When I was a teenager, I had a Josh McDowell book called Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. While I can’t specifically remember anything from the book, basically the gist of it was that you don’t have to throw logic out the window to have faith and that young people should understand and own their faith, not just numbly follow their parents’ faith.
Sometimes I think that Christians believe they have to check their brains at the door. For example, I see a trend of Christians not believing in science because everything has to be the miraculous work of God. It’s like if I credit science or medicine for someone’s healing, I’m not being a good Christian because I’m not saying it’s a miracle or answered prayer.
However, what if scientific advances themselves ARE MIRACULOUS? What if the God-given creative power of humans to develop new technology IS PART OF GOD’S WORK? What if I thank both science and God for that healing? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Ever since I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle in sixth grade, I have believed that science and faith can work together and don’t have to be at odds. (If you haven’t read L’Engle’s Time Series, you are missing out on some great literary, scientific, and spiritual works. Also, note that L’Engle was a Christian.) Lately I’ve been listening to a podcast called Ask Science Mike that has reaffirmed my position. As it turns out, there’s a scientific reason for almost everything. There are even scientific studies on prayer and religiosity. This does not have to threaten our faith, though.
When I was in college, I took a class called Intro to Biblical Faith. My professor, Dr. Tim Green (an Old Testament scholar), really opened my eyes to a new understanding of the Old Testament. He shared with us that there were actually scientific explanations for the burning bush and the parting of the Red Sea. I can’t remember the Red Sea explanation, but I remember him talking about some kind of desert brush plant that would sometimes spontaneously combust but not turn to ash. But Dr. Green also told us that having a scientific explanation for these miraculous stories did not negate the spiritual meaning of the stories. These stories were an important part of the faith history of the Israelites. From these stories we can learn that God cares for his people and wants to save them. That God can speak to us through nature and imprint desires and calls on our hearts. Just because the burning bush wasn’t a miracle doesn’t mean the story of God and Moses is meaningless.
Going back further, I remember in high school I once gave a speech on creation and evolution. I argued that God created the world and that evolution did not happen. I did this despite the fact that when I learned about evolution in Biology class, I thought it made sense. Survival of the fittest made sense. Adaptations developing based on habitat, environment, and food sources made sense. However, I didn’t think I was allowed to believe in evolution. I was supposed to stand up for Jesus and for my Beliefs. It’s just another example of how sometimes Christians think they have to throw away logic in order to have faith.
Today, I believe in evolution. I also believe God created the world. And I don’t think those things have to be at odds. Evolution makes sense. For a long time I said that I believed in evolution except that I didn’t believe that humans came from apes because the Bible says God made humans separate and unique from animals. But here’s the thing: No other species on earth possesses the intelligence, creativity, abilities, and language skills that humans possess. Even the most intelligent animal species don’t compare to humans. Animals don’t build civilizations, create airplanes, write books, search the Internet, or become multilingual. It is clear that humans are indeed unique compared to other species. How that uniqueness developed doesn’t really matter to me.
The other thing I remember is that evolution is a theory. Scientifically that means there is a lot of evidence for it, but it cannot be completely proven. The truth is that no one really knows how the world was formed and created because no people were around back then.
As Christians, we don’t have to throw away logic, reason, and science to be people of faith. Perhaps believing in both faith and science feels like a place of tension to some. That’s okay. Living in the tension is okay. There is room for people of faith to also believe in science. No matter where you fall on the topics of science and faith, though, just remember: Don’t check your brain at the door.