A question of, or about, faith (or Faith)

by the Night Writer

A commenter on my last post, Uncle Raven — someone who has known my wife and I for some time — asked a great question in relation to my review of “Expelled”.

In the context of Evolution vs. ID or Big Science vs. Faith, do you believe the conception and birth of your girls was an event whose only adequate explanation is the extraordinary and direct intervention of God? Or do you allow for the possibility of Bad Science, i.e., that the RM’s physician misdiagnosed her condition? And, if that’s possible, how would it effect your beliefs?

Here’s my response (actually it should be my wife’s response because a great deal of it his her story, which I’m relating second hand because she’d gone to bed):

First, just to focus on our conception for the moment, my wife had had endometriosis several years before the two of us met. Her ob-gyn diagnosed it, treated it and performed surgery. Because of the place where she was in her life then and the things in her past that she was dealing with, she was sure she never wanted to have children anyway and told her doctor to tie her tubes as long as he was in there working on things. Which he did. Several years went by and the surgery was, well, shown to be effective at everything it was meant to do. During that time, however, she also found herself turning to God (since nothing else was working). Her heartfelt prayer eventually became, “God I want your will more than my own,” and “God, change me.”

She didn’t know what she was asking. We were married in October of 1987 (Uncle Raven was there) and pregnant in November. Did my wife fall to her knees, praising God for this miracle? No, she did not. She was not pleased, to say the least, because she was still of a mind that she didn’t want children. I won’t side-track into the things she (and I to some extent) went through over the next several months, but suffice it to say that she remembered what she had been praying — and we named our first daughter Faith. Five years later we deliberately set out to have a second child. We were very pleased with the way things had worked out with the first one and so we made a list of the sex (girl) and character traits and disposition we wanted in #2 and prayed together to become pregnant and for these traits to appear in her. At the very end of our prayer, and almost as a lark, my wife said, “Oh, and God, red hair and blue eyes would be really cute, Amen!” During the ensuing pregnancy we were often asked if we knew if “it” was a boy or a girl. We’d say, “Well, we asked God for a little girl.” The reaction was generally such that we didn’t feel encouraged to add, “and one with red hair and blue eyes.” Well, many of you know how that turned out, though I must confess my knees buckled when our second daughter was born with a full head of carrot-red hair. Not only that, but the other things we asked for, as well as a boatload of things we hadn’t even thought of, were deposited in her as well.

Now, I’m not saying that this should become anyone’s doctrine or that I think this “extraordinary and direct” intervention in any way means God loves my wife and I more than anyone else or has a special purpose for my daughters more special than the plans he has for everyone else. We take it simply as a sign God gave us to bolster our faith and to encourage us to look to him. If there’s more to it than that, we’re happy to wait and see.

Could the RM’s doctor have mis-diagnosed her extreme symptoms, or failed to perform the tubal ligation completely? Conceivably (pardon the pun). Perhaps we were just lucky, except there are dozens of other testimonies, maybe even hundreds if we could write them all down, in our lives where we know we have heard from and been directed by God and seen the result — and even some where we know we didn’t pay attention and missed out to our detriment and the detriment of others (sometimes I really wish we could have a burning bush or bolt of lightning something to tip us off but it hasn’t worked that way for us). Similarly, we have heard and even seen similar miraculous things happen in the lives of others we know. Quite often these results line up directly with how scripture describes the ways of God. Perhaps one day I’ll write a book about how all that works, but for now it’s time to get back to the question about Evolution and ID.

Because I’ve seen scripture come true in my life, it’s easier for me to believe that other scriptures about creation could also be true. Similarly, I’m not ignorant of science (the depth of my faith is a relatively recent development). I’m widely read in a number of genres, and I’ve swum in the waters of evolutionary theory throughout my schooling. I’ve done the fruit fly experiments in Science class, and I know that species can change and certain traits can be developed (as any animal breeder can tell you), but I don’t think I could ever so alter a fruit fly to where it could become say, a housefly or a dragonfly, let alone a chihuahua. Oh yeah, if you had biiilllliiioonnns of years well then anything could happen, right? Kind of like the old “an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters will eventually produce all the works of Shakespeare” theory (to which a dyed-in-the-wool evolutionist might say, “What makes you think Shakespeare wasn’t a monkey?”)

