Believing Isn’t Enough
by Dr. Michael Guillen
After a typical speech of mine, people who stay to talk with me fall into three broad categories: 1) women concerned about the apostasy of their children or husbands, 2) men struggling to reconcile logic and faith, and 3) students astonished to meet a highly credentialed scientist who is genuinely a Christian.
In this article, I’d like to address myself to people in the first category, who have children they’ve lovingly reared in a godly, Christian home. Children who’ve gone away to college and morphed into young people their families and friends can scarcely recognize, who now doubt, and even renounce, their faith in God, the Bible, and the Church.
Mothers in these circumstances whom I’ve met are naturally devastated by the unwelcome transformation of their children. They fear for their souls, weep as they ask me for advice about what they can do to bring their loved ones back into the fold.
They look to me for help because nine times out of ten, science is the perceived culprit, the source of their children’s spiritual corruption. In college, their kids are exposed—perhaps for the first time—to science instructors and others in authority who are flagrantly, unabashedly, and increasingly militantly secular. Teachers who—like the philosophy professor depicted in the hit movie God’s Not Dead—ridicule Christianity and religion as backward-thinking superstition. As enemies of progress and reason. As the chief nemesis of science.
“Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off-limits,” trumpets biologist Richard Dawkins, emeritus fellow at the University of Oxford. “Religion makes specific claims about the universe, which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”
What chance does an impressionable college student have against such authoritative-sounding propaganda? Especially since they’ve grown up in an era when science, not Jesus, is the widely perceived miracle worker. By the time young people today enter college, they’ve read countless headline-making news stories about science giving sight to the blind (using artificial retinas, for example), enabling the lame to walk (using computer-assisted artificial limbs, for one), and even providing new faces to people horribly disfigured in war. The intended message is unmistakable: nothing is impossible with science!
For you devoted guardians of student-aged children who’ve been suckered into believing such nonsense, I have three recommendations.
First, do not—whatever you do, do not—denounce science. Science is not to blame here. Voluble, boorish, attention-seeking atheists such as Dawkins are attempting to use science to defend their ignorance and intolerance. Science itself is neutral on the subject of God. It can neither prove nor disprove His existence, no matter what anyone tells you.
Second, shop for a credible, readable book or two that vividly illustrates the compatibility of science and faith. My own new book—Amazing Truths: How Science and the Bible Agree—is intended to address this growing tragedy; but there are other terrific books out there as well. Whichever book you buy, I recommend that you do not send it straightway to your child. Instead, set it down casually on the kitchen counter or coffee table, somewhere he or she will find it “by accident.”
Third, and most important, pray for your misguided children. Augustine of Hippo was reared by a pagan father and Christian mother. When he left home to be educated, he went horribly astray, believing that Christianity was not intellectually respectable. Years later, when he became a Christian, he credited his conversion to the earnest, tireless prayers of his mother, Monica. Remarkably, he went on to become the celebrated bishop of Hippo and one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. Ultimately, he was canonized.
As you pray, bear in mind that it is not enough merely to believe in God. Even the Enemy believes in God. Believing isn’t enough. You must surrender the matter completely to Him.
Allow me to use science to illustrate the oft-misunderstood Christian notion of “surrender.” When I was in high school, I was a complete geek. I knew all about the properties of water and Archimedes’ law of buoyancy. But I couldn’t swim to save my life. I had a deathly fear of water—which was a huge problem, because my school required students to learn how to swim in order to graduate.
In the pool, I clung for dear life to a long wooden pole held firmly by the instructor. “Okay, now let go,” he said to me reassuringly. “You can do this.” But every time I let go, I sank to the bottom of the pool, which only increased my fear.
You see, I believed in the law of buoyancy…but I couldn’t bring myself to surrendering my life to it. Intellectually, I believed that water could support the weight of my body…but I never gave myself completely to the water. That’s why I always dropped like a stone.
The Bible instructs us to do more than just study the Word and go around saying we believe in God; we must live like we mean it. Having a child lose his or her faith is a divine opportunity for parents to show those selfsame kids what faith looks like when it is lived authentically.
Here’s how Philippians 4:6-7 explains it:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Mothers, Fathers, I know it isn’t easy, but if you do that—surrender even your precious babies to God and really, truly trust Him—the Bible promises that they will be okay in the long run. And in the short term, you yourself will experience God’s supernatural inner tranquility, knowing that as much as you love and care for your children, He loves and cares for them even more.
Michael Guillen was born in East Los Angeles, earned his BS from UCLA and his MS and PhD from Cornell University in physics, mathematics and astronomy. For eight years he was an award-winning physics instructor at Harvard University. For fourteen years he was the Emmy-award-winning science correspondent for ABC News, appearing regularly on Good Morning America, 20/20, Nightline, and World News Tonight. Dr. Guillen is the host of the History Channel series, Where Did It Come From? and producer of the award-winning family movie LITTLE RED WAGON. His new book Amazing Truths: How Science and the Bible Agree is being published by Harper Collins and is due out on February 9, 2016. For more information, go to www.michaelguillen.com and www.facebook.com/michaelguillenphd.
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