Science and Religion. The existence of God. These are very interesting topics to me. It seems so easy, so very easy for online discussions on the topic to spring up, seemingly out of nowhere. I've read so many of these discussions - both formal and informal, written by laymen, scholars, and those in-between. I always get drawn into the topic and while on one hand I want to kick myself after reading the same debate yet again, I feel that I hopefully glean just a little bit more understanding of various viewpoints each time. And while I am dismayed by the tone taken at times in this thread by my fellow theists, this conversation is no exception to offering insight.
In fact, this thread holds a more interesting variety of viewpoints than any debate or discussion I can remember offhand. It holds everything from mathematical proofs, to mystical numerical interpretation of Ancient Hebrew (mystical is not meant as an insult), to working definitions of Atheism, to quotes from Carl Sagan - a true wealth of viewpoints and opinions.
In full disclosure, I am technically an Evangelical Christian. I also have a love and fascination with all things scientific, even though I have no formal training past requisite "101" classes that were part of a liberal arts college education. I continue, not without questioning and outright struggling at times, to believe in God and in the divinity of Christ. I do seem to get hints of empirical evidence of a higher being in my life, but they are only anecdotal. A perfectly timed blessing here, an unexpected solution to a problem there. And certain thoughts seem to point me to divinity.
An example of this would be the observation that for every increase in human knowledge, there seems to be an exponentially greater increase of what we are aware that we do not know. But, this is not necessarily conclusive evidence of a master puppeteer. Another example would be the mere existence of anything at all, and our continuing lack of knowledge as to how matter came into existence in the first place. I have seen physicist's theories on the subject, but they don't appease me. However, perhaps I can just not wrap my head around such a large question. In any case, scientific and empirical direct evidences for theism fall flat to me, personally. While I am no great philosopher, I too see pretzel logic and evidences that are either less-than-compelling or explainable in simpler ways. I do enjoy reading and learning about them, though. Perhaps one will ring true to me some day.
And while there may be elements of history, literature, myth, and poetry to the Bible, and even vague correlation with scientific principals, it will forever be, to me, a book of theology. Therefore, it needs not coincide with science, or even logic, to have great value to me. For me, I think that faith and science will forever be separate "lenses" on our existence. For better or for worse, I feel a different kind of understanding inside me that leads me to connect with what I believe to be a greater, sentient love. It is a discipline that I cannot necessarily explain with logic, nor do I feel that I need to.
At the same time, I have great respect for Atheists and Agnostics. I respect their viewpoint. It is rational and solid. It does not keep them from living a full life or from doing great good in the world. In my humble opinion, it does not even mean that they cannot respond to the will of God, do God's good work, and even receive an eternal reward. In fact, I would propose to other Christians that Atheists have at least as good a chance to end up in heaven as a believer.
I do have fears regarding arguments/ debates/ discussions such as these that happen online and in meatspace. I fear that they will polarize people further, separating us into deeper factions, creating undue strife. I fear that theists may be too fearful of changes to life and relationships to admit less fervor than they purport. Perhaps I am guilty of this at times. I also fear that Atheists and agnostics may not yield to the "still, small voice" inside that is the gentle urging of the spirit, for fear of ridicule or cognitive dissonance, thus giving up what I find to be a valuable "lens" in my everyday life that brings great fulfillment, challenge, and ultimately joy.