The Convergence of Science, Art, and Faith

Modern Science was a weapon of liberalism, Art was too. Faith fought these tools of the devil. Meet age 16-22 year old me.

Courtney and I went to church this last Thursday to hear a speaker by the name of Mike Mchargue–one of the growing number of voices that don't find careful science, art, and faith to be antithetical–but rather interdependent. At this point I hear the Agnostic/Atheist shake their head and chuckle while many followers of Jesus might nod with a smile and think I'm talking about the people from Answers in Genesis–not so much.

Mike—who goes by "Science Mike"—is a follower of Jesus and Southern Baptist Deacon who became an Atheist through reading Dawkins, pretended for two years to be a believer while he continued being a deacon, ended up telling Rob Bell why he was wrong in person and the next day accepted communion from him after an encounter with God that he could not dismiss. (you can listen to a more detailed version here or on the video below) He continues to be a science junkie, Theistic Evolutionist, Southern Baptist Deacon, and now a contributor to The Liturgists project. Exactly the sort of person whose story I would have written off a few years ago. It is an age old story of people coming to know Jesus by means that church people don't approve of.

Another fellow who brought these three items together was Gerard Manly Hopkins, one of my favorite poets and one of the forerunners of Modern poetry:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; Bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

 

Hopkins believed that the deepest essence of all things art and science directed us toward God–he called that essence "inscape". Science Mike agrees. He talked about numerous studies by scientists (who are atheists, deists, and believers alike) who studied brain scans of people who pray. Here are some hyper condensed highlights:

 

  • When people of genuine faith prayed to a loving transcendent consciousness, they activated the same brain centers that light up when you talk to an old friend. This was not repeatable when talking to consciousness that you didn't believe existed.
  • People who saw God as primarily disappointed and wrathful made decisions out of the part of their brain that disengages logic and acts out of anger (it has been shown that it is impossible to be angry and use logical reasoning via your pre-frontal cortex at the same time).
  • People who saw God as primarily loving and compassionate had an increasingly developed section of the brain that acts out of compassion and empathy and connects directly the the pre-frontal logic center.
  • People who centered prayer around the love of God for 30 minutes a day felt distinctly closer to God, had lower blood pressure, and greater sense of calm.

Don't go reposting these as 'proof' of God's existence. All it proves is that science backs up the notion that 1) people's belief in God is genuine in motivation 2) the practice of prayer toward and belief in a loving and compassionate God is not only compatible with being human, it actually is healthier for our brains.

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As I mentioned, there is a growing group of people who don't see modern science, art, and faith as antithetical. They are in your churches (and no not trying to take over with their liberal illuminati agenda) and often disenfranchised, hurt, or afraid–which leads me to one more science tidbit:

  • People make logical decisions based on social identity rather than picking social identity based on logical decisions. If you disenfranchise someone, they will likely join the other disenfranchised in their belief (or lack thereof).

If you'd like to hear more specific details on Science Mike I'd check out the internets, but here is a good place to start.