“I do not think that I will ever reach a stage when I will say, “This is what I believe. Finished.” What I believe is alive … and open to growth”
When I was in high school, my wonderful mother introduced me to a character who would become a personal hero: Mary Russell. The young and enthusiastic companion of Sherlock Holmes in Laurie R King’s brilliant sequels to Conan Doyle’s masterpieces more than holds her own in the mystery portion of the stories, but the aspect of her character that struck me most is her double-major at Oxford: Chemistry and Theology. She wove the two together in a way that I found both beautiful and familiar – the two were then (as they are now) passions of mine. Though I generally prefer physics, the beautiful unity of science and faith is something about which I have always felt passionate.
Recently, a parent at my school asked me how I reconcile my desire for a Master’s of Theology with the fact that I teach Science. While this is a conversation I have had in my head frequently, I’ve never had an opportunity to express my views on the subject to someone I don’t know well. To me, the two are simply two ways of looking at the world which, only when taken together, give someone a worldview which is full and beautiful. Science is absolutely critical to understand the way the world works. Science deals in the observable, focusing on what humanity can learn by watching the world around them. It is also critical to note that while science is often thought of as dealing solely in facts, there is really no such thing as a fact in science, judging by the way society thinks of facts. Society thinks of facts as proven, unshakable, and irrefutable. Science thinks of them as things which have been thoroughly tested in all the ways humanity can test them and which have withstood all the tests we can throw at them. Science thinks of facts as concepts which have not yet been disproven. Faith is something unprovable as well. Faith, by definition, requires a leap. It requires an act of will, rather than on observation. As such, it is (as Mrs. L’Engle says) alive and constantly changing, growing with us as we grow in it.
The two form a complete understanding of the world, both physical and spiritual, which combine, rather than conflicting, to form my worldview. To me, there is no need of reconciliation, since they form two halves of a whole.
This is one of the reasons I so dislike films like “The Case for Christ,” which I recently saw with my Youth Group. They assume a faith that can be proven, as if it is scientific. Certainly, there is historical evidence that helps to back up my faith. And that is nice. But it doesn’t discount the need for that act of will in choosing this faith. And the movie does (in the one scene I didn’t hate) acknowledge that. But the rest of the movie perpetuates the concept of faith as science (not to mention the “Us vs Them” mentality that currently has a stranglehold on communities of faith) which drowns the one moment of true faith that shines through. Without the understanding of faith as faith, a worldview cannot be complete, even with “faith” masquerading as science.