Leonard: Does belief in God require an intellectual leap?
I love what I get to do. The organization I work for, SEARCH, walks alongside people who want to ask the big questions in life around life, faith, and meaning. “How did we get here?” “Is there a God?” “What’s the purpose of life?” The biggies!
We answer the questions from the Christian perspective and usually offer our two cents after everyone has posed their thoughts to the group. I think that the place to begin revolves around the biggest question, “Is there a God?” My hopes in this column are to see if it requires a leap of faith to believe that something or someone, intelligent and powerful beyond comprehension, put everything into motion.
For just a minute or two (or 700 more words), I want you to take a step back and look at the 30,000-foot perspective of what goes into making life as we know it work. Think about Earth and its placement in the solar system with regard to the sun. It maintains the perfect distance so that we don’t burn up or freeze to death. And it’s mathematically precise day after day, month after month and year after year. We know when the sun will rise and set all year long because of its preciseness/predictability.
Now let’s move in closer and talk, for just a second, about the harmony of photosynthesis and most living creatures (humans and animals). In case you forgot, photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. This generally involves chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.
Consider this machine: Earth rotates around the sun, the sun allows for the growth of plants which we, and the animals, eat, and also breathe of the oxygen they give off. Throw in some water that grows crops and that we drink, which ironically makes up about 70% of our planet, and you can probably see where I am going with this. All of these systems are working together in harmony, somehow. Like a Swiss watch, every part is doing its job. “Wow! It’s amazing how all of the parts of this watch came together accidentally to tell time perfectly!” said no one. Ever.
Let’s dive a little deeper now. The complexities of the human body are beyond comprehension. The brain alone, said to contain roughly 100 billion neurons with the ability to store 100 terabytes of information (possibly up to 2.5 petabytes … google it), is beyond remarkable. Add 30 trillion cells, over 600 hundreds muscles, organs, blood cells, and DNA and your mind should be blown!
Yet, when boy meets girl they are magically able to produce offspring containing all of the above. Is that random chance over time or is there an all-wise creator behind it? Dr. Francis Collins, the American physician-geneticist who led the human genome project that sequenced and mapped the billions of genes in the human body from October 1, 1990, until April 2003, after seeing how truly complex the body is, came to faith after “investigating” Jesus.
He said that because of his science background he examined the evidence and all of the parts of the puzzle fit perfectly. Interestingly enough many pioneers of modern science were Christians too: Descartes, Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Lock, Pasteur, Copernicus, Faraday and Kelvin. Contrary to popular belief, faith and science can (and should) go hand in hand. But that’s another discussion for another day.
Lastly, when we put the complexity of the universe alongside the complexity of the human body, and we see how well those two work in conjunction with one another, we’re left with very little need for an intellectual leap of faith to believe that there is something, or someone (God), out there. Around the year 1000 BC, the king of Israel was the infamous King David. He wrote in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” yet he had no idea of its complexities.
If you’re interested in exploring the Christian faith, have questions about it, or would like to hear some great answers to tough questions, I’d love to point you toward a new podcast we/SEARCH just started putting out. It’s called, “The Search Podcast: Discussing Life’s Big Questions” and our first three are, “Who Created God?”, “Why even bother with God?”, and “Absolute truth and morality.”
Someone once said that it takes more faith to not believe in God than it does to believe in God. Though mysterious and complex, I couldn’t agree more. In my almost t20 years in this line of work I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to come alongside high schoolers, college students, young adults, married couples with young families and even retired and elderly friends to talk through, what I believe, are the most important questions we’ll ever ask. If you’d like to begin the journey, I’d love to hear from you.
Scott Leonard is the area director for Search Vail Valley. You can reach him at email@example.com
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