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By the time in life you are getting grey hair on your temples you should, I would think, have it all figured out, or at least be as close as you are going to get with most things. I certainly include in that your relationship, or lack of one, with God. Surprises would not be anticipated. The first Sunday in January was when the pastor of the Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia was to give his much anticipated sermon titled “Evolution vs. Creationism”. My wife and I had joined two years earlier because of the great youth programs they offered for our two teenagers, truly an incredible array of athletic activities and social programs that were hard to resist. I found this church to be much more fundamentalist than what I grew up with but the programs for our kids tipped the scales. When the “Evolution vs. Creationism” sermon was announced, I knew it was one I could not miss. This is an issue that I, and many Christians, have struggled with more every year that passes. For a person who does not have a professional science background, I think I have as good a grasp of basic science as anyone out there. Somehow, over the years, I have done a great job of compartmentalizing my everyday beliefs and those “Sunday” beliefs that never quite fit, those square pegs in round holes.

So there my wife and I were that first Sunday in January. Rev. Allen Hunt started out by saying that “everyone” fell into one of four groups on this issue. In the first group we find those who accept the bible as literal truth. If the bible says it, well that's it. Here you have the “young Earth” crowd, those who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 or so years old. You get that, of course, by counting the generations detailed in Genesis from Adam to King David. Never mind that many branches of science give compelling evidence for an Earth four and a half billion or so years old; it's 6000 years old, that's it. Rev. Hunt's second group is comprised of those who go with the “a day for God may be millions upon millions of years” for man. That buys you some wiggle room. The Earth may well now be four and a half billion years old, but Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark and all the rest still happened. Yet you still have supernatural events popping up all over the place. Next, Rev. Hunt's third group is the strict Evolutionists. Here you have no room at all, he explained, for God's place in our world. He made it clear by that he meant the events detailed throughout the bible, and by events he meant supernatural events. Frankly, if you are in this group, he explained, I don't see how you can call yourself a Christian. Finally, a fourth and final group that believe that evolution may even have had “some role” but that God's hand, his intervention, is evident throughout. Intelligent design was never mentioned by name but that was clearly where he was going. Then he continued by saying that he was concerned that science textbooks in our children's schools present the “theory” of evolution as though it is indeed fact. Can we not have an insert, he asked, in the front of each text explaining this and pointing out that many still believe that evolution leaves many things unexplained, that many believe surely there are other answers out there. At this point, he asked for a show of hands of all of our school teachers. Many hands were dutifully raised. Would all of our teachers come forward, he asked, and kneel before the alter, which they did. Now could we all bow our head in prayer, he asked, and pray for our teachers. Let us ask God to give them guidance as they teach our children.

Rev. Hunt concluded his sermon by saying that surely we could accept each other as Christians if we belonged to any of the groups he had described, any of the groups, that is, except the third group. “Frankly, if you are in that group, I don't see how you can consider yourself a Christian”. As I contemplated his sermon, I decided that was indeed the one thing we agreed on, that I really am unable to accept supernatural events as an explanation for anything. That covers a lot of ground of course. Here we are at Easter once again, and I, and all Christians, are asked to believe that Jesus, was crucified, dead and buried. The third day he rose from the dead (and) ascended into heaven. If you can believe, the payoff is pretty awesome. But I can no longer make the jump, can't get there, too bad. So here I am, at a time in life when all of this is supposed to be firmly settled, and I find myself alone on the shore, staring out into the mists. I am not ready to call myself an atheist; I would still say that I am not. But supernatural events, finally, are out once and for all. No more square pegs being pounded into round holes. They are not a part of what I can believe and accept. If the Bible is full of them, if they are the heart and core of all Christian belief, if they are God's supposed “divine revelation”, to man; then obviously anyone calling themselves a Christian has some issues to resolve if they can, and I cannot. What,if anything, lies beyond this existence? None of us know. Uncertainty, of course, is what humans strive to avoid. Death is the ultimate uncertainty.

I did want to add a footnote. Shortly after that Sunday, my eighth grader's science class covered the section on evolution. I asked her to let me read it one night after she was done. We are here in Atlanta, the buckle on the Bible belt, but I am pleased to tell you that Fulton County Georgia's science textbooks offer solid science on evolution. It is well written and pulls no punches, not an intelligent designer in sight. That is no small thing. Far too many Americans are totally ignorant of basic science as it is. This is a fight we just can't lose.

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