I’m a scientist, and I believe in God. I have recently had a discussion with a friend who says she wants to know who God is, but she is giving up. The Christian God as seen through Christians doesn’t seem to be right. The God/gods/spirituality of Native Americans makes some sense to her, but she isn’t sure if she really understands it. She is finding herself in a place of confusion. She said through all of the belief systems she has been researching, she feels like many different belief systems are all attempting to know who God is or the significance of spirituality.
She said to me, “How do I know whether God is the Christian God, or the Native American God, or the Mormon God? It seems like God shows parts of Himself to people, but no one person can know everything. We are each limited by our culture, by our experiences.”
Maybe people reading this feel the same way. How do we REALLY know who God is? Who has it right? Who REALLY knows who God is?
Ok I’ll tell you the answer, are you ready?
Who knows who God is?
If God is real, and he exists and shows himself to us, He is the only one who can show each of us the part of Himself that we are supposed to see. You don’t believe me? Well then ask Him. Put out a real, honest prayer. “God, if you are there, will you show me who you are? Not the part of God that my Mother sees, or the part of God that my friend sees, or the part of God that all the people at church see. I want to see the REAL God, whatever that means.”
Because if God is real, why wouldn’t He answer you?
I’m telling you He will, because I have experienced the answer.
Those who think scientists know everything are not scientists. It seems a general consensus among my scientific colleagues that the more you know about your field of study, the more you realize what you don’t know. As we become “experts” on a topic, we realize how much more study we need, how little our peers know, how little our advisors and scientific heroes know/knew. We realize how interdisciplinary every topic is, how it’s all entwined.
A colleague I know is involved in medical applications to geology. He has realized that this field now has him engulfed in geology, geochemistry, biology, medicine, biogeochemistry, and many more subdisciplines. I find this an amazing fact in life… things are all intertwined. There is meaning and purpose to each of our lives, and the applications are endless. This is the good news.
The bad news is that the more we know, the more we realize that much of our work is based on assumptions. Assumptions in methodology. Scientists are doing things the way that they know how, often based on the work of others. Work that they may not have completely understood, but they are published, right? Everyone else is doing it this way.
When will we think outside the box? We were designed for more. We could be studying with purpose, without shooting each other down when an idea we aren’t familiar with arises. We claim absolute certainty in theories and hypothesis, when anything can be disproven at any time. Now is the time for the young scientist to rise up and challenge thought. Be called ridiculous, stupid, insane, crazy. All of the best historical scientists were. They were belittled by scientists in their field and ridiculed by society.
How could we be so arrogant as to think that things are different today? That we have all things figured out and are just building on absolute? That we put good scientists who challenge thought into hiding?
Science shows us how these things happen, therefore there is no God.
I can’t count how many times recently I have read or seen something on TV or the internet where a scientific explanation of a natural phenomena is claimed to prove that God or other spiritual phenomena do not exist. For example, I saw a investigative documentary show on TV a few years back on the 10 plagues of Egypt. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this account from the Biblical book of Exodus, the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians. When Moses, the leader of the Israelites, asks the Egyptian Pharaoh to let his people go, Pharaoh refuses. As a result of his refusal, God says to Moses and Pharaoh that He will send plagues to the land of Egypt until Pharaoh changes his mind. These plagues include darkness, locust infestation, water turning to blood, and 7 others for a total of 10 plagues.
The premise of this history/documentary show was to bring in experts to explain scientifically how these plagues could have happened. The investigators on the program demonstrated how it is possible a plague of locusts could have led to water turning to blood, or darkness, which would lead to other plagues, etc. I found the show really interesting, but their investigative conclusions really irked me. Experts were saying things to the effect of “So yes the Israelites THOUGHT that the darkness was caused by God, but in reality it was just a result of the plague of locusts darkening the sky”.. or other similar comments.
OK, so since you can explain scientifically how one plague led to another, that means God must not have had anything to do with it? So an all-knowing, all-powerful God couldn’t have set things in motion that abide by the laws of physics and nature which He established, and create the plagues in a way that we could explain scientifically? Because we can explain HOW God did it that means He didn’t do it? I hope you see where I’m going with this, and it isn’t the only example.
