Science and Faith

by John Jung and Jennifer Hartwell, M.D.

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:15

This essay is my daughter’s first part of her exploration of science and faith in her life journey. She is a woman of deep faith and a deep love for people. Therefore, she finds it not incompatible in the least to use science as a way to heal people as a physician. That is the way she is using her gifts as a healer to live out her faith journey to love people. Science does not deny the presence of God, it helps to explain it. Loving people by using science is my daughter’s gift back to God of the gifts that he has given to her. A link to one of her journal articles can be viewed below

Here is her story…

Thanks to my dad for inviting me to write with him on his blog! He asked me to write about science and faith. Over the next two days, I will share with you some of the ways science and faith dance together in my life.

Let’s begin with some definitions:

Science: A branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws (Dictionary.com)

Faith: Confidence or trust in a person or thing (Dictionary.com)

Science helps us critically appraise our beliefs and empowers us to change our minds when we find we were wrong.

A story will illustrate this best. As a junior trauma surgeon, I started working at a medical center where the standard practice was to admit for observation all patients who suffered a concussion. As this was a deviation from the way I was trained, I was convinced this was a waste of time and resources, so I set out to prove it. I developed a study to retrospectively review all of the patients admitted to our medical center with a concussion over the past several years. We read through each chart in detail and gathered the data on a series of 395 patients. In the end, we found that nearly 1/3 of all patients we admitted, after evaluation by the cognitive specialist, needed ongoing therapy; therapy that would have not been offered had I simply discharged each patient from the ED. I changed my mind. Applying the scientific method gave me the framework to challenge what I believed, and to confidently redirect based upon rigorous study, not just a feeling or assumption. The data clarified the truth. My practice changed and my patients benefited.

Science brings clarity and hope to an often chaotic world.

Confusion and sadness can be powerful motivators for change. Let’s take the story of seatbelts. John D. States was an orthopedic surgeon and race track physician in New York. His experience at the track left him with stories of tragedy seeing drivers tossed from their vehicles to often deadly consequence. He was inspired to study the effects of seatbelts and, of course, found their life saving benefits. He shared his work with automobile manufacturers and legislators and in 1968 the first seat belts laws were enacted in New York. Though it would take another 11 years for 48 additional states to do the same, his steady work, his methodical study of a tragic problem, brought hope in the face of what had before been considered certain death. By 2016, it’s been estimated that seat belts save about 15,000 lives annually. Science helps us approach chaos, sadness, confusion and hurt, with a comforting, stable, consistent approach. Science inspires us to believe that we can solve unsolvable problems, and bring hope to what feels like despair.

Tomorrow, in part two of Jennie’s essay she gives her summation of how her faith was enhanced by her pursuit of science.

Prayer: Thank you Father for the gift of science and reason to help your people, Amen

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/000313481508100431

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