The Invisible Why


imagesMy friend, Pedro S. Silva, recently made an interesting point, which is that Science and Faith both begin from the same place.  They both start with something that is invisible to the naked eye, approachable only through the functioning of the human mind.

In the case of science, all matter and energy begin with subatomic particles, mixtures of quarks and leptons in various configurations: interacting with each other at the behest of forces like gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force.  And yet, none of these elementary particles are seen, heard, tasted or touched.  Instead, we observe their effects on other things, or throw subatomic particles at each other at ridiculously high speeds to see what flies out when they collide.

And we see invisible things in other ways – using telescopes to see the universe as it was back in time, even up to shortly after the “Big Bang.”  Or, assembling myriads of data observations to find patterns that have would otherwise be hidden, patterns which have meaning to us, such as global warming, or economic trends, or opinion polls.  (…If you believe that opinion polls have meaning, which I often do not!)

Science is all about seeing the unseen, employing specific tools to help us see and appreciate things that were previously hidden from us.  Science is a useful tool, one we cannot ignore (even though some try).  Science helps us see clearly where seeing was not possible before.

Faith is no different: like Science, it also makes it possible to find meaning in the unseen.

Like Science, Faith also begins from an invisible place, a place that cannot be directly observed, a place that can be inferred only through its effects upon other things.  Those of us who are people of Faith call that place “God.”

Just like Science, Faith employs various tools to better understand the mystery of that which is invisible to our senses.  We read scriptures. We pray.  We look within ourselves and listen carefully to the unspoken thoughts, feelings and currents we find there.  We observe the world around us and find purpose and meaning in it.

Like Science, Faith sees a bigger pattern than can be discerned with the naked eye by beginning with those things that the naked eye cannot discern at all.  And yet, Faith differs from Science in one crucial aspect.  Science is about finding those patterns.  It is about the How and the Where and the When of things.  It is not about the Why of things.  Faith is about the greater purpose and direction of existence as a whole, and our individual existence.  Science focuses on the mechanics of that existence.

  • Why am I here?
  • Why am I, at all?
  • What purpose is there to my life?
  • What’s the point of life at all?

So, when I see folks dismiss the value Faith for whatever reason, such as because they believe that Science already tells us all about how the universe came to be; I am saddened, for they are not seeing the value of Faith in their lives.  They are confusing Fact with Truth…

Science tells us how the Universe started with nothing and came to be what it is.

Faith tells us why.

Science tells us how the Human body functions, and how various aspects of our environment, or our genes, influence our behavior and the quality of our lives.

Faith tells us why life is worth living.

Science tells us of all the wavelengths of light that are to be found in a rainbow, and can even tell us the chemical composition of the source from which that light came.

Faith tells us the Rainbow is beautiful, and how it is a reflection of God’s love for us.

Science helps us understand the World around us.

Faith helps us find hope within it.

Science tells us What we are.

Faith tells us Who we are.

Embrace both.

Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or gaining) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site).

Author: Allen

A would be historian turned IT Professional who responded to the call to the Ministry, and is now focused on social justice and community service. He is a father of two (ages 28 & 7). He and his wife enjoy life near Boston. You can follow Pastor Allen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PastorAllenV/ or on Twitter @allenvm3.

2 thoughts on “The Invisible Why”

  1. Someone on my FB page just posted a reenrfece to a sermon that contrasted hypocrisy from sin. The main point was that sometimes we have the desire to do something specific and we claim that desire out loud, but then we end up doing the opposite because we fall short of our goal. This would be an example of sin. Our desire is in the right place until it isn’t.Hypocrisy, on the other hand, is lying without shame, by claiming you are following a certain standard of conduct or adhering to a specific principle, when you know full well that you are not what you claim. This, also is sin, of course. But the difference is that you know what you are doing, and have no intention of changing.I think it’s easy to accuse people of hypocrisy before taking the time to investigate what is really happening in their hearts. For instance, if a pastor begins preaching a series on sexual purity and appears to be overwhelmed with passion regarding this topic, I tend to suspect that perhaps he is under conviction for something that is taking place in the shadows. If it is discovered that he actually is in the middle of an affair, I would not brand him a hypocrite yet. If he acknowledges his sin and is repentant, it is likely that all that talk about sexual purity was the Holy Spirit convicting him through his own sermons. In this case, the man needs grace, rather than condemnation for saying one thing and doing another. If, on the other hand, the pastor caught in an affair, sweeps it under a rug so to speak and then begins judging others in the church for their acts of sexual impropriety without humility or at least acknowledging his own sinfulness in this area, he is playing the hypocrite.An interesting example in the Bible of possible hypocrisy was when Nathan confronted David about his behavior toward Uriah after he found out that Bathsheba was pregnant. The hypocrisy revealed itself when David became judgmental toward the man in Nathan’s story who took his neighbor’s one sheep for a feast rather than using one from his own flock of hundreds. However, the hypocrisy was short-lived, because when David was confronted, he immediately took ownership of his sin, and started the process of repentance. A more blatant example of hypocrisy in the Bible is in the book of Acts, when Ananias and Sapphyra claimed without hesitation that they had sold their property and had given all of their money to the church. Both of them were struck dead when they were confronted by Peter.I think one difference between David and the New Testament couple was that David was wrestling with his conviction, even though he was trying to hide the evidence of his sin. Ananias and Sapphyra were purposefully trying to win approval of others through trickery and were unashamed of their lies. Another difference might be that David had a habit of showing his faults and weaknesses, based on several of the Psalms, but he allowed himself to get caught in a trap of his own making, and saw being confronted by Nathan for his lies as a way of escape. Ananias and Sapphyra had no reason to lie except to win the approval of others so when they were confronted with their lies, they felt no conviction toward the truth. Therefore, they were struck dead by God without mercy. I think another excellent example of hypocrisy was when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus’ statement he who is without sin, cast the first stone was confronting their judgmental attitudes toward the woman and toward Jesus, himself. Although we cannot know for sure, there might have been one or two of the men who actually slept with the woman at risk of stoning. These men would be considered hypocrites, in my opinion, because they were claiming to stand against the very sin they were committing and they knew without doubt what they were doing.I tend to think that spiritual blindness and hypocrisy are not the same thing. Therefore, the cries for mercy from Jesus on the cross and from Stephen during his stoning, Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do, were both attesting to the fact that the human judgment being poured upon them was still redeemable. And most likely, because of that call for mercy, people like Saul, who became Paul, and Peter and many others began the journey toward repentance. Ananias and Sapphyra did not receive that mercy because their eyes were wide open when they committed their sin.Hope this discussion helps somehow.

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