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What I Ask to Believers and Scientists

2007

If you are a believer in God who picked up this book because of concerns that science is eroding faith by promoting an atheistic worldview, I hope you are reassured by the potential for harmony between faith and science. If God is the Creator of all the universe, if God had a specific plan for the arrival of humankind on the scene, and if He had a desire for personal fellowship with humans, into whom He had instilled the Moral Law as a signpost toward Himself, then He can hardly be threatened by the efforts of our puny minds to understand the grandeur of His creation.

In that context, science can be a form of worship. Indeed, believers should seek to be in the forefront among those chasing after new knowledge. Believers have led science at many times in the past. Yet all too often today, scientists are uneasy about admitting their spiritual views. To add to the problem, church leaders often seem to be out of step with new scientific findings, and run the risk of attacking scientific perspectives without fully understanding the facts. The consequence can bring ridicule on the church, driving sincere seekers away from God instead of into His arms. Proverbs 19:2 warns against this kind of well-intentioned but misinformed religious fervor: "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge."

Believers would do well to follow the exhortation of Copernicus, who found in the discovery  that the earth revolves around the sun an opportunity to celebrate, rather than diminish, the grandeur of God: "To know the mighty works of God; to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power; to appreciate in degree, the wonderful working of His laws, surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge."

On the other hand, if you are one who trusts the methods of science but remains skeptical about faith, this would be a good moment to ask yourself what barriers lie in your way toward seeking a harmony between these worldviews.

Have you been concerned that belief in God requires a descent into irrationality, a compromise of logic, or even intellectual suicide? It is hoped that the arguments presented within this book will provide at least a partial antidote to that view, and will convince you that of all the possible worldviews, atheism is the least rational.

Have you been turned off by the hypocritical behavior of those who profess belief? Again, keep in mind that the pure water of spiritual truth is carried in those rusty containers called human beings, so there should be no surprise that at times those foundational beliefs can be severely distorted. Do not rest your evaluation of faith, therefore, on what you see in the behavior of individual humans or of organized religion. Rest it instead on the timeless spiritual truths that faith presents.

Are you distressed by some specific philosophical problem with faith, such as why a loving God would allow suffering? Recognize that a great deal of suffering is brought upon us by our own actions or those of others, and that in a world where humans practice free will, it is inevitable. Understand, also, that if God is real, His purposes will often not be the same as ours. Hard though it is to accept, a complete absence of suffering may not be in the best interest of our spiritual growth.

Are you simply uncomfortable accepting the idea that the tools of science are insufficient for answering any important question? This is particularly a problem for scientists, who have committed their lives to the experimental assessment of reality. From that perspective, admitting the inability of science to answer all questions can be a blow to our intellectual pride—but that blow needs  to  be  recognized,  internalized,  and learned from.

Does this discussion of spirituality simply make you uncomfortable, because of a sense that recognizing the possibility of God might place new requirements on your own life plans and actions? I recognize this reaction clearly from my own period of "willful blindness," and yet I can testify that coming to a knowledge of God's love and grace is empowering, not constraining. God is in the business of release, not incarceration.

And finally, have you simply not taken the time to seriously consider the spiritual worldview? In our modern world, too many of us are rushing from experience to experience, trying to deny our own mortality, and putting off any serious consideration of God until some future moment when we imagine the circumstances will be right.

Life is short. The death rate will be one per person for the foreseeable future. Opening one's self to the life of the spirit can be indescribably enriching. Don't put off a consideration of these questions of eternal significance until some personal crisis or advancing age forces a recognition of spiritual impoverishment.

F. Collins, The Language of God. A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (London: Simon & Schuster, 2007), pp. 230-233.