I ended my last post with some of the thoughts that ran through my head as I went through high school (starting at a time when I was planning to pursue a Biology major) and then started college (as a Music major, but with a strong interest in science still, and a hope to take some science courses to fulfill my core requirements).
The problem was this: It felt wrong to accept as fact things I did not believe to be true.
It felt wrong to sit in a class that taught as fact things I, minimally, believed happened differently. I was, actually, not ever afraid that my beliefs would change (I think this is often a fear friends, families, churches, and society hold). It did, however, feel like sitting in a class and writing answers on tests silently made me guilty by association. An accomplice. An accessory. To not speak up is a sign of approval isn't it? Like Paul. And I was taught to speak up-- about everything. I was raised by a writer who came of age in the 1970s. I was in my early teens when she introduced me to Sly and the Family Stone's Stand (which quickly became one of my favorite songs).
Perhaps my hesitance was also because, without really realizing it, I grew up in the heyday of the "culture wars." I had learned well how to defend my faith- both the reasons for the faith I had, as well as counter-arguments for a number of scientific arguments against my faith. I've talked about this before- the particular brand of Christian culture which defined my teenage years and prepared me for debates about my faith- debates that, largely, never happened. But, when faced with the prospect that I might need to be confrontational, or put in even longer hours on course work in order to research evidence to support my views and contradict what I was being instructed, it did seem much easier to just avoid courses where I'd disagree. To opt out. To be a conscientious objector when it came to my studies.
For a while, I did avoid courses that would disagree too strongly with my faith, or so I thought, but I quickly found that science is far from the only discipline that may contradict faith. Class discussions in English class could be controversial. And the most openly hostile professor I ever had was in my Intro to Women's Studies course (a woman who, quite unprovoked, made her own intolerances quite clear in ways that would not have been politically correct if she'd been talking about any other religion). I suppose one answer is to hide more deeply, to continue to avoid. But this is the world we live in, and we are not called to hide. As the popular phrase goes, "in, but not of."
Eventually, I signed up for a class that, not only had evolution on the syllabus, but in the title. An entire course based on evolutionary theory...
To Be Continued.
Also, it's not too late to TAKE THE POLL! I'll be spending a few more weeks on this series, and I'd love to hear about your own experiences (or lack thereof) and thoughts about faith and academic situations!