Mike Beidler wrote this series for publication in the Biologos forum. We are republishing it here. Mike previously contributed this Declaration of Evangelical Indepence from the Anti-Evolutionists on this evolving creation site. He is also an admin of our Celebrating Creation through Natural Selection facebook discussion group and a contributor to our Celebrating Evolving Creation facebook site.
Mike is a former young-earth anti-evolutionist and continues to be an evangelical Christian. He is commander in the U.S. Navy,. He holds an MS in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego, a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and an AA in Persian-Farsi from the U.S. Army’s Defense Language Institute. Mike is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). He currently resides in the Washington, D.C., metro area where he works as a Middle East politico-military adviser, runs the popular blog “Rethinking the αlpha and Ωmega,”
Confronting Our Fears, Part 1
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27, ESV)
In 2007, after a turbulent two-year process, I came to embrace evolutionary creationism as the best scientific and theological paradigm through which to view the natural world and God’s strategy to redeem humanity from the power of sin. As a layman who possessed neither a degree in the natural sciences nor a degree in theology, moving from my long-held young-earth creationist position was not an easy journey. My personal library was already full of literature arguing for a young-earth creationist position, and I was intimately familiar with all of the scientific and theological arguments against theistic evolution. Furthermore, my journey was relatively private and I knew few others who were traveling a similar path—others who could be fellow sojourners with me through the various spiritual and intellectual battles that lay ahead. But it was actually several personal fears that were the greatest enemies on my path toward the goal of integrating my long-held faith in Christ with a new understanding of physical world around me. In a step of faith, I dedicated myself to a robust self-study regimen in order to help wade through the diverse scientific and theological issues at hand.
In the end, my Christian faith not only remained intact, my journey resulted in a richer faith in the divine Logos-made-flesh (John 1:14); a profound love for the universe created for, by, and through the pre-existent Christ (Col 1:16; John 1:3); and an increased awe in a God who could accomplish so much “from so simple a beginning.”1 Over the last five years since I declared publicly my acceptance of the scientific evidence for evolution and humanity’s common ancestry with the rest of Earth’s flora and fauna,2 my family and I have been through two work-related moves, and have belonged to two conservative Christian congregations; both communities professed and lived out their faith in Jesus of Nazareth to an admirable degree, and both remain decidedly young-earth creationist in their theology. In both cases, I chose not to hide my evolutionary creationist views, but rather discuss them openly when people solicited my views. In return, I have been blessed by a noticeable extension of grace from family, friends, and fellow churchgoers—testimony to the fact that we can live and worship together in unity, even when we disagree over this issue.
Of course, being fully aware of how foreign a theistic evolutionary paradigm is to many an evangelical Christian audience, I’ve learned to have interactions about my views privately and with the utmost respect for the personal beliefs of my conversation partners—those beliefs are the ones I once held, after all. Furthermore, I’ve developed a heightened sensitivity to the issue of spiritual maturity; that is, how well-grounded one’s faith is in the person of Jesus Christ. As a result, I have had the pleasure of discussing my journey in an atmosphere of genuine mutual admiration with more than a few people in my worship community. Through these various dialogues, I have identified four fears about considering evolutionary creationism that, in most cases, mirrored those I experienced in my own journey. These fears are not petty, nor are they inconsequential. They are real and can have long-lasting effects if not dealt with in love, patience, honesty, and understanding. In the posts that follow this one over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to describe and explore those fears and how they might be overcome through Christ, and always with an eye on deeper faith in Him.
Although this series is written primarily for those who are honestly seeking an integration of scientific truth with their faith in Christ, yet are struggling mightily in the process, it can also serve as an aid to evolutionary creationists who seek to share how one’s Christian faith can remain intact, authentic, and vibrant, even during such a paradigm-shifting pilgrimage. It is my prayer that these reflections will assist the reader in identifying such personal fears, spur the genuine seeker to work through the sources of his or her anxieties, and direct him or her toward scholarly, pastoral resources that can assist the acceptance of evolution as God’s chosen method of creating. All of this is possible without sacrificing such core tenets of evangelical faith as belief in the role of Jesus in actual history (cf. Luke 1:1-4), the necessity of the Holy Spirit to transcend our fallen natures (Rom 14:17), and the experience of spiritual rebirth as adopted children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:3). Next time, I’ll begin with something foundational: the fear of the loss of the Bible as our source of Truth and Authority.
The heart of all anxiety is fear of loss.
1. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species  in Edward O. Wilson, ed., From So Simple a Beginning: The Four Great Books of Charles Darwin (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006), 760.
2. I launched my blog “The Creation of an Evolutionist” in December 2007 and have since renamed it “Rethinking the αlpha and Ωmega”.