Science and Faith

Elegance in nature

I have to be honest.

As I entered this week of practicum with Classical Conversations, I experienced some trepidation- for I knew we were tackling the subject of science.

Science intimidates me.  I am always afraid that if I try to do a science experiment it won’t work.  I am able to throw some science terms around- but I feel like I know just enough to sound like I know what I am talking about, but I don’t fully understand it completely.  Not to the bare bones, at the most rudimentary level.

And instead of seeking to educate myself, I have practiced avoidance with this subject more than any other.

I probably wouldn’t have admitted it before now, but truthfully I just expected my hubby to take care of the “science talks” with our kids.  They could take all their hard questions to him, and I would take care of the rest.

Science has become a subject of much controversy in the media.  The conflict over global warming and/or climate change constantly assails me on social media and every news outlet.

And I fall into the habit of just repeating talking points, like what my husband tells me, instead of searching out for myself why I believe what I do.

It was so refreshing to be reminded at practicum that science is something that I enjoy.  God calls us to dominion over the earth.  He also calls us to search out a matter.  This was one of my favorite Scriptures from the practicum:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.  Proverbs 25:2

My children and I love staring at the clouds.  Here in TN they are truly breathtaking.  Somehow in every state the clouds seem different to me.  They change in how close they appear, their formation in the skies, how quickly they seem to move as a storm rolls in.  The glorious rolling hills of TN set a backdrop that only lends to prolong my interest in gazing at the sky.

At the park, we often stop to examine a worm or bird.  One day we took pictures of a crayfish we found on the path.  Another day we met up with a family playing in the creek.  They caught a snake and we got to observe its slithering as well as touch its skin through the net holding it.  WOW.

At the pool last week, we found a very friendly butterfly that loved perching on my daughter’s hand.  She spent over 30 minutes gently touching its wing and carrying it around.  We watched it fly and commented on all the colors on its wings.  The closer we looked, the more we saw.

At the practicum, the first day our speaker captured me by sharing one simple sentence, “science means simply to know.”

From the Latin, (scio) a verb- I can, know, understand, have knowledge

Socrates- “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

Science is motivated by curiosity!

I realized that as its base, science is simply being captivated by the world around us and exploring it all.  We seek to understand how things work as we become engrossed in the observation of the world around us.

“But history shows us that human beings are impelled to ask questions about the natural world and man’s place in it.  There is something unique about the nature of human beings that drives us to know and understand the natural world. Asking questions and seeking answers is the dialectical activity that breathes life into the facts accumulated through the grammar stage.

One does not need to go to the moon to dig into the character of the cosmos (cosmos is a word meaning “an orderly and harmonious system”). A child digging in the dirt and feeling the earth between his fingers, a child holding her hands under the faucet in fascination with the running water, and a child noticing how building blocks balance on top of each other and then fall when pushed over, are each engaged in the natural world. They are developing a grammar of nature that will continue to expand for their entire lives.”

Leigh Bortins  “The Question”

There is a portion of science that requires experimentation to test our ideas and their validity.  We also test others ideas and compare and contrast them with what scientists in the past have discovered.

Science thrives when we are given free reign to imagine.  Our thoughts go beyond the realm of what seems believable or even possible.

Science also requires work.  We must take responsibility for our beliefs and what they are founded on.  This does not negate the beauty and necessity of faith, it simply enhances its glory (see verse above).

Knowing what clouds are composed of and how air masses move and interact with each other does not diminish the beauty of a sunny day or a sudden spring storm, rather it enhances my appreciation of the one who created it all.

In searching out answers, that does not mean that we must know all the answers.  This has been my other fear.  I don’t want knowledge to become an end in itself, or a source of pride for me or my children.

How do we keep our humility in the midst of this journey?

I am comforted by how God has built that into the process for us.  We will never understand it all.  There are aspects of how our body works that still baffle scientists despite years and years of vigorous study.

And the deeper we plumb into this world’s complexities and magnificence, the more our hearts can respond in worship and give glory to the one who holds it all together.

When the edge of our understanding is exhausted, we can choose to stop and acknowledge the one who knows all things and holds the whole world in His hands.

All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.  John 1:3

Lord, may the study of science be an opportunity to worship you and the splendor of all you created.  Help me to be at peace in the knowing and in those spaces of mystery.  As I journey with my children on this road of exploration, give me the courage to admit the things I do not know and the humility to walk with them and search the matter out.  Thank you for all the ways you are stretching me and drawing me closer to you.  In Jesus Name, Amen.