I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.

Faith and Science

“Faith is just a cop-out for the tough questions,” Deirdre said to me. “Instead of really trying to find the answer, you just say, ‘Oh, that takes faith.'”

I both love and hate conversations like this.  Actually, I love them.  Most definitely.  They challenge my own thinking;  they show me where I can work to become a better mom and a better follower of Christ.  But I do kind of hate them, too, because they show me where I have failed or where I am weak.

Deirdre is a science major at a Christian liberal arts college. There they tackle the tough questions, and don’t take simplistic answers.  Within her major, they look at scientific evidence, concrete and empirical data, as well as the Bible. I both love and hate this about her school.  She moves beyond what we have taught her at home. Some of the things she chooses to embrace may be different from what I believe.

“If you go down that line of thinking,” I told her in regards to one particular issue, “you’ll find yourself on a slippery slope.”

“I hate the slippery slope argument,” she said. “If we avoid tough questions because we’re afraid of a slippery slope, we may miss out on the answers.  Why not carefully walk along the slippery slope, pick your way, trying not to fall, and maybe you’ll arrive at some great understanding?”

IMG_0280[1]Immediately my mind went back at Temple Run, the game on my iPod, where sometimes, part of the walkway has fallen off.  If you aren’t careful, your little person falls into the abyss.  Again.  With Temple Run, I simply start over, wiser, and aware of yet another trap. A slippery slope is navigable;  it just takes skill and wisdom.

“Faith isn’t a cop-out,” I told her. “Faith has to play a part in things related to God.  We can never get our mind around Him.”

She humphed in her seat.  I know she didn’t particularly like that argument, but I also knew she would think about it. I’ve always thought that Deirdre was a bit like Jacob, one who wrestled with God, down and dirty, long and hard, possibly leaving injured — but blessed.

She can wrestle around with the scientific data and principles.  She may slide down a slippery slope or two, but she will come out the wiser.  Already she knows so much more than I do.  I learn from her every time we have one of these discussions.

The same day we had this discussion, I was reading a book called Spiritual Quests before I went to bed.  I came upon this quote by Frederick Buechner:

Faith is a lump in the throat.  Faith is less a position on than a movement toward — less a sure thing than a hunch.  Faith is waiting.  Faith is journeying through time and space.

Science can’t measure those figurative lumps in throats.  Science can’t weigh hunches.  Science can be impatient for a real answer.  Science doesn’t want a journey, but an conclusive resolution.

Yet, science is as much a part of God as any poem or work of art.  We are all blind men groping an elephant when it comes to science defining God.  But we can definitely learn something.

Oh, for faith the size of a mustard seed!  I could move mountains.


8 comments on “Faith and Science

  1. catterel
    March 25, 2013

    These discussions can be very uncomfortable but are of tremendous value, because they challenge our own assumptions and make us examine our beliefs. St Paul said we should always be prepared to explain and defend our faith (only I can’t remember where!)

    • sarahlangdon
      March 25, 2013

      Yes, Catherine, I know the verse you’re talking about. Sometimes I just have a hard time putting into words the deepest parts of my faith.

  2. lala1966
    March 25, 2013

    I think that sometimes believers are a bit afraid of science. But in order to argue the existence of God we must have some knowledge of it. No matter what theories scientists come up with, I know that they will never be able to disprove the existence of God. Faith and knowledge are equally important in my opinion.

    • sarahlangdon
      March 25, 2013

      It was actually in that context (fear) that this whole discussion started. People are afraid to examine some of the tough issues, and sometimes the answers aren’t easily put into a nice little package with a pretty little bow. Faith and knowledge are indeed both important.

  3. bernsber
    March 25, 2013

    Faith is not blind. It is just belief based on previous experience. Like driving down a two lane road and trusting the oncoming traffic not to hit you…because they didn’t the thousand previous times! Faith can also be based on what a highly trusted source has told you. If you are using the “staircase you can’t see” process, that’s “hope” not faith.

    Also, science and the Bible will always agree when fully understood because God wrote both!

    • sarahlangdon
      March 25, 2013

      I agree with you that science and the Bible will always agree when fully understood. You understand, though, that saying that takes faith!

  4. Winn Collier
    March 25, 2013

    What a good, alive word. We have our own Jacob in our house, two if you count me. Your love seems strong and hearty.

    • sarahlangdon
      March 25, 2013

      Thank you, Winn. Your encouragement means a lot. I love the picture of Jacob in the Bible, so imperfect, yet so used by God.

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