Matt was a young man was on his way home from college during the Thanksgiving break. He had been driving on a cold clear Fall day, his favorite weather of the year, when he decided to fill up on gas. He spotted an out of the way station that did not look too run down, as some of them do. As he pulled in, he noticed someone else who was heading in the opposite direction pull in off the highway . The two of them parked on opposite sides of the same island, facing opposite directions.
Matt got out, opened his wallet, swiped his card, and began to pump the gas. The concrete pad was swirling with colored leaves as the cold breeze found its way into his jacket, and tossed his long dark curls into his face. He was overdue for a haircut. As he zipped up, he glanced up, and saw another young man about his age get out of his car, and begin the same process Matt had finished moments before.
Finally, Matt caught his eye and smiled at him, “This is my favorite time of the year.”
The other young man, taller and with blonde hair, agreed and introduced himself as Chris. A polite conversation ensued, with both of the young men talking about school, and plans for the holiday. The conversation took a turn though, when Matt mentioned he was looking forward to church on Sunday. Chris looked at Mike and asked, “Why do you go to church?”
After a moment, Matt replied, “Well, to worship God.” He was suddenly uncomfortable and felt it was a lame response.
Matt was always uncomfortable talking to people about his faith. He remembered a time when his youth group had to go out and do some street evangelizing. It was one of the worst experiences of his life. They had handed out a few tracts and invited some strangers to church. Matt was just beginning to think, “This is not so bad” when his two of his friends started talking to someone who did not believe in God. Overconfident, Matt jumped in, handed him a tract, and invited him to church. Then the man started asking Matt questions. Very direct questions. Matt could not answer any of his questions, and his friends did not jump in to help. In fact, they took a small step back, leaving Matt to take the bull by the horns. Before they knew it, a few other people had gathered around them and this man was doing all the talking, while Matt just politely nodded, or said, “I don’t know” to the man’s questions. He felt very foolish.
Finally, their youth pastor came over and helped Matt disengage from the man. Even their youth pastor had a difficult time answering this man’s volley of questions. Matt later learned what this man did was coined ‘steam rolling’ – asking several questions before you have time to even address the first one. It can be very intimidating, and unless you are willing to firmly, but politely, interrupt someone, they will dominate the conversation.
Trying to recover, Matt quickly followed with, “I also enjoy hanging out with family and friends.”
Chris nodded but asked, “So do you go to church to worship God, or to hang out with family or friends?”
Chris said, “I don’t see a need for God, and I can hang out with family and friends without having to go to church. Actually,” he added, “I don’t even believe in God. Evolution has proven he is not needed.”
Unsure how to respond, Matt asked, “How does evolution prove God is not real? Maybe God used evolution to create man.”
“That is called Theistic Evolution, and I personally don’t hold to that,” said a voice that came from the end of the line of gas pumps.
Both Matt and Chris turned, and standing there was an older gentlemen with a rag in his hand, wiping down the furthest gas pump on the island. Neither Matt or Chris heard him walk up. He was about as tall as Chris, slender with brown hair, graying on the sides, and brown eyes to match his long sleeve fall colored shirt. Matt would have guessed him to be in his late 50’s.
Chris did not miss a beat. “Why not? If it is something God would use, why not evolution?”
The man straightened up from wiping down a pump, he was about as tall as Chris, but not in any kind of formidable way; just tall and friendly looking.
He smiled and replied to Chris, “Well, you don’t even believe in God, so why even consider Theistic Evolution? Besides, evolution does not answer the question of abiogenesis, it only answers how life could have developed after it began, not how it began.”
The man walked over and put out his hand to Chris and said “My name is Mr. Keller, Anthony Keller. I own this little out of the way gas station. My friends call me Andy.”
Chris returned the handshake and was surprised how warm it was despite the cold.
“Hi Andy.” Matt said, reaching out his hand after Mr. Keller and Chris were done shaking hands. “What is abiogenesis?”
