and admire a great deal in Christianity but worry they can’t become Christians without surrendering their rationality (Question 1), their decency (Question 2), or both (Question 3).

Fortunately, there is no need for them to worry. Over the next few weeks I will explain why, starting with the first question, which I will address in this post and the next.

One of the many questions my students didn’t ask is “Have you ever eaten monkey brains?” (The answer is No.) (Picture attribution: Cara Chow (Charlotte1125). From here.)


Question 1: Can I be a Christian and still believe in evolution?

As bloggers report, the tension between Christianity and evolution is a huge factor behind vast numbers of young folk abandoning their faith. Here is what they seem to be thinking:

Premise 1: All (or practically all) rational people accept that the species on earth today emerged through the process of evolution. a
Premise 2: No (or practically no) orthodox Christians accept that the species emerged through the process of evolution.
Conclusion: So no (or practically no) orthodox Christians are rational.

This is a good argument in that the premises provide very good support for the conclusion. The problem is that both premises are false.

The view that God used the process of evolution to create the species we see on earth today is called theistic evolution. Many orthodox Christians accept theistic evolution. I’m not aware of any very good reason for calling it a heresy.

(As is the case with inclusivism, whether or not theistic evolution is the correct view is, of course, a different question.) (If you want a test for orthodox Christianity, research the Nicene Creed and the primary heresy it refutes. Rejecting that heresy, Arianism, is a pre-requisite for orthodox Christianity.)

Another question they never asked me is, “Have you ever eaten fried flying termites?” (The answer is Yes, several times. They taste somewhat like peanuts. But they don’t look like this termite. Go here to see what they look like.) (Picture attribution: Discott (talk). Picture from here.)

Of course, there are better and worse ways to be a theistic evolutionist. It’s important to adhere to the authority of Scripture. A Christian who is a theistic evolutionist should be a Beth, not a Chris.

I’ll address the second premise in my next post.


Update: Other posts in this series:
Evolution Is a Poor Test for Rationality

Why would God send people to hell just because they haven’t heard about Jesus?

Why would a loving God let so many bad things happen?

(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)
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