I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
Today we conclude my daughter’s (Jennifer Hartwell) guest blogger comments on faith and science. She had an experience somewhat similar to mine when we confronted God’s handiwork in shaping the human body. It solidified our faith in ways that were strong, and strangely beautiful. Here is the rest of Jennie’s story…
Science alleviates fear.
Is it our natural human reaction to fear the things we don’t understand. In the absence of understanding, we fill in a narrative of what we think, pieces of what we have heard, but it falls short of full understanding. There is an interesting misunderstanding of science in some circles…that it will undermine one’s faith, divert one from spiritual principles, or contradict the teachings of Christ. I posit that this is a position of fear. A position of mistrust of one’s self to study in depth the things that are uncertain. I trust my Creator to endow me with enough wisdom and insight in my journey to not retreat from my faith, but grow in it, as a result of my deeper understanding of the world He has made and the way we function in it. It is not science we have to fear, but rather the unknown. It is not science that subverts our faith. Science brings understanding, value, and worth to all things previously unknown. When we say we don’t believe in science, what we mean is we don’t understand science. When we say we are upset by the outcomes of scientific exploration, what we mean is that we are concerned about how disingenuous humans use the knowledge gained by science in malicious ways. Inquiry, understanding and knowledge are neutral, neither spiritual or evil. The methodical process of science can do much to alleviate fear, not exacerbate it.
Science affirms our understanding of our Great Creator.
As a first-year medical student in gross anatomy lab, I stood over and studied the incredible gift of the donor who, after her death, gave her body to our study group to learn every artery, vein, muscle, nerve, organ, and tissue. Then, in physiology class, I learned how all of these pieces work in beautiful concert together, to give us life. The intricacies of the human body, the delicate balance of every fluid and electrolyte and hormone to keep us healthy…it’s truly incredible. I remember sitting in class and saying, “How could anyone study this complex design and not wonder if there was a Creator?” I say the same when I see fall’s colorful leaves and huge waves crashing on a beach. It’s hard to experience the vastness, beauty, and fascinating inner workings of our earth without feeling inspired.
What is more, as I grow in my faith, as I am challenged by cultural, theological, moral and ethical dilemmas, science gives me a paradigm to question, study, reason, and make sound decisions. My study of science has bolstered my ability to be a critical thinker and a methodical student. When we write scientific papers, we always follow the same format: Background, Methods, Results, Conclusions. Following the same method, I am able to rise about the noise of social media, the sway of politics, the slant of media, and simply seek the facts that inform a sound conclusion. A question, followed by a well-designed study of God and his word, along with the wise counsel of spiritual teachers and mentors, leads me to the results that help me form a sound conclusion.
Prayer: Thank you Father for your amazing creation and the ways that science can complement and enhance faith, Amen.