A Powerful Witness for Christ

I experienced a most profound spiritual event that could only be defined as miraculous.  I lost faith in God as a young adult (Journey to Truth and Faith).  I spent my life feeling alienated from my family and church congregation because of my choice to embrace science (accept evolution).  As a biologist studying nature, this essentially was non-negotiable.

I kept my atheism a deep dark secret forever fearful of being judged while others exalted in their belief in Jesus that eluded me.  I would listen to my family talk about their faith, coveting the comfort they drew from knowing Him. I watched the fellowship at church wanting the same but instead would slip away out of fear of being exposed – as one of those evil scientists seeking to dethrone Jesus.  That is what I was taught about accepting ‘secular’ science.  I desired to believe in God and actually tried to believe but simply could not.

My understanding of faith, God, and Christianity was stuck in immaturity.  I stopped seeking spirituality when I became convinced that the supernatural did not exist.  This notion was a result of the very strong message being marketed within Christianity; ‘God OR evolution’ for creation.  The evidence in nature for an old earth and evolution is overwhelming when objectively studied as scientists are trained to do.   Thus, God became irrelevant for me.

Christian alternatives that harmonize science and faith rather than attempt to refute well-established scientific information were never shared.  I truly thought it was one or the other for our worldview.  While embarrassing to admit, I honestly believed due to my church experiences that all scientists were atheists (not true, of course) and so I became one.  I grieve greatly over the years walked without Jesus.

By the Grace of our Lord, he placed into my life my husband and children giving me a reason to attend church if not for me.  I would enjoy the sermons as relevant about love, hope, and peace but they lacked a spiritual luster.  Then, the enlightened leap of faith came when I finally ended my silence and stood up for what I believe on origins after righteous anger galvanized my otherwise quiet demeanor.

It all started when my sister asked me to give my opinion about a Creation Science video entitled “Check this Out: Evolution Refuted” produced by a popular young-earth apologetic organization.  I commend her action in doing so.  As an educator at a Christian school, she was responsibly evaluating information by humbly recognizing her limited knowledge on science.

The video greatly upset me as much of the information presented was simply not true based on how science is done.  A significant misrepresentation was given on how we conduct research.  It offered conclusions that were skewed and inaccurate.  The narrative was fast and condescending to dissuade critical thinking about the content.  The video ended with the proclamation, “’nuff said”.  In other words, don’t question.  Basically, what I experienced as a youngster.

My vast questioning over Genesis when I was young had built a barrier to the Gospel with my spiritual leaders unprepared to handle my turmoil.  Instead – ‘God OR evolution’ was the only answer given, exemplified by this video.  Nearly two centuries of science that confirms the Theory of Evolution supposedly refuted in a 2:30 minute podcast.

Shortly afterwards during conversation with family I suddenly grasped the serious misconceptions on the scientific process causing errors in thought about genetic engineering, vaccinations, climate change, etc.  This was quickly followed a few days later with a Facebook science debate with my three sisters in response to a posted picture of a dinosaur and human together in a museum exhibit taken during a recent church trip.  I could stay silent no longer.

I now recognize that the Lord put these events in close succession for a reason; to shepherd me home to Faith.

I can identify the exact point within that written debate of crossing over to being a Believer; when I realized science will never disprove God.  He is not testable for falsifying therefore He can exist!  Science is incapable of answering the ‘God vs. no God’ question which is not how my spiritual advisers framed the content when they mistakenly used science to make God claims.

Until then, I had trusted that science had answered with ‘no God’ because of the ‘God vs. evolution’ message.  This perception came from my religion not my science education.  Essentially, the same but opposite to what New Atheists proclaim.  Christian leaders should understand the ramification of being hostile to evolutionary thought.  It is not evolution causing people to walk away, but instead this unnecessary battle that pits God’s Word against God’s Works.

I finally was able to believe as I humbled myself by admitting I had been wrong in rejecting Him.  Within minutes of this realization my daughter handed me a drawing that she had just so happened to find right at that moment that had been buried in their toy room for years.  The fact that my children were cleaning a disaster of a mess without being told to, never done before or since, was a miracle in and of itself.  What the drawing held was far more spiritual and significant to me.

I have no doubt divine intervention was involved.  A coincidence is simply not logical.  It was a doodle of an angel drawn by my deceased and much beloved Mother-in-Law.  I just knew that this ‘sign’ came from the Holy Spirit confirming my new found faith.  The skeptic in me melted, as I figuratively ripped my garments dropping to my knees as described in Scripture when in the presence of the Lord.

The Holy Spirit fully grabbed hold of my heart.  I could do nothing but cry joyfully for weeks as everything I saw and heard became meaningful in light of knowing Him.  It was like being blind and suddenly having sight.  Fantastic signs of His presence continued to invade my life.  I spent days focused on praying, reading Scripture, and learning.  Mere words cannot describe the experience.  The spiritual flood gate was open now that I was receptive.

But, I also became discouraged.  No one fully understood what I was going through.  I felt very alone.  This turned into anguish as I also experienced dark days.  My perception of the spiritual was limited based on what I had known as a teenager.  The mind is a powerful thing and I faced moments with ‘demons’ taunting me.  Just as the happiness I felt was very powerful, the anxiety I went through was equally so.  This phenomenon of intense joy and fear has since subsided to a more ordinary level.

But what about the science?  Horror hit as my world turned upside down.  I realized the science I trusted must be wrong.  After all, if God is real then evolution is wrong.  I had to re-evaluate all that I understood to be truth regarding Creation; truth that I had relied on my entire life while striving to protect God’s handiwork.  Effectively, I instantaneously became a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) as that was the only Christianity I knew.

