In my life experience, most of the atheists I have come to know have impressed me with their strong sense of morality and ethics. As a missionary, I honed my ability to find common ground beliefs and build upon them however this was especially challenging when it came to atheists. I became fascinated with the idea of understanding God in the purest (religion free) way and being able to explain this in the simplest and most direct manner. For the past seven years or so this process has stayed with me and I have been cultivating these ideas. Throughout the years I have shared my thoughts with a select few to gain new perspectives. By means of this blog I hope to accomplish this now at an accelerated pace.
The sum of my observations of people of various religious backgrounds is that the humanity at large follows a process analogous to the scientific method. Those who understand the history of religion and science can surely appreciate the irony of this statement however, I am convinced that our spirituality is a follows a set of scientific rules and that theses rules, if better understood, would help alleviate much of the frustration felt in our trial and error approach to know God.
"Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."
Wikipedia offers us a linearized, pragmatic scheme as a guideline (which I have slightly modified):
1. Define the question
2. Gather information and resources (observe)
3. Form hypothesis
4. Perform experiment
5a. Collect data
5b. Analyze data
5c. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
6. Publish results
7. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)
In religious terms I offer up a parallel:
7. Repeat as desired
The fundamental difference is that the soul is the recording instrument. As we have no present means to extract this information directly from a person's soul we must rely on their testimony. Arguably, data from scientific experiments are more reliable as they are not subject to misinterpretations, exageration or lies; or are they? Is this not the importance of retesting a published scientific conclusion? If the experiment is reproduced with the exact specifications of the origional it should produce the same results and I submit the same holds true to spiritual matters.
If one man plants a seed and tends for it and another man goes and does the same does it garantee that either seed will grow? Consider that if a man says, "Plant this seed for it is good," and it is done to no avail what are the possible reasons why the seed did not grow? The same reasons could be aplied to why religion does not work the way people say it does. I submit that those who frequently experience God's joy in their life is the direct result of understanding this process to some degree or another.
Those who know me best, understand that I am the kind of person who wonders why the grass is green. Those same people understand that I can not leave a question unanswered and so I will always try to offer up the best explanation that I have at the time. In my attempt at such, I may come across as as a "know-it-all" unless you understand that deep down, I am praying that someone has a better answer; because as much as I love teaching I love learning that much more. Therefore, I will tell you why the grass is green however, this blog is the place to one-up me; and if you are successful you will be considered the friend to my soul.
"Green" is a word used to describe a color in the English language. It means nothing in and of itself unless an agreement on the usage of the word has been established. Typically, we come these types of agreements rather quickly if you consider that as a child someone shows you a color and tells you that it's "green" and you call it such from that point forward. What about the color blind? Those with red-green color blindness sometimes confuse the two colors when presented with each other. Here we have cause for disagreement that is typically overruled by the majority; leaving the minority to be labeled as abnormal. Science has discovered the cause of the abnormality but in order to do so, science had to define green as, "a light spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570-nm," and a nanometer (nm) as a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a meter. Furthermore, for these definitions to have any meaning, a metric system had to have been established. To appreciate the measures (pardon the pun) taken to ensure this consistency in the metric system great lengths (sorry) were taken. The following describes the history of the meter:
"[A] meter was originally defined as 1⁄10,000,000 of the distance between the North Pole and Earth's equator as measured along the meridian passing through Paris... The meter was later redefined as the length of a particular bar of platinum-iridium alloy; then in terms of the wavelength of light emitted by a specified atomic transition; and now is defined as the distance travelled by light in an absolute vacuum during 1⁄299,792,458 of a second."
Thus, the green that we see in grass is the result of a light spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of aprox. 545nm reflecting off the chlorophyll within the cells of the plant. All of this to illustrate that our entire reality is based on relevant perception. We measure one thing by comparing it to another.
What about the touchy-feely stuff? How do we measure love or joy? The implication is that the same process applies when it comes to spiritual matters and even understanding God. Although I do not believe that by any temporal means we can measure an infinite God, I do believe that by using a standardized system we can make tremendous advances in understanding His creation and thus the Creator Himself. By a means of spiritual reverse engineering, I believe that science can help those of faith to understand their creator and in doing so we stand to gain a greater understanding of God's nature. May this increase in understanding lead to wisdom and a "unity of faith" (Eph 4:13).