Has science crushed your faith?
This is where multitudes of Christians now stand, no longer able to justify their belief in an all-powerful God in the face of a universe whose bones are rapidly being uncovered through scientific inquiry. What they know of reality simply no longer jives with scripture. The Earth is older than the Bible allows. There are no documented, studied, quantified miracles. Psychology and science have natural explanations for many ideas once thought to be supernatural. God no longer makes sense.
These multitudes who have lost their faith are not evil. They’re not in the thrall of the Devil, nor are they in some way damaged by the world. What they want is truth. They yearn for it, no matter how terrible a face that truth might have.
And they’re hurting. Imagine what it is to be bathed in the love of a perfect, heavenly Father, only for Him to suddenly disappear. Worse—He hasn’t merely disappeared, but never existed in the first place. Imagine the loss, the soul-destroying hole that would leave. Imagine the creeping nihilism that begins to puddle in that hole like muddy runoff into a ditch.
Suddenly, for these people, humanity is no longer the center of a universe created entirely for their benefit. Now, humanity is alone, stuck on the forgotten arm of a backwoods spiral galaxy, doomed to be but a momentary flash of light in the darkness, an entire race come and gone as the planets continue to slowly revolve in silence. Life is meaningless. Life is absurd.
Adding to the moroseness, death is no longer the gateway to the new. It is the end. A fast-approaching nothing. The ceasing of neural activity. To those who can no longer believe in God, death is the absolute end.
So it is no wonder that these multitudes are grieving. You may even be among them, awash in loss, helpless against the growing tide of fact and rational thought.
If so, if you yearn for God, but find yourself unable to rationally believe, take heed.
What if the divide between God and science weren’t as great at it seems? What if the entire conflict between these two worlds is a false narrative, entirely?
What if God makes sense?
In his book, “Finding God in the Waves,” author Mike McHargue, details the weakening, fall, and resurrection of his faith as a man of science. But he doesn’t argue for the existence of God from the position of scripture, alone. He sees God in the natural universe, and has come to realize that science and theology are not so separate as he once imagined.
When some new fact comes to light that seems to disprove a scriptural assertion, we’re often fooled into thinking we have only two choices. The first choice in this false binary is the decision not to trust our senses and methods of discovery, and to rely only on scripture for our entire truth. This is the choice that creates what the rest of the world often sees as a “fundamentalist”.
And boy, does this assertion have problems. Say, for example, that we can empirically verify that our planet is billions of years old. Say, also, that scripture concludes that the Earth is actually only ten thousand years old. The person who makes this first choice ignores the empirical evidence, and assumes the figure of ten thousand years.
But that doesn’t make sense. Why would God create a world that appears older than it is? And if we cannot trust our senses, or even our reality, can we really trust the pile of paper and ink and leather that sits before us and calls itself scripture? Wouldn’t everything be in question?
The opposite choice is just as problematic. Do we immediately give up faith because we cannot measure a miracle or weigh God? Do we know what existed before the Big Bang? Do we know what lies beyond the edges of our universe or where consciousness arises from? Do we know how life arose in a universe that seems to be otherwise entirely devoid of it and, what’s more, hostile to it?
No. We do not. McHargue writes of the Singularity—the point, at the beginning of time, before the one exploded into the many, when, as McHargue writes, “space-time was so compressed that matter and energy were the same thing, and the four fundamental forces of physics were just one unified field or force. There was no light and no dark, no separation of space, matter, or energy…Everything was one, a single-field energy-space thing with the potential to create everything.”
Does this not sound like the possibility of a God?
Now, for the third option—the one that breaks this false binary. When a fact arises that challenges your faith, one that contradicts scripture, it is our interpretation of that scripture that needs to be addressed.
Because all truth belongs to God.
To go back to our example, if we verify that the Earth is billions of years old, that is reality. The Earth was made when it was made. This is truth, revealed through our science. And if scripture contradicts this? Perhaps we need to look at new ways of reading those problematic passages. After all, each verse of the Bible is steeped in literary, cultural, and temporal contexts, just waiting to be deeply understood.
Perhaps the most important of McHargue’s revelations as he came back to his faith is this: “I’ve learned that my problems aren’t with the Bible at all. All the anachronisms, contradictions, and similar stumbling blocks I found in its pages aren’t flaws in the Scripture. Instead, they are flaws in the assumptions I hold as I read the Bible.” McHargue found that the problem wasn’t with God’s existence. It wasn’t with science. It was with himself.
McHargue went through an incredibly complicated journey that took him away from God, into atheism, and back to God. This time, though, his faith was more than inherited or pressed upon him. It was chosen, deliberate, and “worked out with fear and trembling,” as Philippians 2:12 reads. This kind of second faith—deliberately chosen—is an entirely different thing, stronger, more meaningful, and more likely to be lived out than the comfortable, thoughtless faith we sometimes settle into.
You, too, can find this second faith. Theology and science have the same goal—to uncover truth. One does so in the physical realm, the other, in the spiritual. One will never disprove the other.
So if you’re missing God, aching for the possibility of a return to Him, take heed. God makes sense. He created an ordered universe that operates through natural laws. What we can see, measure, quantify, and discover is real. And if scripture doesn’t seem to agree with it? Delve more deeply. Find the problems with your interpretation. Embrace your doubts and use them to feul your quest to find the truth.
God will be there, waiting.