Science and Faith
We may have failed you. Religious leaders, I mean.
Last week, I had the privilege to speak to a high school student at Bishop Lynch; he is the son of a close friend. The conversation was an assignment from his theology teacher; speak with a faith leader, record the conversation, and report back. When he reached out, I assumed (wrongly) this would be another standard “assignment” to answer questions like: What is your favorite Bible verse? Why are you a pastor? What character in the Bible do you most identify with?
Not only was I wrong, but I don’t believe either of us anticipated the conversation that would follow.
When we finally connected and got through the pleasantries required to settle into a Zoom call, I threw out the first question. Yes, I know, he was supposed to interview me, but I couldn’t help myself. I asked, “So, how we doing with the whole God thing?”
To his great credit, he was honest. He’s a fantastic kid. He said, “Well, I’m not sure I’m down with the whole God thing. I mean, I love science, and how do I reconcile what can prove with what we can’t see?” As I said, he’s a fantastic kid. I smiled, and replied “But, what if science reflects what we know of God? What if science is another place where we come to know the diversity, fullness, depth, and breadth of God/the Divine?” He paused, “Wait, what do you mean?”
I said, “Turn around and look at the tree behind you. Did you know that each leaf on that tree is as unique as your fingerprints and my fingerprints? No two leaves on that giant oak tree in your front yard are the same!”
He replied, “Wait, what?”
“Yep, that’s science,” I said.
I went on, “Science now reveals that with increasing weather variability, trees time their annual shedding or budding by the length of light found in each day. So as the days get “shorter” in the fall and the sun sets earlier, it signals to the tree it’s time to shed leaves. As the days get longer, and there is more light, the tree knows it’s time to bud.”
But you may be wondering, “What does any of this have to do with God?”
Well, to me, all of creation reflects the promise, hope, and essence of God. Each beginning is the end of waiting. Out of death is new life. Light is found in the deepest dark. Love wins. Hope is found in the depths of despair. What if science reveals that this truth is found in all matter, in all of creation, and all places? What if science is another avenue by which we come to recognize the complexity, diversity, and breadth of God?
“Wait, I’ve never thought about faith like this before. Why have I never heard of this before?” he asked. “I don’t know, but if the church didn’t help teach you this, then I feel like we failed you.”
He said, “I want to know more.”
So do I. That’s the journey of faith and life.