I’ve written often about the interface of faith (God) and science. This is a summary of a conversation I had recently with a young woman who was struggling with this, seeing it as an “either/or” conflict.
Like many, this mid-twenties woman has a very strong interest in the sciences. She is a data analyst by training and profession. We’d had several conversations on this “conflict” and she was struggling. She’d been brought up in a strong Christian family but had moved away from her faith when she went to college. As she explained it to me, there were two reasons for this.
1: Her friends at school were not believers and she was led into things “ungodly” in order to associate with them. No drugs, promiscuity or heavy drinking. She’d just found the pleasures of “worldly living” and association with her classmates.
2: As she’d undertaken her studies, she tried to use what she was learning in school to “prove” the existence of God. As I learned personally, this is an impossible mission.
I was visiting her workplace on another matter and we had a few minutes to talk in her assigned work area. She told me that she was troubled, deeply troubled by her inability to reconcile her issues with God and science.
In her work area, there was a glass door that separated the servers and all that wonderous computer equipment from the very busy, crowded work area. On every desk was a keyboard and computer monitor. I took her to the door, having her place her back to the door.
“Tell me what you see” I asked her.
“Lots of people, busy, noisy, trying to get their work done.”
“How are they doing that? Getting their work done?”
“Well, they’re using the programs on the servers and the information from the field to design new programs and to analyze data.”
I had her turn around and look through the door. “Now, what do you see?”
“Those are the servers, the backbone of what we are working on. They hold all the programs and data we need to get our work done. They do the processing of the things we enter at our work stations.”
“Where’d they come from?”
“I have no idea. Dell, I guess.”
“Do you know how they work?”
“Well, sort of. I know how to program them. I know how to use them to analyze information.”
“But do you know the mechanics of how they work?”
“Nope! Haven’t a clue” she laughed.
We turned back around and looked over the crowded, busy room. “OK, so you have a fairly good grasp on what happens out here. Let’s call that the “science” of what you are struggling with.”
We stepped through the door into the chilled “computer room.” The room was very quiet given how much stuff was in there and all that had to be happening in those machines. Lights blinking, a steady electronic hum. It was obvious that a lot was going on in that room, most of it mysterious to both of us. I had her look out through the door at the busy work room. “What do you see?”
“The same thing I saw before.” Her expression was one of puzzlement.
“What do you hear?”
“Just the equipment running. It’s really pretty quiet in here. I hadn’t noticed the difference before.”
We turned again. “Now what do you see and hear?”
“What I told you before.” She was obviously becoming a bit exasperated with me by now.
“And what do the servers do again?” I asked.
She went though a rather long explanation of how the servers held all the programs and the mechanics that made the work going on outside that room possible.
“OK, you know what you are doing out there, right?” I asked pointing over my shoulder.
“Yep, and I’m good at it.”
“How do you know then that what’s happening in here will work?”
She paused and looked at me for a moment, then smiled. “I must have faith that they will. I have to believe.”
“Bingo” I said. “In your struggle, you’ve been looking at things through the wrong side of the door. You’ve been trying to define how these servers work by the products and results they produce. Instead, for your quest, you need to understand your data and how it comes together by having faith in how these machines, which you admit you don’t understand, work. You’ve been looking in the wrong direction to find your answers.”
Well, she wasn’t fully convinced, but I could see the old gears a turning’. I talked again with her last night. “I think I’m starting to get it” she said. “I’m not there quite yet, but it’s beginning to come together.”
As we examine the huge questions raised by the interface of science and faith (God), we have to be sure we are looking in the right direction.
Alive in The Word