Darrel Falk grew up in a “wonderful home and a wonderful church” near Vancouver, British Columbia. A shy, serious child, he had a reputation among his friends for never lying or swearing. He asked Jesus into his heart at age 4, and through an altar call at age 10, asked for a second work of grace, in the holiness language of his Nazarene church. “I feel so clean inside,” he said afterwards in tearful wonder.

Todd Wood was born a generation after Falk in Rives Junction, an unincorporated village in the heart of Michigan. His father was a truck driver, and they lived on 13 rural acres, out of sight of the nearest neighbor. Northwest Baptist, a small, fundamentalist church his parents had helped to start and many relatives attended, was at the heart of his life. He attended a K-12 Baptist school with 25 students in his graduating class. A quiet boy, Wood loved doing research papers, going far beyond teachers’ expectations in tracking down extensive sources. Few in his acquaintance had been to college, and he had never met a scientist.

Both Wood and Falk grew up with absolute confidence in the Bible, a strong sense of family, and a belief that church was the place to find meaning and community. Both of them had an unusual aptitude for mathematics and an interest in science—though neither one had much idea what science was. They could have followed very similar pathways, and in a sense, they did.

But the controversies over evolution within the Christian community have taken the two scientists on very different journeys in a time when common ground on human origins and the Genesis narrative seems to be shrinking.

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