Faith and Science

24 Apr

I was in 5th grade and my teacher (whose name I can’ t remember-I’m horrible with names…) started talking to us about eggs for our science lesson.  A few minutes into the lesson she did something I had never heard any teacher do, before or since…she started crediting God for the cleverness of how an egg functions to help the baby chick emerge into the world.  Now remember, this was public school in the 70’s and it was pretty unheard of for an elementary school teacher to be talking about God.  No sooner did she start into her God awed egg speech, when one of my best fiends shot his hand in the air and reminded my teacher that this was a public school and that our country had separation of church and state.  I kid you not, he started debating with my teacher about the inappropriateness of her lesson and that she needed to stop.  She soon got flustered and gave up on inserting any more references to God during any of our lessons.

After school, I was walking home with my friend who had stopped our teacher in her tracks.  As we talked, another student asked him if he believed in God?  He said he didn’t.  I then asked him who made the Earth?  He said the Big Bang.  I asked him what caused the Big Bang, he said he didn’t know.  On and on this went until we reached home.  Actually, the conversation didn’t end there.  We would debate this topic (origin of the universe) for many years to come.

My friend was very well informed about science.  He was the son of a NASA rocket scientist.  He and his brothers built their own home computer and designed their own video games.  Again, this was back in the late 70’s, before Apple and the home computing revolution had even taken it’s first baby step.  He later graduated from Harvard and is currently a brain research scientist.  In other words, he knew his science stuff pretty darn well.

I mention all this, because even though I never pursued the sciences with anything more than a half-baked approach, I still felt that my Biblical knowledge trumped any evidence he might present, because…well…the Bible told me so.  As I got older, and the challenge to my claims were more vigorous, I still believed my evidence (the Bible) to be truer than the evidence for Evolution and the Big Bang.  I also read many different Christian authors who assured me that the evidence for the Biblical worldview was superior.  They told me exactly what I wanted to hear, and gave me just enough information to feel safe in my doubts of the popular scientific theories of origin that conflicted with the Biblical accounts of Genesis.

But since the demise of my faith, I no longer feel the need to “defend” the Bible’s claims against scientific evidence.  I’ve actually begun to read some popular science authors and what I’ve learned amazes me.  It also has humbled me, because I realize how much really great science stuff I missed or ignored, because I was afraid of the challenge to my faith that it posed.

I’ve studied a little Evolution since taking off the Christian glasses, and you know what?  It totally makes sense to me now.  It also makes me a little sad that I blinded myself for so long.

It’s the irony of faith, while many present faith as facts and truth, it is usually more about doubts and denial.  So many times I was taught to doubt “the experts”, because they might not be Christians. They might actually hate God or are just deceived and that’s why their “evidence” (so called) didn’t match up with the truth of the Bible.  On a personal level I was taught to deny my heart’s desires, because my heart was wicked and filled with sin.  On an intellectual level, I was taught to doubt the things I could see, and to trust my faith in things I could not.   On a romantic level, I was taught to doubt any interest in someone who was not a Christian or a Christian who was not as “committed” as me or my particular brand of church.  On and on the list goes of things we should doubt or deny.  All in the name of faith.

No wonder so many people of faith descend into depression and the like.  With all the things you’re taught to doubt, what is actually real?  As for me, I’ll take another helping of the scientific method.

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41 Responses to “Faith and Science”

  1. theaspirationalagnostic April 24, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    I love evolution. It’s such a beautiful idea, and does make sense, when you take the time to understand it properly. I taught it to a class of 14 year olds the other day; nothing like having to over-explain something to hone your own knowledge!
    Evaa

    • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      yes, yes…Evolution IS a beautiful idea. It makes me want to scream at my former self. I used to parrot the idea from “Creation Scientists” that micro-evolution is true, but macro-evolution is false. I now realize that I was sold the Brooklyn Bridge…all evolution is micro. That’s what it is…anyway, if you teach this stuff, I’m sure I’m just preaching to the choir. But I love learning new things….makes me smile 🙂

  2. theaspirationalagnostic April 24, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Incidently, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the (not huge, I admit) body of scientific, faith based writing I’ve been able to find. And I don’t mean the awful, deliberately deceptive Discover institute, or Michale Behe, but real- live scientists who are able to reconcile their belief in God with their faith. Intelligent Design proponents manke me want to punch baby bunnies, however….

    • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      Please, no need to punch baby bunnies….

      I actually attended a Michael Behe lecture once, but now that I’ve read up on evolution, I realize how his argument (irreducibly complex) lacks evidence and that some of the claims I heard him make were just untrue

      • theaspirationalagnostic April 24, 2012 at 8:16 am #

        But it’s easy to see how people who want to believe him can be sucked in, isn’ it?

  3. christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    very much so….I know I was. It was an “open and shut” case of confirmation bias, on my part.

