I was watching a TV show recently where a couple of characters were having an argument. One, a pastor, was telling the other, a budding scientist, that the scientists needed to believe in God. The budding scientist said he didn’t need God because he had science. That interchange pretty much summed up a dichotomy I see a lot of these days. It seems that a lot of people believe that you can have faith or you can have science but you can’t have both. Those who believe in faith and God built their fortress of faith and those who believe in science build their fortress of faith and they sit in their forts and take shots at each other.
I personally don’t really want to be in either fort. I prefer being on the outside of both forts–not because I am against both faith and science. No, I don’t want to be in either fort because I want to be free to make use of both or criticize both, depending on the realities of life that I deal with outside of the sacred walls of the competing fortresses. In short, I want to be a person of deep faith and a scientist.
Well, maybe not a full-fledged scientist–that boat sailed without me mostly because of my somewhat less that spectacular math skills. Maybe I should call myself a science wannabe or science groupie or closet nerd. But I am also a person of faith–even more, a person whose calling and profession and desire is to help other people both discover and develop their faith. I want it all.
I especially want both sides to stop the war. Just because I am a believer doesn’t mean I refuse to accept global warming. It doesn’t mean that I think the world is 6000 years old. It doesn’t mean that I will accept any claim any faith charlatan makes to try and part me from some of my money. It doesn’t mean that I am vaguely afraid of technology because I see hints of Revelation style demonic conspiracy in chip technology.
Just because I am a believer, I don’t think that scientists are agents of satan. I don’t see attempts to understand the wonder of creation at attempts to get rid of God. I don’t see men and women in lab coats as my rivals for the hearts and minds of people. I don’t think scientists want to prove that my faith is dumb, pointless and the result of genetic anomalies in my brain.
We of faith and the scientific community have a lot we need to say to each other. We probably need to apologize to each other for all the stupidity and pettiness and prejudice we have used against each other in the last few years. We probably need to drink a lot more coffee and tea together to get to really know each other. (Sorry, science people–many conservative believers won’t be comfortable having a beer or glass of wine with you). We probably need to spend a lot of time actually reading what the other is using to base their ideas on instead of basing our relationships on hearsay and innuendo and what someone thinks someone else said.
We need to accept that both people of faith and people of science are people first and actually need each other. When I get sick, I want the best of science to treat my illness. And when a scientist gets sick, I am pretty sure I have some faith stuff that will help that scientist deal with the realities of that illness.
As is always the case when we set up opposing sides and start fighting, we miss the point. The war between science and faith exists in our minds, not in reality. God is not diminished when a scientists discovers the earth is several billion years old and science is not diminished when a believer says that God created the earth. We could both help each other a lot to sit down and really look at what we are saying and discover that we have a lot more in common that we sometimes want to admit.
I am a person of faith–but as much as my poor math skills allow, I am a person of science. I not only like both, I need both to make my life complete.
May the peace of God be with you.