A scientific explanation of how things happen does not eliminate the possibility that there is a God. I love to look at science as an opportunity to explore how God did things. How was life formed on Earth? How is this universe working that God set into motion? Many religions and belief systems look at purpose and reason behind natural phenomena. I think that explaining the processes by which things happen is very different from thinking about the reasons WHY things happen or who if anyone is behind them. Because we can explain how earthquakes or volcanoes happen, does that mean God doesn’t know they will happen or didn’t cause them?
It’s time for science to allow for religious and spiritual people the opportunity to look for and explain natural mechanisms and phenomena in a scientific manner without being threatened when we embrace a spiritual meaning behind them. Maybe a scientist has the worldview that there is no purpose to life besides the fight for survival. That is not my worldview, so don’t push yours onto me.
Science doesn’t fit your worldview better than it does mine. Science doesn’t disprove God. For me, it explains how He works.
Plenty of religious and spiritual belief systems view earthquakes as a sign or warning to humanity. They are a bad omen. Many Biblical prophecies link an increase of earthquakes to the end of the world, which can put Christians on edge when there are large earthquakes in the news. Earthquakes are often quoted by spiritual and religious leaders/enthusiasts as being the result of God’s anger, or a spiritual call to renewal.
Matthew 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Psalm 18: 7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.
OK let’s talk science. In the past few weeks we have had several large earthquakes (a 7.4 off the coast of the Solomon Islands, a 6.6 in Nicaragua, and a 7.1 off the southwest coast of Papua New Guinea). Additionally, many large earthquakes with a magnitude 8.0 or greater have happened in recent years including an M9.0 in Japan in 2011, and many others (See this USGS page on recent significant earthquakes). Is there a trend?
Well, scientists would say yes. There has been a recent trend in large/significant earthquakes. I include significant because many smaller earthquakes happen in largely populated or low income areas and cause more damage and deaths than larger earthquakes elsewhere.
Is this increase in earthquakes unusual? Well, not necessarily. First of all, the overall increase of earthquakes (both large and small) we are detecting can be correlated with the increase of seismic instrumentation around the world. The more instruments we have, the more earthquakes we detect and record. This smaller sect of geology/seismology is a pretty new field, and the theory of plate tectonics has only been around for about 50 years. Seismic instrumentation was invented within the last 100 years, and a global network and number of seismic instruments have increased significantly in only the last 30 years. More instruments, more recorded earthquakes.
What about the increase of deaths and cost related to earthquake/tsunami damage? Well that has increased with the increase of our population. The more people on Earth, the more people at risk when an earthquake happens.
OK but what about all the big earthquakes? Even old records record those, seismic instruments or not. Good point. Within our limited worldwide earthquake historical record (see figure below) you can see a sort of “clustering” of larger earthquakes, both in recent times and also centering around the year 1960. Note that the record only shows through the year 2010, and many other large earthquakes are missing for years 2010-2014. Still, you can see that a similar trend to what is happening in recent years has happened in the somewhat recent past. Scientists are still struggling to understand the correlation of one large earthquake to another in these clustered events. If one earthquake is triggering another, why are the large events still many months or even years apart (as opposed to happening right when the seismic activity and seismic waves initially occur)? It’s interesting stuff.
Figure borrowed from Charles Ammon, after Ammon et al., SRL, 2010
Scientists may still be looking for reasons to explain the method by which these large earthquakes may or may not relate to each other, but it still allows for those of us who seek spiritual meaning to ponder it. Are these signs from God? Is it the end times? Does this mean Jesus is coming back soon? Is this perhaps the result of how we as humans have treated our planet, and is a punishment from the planet itself?
Maybe you believe there is an energy or other supernatural being that is aware of these things happening. This next segment holds my own spiritual interpretation, and maybe you have a different one you would like to share. My personal belief is that an all-knowing God sees in advance that these events will happen. If my God is all-knowing, He isn’t stupid. He is much smarter than you or me. Therefore these things do not surprise Him, and He understands the scientific mechanism by which it occurs. OK, He created it! I don’t think hurting people makes Him happy because I believe God is a loving God. We have made our own choices on this Earth as part of free will, and we suffer many things because of it. I don’t know if God causes them for this or that such reason because I’m not God.
