Okay, to catch us up from last time, I started this e-mail exchange with a gentleman (named for the purposes of this blog, B) who attended a panel I was on at InConjunction about whether science and religion can peacefully coexist. My answer, in short, was I hope so since I’m both a scientist and a hack theologian. Both need to give the other room to do what they do as well as allow one to inform the other as needed. There will be times when science will clarify matters of faith just like there will be times when faith can temper our sometimes irrational admiration for the rational.

And yes, I realize that as the constant skeptic and the black guy, we’d be the first two people killed in a horror movie.

Anyway, here was my response to the initial e-mail. I basically try to get at where the person is coming from and see if there is any common ground that we might share:

there are “word games” i may seem to play. for example, i know you are probably going to react poorly when i use faith and certainty, but i truly don’t mean them in a strictly supernatural/spiritual sense. for example, i truly believe all quest journeys begin with a leap of faith, that is, what we choose to put our trust in. for some, it is ourselves (the individual or humanity). for some, it is science (the determination of our senses). for some, it is the spiritual (under the assumption that there is more to this life than presented, both in terms of the spiritual and in terms of after this life). and there is/can be some overlap.

the other is with certainty. i know we seemed to cross swords on that one. i think there are things that we can know for certain (eg, how photosynthesis works) but that’s different from having an attitude of certainty. when i say that true spirituality and true science abhor certainty, it is because an attitude of certainty stops you from questioning. once you’re certain, you “know” and not only do you close your mind to further conversations, but there is no point in further investigation.

ceding to the cold embrace of science as our epistemology, i guess that would only leave me with a couple of choices in terms of my world view: become a humanist or become a nihilist (if i were to remove God from the equation of my life, i’m pretty much left with these options if i am being intellectually honest). would that be a fair assessment?

although i’m curious, i would think that being an atheist would be enough. everyone’s beliefs are their own and folks tend to get prickly with religious/social movements when they seek to convert. how is your need to “spread the message” about “what the truth is” make you any different from any other evangelistic religion except with differing precepts?

Actually, B’s e-mail also led to more thoughts about why and how Wrath and I manage to get along. We have a mutual respect for one another. I also have come to believe that we’re more alike than not or at least cut from similar cloth. We actually want similar end results in people. We want them living up to their full potential, and see the lack of it—not living up to what we were created to be—as a “sin”. That might be either me couching my faith as a form of Christian humanism or me couching humanism in spiritual language. Either way, I see it as a logical extension of my faith to move outward and be a blessing to others. I believe that faith or any truth claim is only as real as I see it lived out in the proclaimers life. In other words, is how you are anything that I’m interested in being? Because if it’s not, and if my life isn’t anything anyone else would be interested in, all of the words in the dictionary isn’t going to convince anyone of the truth of your faith.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.