When my career as a science teacher took me to a Christian High School, I faced a crossroads when I found that our Biology text stated that, (pardon my paraphrase) “…based upon genealogical evidence tracing the lineage of mankind back to everyone’s ultimate ancestors: Adam and Eve, the earth was created approximately 11,000 years ago. My reason (backed by tons of geological data) tells me that the earth is billions of years old. I mean… I have rocks in my house that are much older than that. Why would God create the earth only appear to be billions of years old? I simply could not teach this to the students and so must confess that we found a way to skip over that chapter (at the risk of leaving a gap in their High School Biology education). Does this mean I lack faith? Did I let my sense of reason blind me to the truth of the creation? When the students asked, I explained that this was one view of creation and that as their science teacher, it is best to examine all of the viewpoints before advancing any conclusions. I also let them know I did not share this interpretation and invited discussion with the understanding that having faith does not mean that you abandon reason.
In the science department of the university, I found the disdain for Christian faith almost palpable at times … and then I’ve run across a few in my Christian journey who think that science and reason somehow threaten our faith. Each side sees science and God as oppositional. In my experience, faith is not the absence of reason but enhances reason just as reason can edify faith.
With reason, we can think about the marvels of God’s creation and we can begin to sense the depth of His infinite presence. Reason also helps us understand that our human knowledge is limited and see how much is beyond our abilities. Knowing that you cannot know God --- while in His presence --- provides opportunity for the inner statement of trust and humility that is faith. Faith then becomes the instrument we can use to tap into the truth beyond what we know. Reason edifies Faith.
Faith in God compels us to use our intellect and logic to appreciate and integrate our faith... there is no doubt that God wants us to Know Him. God wants us to use our finite tools of logic to seek to perceive Him with our mind so that we can expand our scope of, and our ability to, use reason to understand God. Faith enhances reason.
It is through Faith that we experience the essence of God and it is through Reason that we experience the expression of God.
Faith and reason together can be powerful but We must take care to not allow our reason to quiet the inner voice that tells us what we know, in our hearts, to be true. On the other hand, a healthy mind recognizes its innate limitations, acknowledging the many experiences and understandings beyond the scope of our own logic. When I hold a baby in my arms… or a bird or a leaf -- and see the miracle and wonder of their creation-- it is clear that their existence is an extension of Gods remarkable love, just as I am, and you are.
Because we weren’t there at the time of creation, I guess we will never know if the earth was created at the time our textbook stated or if Gods creation plan was to form the earth over four billion years ago. In any case, I’m grateful that God gave us the ability to use our sense of reason to fortify our faith as well as to use our faith to bring power to our reasoning.