It’s funny the way I develop a prejudice about certain books just by reading a page or two. I bring that up because I’ve been reading a book called The Science of God, by Gerald L. Schroeder. I’ve had it for a while and started to read it once or twice but just couldn’t get into it, for a couple of reasons; one, it’s got math formulas in it, always a turn off.
But there’s another reason. Books written by scientists that attempt to reconcile science and religion, specifically science and religion of the Judeo-Christian variety usually begin by assuming that it’s religion that must somehow measure up to science. Faith starts at a disadvantage that it never seems to be able to overcome. Even if that’s not the intention of an author, and I don’t believe it’s Schroeder’s, the idea still underlies the message. It’s taken for granted now that science has made the Bible obsolete, a relic of those unenlightened days before our generation. If you suggest that the Bible is true and that, if there seems to be a contradiction between science and Revelation, there isn’t, we just don’t fully understand one or the other, you’re thought to be an old fuddy duddy. The idea is so preposterous; it’s dismissed out of hand.
In these circumstances, my prejudgment is to wonder if books like The Science of God aren’t an exercise in futility. If a scientist, who is also a Bible scholar, writes a book that does a pretty good job of reconciling science and Revelation, does it matter? I’m not sure it does. Obviously he hasn’t had any impact on people like Richard Dawkins who are devoted, may I say faithful, atheists; their minds are closed to anything beyond what they can see and in some way measure. As Yogi Berra once said, “There are some people who, if they don’t already know, you can’t tell them.”
Yet, as Christians we have to tell them. While our best minds have rather foolishly chosen to so limit themselves to what’s right under their noses, they can be very effective to people who have never been told that there’s another case to be made. People have become conditioned to think that science can answer every question; just look at all the goodies technology delivers every day. How can the best scientists be mistaken? They forget that those scientists are themselves human and prone to make mistakes, mistakes with eternal consequences. As for those scientists, they can’t see the forest for the trees, as Schroeder writes, they find “. . .it difficult, perhaps impossible, to internalize intellectually the Biblical concept that nature is just one manifest aspect of a Unity transcending all existence and therefore subservient to it.” It’s hard to overcome that kind of thinking, but we need to try.
Books like The Science of God are part of the answer, and it won’t hurt if Christians read it, and others like it, and become familiar with the latest scientific information. It wouldn’t hurt if more Christians read the books written by these secular materialists as well, in order to understand and be able to refute their arguments. Faith must have some ground in reason (and science) if it is to grow at all. It’s also critical that Christians, and Catholics especially, become more familiar with the basic tenants of their faith; we’re all called, as Peter says, to give an explanation of what we believe. I believe Peter was well aware that if someone unfamiliar with the faith asks you a question, you should be able to give at least a rough answer. Doing so shows that person that there are good reasons to be Christian. I say this because, when it comes to the deepest truths, I think there are many people who, if they don’t know, you can tell them, if you try.