Science and Faith Part 2: Naive Realism and Other Forms of Reasoning (Guest Post)

Science and Faith Part 2

 

If you missed Part 1, find it here.

My name is Elizabeth (or Lizzie, if you’re into shortening names). I have the pleasure of holding your attention for a few short moments as I share with you some of my current musings on life.

A bit about me: in 2013, I graduated from the Christian school where I had spent eight out of eighteen years of my life. I have been a Christian for the majority of my life, but don’t ask me for how long; I’m not a logistics kind of gal. I am the kind of person to tell you which colors look best together and which notes sound pleasing together. I am an advocate for stewardship and minimalism, over frivolous living and consumerism. I believe knowledge is power, and that we should never become complacent in our quest for knowledge. I am a relational, social, introspective, creative, dominantly right-brained individual. And above all, I believe there is a God and that He created me and, well, everything.

I told you all of that because mankind’s beliefs are all planted and nurtured by who we are as biological, relational and spiritual beings. We are never the same person we were an hour earlier. Minute by minute, we are tackling new problems that shape who we are and influence the decisions we make in the future. We are evolving creatures, and that is a wonderful thing. Imagine living with the same world view that you had when you were your 13 year old self. Not so much fun! We have acquired our own, unique world views which have resulted from our life experiences, and so continue to change.

Perhaps now you are saying to yourself, “Well, what exactly does she mean by world view’?” Basically, I’m referring to the way we interpret our reality and everything that goes on in the world around us. World views vary from culture to culture and person to person. We express it in  many ways, one of which is spirituality.

For most people who have grown up in a Christian home, I think it is fair to say that we have grown up with the belief that we all hold the same perceptions of how God fits into the world and that things are exactly the way we’ve been taught they are in Sunday school. In the psychology world, this is something known as “naive realism”- the belief that we see the world for precisely how it is and that we are without bias to these beliefs.This type of thinking is one of the most prevalent threats to the church. It holds the power to break relationships, to cause bickering and hatred.

There are a lot of “hot topic” items of conversation that are currently floating through  conversation circles. Can you guess them? I’m thinking of things like sexuality, pro-life/pro-choice, legalizing marijuana, creationism/evolutionism etc… You might think that all Christians have the same views on these topics. After all, we all read the same Bible, worship the same God, perhaps even belong to the same denomination. But we don’t, and this is where our different worldviews are at play. Our perceptions of God, ourselves, and the world around us, cause us to formulate our own unique take on life.

Where I see this idea causing the most conflict today is between people who have difficulty agreeing to disagree on any subject that is important to them. For instance, on the topic of how and when God created the earth.

On my own personal journey of answering this question, I have come to the conclusion that there is no scientifically or historically accurate way of knowing the answer to this question. However, finding this answer will not really change my faith. God created the world. And it was/is good.

For some, this is not a satisfying enough answer for them and so they come up with a firm belief based on as many facts possible. These can be contrived from scriptures, history and science. Once these hypotheses are formulated, some stick to them like Epoxy. They believe that if things are not their way, then there is no way; and everyone who believes in something else is wrong. This type of thinking can harden us to the real vision for Christ’s kingdom, which is to build up the community of Christ-followers, based on love.

There are a multitude of angles you can take on each of the aforementioned “hot topics.” You may end up turning them around in your head until you feel dizzy with mental exhaustion.  My advice, straight and simple? First, look to scriptures, for everything. We can’t trust our emotions or our senses to know what’s right from wrong. And second, know this: despite your denomination, despite what you think is right, despite your world view and despite any conflict you have with a fellow member of the church, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Our mission on this earth is not to create conflict or to know every single answer about God. Our mission is to share the love that Christ has for his people. Don’t let legalities and religious acts blind you from sharing Christ’s love with others and building up his kingdom.

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