In our writing we have tried to explore the interplay and commonality between science and spirituality. As we have had to hold them in creative tension all of our lives, it seems the natural thing to do. And yet so many believe them to be polar opposites, that they cannot be held together in any sane person’s mind. They believe that scientific knowledge will one day erode all of the “religious truths” in the same way that it has explained that rain comes from clouds and not from the gods. People who believe that science and spirituality are inconsistent have not read the many accounts of scientific minds with strong personal beliefs.
Isaac Newton, who did so much towards quantifying the universe as a wondrous machine that operated along reproducible laws, was a man of faith although not entirely to the liking of the established church of the time.
Albert Einstein, who helped to unlock many of the mysteries of the cosmos and the atom, refused to be classified as an atheist. While he struggled with the forms of accepted religion of his time, he professed to an “attitude of humility” towards the questions of origin.
I have just finished a book called True Scientists, True Faith, which includes two dozen autobiographical accounts from contemporary scientists, many of whom are leaders in their fields. What made the book interesting was the variety of approaches taken by the writers. Some spoke of the intellectual challenge of reconciling their beliefs with their science, others spoke of the moral and ethical impact of their faith on their work. Most spoke of their work inspiring wonder in the Creator as opposed to doubt. And then there was a marvelous piece that stood out like a wildflower in a meadow. The author, who had been a reluctant convert, spoke with a refreshing candour about a God who was deeply personal and interested in her and every aspect of her being. At no time in any of the accounts was there a battle going on between the belief in science and the belief in God.
For many who are not scientifically trained, there is a belief that science is absolute and that knowledge is complete. The problem is that every scientist knows that the field of knowledge doesn’t just advance but retreats and reforms and collapses altogether. What is a fact today can become obsolete or superseded tomorrow. And the further we push the boundaries of physics to very large and very small scales, the stranger things become.
So perhaps we should not try to separate out our rational thoughts from our beliefs and perhaps see some synergies between them. In that way they can inform and bless each other.
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.” – Blaise Pascal