Sunday, May 22, 2011

College, Christianity, and Change Part 1

Wow, it's been quite a bit since I last updated this blog! I guess I'll have to attempt to resurrect it.

So much has transpired since I first began sharing my thoughts on this blog. Specifically, my religious/spiritual transformation has been rather dramatic.

The impetus for my decision to discuss this change is my recent graduation from college. I've been reflectiong on where I was in terms of religious/philosophical beliefs at the beginning of my 4 yrs in college compared to where I am today.

Unlike other accounts I've read, I didn't enter college with an indomitable fundamentalist spirit only to have it crushed by modern scholarship. I entered college with a strict fundy background, but also a raging internal struggle focused on finding a religious/philosophical paradigm that would make sense of my reality.

Now, I admit to holding some rather fundy beliefs at the beginning of my college career. But those beliefs were not held with any sort of dogmatism or certainty. On entry to college I was willing and ready to question everything. And I did.

My first undergraduate year was spent at a Christian college that is rather fundamentalist (in the SBC sense). This college was "liberal" and "compromising" compared to my IFB background. However, even there I challenged the theology professor on issues such as the position of women in church. Regarding that specific issue, the professor eventually conceded to me (privately) that the main reason females should not lead males in the church setting is because they are more easily deceived. Funny, he still thought it was appropriate for females to teach other females. I guess as long as women only deceive each other then it doesn't matter?

Anyway, my year in the Christian college left me with Calvinistic leanings and the hope that maybe the resolution to my internal struggle could be found in Tim Keller's brand of Christianity (i.e. moderately Reformed).

During my three years in secular college, nothing that was taught in class really challenged my beliefs to a great degree. I find that rather humorous, because conservative Evangelicals and Fundies are always ranting about how secular college can destroy the faith of young believers. Not me, the questions that I had prior to entering secular college were much more compelling than any passing remarks made by "pagan" professors.

Evolution was one aspect of my internal struggle. At the Christian college, young earth creationism was highly emphasized (although I suspect that my biology teacher may have secretly been an old earth IDer). There was a banner prominently displayed in the biology lab that stated something like: "Microevolution true. Macroevolution a lie."

I left the Christian college somewhat convinced that at least intelligent design was true. However, not without some cognitive dissonance. When I looked at the biological "creation" I saw lots of evidence for characteristics that only allow for survival in a harsh world. If no biological death took place prior to "the fall" how did animals without rumens digest cellulose? Why do buzzards have talons? Why does the Viceroy butterfly need to be a mullerian mimic with the Monarch? These supposed features of Divine design only make sense in a world "red in tooth and claw." They don't align with the Edenic vision where everything was created good...

I'll further elaborate on how evolution influenced my religious transformation in part two.

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