One thing I do know is that whenever natural disasters affect us, people are reminded of the fragility of life. We are reminded of what is important. Those we love, the things we hold dear. And we think about death. People don’t like to think about death, but death is a very real part of being alive.. it is an inevitable event that none of us can escape. Maybe when earthquakes occur we can remind ourselves and each other that we love each other.
Whether or not earthquakes are a judgment or a sign, I think they are a reminder to us that we need to take the fragility of life seriously and live each day as if it were our last. That includes preparing ourselves to ponder what happens to us when we die.
Happy Passover. Also, happy Blood Moon lunar eclipse day! The first in a set of four consecutive total “blood moon” eclipses visible from the United States. Don’t worry, a blood moon eclipse is fairly normal from a scientific standpoint. View the story below from USA Today to see all the buzz about this particular set of events:
I am bringing this blood moon topic up in my blog in order to address an issue I see recurring throughout the media, science, and even religious or spiritual conversation. Often these topics are brought up this way:
“such and such pastor/spiritual leader/religious enthusiast said this..”
“but SCIENTISTS disagree saying this….”
Is this how we should come at these topics? I don’t think so. To me, science should explain phenomena. How often do blood moons occur? Can we predict them? What is the astronomical significance if there is any?
Science does not explain causation, purpose, or belief. Yes, there will be a blood moon tonight. Yes, it coincides with Passover. Scientists (and others) should not belittle any religious or spiritual significance to the interesting correlation between the two. Perhaps a scientist is atheist/agnostic/non-Judeo-Christian. His or her INTERPRETATION of these events would be thus:
“These events may be happening at the same time, but this is merely coincidence and means nothing”
OK, but a Jewish or Christian person might INTERPRET it this way:
“These correlating events have spiritual meaning to me. God allowed for this to happen as a reminder to us to look to Him in these times.”
My point is that scientific explanation does not need produce an interpretation that is purely void of God or spirituality. Who is the scientist to say there is no God, or that God didn’t know about this simply because we can explain astronomical phenomena? Explanation is not causation and does not eliminate the possibility of a being who understood or allowed these things to happen.
Interpretation of scientific events CAN have spiritual meaning to individuals. Scientists, can’t you allow for this type of thinking? Oh no, you can’t. That’s why I am a scientist who hides her opinions in an anonymous blog.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
I hate Christians sometimes. Quick to judge, self-important a$$holes. I’m sorry for the language, but I’m using it on purpose to prove a point. Since when do Christians get to decide which words are off-limits and which words are ok? I don’t remember there being a list of bad words in the Bible (except for taking God’s name in vain. I don’t think God cares about us using the word asshole).
Oh wait.. you haven’t read the Bible have you? Well, you’ve read parts of it in church. But have you ever really sat down and read the whole thing?
I have. It’s a beautiful book. I have read it many times, memorized hundreds if not thousands of verses, and spent time in meditation on it. YES… another thing Christians feel queasy about. Meditation. Did you know that meditation is mentioned in the Bible? You are told to do it!
Genesis 24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide:
Psalms 104:34 – My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.
Psalms 119:15 – I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
1 Timothy 4:15 – Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
Most Christians go to church only on occasion, never read their Bible, and rarely pray. But I’ll tell you what, they sure know how to get on their high horse when it comes to things like:
1) drinking alcohol and going to bars (uh… Jesus drank! Everyone in the Bible drank!)
2) Smoking cigarettes (I don’t smoke… but the Bible doesn’t say you can’t!)
3) Smoking weed (Tell me where in the Bible that this is a problem?)
4) Swearing/bad words (I mentioned this above)
5) Telling people who aren’t Christians that they should behave like Christians (i.e. Westboro Baptist Church. Why would you hold someone who doesn’t believe what you do to the same standards that you hold yourself to? We are told not to judge.)
OK, I’m not saying you should go out and smoke cigarettes and get high at a bar while swearing right now. In fact, doing that would make you seem just like you aren’t a Christian. Because that is how society views it. But maybe instead of judging people for making these choices (including people who claim to be Christians who do these things), your focus should be on love.
Love. Why when people hear “I’m a Christian” do they not think of love? Jesus was all about that.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
I know a lot of Christians. I don’t think I could say the first thing that I think about them is “love”. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few that do get this. They DO spend time reading their Bible, they spend time in prayer, and they spend time loving people and loving God. If that were what Christians focused on, there would not be a backlash in society today against Christians.