Hello. This is David Evarts. I am one of the site hosts. I’d like to introduce to R. Hodges story. In the Celebrating Creation by Natural Selection facebook group, we’ve had an ongoing thread in which people, if they so choose, can share their journey towards accepting the evidence that God has left that his works include evolution. Many of the stories are truly sad. Some people have lost a faith in God that they truly value, due in part to being told that either evolution or the Bible is true. Others have been rejected by their churches for accepting science. Many are fortunate that they do not have to see the two as conflicting. I think that R.s’ story is poignant and illustrates that a person from an anti-evolutionary background can come to accept science and Gods love without experiencing a terrible faith crisis due or being ostracized. So, thank you Mrs. Hodges for sharing your journey. Here it is in her words……….
I was brought up in the Assemblies of God church in my early years. My parents served as missionaries in Asia, where I was born, but we left when I was a baby. My grandfather (who is such a loving, beautiful old man) pastored an A of G church on the East Coast, and my dad was an assistant pastor. I think many of the people there would be considered fundamentalists, but they went against stereotype and were really loving. Still, there was an emphasis by some Sunday school teachers on Hell, which scared the tar out of me. I went up for every altar call. My relationship with God was real, but complicated. When I was very young, I had some cool experiences in which I feel he clearly showed me how much he loved me, and I wanted so much to bless his heart. However, the more I “learned”, the more it seemed to me that I had to work really hard to please God. I started to develop anxiety issues about it (that weren’t helped by medications I had to take for an illness–they fueled the anxious feelings) and no one seemed to understand. I felt really far away from God during that time. What made it worse was that I was learning about evolution in school, and it made sense to me, but people at my semi-fundamentalist church led me to believe you couldn’t believe in both God and evolution. I thought I had to choose between the two, so I chose God.
At one point in my teens, I just quit. I told God I was through with praying my well-thought-out little prayers and trying to be perfect all the time, and that I had serious doubts about him, but if he was anything like I remembered him as a kid, I wanted to know him. However, if he was as cold and perfectionistic and unloving as he was portrayed sometimes, I only wanted to believe in him to avoid hellfire, quite frankly. I was gut-level honest for the first time in years, and not particularly polite in my prayer. It was the best thing I ever did. That seemed to open up the doors for God to show me how much he loved me, in some really beautiful, miraculous ways. I still put evolution on the back burner, because I got busy with other things and also because I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize this wonderful God thing I had going. Many years later, I fell in love with and married a very Liberal, science-loving Christian. Most of my conservative friends and family were okay with it, because my husband is incredibly likable, and, as some of them told me, he “must be a Republican in his heart”. (He’s not). Evolution was very interesting to my husband, and I felt that I ought to look into it more so we could share that together, and also because I had arrived at a place in my walk with God in which I finally gave myself freedom to fully question, and truly ask anything.
This group has helped SO MUCH, and I’ve loved learning about evolution. It’s shaken my worldview a bit and I’ve had to do some adjusting. It hasn’t all been easy. However, I feel really fortunate, especially after hearing some other stories from people in the group, that it’s not that big a deal for my really conservative friends and family. (I think they are more concerned that I am not voting Republican this election ;o). I think some of them look askance at me for thinking evolution makes sense, but they’ve been looking askance at me for a long time anyway, with love and amusement. In my case, it’s been a mostly gentle transition and Christians have responded with a minimum of judgement.