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Long Lost Friends

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Faith and Science

Long Lost Friends
Sunday, October 22, 2017

Science and religion are long-lost dance partners. —Rob Bell [1]

Faith provides evidence for things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1

Reality is God’s greatest ally. For centuries, science and religion worked together, learning from Creation. As Ilia Delio, both a scientist and a Franciscan nun, says, “Doing science was a way of giving God glory.” But when Copernicus (1473-1543) discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe—and Galileo (1564-1642) validated his observations—Christian leaders were not willing to change their thinking. Delio says, “That was the beginning of the rift between science and religion.” [2]

Although the faith tradition insisted that there was indeed “evidence for things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), too often the common notion of faith became something like “whistling in the dark,” or a kind of rugged holding-on that equated faith with a dogged perseverance and love of “old time religion”—back when “God was really God.” It had little to do with discerning the actual evidence that was commonly available in the present, in the mind, memory, heart, soul, and in creation itself.

Saints Augustine, Teresa of Ávila, and John of the Cross all found that evidence in the very nature of the soul and its inner workings, but this was not taught to or experienced by most Christians. Many found evidence in Scripture and dogmas that matched and affirmed their personal God encounter, but perhaps even more used Scripture and dogma to make their own experience unnecessary. St. Francis, St. Bonaventure, Teilhard de Chardin, many poets, and everyday mystics found evidence in the natural world, in elements, seasons, animals, and all living things. Sadly these were often marginalized as mere “nature mystics” or people outside the mainline tradition. Theirs was not “true Transcendence.” How did we miss the core Christian message of Incarnation and its implications when the message was so clear?

What can be known about God is perfectly plain since God has made it plain. Ever since God created the world, God’s everlasting power and deity—however invisible—has been perfectly evident for the mind to see in the things that God has made. (Romans 1:19–20)

Fortunately, like never before in history, this generation has at its disposal new and wonderful evidence from science, confirming the presence and power of what many of us would call A Very Insistent Love at the heart of all creation. (Call it gravity, sexuality, orbits, cycles, magnetism, electricity, photosynthesis, reproduction, springtime, reincarnation, rebirth, or whatever descriptive model works best for you.)

After centuries of dualistic dismissal, religion is finally ready to befriend the wisdom of science. And science is regaining the humility to recognize that the intuitions and metaphors of religion were not as naïve as they once imagined. We were both in our own way trying to honestly name our experience.

Gateway to Silence:
Divine Reality, endlessly knowable

[1] To read more from Rob Bell about the shared truth of science and religion, see his book What We Talk About When We Talk About God (HarperOne: 2013), especially chapter 2.
[2] Ilia Delio, “God, Evolution, and the Power of Love,” CONSPIRE 2014: A Benevolent Universe, Session 8 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), MP4 video download.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Introduction,” “Evidence,” Oneing, vol. 2, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 11-12.

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