Testing the waters—and the waters aren’t good.
I thought I might come out as atheist to my friend a couple weeks ago, when we went on a camping trip. I decided against that, but did test the waters a bit, talking about creation and evolution. It did not go well.
I’d really like to come out to my family, and some of my close friends. I’m getting sick of hiding. I feel like I’m continually forcing myself into a shell (it really is like being in a closet, isn’t it?) and refusing to let myself speak out because they might find out what I think.
This is one of the very few friends I have. He invited me along on this camping trip, whereas I wouldn’t have gotten to go camping anywhere, at all, otherwise. This friend, it turns out, is also a creationist and proud of it. He thought I was, too, because I used to be.
He told me how he stood up for “the faith” on Facebook not so long ago. Someone had made fun of that creationist/dinosaur quiz that was making the rounds. My friend jumped in and told this kid off. He told him about how you need to look at all the evidence, and the evidence supports creation. He told me how proud he was of being able to out-argue this kid.
He said that whenever he talks with evolutionists, they don’t argue on the scientific facts, because they know they will lose; instead they talk about theology and attack my friend’s faith in God.
He was telling me about how important it is for us Christians to stand up for Christ, when finally I told him I do think the earth is millions of years old, not 6,000 years, and that evidence is pretty clear about gradual change of one form into another.
And wouldn’t you know it, he stopped talking about scientific facts, and immediately wanted to discuss theology and faith.
It was harder than I thought to admit to him I believed in an Old Earth. My original plan was to come all the way out and tell him I was an atheist too. But in that instant when I told him I wasn’t creationist, I heard confusion and a hint of accusation in his voice, and I choked. I wondered what would happen if I admitted something so earth-shattering right before we were going to be stuck together in the wilderness for four days.
So I didn’t go there. I reassured him that I believe in God…though not very convincingly now that I think of it.
I talked about facts. I told him about tiktaalic and about the fossilized footprints in tilted rock layers I saw when on vacation in Colorado—the layers wouldn’t have time to fossilize and tilt without millions of years.
He asked me what kind of unthinkable energy would it take to compress the universe into a big bang? I said, “So much energy that even 4 billion years later we can still see a little of the residual heat when we look out into the emptiness of space.”
He said, but where does everything come from? Matter isn’t just being created all the time. I told him how fusion within stars creates the heavier elements, and then spits them out into the universe again.
We got to the lake, with water so clear you could see 30 feet down, loons cackling back and forth to themselves, wide open blue sky and no visible pollution at all—and he said, “Look at all this! It’s beautiful!” Meaning that it couldn’t possibly exist without God. Even though I said nothing at all about if God exists or not.
He said he’s not comfortable with evolution because, quite frankly, he thinks evolution makes it too easy to not believe in God. He said atheists talk about evolution all the time as proof there’s no creator, and “Somewhere I have to draw a line in the sand for my faith.”
Another friend was along part of the time, a Christian who does believe in evolution. This friend bailed me out by providing theological arguments why God may have used evolution as part of his creative process.
So I made this tiny step, and it has made me afraid to go any further. I thought about sending him the answer to some of the science questions he had, that I couldn’t answer without research…but instead I just stayed quiet. We haven’t talked about it since then.
I want to tell him the truth, because I want to tell somebody. I want people to be friends with the real me, not with this fake me I put on to impress them. But from his reaction it makes me wonder how he would see me if he knew I was a dreaded atheist.