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It's Okay to be Baffled by Both Science and Faith

  • Rachel Dawson
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  • 2017 Mar 31
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©Thinkstock/den-belitsky

There is a lot about science I don’t understand. There’s also a lot about God I don’t understand.

I can remember sitting in my AP science classes in high school feeling completely overwhelmed by the things I was hearing about. I struggled through physics during my junior year, never being able to fully wrap my mind around all of the theories and formulas and equations. Even now, as I try to think back on those classes, I can’t even find the right words to describe what it is I didn’t understand… because I still don’t understand it.

So much of faith, I’m learning, is the same way.

Jon Bloom, in an article for desiring God called “You Do Not Need to Understand Everything Now: Admiring What Science Cannot Explain,” sums this feeling well: “We know it works, but we don’t know how.”

We know the Bible tells us about the Trinity, but we don’t quite know how to explain how one God could simultaneously yet uniquely be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We celebrate at Easter that Jesus Christ died on a cross, was in a grave for three days, but then came back to life after conquering Hell and death, but we don’t know how to explain how that’s possible.

We know God performed many miracles throughout Scripture and still performs them today -- I recently saw this tweet from author Karen Swallow Prior with a great example:

“Some find such mysteries troubling,” Bloom writes, “wondering if the realities are so hard to understand because they’re not just conundrums, but contradictions. Some scholars consider such mysteries to simply be esoteric religious nonsense. They encourage folks to place their faith in more concrete and certain things, like discoveries in the physical sciences. Interestingly enough, though, the deeper scientists have delved into the nature of nature -- in an effort to comprehend how physical reality works at its fundamental levels -- they too have found themselves utterly perplexed.”

It’s refreshing to hear that even scientists are stumped by science at times, isn’t it?

Bloom shares a quote often shared among pioneers in the physics field at the turn of the 20th century: “Not only is the Universe stranger than we think; it is stranger than we can think.”

He goes on to pose mind-bending questions to the reader: “If this is true of the universe, how much more should we expect it to be true of God himself? Quantum mechanics are hard to understand; do we think Trinitarian mechanics shouldn’t be? Our brains struggle trying to reconcile how a particle can pass through two separate openings at the same time without dividing. Should we be surprised that we struggle to reconcile the coexistence of God’s sovereignty and human accountability?”

Strangely, I’m comforted by this.

The bigness of God, the mysteries of faith, the unanswered questions and baffling conundrums, the divinity that is nothing like what my humanity can grasp… all of these things remind me of my right place in this universe-- one where I’m only human and only God is sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful, and wholly divine.

The things I don’t understand? They draw me closer to the Lord who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. (Proverbs 2:6)

The things that bring me to my knees? They beckon me to come close to God who is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

The questions that make me doubt and wrestle with my faith? They pull me back to God’s Word, which breathes new life and new confidence into me. (Proverbs 4:20-23)

I’m pretty confident I’ll never fully grasp Newton’s laws of physics or understand quantum mechanics. I’m also sure I’ll never fully understand who God is or how he works… and I’m glad for that.

Paul says in Romans 11:33:34, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?’”

I want to be more like Paul when it comes to the things I don’t understand-- letting what might tempt me to worry and doubt instead draw me into a place of worship and awe of our mind-blowing God.

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/den-belitsky

Publication date: March 31, 2017

Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com