I mentioned in a couple of earlier posts (Reason versus faith and other false debates and When life begins) that there are those who, upon learning that I am a Christian (and a Catholic one, at that!), expect me to argue every point from a religious point of view. The unspoken assumption is that faith and reason have nothing to do with each other and are imagined to be opposed to each other, mutually exclusive in nature. I am a person of faith; I, therefore, cannot be a person of reason. I can’t tell you how many times people have expected me to be unable to counter an argument simply because I’m a Christian. I’m expected to tow some party line, I guess. I’m expected to thump my Bible and respond to every salvo with the inspired words of the Good Book as if my salvation depended upon it.
It may surprise some folks (though it shouldn’t—and wouldn’t if they’d only think to ask) but I’ve been both a believer in God and a fan of science ever since I can remember. Amateur astronomy was one of my first loves. I bought my first telescope when I was around 9 years old (it was small and inexpensive, but it worked then, it still does and I still have it) and spent many an hour in the backyard gazing up at the night sky. I watched all the space program coverage and collected clippings about the missions in a scrapbook. (I wish I still had that, but it was thrown out long ago with all my beloved comic books. Sigh. Some things parents just don’t understand.) When I went through my New Age and Eastern religion phase, some of my favorite books were Gary Zukav’s Dancing Wu Li Masters and The Seat of the Soul and Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics. I’m not saying that I understand everything in those books or even that I was a good science student in school. I am saying that science has always fascinated me and I’ve never seen that attraction and my equal attraction to things religious as a contradiction.
And why should it be? If God exists, as I believe He does, and if He made everything, as I believe He did, then why should the study of the world around us not be capable of being carried out by those of different minds, or with different aspects of the same mind, and why would those studies not yield valid results? Science and religion look at the world but they look at it differently. So what? I have two eyes and I prefer to use them both. Stereovision is so much more, well, stereo. My brain takes the data from both eyes and renders a detailed and useful view—and often a beautiful one—for me to enjoy. I have two other eyes given me by my Creator: faith and reason. Why on earth would I use one or the other when I can use both? If I close one eye and walk across the room, I run the very real danger of bumping into the furniture and adding to my collection of bruises already acquired through the exercise of my considerable grace. I think that would be stupid, indeed, to blind myself, deliberately shutting myself off to half of the truth around me.
Yet this is exactly what others expect me to do, those who deny the value of faith and extol the superiority of reason. How it annoys them when I insist on viewing the object of our discussion through both of my eyes instead of closing one or the other. How I enjoy the perspective gained by looking at things and issues with all my human powers instead of limiting myself artificially and arbitrarily to one or the other supposed higher function.
Apparently I am not alone in this preference to use all of my human ability to understand the world and truth. I heard a radio program this afternoon on the way to the coffee shop. Al Kresta was interviewing Dr. Francis Collins about his project, The BioLogos Foundation, and I was fascinated. Here’s a little blurb from the About page at the BioLogos website.
BioLogos is led by a team of scientists who believe in God and are committed to promoting a perspective of the origins of life that is both theologically and scientifically sound.
After the publication of The Language of God, Dr. Collins received many questions from readers. From the thousand or so received, he selected more than thirty of the most frequently asked questions and answers them on the site. Before you ask, no, he does not deny the validity of the theory of evolution, but you might be interested in what BioLogos has to say about it. I’ll give you a hint: BioLogos finds that the theory of evolution and the notion of a Creator God are neither mutually exclusive nor contradictory. I’ll let you discover the rest of the story for yourself, mainly because I’m still exploring the site and reading answers to the questions.
So there! I’m a Christian, a woman of Catholic heart and mind. And I have found no reason today to turn my back on my faith.
But I am keeping both of my eyes open.