I love geology. Yeah, I love rocks. The kind that you find out in the middle of nowhere, as well as in the gravel lot next to your home. Rocks that jut up into mountains or those which erode in Karst topography, filled with caves, sinkholes, and the like. I have always enjoyed geology and in my undergraduate program particular found that I loved (as in my favorite class ever!) the field of geomorphology. The processes that are at work in our dynamic, living world are amazing to me. Rivers, glaciers, volcanoes, tectonic plates, erosion, sedimentation, and weather have formed the world we live in. Understanding what minerals and conditions have created the rocks around us just made sense to me.
Science & Faith
|Teaching my dog Sonora about geology|
In high school I was a competitor in my school's FFA soil judging team and would get up early on Saturday mornings in the fall to compete in determining both the agricultural and home site characteristics of a site. (A side note, this was always the morning after a football game, so I was usually a bit sore and tired from playing the night before). Determining how much clay, sand, and silt is in a soil, coupled with the color or mottling, would help determine if the land held water or drained easily. Was it part of a floodplain? Would it be suited for a septic system? What agricultural processes would be be suited for growing in a particular field? In fact, as a junior my team of four made the national competition in Oklahoma, which was quite a fun experience.
Later, when I was taking my geology class at West Point with my best friend Joe Lacanlale, we would go to the rock lab and quiz each other on the rocks for the exams that would come up. I found that it just made a lot of sense to me, and that I had a proclivity for determining what type of rock a given sample was. (Use of proclivity a shout out to those in the Emmaus Road Thursday night class)
Why I start with these stories is that I also grew up in the church, and was a Christian during this time. I love Jesus. But I often heard that my love of Jesus and love of rocks were not compatible. Sure, it was cloaked in attacks on a particular carbon dating system as inaccurate or simply guesses. I learned to study the matter while I was in geology, finding at the time two basic approaches from Christians. It always boiled down to a way to read Genesis 1 and 2. Some said it had to be literal, which I now know results from an approach to the text as a rule-book or historical textbook. Others claimed that days may be able to be epochs, a term that basically means they approached the text as the story, a still very true story, of God interacting with humanity. Boy, were both sides passionate. I even ended up sitting down with my geology instructor at the time to go in-depth into understanding radiometric dating principles to understand, if I could, whether science or that Christian faith were wrong.
I loved both geology and theology. Jesus and rocks, in my mind, were not at war for my allegiance.
Don't ask me to choose between them.
In choosing, we force the creating of a man made polarity that is not founded in wisdom or God's very nature.
Fast forward to today. There still seems to be a kind of either-or proposition among many Christians regarding much about evolution or science. It stems from their faith, and many are recognizing that the younger generation is walking away from the Christian faith completely because of this apparent paradox. After all, the results of much science are all around us. Technology, medicine, agriculture, and much more are real. Yet, they also still hunger for purpose, and have an existential need for meaning and love. However, Christianity for many is not an option because it would simply be a salve for that need while also rejecting the very real other aspects of their lives that are staring them in the face.
This is why I think we need to learn from the past. To understand that God is at work in the world, and always has been. Science and Christianity are complementary, not contradictory. Where contradiction seems to occur, it is likely simply a lack of knowledge on how they can be reconciled in God's very nature. Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, and even Darwin were trying to understand the world around us, not remove God from the world.
I'm convinced God is at work in the world. Not as a God of what we cannot know physically (god of the gaps) or that has created an order that is deceitful (looks old but is really young). Rather, God created a dynamic world in which he has placed all of us to live and thrive. Lets not restrict God to our own conceptions, but the fullness of himself as revealed in nature, scripture, and history.
I love Jesus and I love geology.
This was a long intro to last week's links. Lets understand the complexity of a unified life. Where the different elements are not in competition, but discussion. If you only read one of these links, read the one by Jonathan Martin. As for the rest of them, the theme is that there are a lot of good people trying to understand God, life, the world around us, and faith better.
Do we allow ourselves to learn and grow, or do we stunt our own growth by insisting on certainty without understanding?
Science & Faith
Scot McKnight - On the topic of evolution and Christian faith, this is a long, but very good, read: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/05/21/with-a-tear-in-his-eye/
Jonathan Martin - Are many American Christians are actually creating a new civil religion? (I think he's definitely on to something!): http://pastorjonathanmartin.com/uncategorized/thoughts-on-mitt-romney-liberty-university-and-the-civil-religion/
Roger Olson - Interesting take on how an economic/social "survival of the fittest" is NOT compatible with Christianity: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/05/can-a-christian-be-a-social-darwinist/
Krish Kandiah - Challenges facing evangelicals in the UK today (also applicable to the US!): http://krishk.com/2012/05/issues-facing-evangelicals-today/
John Murawski @ Religion News Service - Do we understand heaven correctly? (This is an ongoing discussion for me that is very important in the way we approach life): http://www.religionnews.com/faith/doctrine-and-practice/N.T.-Wright-asks-Have-we-gotten-heaven-all-wrong
LiveScience via Scot McKnight - Some statistics on what percent of national populations are certain there is (or is not) a God. Fascinating: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/05/20/countries-and-belief-in-god/
Veterans & Military
Margot Roosevelt @ Reuters - Where veterans fall on war as a political agenda item: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/14/us-usa-poll-military-idUSBRE84C02120120514