I grew up in a family of avid readers. My dad will keep track of how many pages he reads each year. Then the next year, his goal is to read more than the previous year. I love a good competition. Another source of inspiration for my love of reading was Pizza Hut. They used to have the “Book It” program where you got free pizzas if you read enough books. Well I got so many free pizzas! MMMMMM! (I just googled it, I guess it’s still a thing… but it should be way more publicized. It’s such a good deal.)
But school gets harder and you have a lot more assigned readings… so I stopped reading as much. I still loved reading, I just felt like I didn’t have enough time. (super lame excuse, I know.) Then I got to graduate school and in the very first week, one of our professors said, “In order to be a good student, you should be reading at least 5 articles a day.”
WHAT?!!?! These are not fun fantasy novels with great plots. These are articles from scientific journals. I love science and I love learning, but even some of the best results can’t save most of these articles from the HORRIBLY boring way they’re written. Ugh! At first I fought this and I would maaaybe read 5 articles in a week… if it was a good week. But then as I got farther into research I started to understand that new information is coming out daily and it’s been recorded for centuries. That’s a lot of information that I need to catch up on and keep up to date on. I will never be able to read it all. I must start reading more this instant!!
(look at this rack of journals sitting in our office... and the ones below... and the stacks on the side...)
Every new article I read grows my knowledge. It teaches me something new. Even if it’s a worthless article, there will always be one useful lesson in it. (even if that’s the lesson of how not to set up an experiment)
So here’s where I get lost. There are a LOT of Christians out there whose view of God is that he’s “everything else.” Science can explain some things and then where science can’t answer the question, that’s God! This is often referred to as the “God of the Gaps.” To me that view is so inherently sad. Like I honestly feel so sorry for those people because their view of God is constantly getting smaller. They laud him as this almighty being who controls the universe, but EVERY DAY we learn more about our natural world through science, EVERY DAY we get more journals of knowledge that I’m too busy to read, and EVERY DAY their image of God becomes less and less.
Then you have the authentically Catholic view of God, which says that He isn’t “everything else”, He is “EVERYTHING”. Right there in the Old Testament it says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Every little bit of creation is shouting at us the beauty of our Lord. Knowing science leads me to understand Him better; it doesn’t take away from His greatness. When I read about how fossil records of “Ardi” a ~4.5 million-year-old hominid show how he progressed towards walking upright, I don’t walk up to a giant scoreboard and put one more in the nature column and take one away from God. Instead, I am in awe of the amazing things that God set in motion and the intricate details he included. There will always be more to discover, like an infinite “seek and find” book.
Over and over again the Bible invites us to know God deeper. A verse from my favorite book of the Bible says:
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you great things beyond the reach of your knowledge.” –Jeremiah 33:3
This world that God created is incredible, there is always so much more to know about Him and His creation! Some of it we must learn through prayer and calling out to Him as the verse from Jeremiah tells us to. But so much of it can be learned through scientific research. The two work together. When we start to view God and this natural world through that lens, our view of life gets so much bigger. Instead of saying “either/or” we must begin saying “both/and.”