W.In the science fiction satire Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Scott Adams introduces a creature called the Babel Fish the existence of which is so unlikely that it proves there must have been a creator – God. But since God requires faith God would not create anything that required that we believe in God. Since the existence of this unlikely creature requires that we believe in God obviously God cannot exist. God upon learning this argument is heard to say, "Hunh, I didn't think of that" before disappearing in a puff of logic. So much for Intelligent Design.
W.The paradox of seeking assurance for our belief using our best tool for knowing (science) is that in seeking that assurance we must destroy what we seek. If we seek assurance for our belief we will have to seek it in other places than laboratories and by other means than experiment. This is no great loss since at the end of the day when science has reduced every physical component of reality to their cause and effect there will remain residual questions -- not How? but Why? and What for?
W.I think that belief is an evolutionarily adaptive behavior that allows us to go on in the face of emotional trauma. Given that by virtue of our equally adaptive minds we feel loss, pain, loneliness and despair we would not survive long if we did not have some comfort. Thus we are recipients of two graces – to know our selves and to know comfort that is greater than ourselves. The central question is, Why should this be? Why are we not just automatons – without consciousness or need of comfort? This is equivalent to Martin Heidigger’s great question about the universe itself, Why is there not nothing? Why are we not oblivious, feeling nothing?
W.This is not proof of God in either the inductive scientific sense or the deductive mathematical sense. But as I said above the logic of science is useless for faith. This does not mean that there is not a logic to such theological thinking. It may not be proof of God but it is sufficient reason for belief. In theology we are allowed to consider mysteries as support for belief among other things. The fact is that there remains an unsolved mystery here. It is a fact made appearant by our current understanding of who we are. It may be that this has no significance in scientific thought, but the same is not necessarily true for theological thought.
W.Some will say that this is nothing more that another variation on the “god of the gaps”. “Unsolved mystery” has not historically been a long-term refuge for proofs of the existence of God. Science is good at solving mysteries and as it has done so we have seen retreat after retreat on proving the existence of God. But science only can solve physical mysteries. In a sense these are not real mysteries just unknowns in the world of the knowable. Real mysteries lie in the cracks between the knowable and the knowable. Real mysteries are not within the domain of physical reality by definition. When it tackles such mysteries science reaches beyond the bounds of its proper domain.
W.The mystery of why we are what we are – feeling, comforted beings -- feels like one that is beyond the domain of science and not just a gap in our knowledge. Either science will come to the conclusion, “That’s just the way we are.” Or given the evolutionary precedents that, “We could not be otherwise than we are.” But I doubt that it will ever be able to say why our particular emotional being rather than our equally logically and equally possible being otherwise is the case.
W.Without awarding special evolutionary status to human beings science cannot say why we are who we are. And for science there can be no specialness in the human condition. We are no more special than dinosaurs or stars. We share the same genetic material with every being that has lived. We share the same atoms with everything that exists. In being so unremarkable we are even more remarkable.
W.The central idea of Christianity is this: that God is only completely revealed in Incarnation. Well, who we are is an incarnation. Even if our nature is an end product of evolution it is still an incarnation. In this sense evolution itself is Incarnation. That we who both need comfort and have it should have evolved is Incarnation. And mystery.
gives us the insight that we are a part of the universe (and a mighty small
part at that). Faith on the other hand knows both that we are special