How can a scientist believe in God? I am asked this quite a lot. And it is a good question, since many people seem to think that faith and reason are incompatible, and perhaps even opposites. There is an erroneous idea that while scientists are always open minded and searching for new ways to see truth, people of faith â€œhave it all figured outâ€ or just believe they know the final dogmatic truth, which cannot change. Of course many scientists (maybe most) are open minded, and many religious people are dogmatic and insistent on their views. But the reverse is also true. Open minded people are open minded about reason and faith, and close minded people are dogmatic about science and faith.
I happen to be a very open minded person (so open, I sometimes wonder if I even have a mind left). This has been useful to me as a scientist, and also, later when I found I could no longer resist the call of Christ to join with Him, and accept His gifts of love and salvation.
So, how does being a Christian and a scientist at the same time work? First of all, I admit that we human beings, special as I believe we are, (see most of my recent posts about this) are still almost completely ignorant about how reality actually works. Knowledge about the universe is a God given gift, and science is the tool that man uses to understand the truth of the creation. Even Adam, the first true man, gave names to things, classification being one of the first required steps in understanding nature. But scientific experimentation, hypothesis generation, theoretical model building, and all the tools of science are not the only ways to experience and understand truth. If it were, then all the nonscientists in the world (99.99% of humanity) would be ignorant fools. And I know that isnâ€™t true.
Miles Davis was not a scientist, and yet the truth that came from his horn was pure and irrefutable. I have friends who are painters, musicians, poets, and philosophers, and they too teach me undeniable truths about reality.
I have also discovered that there are quite a few believing scientists, most of them far more accomplished in both science and theology, than I am. John Polkinghorne, a brilliant physicist, is a great source of inspiration. He and many others see pointers to a majestic creative God, not only in all of life and human interactions, but even within the scientific data that uncover so many of the strange facts about the physical universe.
I am not saying that science can be used to prove Godâ€™s existence. It cannot. But what I believe is that while we tend to separate natural from supernatural, that is probably not correct. Everything that is real (including God, and His miracles) is natural. I donâ€™t believe all the tools we need to investigate nature lie within the realm of scientific research. Other tools, including prayer, meditation, worship, (and of course all the creative arts) are just as important.
Meanwhile, like most scientists, and most theologians, we must admit that we have much to learn, and that every answer we find leads to more questions. This is the nature of both the path of reason and the path of faith, and I have come to believe that these paths are parallel, leading to the same converging truth.