Like a Child was interested in people of faith giving their stories of why they believed. She asks, how do you retain faith when you believe in things like evolution and the big bang theory as regards the universe, and also believe the bible to be errant.
A tall older.
She assumes a reasonable amount of intelligence, education, and attachment to reality and reason.
So, assuming that I hold the above attributes, undergraduate degree in political science, graduate degree in law, a somewhat above average IQ, and a very strong adherence to reason, I felt I should respond.
Since my earliest memories as a child, I have sought to understand from whence I came. Not in the obvious sense, since I was raised by my biological parents, but in the greater sense. This might be somewhat unusual, but I dare say, such a question comes to most humans at least at some point in their lives.
For me, it became a quest of sorts. I recall a child’s book I had about the moon and how it came to be our satellite. Quite wrong in its conclusions or hypotheses as it turned out, but it was a book I never have forgotten. I wrote a “paper” in 7th grade about a tour of the solar system, and did a “Goldilocks” analysis of the then nine planets.
Although I didn’t pursue astronomy or paleontology in college, I from time to time read books on the subject. I was a huge fan of Carl Sagan and watched all the missions, especially those that toured the outer planets. I watched the results coming into JPL the way some are glued to baseball games. I knew about he Leakey’s work in Africa, and knew about all the “human” finds.
I grew up, as I’ve stated before, without religious training or belief. It was natural for me, I think to conclude that science would give the answers to “where I had come from.” I assumed, given my understanding of faith as being fundamentalist in nature, that science and faith were incompatible. I chose science.
I maintained this vision for over forty years, keeping up with new books and shows about both cosmology and evolution. But the desire for God, never really left me. I was sad that I could find no place for God; it seemed somehow wrong.
I recall the day quite well. I was sitting reading in my den. It was a book by a cosmologist or astrophysicist about the earliest beginnings of the Big Bang. We had traveled back in time and were able to describe with some clarity into the nano-seconds before the “explosion.” And then he said it:
He said in effect, that science would probably be INCAPABLE of ever moving beyond that place in time. For indeed, that was the beginning of time. Humans could probably never traverse to “before time”. Thus why and how the Big Bang occurred might very likely be forever beyond human understanding.
In a flash, I realized, that here was God. The First Cause. Now, anyone steeped in Greek philosophy could probably have told me the same thing and much earlier. But this was my beloved science making this ultimate admission.
From that moment, my brain went into overdrive. I went to the living room and sat down, as thoughts swirled. I began to look at all the tens of thousands, no millions, perhaps more who had believed in a god of some sort from the most ancient of times. In deep humility for the first time, I realized that perhaps several millions of them were frankly smarter than I. And yet, they found reason to believe. They found reason to believe in Christ, and in some God worth giving their allegiance to.
From that moment, I began my journey in faith in earnest. Because I had already rejected the concept of fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, I was not burdened with having to reconcile the Bible with history or science. It had never meant any sense to me that a great omniscient, omnipotent being couldn’t write a more clear explanation of the world in the first place. So I always saw the Bible as a series of statements of believe by people had a much more primitive understanding of the world than I did, some 2,000 years later.
To me it has always been obvious that God is approached by faith and in some mystery, but that God must in the end “make sense.” God must be more perfect than anything I can imagine, but God must be at least as perfect as I can imagine. Thus God cannot demand human sacrifice, God cannot order genocide, God cannot hate any part of his creation. Further God cannot limit the free growth of any part of his creation. He supports and loves and offers to guide, as we, are willing to allow. He experiences through us, the wonders of humanity.
My theology has been altered and amended, tweaked and refined over the years, and I fully expect it to continue to be so. After all, I am on a journey. Things that appear logical today may not be so tomorrow, and I will have to spend long hours and much reading trying to figure out how this vision and that can be reconciled. In some cases, I may have to simply trust that I am not yet wise enough. But so far, I’ve not come upon anything that can’t be worked out. My vision remains of a God who loves unconditionally, forgives always, and draws us to the Godhead. We return, all of us, eventually.
It is what I believe, and why.
- Newsflash! God was behind the Big Bang! (capitolhillblue.com)
- The Pope And The Big Bang (wmbriggs.com)