  4. D'Ma April 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Ooh, I identify with this so much. I was taught the inerrancy of scripture. If something didn’t align with a literal reading of the Bible it could not be true, so I ignored anything that set itself up against it. Therefore I dismissed evolutionary theory. But as I took off the spectacles of blind faith and opened my eyes to reality evolution it all makes so much sense. Do I understand all the complexities of it? Heck no! But what I’m learning is so exciting.

    Speaking of confirmation biases: How about the global flood? When I first started researching the flood I was still an avid believer. I came across all kinds of research that showed sea shells and other sea life fossils at the tops of mountains. “This is it!”, I thought. Proof positive of a global flood! Uh, not so fast there, bucko. All this is proof of is that water did cover the earth at some point, y’know, before tectonic plates shifted causing the earth beneath the sea to push against itself and rise up out of the water forming a mountain. :blush:

    • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Ughh…I had forgotten about my flood days. All that time wasted reading Henry Morriss.

      I’m with you, it is exciting to just learn about this stuff, without the mental gymnastics of trying to fit it into the Bible box.

  5. thebiblereader April 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    good story CA, i really enjoyed it

  6. Freedom April 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Good subject!!!! Prior to attending evangelical churches, I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for a few year. The Evolution vs Creation debate was never an issue, as the Catholic Church taught that science and The Bible can co-exist. That is something I still believe – Faith and Science can co-exist. While the Roman Catholic church has a lot of things I don’t agree with (and some I do), that is something they got right.

    It just amazes me how the Evangelical community loves to deny scientific evidence because they don’t want to hear anything that would contradict what they have been taught about The Bible. Actually, anything that contradicts what they have been taught or something evangelicals don’t like is quickly labeled “from the pit of hell” and “sin”. But I guess when you are told that The Bible is to be taken literally or you are going to burn forever in the fires of hell that will happen.

    It comes to down to what Evangelicals are taught from birth – that The Bible is to be taken literally and everything in it is without error and what you are reading today is exactly what God intended. Many Evangelicals have no idea that the whole doctrine and theology of Biblical Inerrancy is something that didn’t exist until 1700 years after Christ’s death. Nor do they realize that many of the doctrines and theology they hold as truth were developed many years after the death of Jesus.

    For me personally, I believe there is a God. Was God behind the Big Bang? For me, yes. Did God created the Earth on six, 24 hour periods of time? No, there is way too much evidence to the contrary. Of course, I can understand how having taking the Bible as literal and inerrant will cause someone to not believe scientific evidence.

    • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      Freedom-

      As a former Evangelical who flirted with Catholicism, I have to disagree a little bit. While it’s true, that the Catholic church does not take issue with Science and the theory of Evolution, it does take an amazingly unscientific approach to birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

      I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the Catholic church’s teachings on STD’s and birth control have caused much misery (even death) of many of it’s followers.

      • Freedom April 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

        That is different – they just think Birth Control is sin and don’t think anyone should use it. That is a doctrine/theology thing. Interesting thing is (and surveys have shown this) that most people that are Catholic in America don’t pay any attention to the teaching and use it anyway.

        I’m not saying they are right, but they have that right to say it’s a sin to use Birth Control. Believe me, that Catholic Church has it issues but they are a church, not a government.

  7. theagnosticswife April 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    “It also has humbled me, because I realize how much really great science stuff I missed or ignored, because I was afraid of the challenge to my faith that it posed.

    I’ve studied a little Evolution since taking off the Christian glasses, and you know what? It totally makes sense to me now. It also makes me a little sad that I blinded myself for so long.”

    I can relate to this so much. I felt the exact same way. It felt like once I took off the christian glasses, my brain was capable of so much more.

    • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      yes….I wish I could communicate this better to my believing friends and family. Life without faith is not as scary as I was warned, in fact, it’s better in so many ways.

  8. christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Freedom-

    you said
    “That is different – they just think Birth Control is sin and don’t think anyone should use it. That is a doctrine/theology thing.”

    I guess, I’m not sure how that distinction matters?

    • Freedom April 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      Just that it wasn’t a science decision, but a church theology decision. Not that I agree with them on the issue (I don’t). My whole point was that science was something the Catholic church does well – and they do a lot that is not not good (let;s not even get into the issue Altar Boys have had)

      • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

        got it…you mean it was a doctrine in response to their view of scripture and not a reaction to scientific discovery. Is that a fair way to put it?

      • Freedom April 25, 2012 at 12:40 am #

        Correct – that’s it

  9. limey April 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Great post! I been following your blog for a while and I am enjoying your story.

    For me it was knowing people who understood evolution and eventually they were able to say things that I could not discount.

    That was the start of a long slide.

    I do believe that science and faith can live side by side. However, for me that wasn’t to happen.

    • christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks for reading and the comment!

      you said

      “I do believe that science and faith can live side by side. However, for me that wasn’t to happen.”

      I’d be interested in hearing more of your thoughts, if you care to share….

      • limey April 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

        umm, small question, really big answer. 🙂

        Easiest if I point you ay my own blog first I think: confessionsofayec.wordpress.com

        Some of the answer will be there.