“Life from non-life,” Mr. Keller replied, but kept his attention on Chris.
Matt just nodded, but Mr. Keller could tell he was thinking about it.
Chris responded, “Mr. Keller, were you born and raised in a Christian home?”
Mr. Keller smiled, “Yes Chris, I was.”
Chris said, “I was too, then in high school and college I began to look at my parents’ beliefs, and decided on my own what was true.”
Mr. Keller nodded, still listening.
Chris continued, “So it is no surprise you believe in God. You believe in God because you were raised in a Christian home. If you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu. If you were born in Egypt, you would probably be a Muslim. If you were born in one of the advanced Western European Countries, you would probably be an atheist.”
Mr. Keller cut in, “Does that make atheism true?”
Chris had his mouth open as if he was going to say something else, then he asked, “Does what make atheism true?”
“Being born in a Western European country. Does that make atheism true?”
Chris hesitated, “Well, no.”
Mr. Keller shifted his weight off his right leg and pulled some gloves from his back pocket and began to put them on, “Right, it would not make atheism true, any more than being born in India would make Hinduism true. Your example of being born in different countries, and having different beliefs accordingly, is called the genetic fallacy. What you believe, and what country or family you were raised in, is irrelevant to the truth of your belief. The truth of your belief is based on the evidence that supports it, not how you were raised, or the country you were born in.”
Chris nodded, “Ok, I see that, but what evidence do you have for God? You can’t prove there is a god to me.”
Mr. Keller replied, “You’re right Chris, I can’t prove God exists any more than you can prove He does not exist. But I would not base my disbelief of Him because of evolution.”
Chris shoved his hands in his jacket pockets, wishing he had some gloves. “Why not? Evolution proves we don’t need a god to answer the question of how we came to be.”
Mr. Keller draped his arms over the pump which was next to the young men. He was looking very comfortable. “That is what I was saying before. Evolution cannot answer life from non-life, or abiogenesis. It can only offer a possibility of how we developed, not how we got started. On top of that there is the genetic code. Coding or language requires intelligence; you can’t get language from non-intelligence. Plus there are a host of other considerations, like irreducible complexity, the appearance of design, first cause of the universe, and others.”
At that moment, both pumps snapped off at the same time.
Chris did not reply at first; he was obviously thinking about what Mr. Keller had said as he removed the nozzle from his car and replaced it on the pump.
When Chris looked up, Mr. Keller had his hand out again, glove off.
“Nice meeting you, Chris. I hope to see you again.”
They shook hands.
“Nice meeting you, Mr. Keller. I will stop by again and we can chat some more.”
“I would like that, and I will buy you lunch and some coffee next time around.”
At that, Chris smiled, “You can talk me into that!”
Chris turned and slid his long frame into his car and drove off.
Matt had returned the handle to the pump and was standing there looking at Mr. Keller.
Mr. Keller asked, “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?”
Matt hesitated for a moment, “Sure, but not lunch?”
“Nope. It is more important that Chris returns for a visit than you.”
Matt laughed, “Yeah, I see your point.” Then he asked, “Do you talk to people much about your faith?”
Turning to walk into his small office/store with Matt following, Mr. Keller replied, “Sometimes, sometimes not. Just depends on how the Spirit leads me.”
“Well, I don’t feel led very often.” Matt said shaking his head.
Mr. Keller held the door open and called out to someone inside, “Susan, we have a customer!”
Then turning to Matt he said, “No one likes to talk about something they know little about.” He motioned for Matt to go in. “Come in and meet my wife, and I have some books to show you. Most of them are on apologetics.”
Walking in, Matt asked, “Apologetics? What is that?”
Mr. Keller replied, “Something you know little about.”
The door closed behind him, shutting off the cold wind outside.
Inevitably, of course, not only those of us who do science, but all of us, have to choose the presupposition with which we start. There are not many options – essentially just two. Either human intelligence ultimately owes its origin to mindless matter; or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second. – John C. Lennox