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A Matter of Faith

Length: 16 pages14 minutes


John had long ago found a philosophically neutral ground between his own christian upbringing and his chosen field of study; evolutionary biology. He had struggled for many years over the disparity between the Bible's explanations of the origins of life and the best theories derived from the collected scientific evidence from the last several centuries. For decades of his life, during and after college, he studied and questioned in equal measure, finally reaching a philosophy that satisfied both his questing mind and his need to lay certain burdens at the feet of powers greater than himself. He would have faith in science to explain the what, the when, the where, and the how but not the why. He would rely on philosophy and his faith in powers greater than himself to address the question of why. Now, he wondered how he should address these people in Harpersville who had found no such peace within themselves. They were like a threatened crab with it pincers always raised in defense, poised for battle, as if the world of science was somehow directly assaulting them through their beliefs.

In the collapsing cavern, results began to appear on the readout screens even as water reached John and Stan's ankles. The goo was filled with the known chemical precursors of life and they watched a display screen as spheres of lipids formed and reformed trapping and concentrating the amino acids. Then a proto-cell divided and another cell floated by and absorbed the recently divided proto-cell: replication, metabolism; life. “We've found it!” John shouted just as the generators sputtered to a halt. The lights and all of the equipment went dead. The darkness was absolute and felt heavy, restricting John's breathing. Flash lights came on light fireflies all round the cavern.

“It's all destroyed, diluted, ruined and now buried in the cave ... lost for all time.” John's disappointment and grief overwhelmed even his anger at the audacity of the church member for assailing his purpose at a time like this. John wondered, Could it be? Did God arrange the world to prevent him from exposing this evidence? No! His own belief in the scientific process asserted itself. “My team and I know the truth! We saw the evidence,” he said. “We know the truth! God's words guide us. We have faith,” the man responded.

With flash of clarity, John realized that this divide would never be closed. With religious faith, no evidence is needed. In fact, faith is believing in absence of evidence. With science, evidence is required to accept the truth of something. Where did that leave him. His discovery was gone. All he had left was his own faith in science, in the process of science. It was his faith versus another's faith.

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