I spent months digging deep into the science again.  This time, as a firm Believer.  I read everything I could get my hands on; internet, magazines, essays, and books from both sides of this debate.  With a scientific mind conditioned to be objective, I honestly and openly considered all of the information.  The effort was significant with hours, months, over a year spent in doing so.  My library grew triple-fold as my Amazon account drained my checking account.

I am not an expert on all scientific topics, but having performed science I can recognize accurate processes.  What I fully understand is the essence of science which goes far beyond hypothesize, test, and conclude.  For science to work as it is intended, there are strict rules.  I determined just as I did 30 years prior that YEC (aka Creation Science) follows a different and flawed set of rules.  It filters information through biblical beliefs thereby making it no longer unbiased or scientific.

Blessedly, however, unlike years ago my research this time around also reached into theology.  I learned that the narrow Christian pathway I was once shown to our Savior through Genesis was in actuality much broader and accommodating.

I discovered Evolutionary Creationism.  WHAT?!  I can trust both; God and science for understanding Creation!  A life without Christ had resulted from other Believers requiring their own Genesis reading to be the standard to which everyone else must adhere.  Instead of all origin beliefs being accepted and celebrated as we look to JESUS, Genesis apologetics turn many away from the Good News.  Only the Enemy wins as Christianity is divided to be conquered.

Following Jesus should be independent of how we interpret Genesis.  I am not a compromised Christian simply because an evolutionary view of life is uplifting to me.  God created me to be an ecologist after all.  I find the thought of being eternally connected to all species, as well as the gradual, steadfast, and fascinating natural process of life evolving with us emerging into God’s own image as humans to be indicative of the greatness and everlasting power of our Lord.  That narrative is far more believable given what we know through science than that of a six-day creation event followed by a global flood.

A good number of Christians have made this same journey quickly or over a lifetime from Young Earth Creationism to Evolutionary Creationism through prayer and upon seeking.  My trip took a detour with a long stretch devoid of Christ, then fast-tracked to a belief that God uses evolution to create.

With renewed eyes and heart, I now revel in reading Genesis to harmonize it with modern science no longer blocked from the Gospel.  I know the Lord will use my story.  I thus share this testimony and my knowledge on science to the Christian audience, with hope and in prayer that it will provide insight for unity and true peace.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”  (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Journey to Truth and Faith

My name is Dana Oleskiewicz.  I have a story to tell.  A very significant personal story of a faith journey from atheism to a belief in God.

We as humans have a duality to our existence of both the physical and the spiritual.  My story exemplifies a struggle to realize and embrace this duality.   A story that the Holy Spirit has compelled me to write down as a blessing to others, especially for those wrestling with the same deep questions over the Bible and science.

I grew up in the 1980s in a Christian home.  My faith hit a brick wall at Genesis blocking me from the Gospel.  A brick wall that did not hinder those around me such as my church and family.  Unlike them, God created me to excel in the sciences.  Therefore, I strongly perceived ‘God OR evolution’ as an explanation for our origins.  The Genesis account in my church did not fit with my academic knowledge as an ecologist.  The more questions that I had, the more doubt that piled onto my faith.

Asking about God in my science classes made no sense as I rightfully recognized that spiritual matters do not belong in science.  Science has limits.  It is limited to the natural world as it is by design silent on the topic of God.  I went to my spiritual leaders with little satisfaction.  Do not question God was the response.   Either accept natural conclusions (evolution) as explored through our five worldly senses and more easily experienced OR accept the supernatural (God) that is far more elusive.

The Theory of Evolution as a natural explanation for our beginnings has been systematically demonized for decades by Christians.  Well-meaning spiritual mentors with little to no understanding of biology guided me to young-earth anti-evolution teachings.  I heard evolution ridiculed from the pulpit and was given Young Earth Creation (YEC) material (a.k.a. Creation Science).

After honest and thorough consideration, I concluded that YEC was not scientific and its logic flawed.  Ultimately, my faith became prisoner to a science argument when I became convinced that YEC science was not the science practiced elsewhere.  It was bad science in the name of Jesus, thus I rejected Him when I walked away from Creation Science.

I was unable to reconcile a faith in God defined by unscientific church rhetoric with the science I understood as I moved through my young adult years.  I also witnessed the strategy of hiding information in an attempt to preserve and push particular views within Christianity.  By the time I emerged from college to begin my science career I had washed my hands of religion all together due to a severe distrust in the entire institution.  My worldview was firmly planted in the natural with no room for a belief that we are also entities connected to a spiritual realm.  Unfortunately, this I learned from my church not my science education.

In essence, I was asked to either trust the Bible OR trust the science that was essential to me becoming a scientist.  I had to choose.  Science denial was the only Christianity I had experienced.  No one introduced me to the alternative; to trust both.  Thus, I rejected that we are both physical and spiritual as we walk this earth.

I spent 30 years with this dichotomous view, without Jesus, until a religious/science debate ensued with my three sisters over a highly inaccurate YEC science video.  This opened the door to a profound spiritual event that will be an inspiration to faithful Christians and a powerful witness for Christ, for I have a story to tell in a testimony of pure wonder and joy.

Hence, The Christian Ecologist.

I reflect on the incidences that contributed to my lack of trust in Christianity and realize they served a purpose.  I grieve deeply due to a tumultuous spiritual journey over the damage to Christianity from Genesis apologetics, especially within the science community.  My passion is great to serve the Lord through educating focused on the Christian audience.  I hope and earnestly pray that you will join me.  Visit my blog often.  Share with others.  You are sure to learn something new and be uplifted by hearing how the Lord has touched my life.

“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”  (Proverbs 2:10)