What Would Jesus Blog?

Archive for April, 2013

On science and faith, or why my science lessons helped me find God.

by on Apr.05, 2013, under Uncategorized

If my old biology teacher knew that her lessons on microbiology and human physiology were formative in my understanding of God, she’d probably have some kind of¬†aneurism. But, it’s true, and let me to one of the most fundamental things that underpins my understanding of the world – if your faith conflicts with your science, you’re doing them both wrong.

Yes, you read that right. If your faith conflicts with your science, you’re doing them both wrong.

Exhale that sharp intake of breath, put aside your favourite sentence that starts with “But what about…”, and read on.

Imagine, if you can, 18-year-old me. There I was, young, fresh-faced, my hair short and merely spiky and my zealous faith brand new. It took every fibre of my being to avoid arguing with my teachers; “But the Bible says…” was my catchphrase. “Evolution is just a theory, being scientific means considering all alternatives” passed my lips. I’d fallen victim to Doing Faith Wrong.

This drove my friends mad. Dawkins was brandished, websites picking apart the logical holes in the Bible were linked to. Deep arguments were had; fun, but the reason we have a 2-drink rule before discussing religion. They’d fallen victim to Doing Science Wrong.

Science is “a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.” (Wikipedia, derived from the Miriam Webster dictionary). Contrary to popular belief and the media presence of some scientists, science is humble. Science is about offering explanations, and saying to your peers “this is what I think; do you think I’m wrong?”. Science is about ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘where’. For a Christian, science is about learning about God’s creation. I sat in biology class many years ago and marvelled at how God had created these systems that made life work. I found new enthusiasm for my studies when I realised that I wasn’t just learning about the world, I was learning about the world that God – the God who I worship, whom I love – created. Science is, for me, an integral part of my faith life. It’s through science that I find wonder; I thank God for the sunset, knowing that he has engineered it. Billions of years of evolution and planetary development mean that I’m in the right place at the right time and with the right biology to be able to go ‘wow’. Are there almost uncountable other worlds in the wrong place, infinite other ways that we could have gone on every step on the way? Sure. But I’m just the incredibly blessed one to be the one that made it here.

Faith is “the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is about ‘why’, and ‘who’. For the Christian, faith is about being part of an order that is beyond human comprehension. Faith is crazy; why would I be assured of something I can’t see? Can’t test? Behaves differently under identical parameters? Is based on what people say and what people long dead have written? Simple. It’s because having been told, I’ve explored – and found enough to convince me that there’s more to reality that the universe. Faith is an integral part of my science life, because it’s why I bother. It’s what drives me, what makes me want to know. Do you need to believe in God to want to understand what makes the sky blue? Of course not – but wanting to understand is part of who we are.

So far, I’ve dealt with the two in isolation. But, of course, the reality is that they’re deeply intertwined at a deep level – you cannot be human and engage only with science or existential questions of reality.¬†Dawkins, et al. take science and attempt to apply it to understanding the full gamut of human reality. They fail, because science does not, and should not, attempt to address existential questions. Science’s domain is clearly defined; to attempt to expand that is to Do It Wrong. Creationism and a whole host of faith-based attempts at para-science fall flat on their face because the Bible is not a science textbook. If faith is being sure of what we cannot see, it’s Doing It Wrong to try to use it to be sure of what we can see.

So, go. Explore science. Explore what it means to be human. Don’t try to separate them, or make one fill the gap of the other. Do It Right.

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