I grew up next door to Iowa State University in Ames. Veisha, ISU’s annual spring celebration of each department, was a highlight in the community. School was dismissed for students to watch the parade and participate in the activities on Campus. The educational demonstrations were a highlight that amazed me with the wonders of the scientific experiments occurring before my eyes.
Our neighbor, Don, was a physics professor. One year, mom’s annual fruitcake Christmas tree would not stand up! Don was summoned to rescue the project scientifically! Don believed in science but not God. My parents did not try to convert him but planted the seeds of faith. When he moved to UCLA, our friendship continued. Years later, Larry and I visited them shortly after their son died by his own hand. Don was fighting a battle between his heart, soul, scientific mind and God. He reached out to Pastor Larry. His belief in science did not meet the needs of his heart, spirit and soul. He eventually found science and faith compatible.
Are science and faith compatible? Can one believe in science and God?
I began pondering the compatibility of faith and science when my scientifically minded grandchildren began questioning their belief in God.
My faith is central to my being. Science, at its core, requires faith and both complement each other. Faith, science and knowledge come from God. Scientists help expand our knowledge of God’s vast mind. Science shows us “how” and faith shows us “why.” Science and math are ways for humans to explain what God has done. The faith of a scientist is one that humbly seeks answers to scientific questions based on what we know at the time, realizing there’s a lot we are continually learning. Science can bolster faith. Science tells us that the universe is expanding; so must our understanding of God, the creator of the universe: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1.
Science says that we need at least four basic elements to survive: Water; Air; Food; Light. Jesus tells us: I am the Living Water; I am the Breath of Life; I am the Bread of Life; I am the Light of the World, which meets the needs of our hearts, spirits, bodies and souls.
Biblical writers were very limited in their understanding of the universe; therefore stories in the Bible are a narrative of God’s love for his people and creation and not intended to be historical or scientific. Science definitely shows us Jesus’ absolute compassion for humankind, which reflects the heart of our creator God, newness of life, and unfolding creation.
Open-minded belief in God and science are very compatible. God is implied in everything of what science teaches us about our reality and existence. Therefore absolutely everything in the universe is a spectacular miracle, often beyond our understanding and comprehension, but it is there for us to appreciate and savor.
God gifted us with knowledge, curiosity, discovery, and inquiry. My hope is that my scientifically minded grandchildren and all of us use our gifts of knowledge, curiosity, discovery and inquiry for the betterment of all humankind and creation.
May the wonder of new scientific discoveries increase your faith, and may we be grateful for the amazing balanced way God created the world.
• Laura Rorem is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church, who writes to honor Pastor Larry Rorem’s legacy of love, compassion and understanding for all humankind, especially the most vulnerable. ”Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.