DISCLAIMER: I am not writing this to try to convince you that what you believe is wrong. I am not going to attempt to debunk any claims. I am not a science communicator. I am not an evangelist. I am writing this for myself more that anyone. I don’t really care if you agree with me or not. I am not trying to start a debate (Though, I am open to questions or friendly discussions).
There are many reasons why I no longer consider myself a Christian. I had actually stopped calling myself “Christian” long before I left the church. It was a decision that was not made suddenly or lightly, and it is not one I expect anyone else to make. It was a long time coming and there were a lot of factors that all came together and built to a tipping point. For me, when the tipping point came, everything went. Not just a disownment of the more radical parts of the Christian religion, but a disownment of every aspect of belief in God. At this point, I hold no religions beliefs because I am not able to justify faith in anything to myself. To some this may sound like a dark place to be, but I’ve never felt more clear in my mind or my purpose. I have found that joy, love and peace still exist without faith in God.
Growing up in Baptist churches means being taught to believe that the Bible is true in its entirety. This includes the creation story. There are entire organizations devoted to spreading Creationism. There are Creation Evangelists who travel the country teaching Creationism. There are programs to teach children Creationism. The creation story is being taught as fact in private Christian schools. As a child, I trusted the people behind the pulpit or at the head of the classroom to be telling me the truth. And so I believed the creation story.
What has had the largest impact on my faith is realizing that much of what I was taught about the origin of the universe, the earth and humanity is simply not true. Realizing that I had been provided with incorrect or partial information was a revelation. I do not know if these people that I trusted were lying or if they actually believed what they taught, but in my mind there is no denying that they spoke in bad faith.
Any child should be able to trust that people in a position of leadership will give them the most accurate information available, but information is regularly twisted or omitted in the teaching of Creationism. Truth is dismissed as biased conjecture in favor of biased conjecture passed off as truth. Reality is distorted shamelessly. If contrary theories are introduced, they are merely straw man arguments—built up with half truths only to be knocked down by falsehoods.
While this has been my experience with Creationism, I am not asking you to just trust me and forsake everything that you believe. I am asking you to do this: If you encounter a Creation Evangelist or are confronted with the teachings of Creationism, listen with an open mind. Then, with an open mind, consult trustworthy sources. Explore what is being claimed and what the latest scientific research says about it. Examine the motivation of all your sources, and evaluate their veracity. Acknowledge your own biases and know it is OK to question what you believe and why.
I believe that a Christian can have an honest and open mind about science and hold onto their most vital religious beliefs. Many questions answered by the Bible are not answered by science, and in many ways they are not contradictory. When you do encounter a contradiction, though, the best thing you can do is search for the truth and be honest with yourself.
If you are able to do that and remain devout, good for you. Literally, it probably is good for you. There was a study published recently that indicates religious people live longer than atheists on average. (Source: The Independent )