No, I did not watch the debate last night. I did, however, watch my news feed as others reacted TO the debate. Familiar nouns like "faith", "science", "Bible", "facts", "Spirit of God" got thrown around like verbs. "I'm going to science that Bible until it cries!" or "Those sciencers need to get their faiths checked out", that kind of thing.*
I shared a blog post from the Huffington Post (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4723766) alongside all the curfuffle that I thought made the good argument that the entire discussion was needless, we're trying to compare apples to oranges. Simplistic but I believe it made a good point: There is often a rocky history behind our ingrained sentiments, and I think the church and the scientific community might benefit from exploring the relevance of that history as they interact so that they can genuinely hear each other.
But all these observations aside, the debate had the additional effect of propeling me forward to share why I am where I am in the scuffle and how I arrived. I will undercut some of the suspense and share that I definitely do not have every question answered, either spiritually or scientifically. Really what has changed is how I see myself in relation to the questions, and how I allow myself to react as they are asked.
Ten years ago I was on the cusp of giving my life to Christ. My heart was in a bad way due to rough personal circumstances and a close Christian friend was there trying to help me work through the mess. She had her (loving!) agenda, but the fact was I already had a building desire for God and felt drawn to Christianity specifically. For the first time it seemed a tangible experience I could grasp. Although it was intuitive for me to immediately reach for it, another part of myself needed to test my instincts before I could "let go" of everything else.
So I read and I prayed (because really, what could it hurt?). I read anything and everything I thought was relevant at the time. Why not become a Buddhist, or Hindu... or nothing at all? I read one side and then the other, trying to find their best arguments so that I could make sure I wasn't only believing something because I wanted to. Toward the end of this period I remember stumbling on the controversy of evolution. Because atheism wasn't really a belief I considered likely, I felt comfortable letting the matter go and figured I'd circle back around later if I had to.
Like many of us, once I became comfortable in my new faith I was, well, comfortable. Life was great. Not as in every-detail-was-all-I-hoped-it-would-be great, but I had a purpose. It happened that God seemed to use me to explain/teach spiritual things to people, and that He was interacting and reshaping my self in real and unexpected ways. Christianity was both "more than" and "exactly what" I thought it would be.
But peace is for a season, and I eventually had disquieting feelings of uncertainty. Like what if everything I thought I knew was only a emotional bubble I created to evade truth? What if all my Christian relationships only served to make this bubble more resilient, shielding me from reality? Atheism/evolution/mainstream science became the Goliath representing these doubts and everything about my faith I didn't understand. After all, the atheists I encountered seemed so confident and to never struggle at all.
Goliath's whisper became a predictable companion every couple of years even though I tried pushing it off, praying it away to find peace. Anxiety built up inside and suffocated me with fear instead. Apparently, there was only one way out and that was through my fear. If there was a God He was forcing me to confront Goliath and use my intellect as the weapon of choice.
...and how small my stone was compared to this giant!
*a terrible, but more humorous, rendition of what was actually said by the way