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Exploring the Puzzling Paradox of the Existence of a Christian Scientist
A christian scientist.
I have always wondered what exactly such an oxymoron meant.
How does a person separate his or her beliefs regarding the creation of the universe while simultaneously analyzing the logic within the world around him or her? Isn’t the term, “Christian scientist”, a bit of a paradox itself? Can someone who believes in the existence of God, which has been a controversial debate since the plague, also hold an occupation in the art of understanding the world solely through substantial evidence such as empirical observations?
In C.S. Lewis’s “Obstinacy in Belief” lies a response to the thought provoking question: “Can a Christian scientist actually exist?”
Lewis is a bit of a genius in that his answer seems so simple, though not many come to such a solution upon first thought. According to his “Obstinacy in Belief”, to put it simply, knowing is different from believing.
For example, I know gravity exists; that is a demonstrative fact. No one ever says, “I believe gravity exists”, because that sounds ridiculous.
If you go to the emergency room because you accidentally ingested something toxic, your doctor wouldn’t say, “I believe you have poison running through your bloodstream” unless the doctor was very unsure of himself in which then he should not be practicing medicine. Any professional doctor would say “You have poison in your bloodstream” because after tests, he or she has confirmed what has demonstrative evidence.
This is science. This is knowing.
Not including those who claim to “know” that God exist, the general consensus is that religious people believe rather than know. After all, isn’t having faith a constituent aspect of religion?
A person’s religion has to do more so with their beliefs rather than concrete knowledge.
For those of you who took swimming lessons, think back to the first time your instructor let go of you, let you float on what is evidently a permeable surface. Despite how much we as humans are not biologically programmed to even enter the waters, we trusted our instructor; we trusted the seemingly impossible task of floating on a substance that normally would not be able to hold even a rock. Despite this, you had faith that in the end, everything was going to be okay, and that’s what C.S. Lewis means when he distinguishes believing from knowing.
Any person, religious or not, has gone through some experience in which he or she had to put his or her faith into someone or something else, even if the solution makes no sense.
In another example, look at the mechanism behind the Chinese finger trap. Logically, when your hand is stuck, you want to pull yourself out; however, with the finger trap, the more you pull the tighter the trap constricts you. And just when your friend or teacher or whoever introduced you to the odd device revealed to you the solution, you believed them. You believed the very person who put you in the trap when he or she claimed that the way to get out is to push in, to dig yourself a little deeper into the trap, which will loosen the bind up for your fingers to escape. Even if that person deceived you, you chose to have faith in the solution, in the apparent impossibility.
Religion revolves around having faith in some higher power, someone whom a person has a personal connection with —so personal that he or she is willing to believe in His guidance, His scriptures, despite the lack of evidence or rationale behind the moral code each specific religion follows.
Believing is different from knowing.
A person’s occupation as a scientist or any other job revolving around logic involves concrete knowledge and demonstrative evidence, not beliefs, while a person’s religion and spiritual connection with God is based on a sense of trust, a sense of faith.
Essentially, because believing and knowing are two separate spheres, a Christian and a scientist do in fact exist within the same realm, as their basic foundations —one stemmed from demonstrative evidence and the other from belief— do not contradict each other.