Conviction and Complexity 1

I did not begin encountering nature, science, and science / faith relations with a blank slate. I met them with convictions already sown and growing within me: God had created, was active, and was worthy of worship; I needed to live my life God’s way; the church was supposed to do good in the world; and the Bible continued to speak to me and teach me.

These convictions anchored and oriented my experience of life, giving me a way of seeing. Inherited at first, they would be tested against cumulative life experiences. Naïvetés would mature. Encounters with different people and perspectives would teach me the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Unanswered questions would find a home within faith.

My relation to science / faith interactions grew from mere awareness to inquisitiveness to sustained study. Undergirded by conviction, I have come to understand the complexity of science / faith relations. Although there are definite trends and patterns in the ways people work out these relations, these trends and patterns may conceal the true complexity at work in people’s lives, a complexity that mirrors the complexity and idiosyncrasies of people themselves. This should not surprise us, but it is, in my experience, all too often absent from treatments of the topic. As a Christian who strongly disagreed with me once said to me, “It’s nothing personal, Daniel.” Indeed. It wasn’t. And that was part of the problem.

Perhaps this response reflects a struggle we people often have with the balance between conviction and complexity. We want to live out what we believe to be true, and do not always know how to manage that very natural, personal urge in relation to people who seem compelled to think, see, and act differently. On some occasions, I have managed conviction and complexity poorly. On others, I have managed them well. The challenge is to develop the habit, the discipline, of listening to other people to understand the complexity of science / faith relations in their lives.

As a person of faith, of conviction, listening changed my views of science. In the next posts, and in many posts to come, my specific science / faith convictions will become more apparent, and are already somewhat evident in my Science / Faith Bibliography. (But do not assume you can construct my views from my bibliography.) I make no pretensions of being objective or unbiased. I have convictions, after all. Can you listen to the complexity of my convictions, and of the convictions of others? Can I listen to yours?

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing personal opinion.”
Proverbs 18:2 NRSV


To be continued in “Conviction and Complexity 2.”

Comments Welcome!