Friday, May 22, 2020

Should believers trust science?

There's a big emphasis lately on the wedge that's constantly being driven between faith and science. It seems like people think you can only have one or the other (I've written about it a few times), and somehow if you cling to one you have to push the other away by default. I hear people talk about science in such strange ways, and it comes from people on both sides of the conversation--

"I don't trust science because it's just trying to take the place of God."
"It doesn't matter what you think, it's science and you have to trust science."

If you ask me, both statements are equally ignorant.

I'm a huge fan of science--I've spent a huge chunk of my life so far learning as much about it as I could (and cried way too many tears over the parts I didn't understand), and I'm one of those nerds who lights up when somebody asks me a question about it. Honestly, I get lost enough in answering that it usually takes me a while to realize that their eyes glazed over part way through my explanation...people who ask me physics questions don't typically want a physics lecture in response.

The thing is, in many ways science is no different from a hammer, a sword, or a pen--incapable of doing either good or evil by itself, but often used for both. You see, science is just a tool. It is an amazing tool that can be used to accomplish things we haven't even dreamed up yet, but it's still just something to be used.

A pen can be used to write truth or lies, which is why we're taught not to believe everything we read (though that seems to be something people are forgetting lately...). The same is true of science. It can be used to search for truth, or it can be used to perpetuate lies. Just because someone says, "It's science!" doesn't mean it should automatically be taken as true or right. Just like with what we read or hear, we need to learn to test what we're shown as science. We should study it and learn how to discern when it is being used well and when it is being used poorly. We should turn to people we trust, people who understand the science in question, people we know will be open and honest when answering our questions. That's what true science is about, after all--searching for answers and truth, not just accepting things at face value but digging deeper to gain more understanding.

The problem with science, then, is the problem that has been around since the beginning of time. In our humanity we take the things we have been given as tools and turn them into idols. There's a passage in Isaiah 44 that talks about a man cutting down a tree, using part of the wood to build a fire so he can warm himself and cook his supper, and then using part of it to carve a figurine of a god to worship. It's no different when we use science to come up with new technologies that allow us to harness solar energy, then turn to science for the answers to life's questions. The tool isn't the issue; as is always the case, the problem is with people.

God is the Creator of all--He measured the universe with the width of His hand and He set the stars in place. In Colossians, Paul tells us that it is through Christ that everything holds together. Yet it's so easy to get sucked into worshiping the wisdom and forgetting that God is the source of that wisdom. We turn to science for answers but ignore that God is the ultimate Scientist. He is the Creator of all the laws we struggle to understand. It's no better than choosing to make an idol out of a block of wood; God gave us science as a tool, something for us to use to help each other and to work toward a deeper understanding of Him. God is the source of all wisdom, and He wants to reveal that wisdom to us:

"Here's His objective: through the church,
He intends now to make known His infinite and boundless wisdom
to all rulers and authorities in heavenly realms."
Ephesians 3:10

Science is an amazing tool. It can be used to do so many things, many of which we haven't even started to dream up. It has allowed us to make advances that have changed the world in amazing ways, to extend life through the invention of medications and procedures that have changed life as we know it. At the heart of science, though, is the Creator. When used correctly, science teaches us more about the One who had the wisdom to set everything into motion.

“But I do not feel obliged to believe that that same God
who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect
has intended to forgo their use and by some other means
to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.
He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters
which are set before our eyes and minds
by direct experience or necessary demonstrations.”

God is not limited by our imagination or our understanding. He is both the Creator of scriptures and the Creator of the universe, and He reveals Himself to us through both. As I've said before, it would be amazing to see what would happen if faith and science were used together.

