How can Christians cope with university studies that threaten their faith? This article evaluates three possible challenges with which secular worldviews confront Christian university students.

Source: Una Sancta, 2017. 2 pages.

Uni Students: Don't Lose Your Faith

You have been enjoying your biology course at university. The lecturer is knowledgeable in his field, and you are amazed at all the things that you are learning. It was such a simple introduction you received at the John Calvin High School, and daily you are seeing just how little you really do know and how much there still is to learn.

That high school is also the reason your enjoyment of the course is tempered by some nervousness. Your science teacher made clear that those guys at university will push evolution down your throat, and will likely scoff at anybody who thinks that Genesis 1 has anything relevant to say about how the world came about. Although evolution has not yet come up in the course, you are sure that it will. But every day convinces you how well-informed this lecturer is — he really knows his stuff, and you are learning so much.

Then one day he drops the nervously anticipated word. He speaks about ... evolution and he does it in the same learned and informed way as everything else he has been teaching.

Help!!! This lecturer knows his stuff. Everything else he has taught you has underlined that — it all makes so much sense. How can he be so wrong on evolution? What do you do now? There are three options1, none of which are really satisfying.

The first option is to abandon your faith. But you're convinced you can't do that. You still go to church, you have always believed that the Bible is true. It is asking too much, to throw it overboard like that. The second option is to accommodate. Isn't the Bible mainly about Jesus Christ and salvation through Him? When it comes to matters of faith, you will trust the Biblical teaching that the way to be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ, but when it comes to matters of science, biology and geology, then you will work with the teachings of science. Surely God did not give the Bible as a scientific text book. Genesis 1 is a nice story, but the main thing is that God is in control. Maybe He used evolution to get it all going. This option does not sit right either.

The third option is the scary one. Go to the lecturer after class and point out that he is wrong, that he is out to lunch because his ideas contradict the Bible, and therefore there must be all kinds of holes in his reasoning and evidence. You could try and show him that the evidence actually fits the biblical picture of creation and flood. But you don't think you can do that either. He knows so much, and he will have a hundred reasons to support evolution and show why it is scientifically impossible for Genesis 1 and 2 to be true. He knows his stuff, and you are just a beginner. You are sure you will end up sounding foolish and ignorant if you try to argue with him.

There is another way. It is a variation of the third option. You are right — you will not be able to match this scholar when it comes to all his reasonings and insight and knowledge. Furthermore, it is probably going to take you years before you will have a sufficient handle on all the data to be able to show him what is wrong with the way he is working with the evidence. However, you can still debate with him, but at a different level, and in a different place. You need to have this debate, so that you don't get swallowed alive by the secular lies and worldview at the university. The first debate you need to have is at the worldview level, and you can have that debate with him in your mind as you listen to him.

What this means is that you think through what he is saying, but also why he is saying it. What is the worldview from which he is looking at things? What are his faith commitments? If he is a typical evolutionary scientist, it won't be hard to figure out. His idea is that the senses are the only source of truth. So right from the outset, he will exclude any knowledge that does not come to him through his senses. He further believes that everything can be explained in terms of natural causes. So a supernatural explanation is not possible in his system, even before he begins examining the evidence. He won't find God because he has said at the start that it is impossible for God to have done this. Learn to see very clearly the worldview he has, the glasses which he is using to look at all the evidence. Then you don't have to panic, but can begin to see if even with his worldview, it all fits. Or are there areas which he cannot explain, because his worldview is actually stunted and not according to the ultimate reality, which can only be known from God's revelation? For example, how does he account for the human mind? What does he say about human worth? Even the way he uses the science — does it actually prove what he wants it to prove? In this way, you will begin to develop tools for the time when you will be able to sit down and ask him some difficult questions. In a way, you will need to take twice as many notes as your secular counterparts. They will just be getting the information in their heads, but you will also be noting down your lecturer's worldview commitments, holes in his worldview, when he steps off his worldview map and so on.

So on the one hand, don't jump in to the verbal debate too quickly. On the other hand, don't think that you have to know how to answer all the questions they will put to you before you begin discussing this with the lecturer or fellow students. Be open to discussions with them, even initiate such discussions. Ask them about their worldview. Let your unbelieving lecturers and fellow students get to know you as someone who is respectful, who listens carefully and tries to understand what is said and responds in a fair way. This will build up your credibility for when you begin to ask questions around some of the problematic areas of their worldview.

Don't forget to pray and study God's word during all this. You are weak, and the devil's lies are strong. Let him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall. Don't rely on yourself, but rely on God to equip you to engage in the spiritual battle. Show your reliance by praying to the LORD for zeal for His glory, for faith, for insight into His Word, for humility, for the love you need to winsomely speak to your unbelieving neighbor. Pray for the eternal salvation of those to whom you speak.

In this way, you can still gain much from that biology degree, even as a Christian scientist, and even especially as a Christian scientist. You will be more equipped to study in a way in which you will not abandon your faith. You will come to see more and more clearly the poverty of the perspective which excludes from the outset that there is a God.

With some tweaking, this can also be applied to that humanities course that you are doing, or that economics or engineering course. Let me know how you go.


  1. ^ The three options presented in this article are based on chapter 1: "Worldviews" of M. Ward, et al., Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption (Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 2016), pp. 3-5.

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