The thing is, the more “we” learn through science, the more complex the subject matter becomes. Scientists mapping the human genome have found that cells — thought to be the simplest of organisms — are really fantastically complex and the interactions within the cells and between cells are remarkably ordered. The odds that one cell could accidentally get the right combination of materials and events to come into existence, along with the ability to reproduce itself, is literally astronomical. That the cell could divide and multiply itself into an organism that could then meet up with some other organism and that these two would discover a lot more interesting way of reproducing than just cell division is, well, incredible. (Oh yeah, I still remember the stages of cell mitosis from lab class: interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telephase.)

Anyway, somehow or another — either by an incredibly fortuitous and accidental events or by someone or something lining the dominos up first — we’re here in all our wisdom and glory. The evolutionary model holds that order came out of chaos, but in everything else we see that something put in “order” (at least by man) quickly returns to disorder. Does Nature “know” something we don’t and if so, how? And does that “knowing” imply an intelligence at work? As scientists continue to delve deeper and deeper and learn more and more about how much it is they don’t know, couldn’t it be possible that many (who’s job after all is to hypothesize, test, record and try to replicate) might, even without a “Christian” or religious background, start to say, “Hmmmm?” Isn’t it reasonable that countless “reasonable” people might consider that life from random crystals, or space aliens “seeding” the earth or infinite monkeys typing out, not the works of Shakespeare, but infinite lines of DNA code sound just as mythic as Adam and Eve?

5 thoughts on “A question of, or about, faith (or Faith)

  1. An elegant and articulate response, NW, as always (you really need to write that book). However, like much of Mr. Stein’s movie, your “proof” is based on a logical fallacy — that since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one.

    There’s a difference between your personal proof, e.g., we prayed for x and got x, and the kind of repeatable, demonstrable proof that science demands.

    To me, faith and proof are two different things. My spiritual beliefs are based in faith. I don’t need proof of the existence of God that Stein and many religions are so anxious for everyone to acknowledge. To me, that just says, “Faith is not enough. Here’s the evidence that will really seal the deal.”

    I like Ben Stein. I once wanted to “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” I have not seen “Expelled” and I have no plans to see it now because I expect Ben Stein to deliver his trademark droll sarcasm, not “An Inconvenient Proof.”

    Like AlGore, your argument and Stein’s use emotion and faith (in Al’s case, environmental zealotry) in jumping to conclusions that are not grounded in proof. In Stein’s case and in your argument, the complexity of life alone is all the evidence one needs to conclude there must be a God. You just have to take a leap of faith.

    I’m sincerely glad you’ve experienced hundreds of testimonies that have deepened your faith. I’ve seen it transform you over the years.

    You said, “Because I’ve seen scripture come true in my life, it’s easier for me to believe that other scriptures about creation could also be true.”

    So I guess the question is: Do you need proof to have faith?

  2. I agree with you, Uncle Raven. Faith that needs proof is not faith at all. This movie is not about proving anything. Its about the fear that grips the scientific community because their theories prove nothing and they will not admit (or even discuss) that there could possibly be another answer. Their theories are not visible, measureable, and repeatable, which is how the scientific method is supposed to be applied. Its about their fear of man (instead of a fear of God, which, by the way, is the beginning of wisdom). It ultimately comes down to them refusing to acknowledge that there is a God, when the “proof” is so obvious and staring them right in the face. Faith in God doesn’t need proof. Evolution needs proof and there isn’t any.

  3. I’ll simply add that I don’t think God fears man’s doubts or is shy about revealing Himself or that he even minds doing so. In my younger days I demanded proof (and made a lot of young Baptist girls cry with my arguments) so ultimately God gave me proof. Looking back, he did so many times but I kept refusing to acknowledge it. Perhaps it finally sunk in because I really did want to know (and I hope that Myers, Dawkins, et al in their hearts have the same desire).

    Having been convinced for myself that there is a God (and that he’s not me), the question for me isn’t creation/evolution/ID, but “how, then, shall I live?” It also becomes a matter of saying, “does my world view affect my beliefs, or do my beliefs affect my world view?”

    My faith is strengthened in knowing what God has done for me, and it is encouraged in knowing that what he has done for me he will do for others.

  4. Oh, by the way, I don’t think Ben Stein mocked anyone he interviewed in the movie – he let people on both sides answer questions about what they believe without interruption or bug-eyed asides to the audience. Nor where there any trick questions; if anyone was made to look foolish it was by his or her own words (including the political naiveté of some of his ID subjects). I don’t recall any of his subjects even getting angry with him for his questioning, though Dawkins did get a little frustrated when Stein sought to verify that he didn’t believe in God, Yahweh, Krishna, Buddha or any diety. “Why do you even need to ask?” he responded.

    I could be blinded by my own bias, which is one of the reasons I plan to see it again so I can get a better handle on what is and isn’t in the movie.

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