Monday, May 4, 2020

fearing the future

We are living in strange times. I never imagined that the world would be in such a state of lockdown, and I honestly don't understand what we're seeing. Things don't make sense, and it's easy to get lost in a state of fear and confusion. We don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, let alone how life is going to look in a month's time. There are so many unknowns that most of the time I don't even know where to start listing them.
Fear is a crazy thing. It's one of those feelings that starts a spiral--a little bit leads to more and more, and before you know it your mind is consumed with it. You start to lose sight of all the blessings and promises and get pulled down so far into the dark that you start thinking the light is gone for good.
Despite the unknowns in the world around us right now, all of this is known to God. He knows exactly how things are going to turn out, and He hasn't forgotten us or left us to fend for ourselves. After all, we have His promise:
"Look here. I have made you a part of Me,
written you on the palms of My hands."
Isaiah 49:16

No matter how lost you feel, how far from God's mind you think you are, He hasn't forgotten you. Your name is engraved on His palm--how could He forget you?
When Jesus was on the cross, He felt abandoned. He cried out to God, asking why He had been forsaken. His words, though, aren't the end of the story. In His moment of fear, Jesus quoted what was to Him a familiar song of David, Psalm 22. I encourage you to read the whole Psalm, but specifically a few verses.
"My God, my God, why have You turned Your back on me?
Your ears are deaf to my groans.
O my God, I cry all day and You are silent;
my tears in the night bring no relief.
Still, You are holy;
You make Your home on the praises of Israel.
He's not put off by the suffering of the suffering one;
He doesn't pretend He hasn't seen him;
when he pleaded for help, He listened."
Psalm 22:1-3, 24
If this time of uncertainty has you feeling abandoned and forgotten, if you're crying out to God because you are suffering and you feel like He isn't hearing you, know that He hasn't turned away. He didn't turn away from His Son suffering on the cross, and He hasn't turned away from you.

One of my favorite songs lately is "Thy Will" by Hilary Scott. In part, it says:

"I know you're good
But this don't feel good right now
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about
It's hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you're God
And I am not
Thy will be done"
Things are crazy right now--I won't pretend like they aren't. A lot of people are stuck in what seems like an impossible situation, and they don't see a way out. We're so easily distracted by our circumstances, but God's promises don't change despite our short attention span. He is still God, and He is still on the throne. He doesn't promise that our time here on earth will be easy; in fact, we're told time and time again that it won't be easy. Instead, His promise is that our temporary afflictions here on earth will seem like nothing when we are in the midst of eternity with Him.

"So we have no reason to despair.
Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying,
our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day.
You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us
an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.
So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes.
All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away.
Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see,
which live on and on.
We know that if our earthly house--
a mere tent that can easily be taken down--
is destroyed, we will then live in an eternal home in the heavens,
a building crafted by divine--not human--hands."
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1

I'll stop there, but I would definitely encourage you to keep reading through at least verse 9. I'm not the biggest fan of how Paul wrote, but there's definitely good stuff in his letters.

I know that I'm one of the ones experiencing blessings I don't deserve right now. My family is safe and secure, in a position where we don't have to worry about our next meal or where we will sleep tonight. I also know, though, that we aren't guaranteed any of that. Things could change in a heartbeat because that's the way of this broken world. Like Paul, though, I'm learning to change my outlook on the circumstances of life:

"I am not saying this because I am in need.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.
I know how to survive in tight situations,
and I know how to enjoy having plenty.
In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances:
fed or hungry, with or without.
I can be content in any and every situation
through the Anointed One who is my power and strength."
Philippians 4:11-13

 No matter what gets thrown at us as we walk through these strange, uncertain times, Christ is our strength. His strength is shown best through our weakness, and it won't fail. In His weakest moment physically--carrying His cross after bearing a beating that should have left Him dead--He still walked the road to the cross even though He fully knew the excruciating pain and humiliation that was ahead of Him. Right now, in this mess and confusion, He still walks beside us. He stays with us on this road, like He walked beside His disciples on the road to Damascus, because He knows what is ahead for each of us.

"I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand"

The future may be unknown to me, but it isn't to Him. He knows what's in store, the good and the bad, and He promises to stand beside me through all of it. He promises to pull me up when I fall into the darkness, and He promises that my future with Him means so much more than anything I may face here.

"Be strong and live courageously,
all of you who set your hope in the Eternal!"
Psalm 31:24 

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