Last February, on my way to minister in Australia, I spent 13 hours on the plane beside a Professor of Evolution.
A week later, while touring an Australian wildlife sanctuary on one of my days off, I met the author of a book disproving evolution. I live in Oregon. The Australian author’s book was published in Oregon.
Meeting the professor of Evolution, followed by getting acquainted with the author of a book disproving evolution led me to conclude that neither was coincidental.
Then it happened again.
April 5th, while returning from serving the Lord in North Carolina, my seat number was beside another Professor of Evolution. Imagine my surprise! But then this sort of non-coincidence happens to me so often as to be typical.
“Are you a science teacher?” I said, politely interrupting his reading.
“I’m a professor of Human Evolution,” he said.
“Where at?” I asked.
I told my seat neighbor about sitting beside a professor of evolution on my last international flight. We both agreed that such a thing is so mathematically improbable as to be more than coincidence.
“I’m a Bible teacher,” I told him. (This is what I tell people when they ask, “What do you do?” It’s easily understood and avoids confusion and needing to try to explain my role in the Church to those without the grid to understand.)
The evolution professor gave one silent nod with a look like, “Oh whoopee! Here we go.”
I’m not the preacher that he hoped to never sit beside on a four-and-a-half-hour flight. You know the one. They mesmerize folks with “the Four Spiritual Laws.” As exciting as they may be, that sort of sermonizing doesn’t fit me and I don’t think preaching at people is all that effective outside of church environments.
So, no sermons from me while on the plane. But since the Lord arranged our seating, didn’t He want me to share my hope with the professor?
Before doing so, first I needed to learn why he’s an evolutionist when the evidence of creation by design is everywhere we look. I’m sincerely baffled by what seems obvious to me–every living thing is far too complex and intricate to be the product of evolutionary processes. Adaptation, yes. Evolution, one species into an entirely different species, no.Perplexed by what’s obvious to so many of us, I sought to understand.
My professor neighbor explained his reasoning and stated that his belief in evolution, as well as what’s printed in academic material, is based on unproven hypothesis. Additionally, he said that he believes creation by design also is unproven. He said that he believes that both are based upon stories invented by mankind.
Our conversation helped me understand where he’s coming from. Then when he paused, I invited him to understand where I’m coming from.
“I wasn’t raised in a Christian environment,” I said. “I was a latch key kid–being left alone for hours at a time was my reality. It was normal to be home alone.”
As I spoke, the professor watched my face with interest.
“When I was eight years old, I arrived home from school to an empty house. No one was home but me. My hand was on the front doorknob when I heard someone, who I couldn’t see, tell me to run from my house. There was no-one there.
“I ran to my next door neighbor’s when, before I reached her door, my house exploded into flames. I knew that the One who saved me was the Lord. I had been praying to him every night and, for nights before this happened, I had even asked for His protection.”
I kept my jaw firmly closed, because his surprised reaction totally surprised me, and my jaw wanted to flop open and my eyes wanted to bug out, but I kept them in their place. Relaxed. Calm. Unemotional. His jaw was in his lap…well, not quite, but almost.
As his jaw flopped open, I saw wheels turning in his profoundly intellectual mind. Well, no actual wheels, but his facial expression revealed that at the conclusion of my testimony he was in deep thought, and this blessed me.
Maybe something I said gave him a glimpse at a Christianity that he didn’t know existed or perhaps he’s now questioning his evolution-based theories. I hope both are true. And most of all, I hope that he will ask the Lord, “Lord, if You’re real, like that woman said, then let me know somehow that it’s true.”
Today in worship, it dawned on me that having wrong assumptions hinders what God desires to do with and through us in reaching those around us with His amazing love.
For instance, it’s easy to assume that the Professor of Evolution has zero interest in hearing why I love God.
But isn’t it just as easy to assume that such a person longs to hear about legitimate God-miracles?
The proliferation of bad, depressing, twisted news has created a vacuum waiting to be filled with encouragement, inspiration and hope.
It’s my belief that people everywhere want to encounter good news. Let’s love and honor those around us, and tell them about the time when the Lord helped someone we know, or when He intervened to save our lives, or how He healed us. Or_____. You fill in the blank.
Our experiences matter. When we share them, they make a difference—a big, big difference.
So, I thank our Lord Jesus for delivering me and my sister, when we were children, from not one but 4 house fires, and for seating me next to Professors of Evolution.
Shine your light whenever there’s darkness,
P.S. When I think about God’s seating arrangement, I’m amused and amazed. After all, I was diagnosed “Learning Disabled” and placed in Special Education classes. But He seated me next to Professors of Evolution. This is far too amazing! Isn’t that just like our Good and Wise Father?