Email your questions about faith and spiritual issues for our religious columnists to Sarah Henning at firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax to 843-4512.
The Rev. Josh Longbottom, associate pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
A scientist doesn't have to have faith to do his or her work, but a well-conceived faith shouldn't get in the way of it either.
Take, for example, Albert Einstein. He believed in the God described by Benedictus de Spinoza. His belief in God certainly didn't prevent him from being a good scientist, but it was probably not necessary to his science either.
I think it would be pretty hard for a scientist to believe in a God that can shoot lightning at bad people or that intervenes consistently to protect the righteous from harm. Given the experience of bad things happening to good people that litters all of human history, I don't know what kind of scientist could rectify our world with an interventionist vision of God.
I also don't know what kind of scientist would think that people should be required to submit to a belief that is not necessarily provable or what kind of scientist would be OK with the idea of a "don't look before you leap" concept of faith. Such ideas seem directly opposed to the ideal of unbiased observation that is sought after in science.
On the other hand, I believe in a God that gave us science, and to the best of my abilities, I can see no conflict between them.
I think of God as the lure in my heart that calls me toward loving holiness and doing the right thing. I even have a sense that the origin of the whole universe is inside of that love of goodness. But then again, that is a religious description of nature, not a claim on the origin of matter.
The pursuit of an accurate understanding of this universe seems to me to be a sacred task and one that Christians and scientists should hold in common.
- Send e-mail to Josh Longbottom at email@example.com.
The Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:
In my congregation, First Presbyterian Church, we are fortunate to count among our members many who are part Kansas University's faculty and graduate program in the sciences. I am grateful for their participation as faithful seekers of truth in both their professional and academic work and in their religious tradition. Their presence is valuable in helping us as a congregation respond to God's imperative to care for creation, to function better as a "green" church, and to understand how scientific advances can help us understand and interpret our faith.
Both science and religion seek truth. Both look at the world and ask profound questions about our existence, about how things have come to be, and about causation. Both seek knowledge to explain that part of life which is seen and that which is (for the time being at least) a mystery. Science helps us understand how things happen. Religion seeks to understand why things happen. The questions within these two fields of knowledge may be different, but not necessarily incompatible.
Truth in the sciences is quantifiable and (mostly) verifiable. It can be put to the test and proven. Discovery in science begins with observation, an hypothesis, or a theory - one might say an act of faith - and through experimentation draws conclusion. Truth in religion is experiential and less subject to verification. While it too begins with observation and theory, its answers often fall into categories that cannot be proven or disproven.
Science and religion can be companions in the human quest for knowledge and understanding of the full dimension of life.
- Send e-mail to Kent Winters-Hazelton at firstname.lastname@example.org.