        For me, understanding evolution meant that all the creationist beliefs I held were falsified. I tried to remold my beliefs to accommodate but it was too big an ask. It would have meant reducing much of the bible to allegory and nice stories. I can’t believe in God when His book is just stories. If the book ain’t true, then how can God be true?

        I accept that others are able to reconcile that and I have no beef with them. It just ain’t gonna happen with me.

        * this reply is typed on my phone after an evening at one of London’s fine drinking establishments so I may not make as much sense as I would normally.

  10. graceone April 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    I think the center of the problem lies in a wrong view, and misuse of the Scripture. The Bible was certainly not given to be used or read like a modern day book of science.

    To me, Genesis one is communicating truth in a beautifully poetic and anthropomorphic way. God is shown to be the creator, and humans are ultimately formed in His image and likeness. .

    But, it’s not God giving a scientific lecture on DNA or human origins to the ancients. 🙂

    Has anyone heard or read anything written by Dr. Francis Collins? He’s written a book called “The Language of God.” Dr. Collins is a committed Christian believer, and one of the world’s most eminent scientists. He formerly headed the human genome project. Dr. Collins is a theistic evolutionist.

    Definitely don’t feel there needs to be a conflict between Christian faith, and science.

    • theaspirationalagnostic April 25, 2012 at 12:34 am #

      That is an excellent book- I must find find my copy and re-read it.

      • christianagnostic April 25, 2012 at 1:17 am #

        I’ve heard of him and the book…I have not read it yet. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. christianagnostic April 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Limey…thanks for the link. I’ll check it out for sure.

  12. christianagnostic April 25, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    graceone-

    you said

    “I think the center of the problem lies in a wrong view, and misuse of the Scripture. The Bible was certainly not given to be used or read like a modern day book of science. ”

    I wish this was how most Christians viewed scripture…

    • graceone April 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      So do I, Christian Agnostic.

  13. Debra Baker April 27, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    This leaves me happy to read your journey toward learning with an open mind and sad, so very sad, that you were unable to do so as a person of faith. For me, both are important, I am about to defend my Master’s thesis in which there is a section entitled, “The Evolution of the Central Nervous System.” There is no conflict with my faith.

    • christianagnostic April 27, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      Thanks DB….I hope all goes well with defending your thesis!

      • christianagnostic April 29, 2012 at 7:21 am #

        DB…..I also just wanted to add that I’m sorry to sadden you. I really hate for people to be pained on my account. I just don’t know what to say about my faith (or lack of it). It’s not something I could’ve ever imagined for myself in a million years. I assumed I would be a Christian until my dying breath.

        I know you don’t judge me for it, so please don’t read this as defensive. I just felt that my initial response needed more than a thanks. I hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to say….

      • Debra Baker May 10, 2012 at 6:58 am #

        This is actually a reply to the post directly below but, for some reason, there is no reply icon for that post. I do understand your gist and no worries, my friend. Sorry it took a case of insonmia to get me back here to read and respond. Ironically, I need to get some sleep because I have a final later today on…………..wait for it………… Evolutionary Biology, loling.

      • christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 7:01 am #

        DB- That is too funny…LOL! Good luck on the exam…

  14. Dee Parsons April 30, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    There are a fair number of Christians who consider themselves theistic evolutionists or evolutionary creationists and the number is growing. My church is led by pastors who believe this as well and it is a bible church.

    Another good source for information , started by Dr Collins, is his website called Biologos (The Language of God like his book).

    In fact, this week I came out in my local newspaper as a theistic evolutionist in reply to an article by a school teacher who had the kids do an extra credit project on evolution or creationism. The three sources they were to consult for the creationist side were all young earth proponents, including the ever contentious Answers in Genesis.

    I explained that this was a false choice and that some people are both creationist (of course, old earth) and evolutionists. I cannot wait for the local young earth society (there is one) to come after me as a heretic. I love a good fight!

    • christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      Dee-

      I admire your spunk…the YE/Creationist crowd are certainly going to give you a fight!

      You are one of a couple folks that have suggested Dr. Collins to me. I haven’t read him yet, but will check out the blog.

      When you get a chance, how would you best define a theistic evolutionist? I have a general idea, but I want to make sure I understand what most people mean/or don’t mean when they call themselves a theistic Evolutionist.

    • theaspirationalagnostic April 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      Ergh. Im so ashamed that Ken Ham is a fellow Australian. There’s a site (that you probably know) along the lines of ‘no answers in Genesis’ that should give you some good ammunition for your battle 😉
      Eva

  15. Donald Miller May 10, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    Have you ever seen the Kirk Cameron/John Comfort expose on the banana. It’s hilarious. I thought they were kidding, at first. Son of Banana Expose is about as funny.

    • christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 3:19 am #

      Do you mean Ray Comfort? As for the expose on the banana….I have no idea what you’re referring to…care to explain or provide a link.

  16. christianagnostic May 10, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Cool….I’m heading your way to find out what I don’t know about bananas….

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