FAQ: How can I simultaneously be a web developer and a Christian?
The popular narrative of science/reason vs. faith/ignorance obscures the reality that faith and science go hand in hand
All right, it’s confession time. I’m a Christian. I used to debate atheists online as part of a science vs. faith tug-of-war. In hindsight, I’m ashamed of my actions. Such debates were rarely beneficial or fruitful and essentially were just a way for each person to vent their point of view.
However, that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a very important topic. And there’s likely a larger grey area away from the extreme poles where folks are genuinely interested in various points of view and exploring a more nuanced take on the the storied relationship between the Christian faith and science.
I want to be careful as I tred back into this subject because I’m not interested in yet again entering into unfruitful debate. Rather, what I would like to do is simply make some observations as I’ve personally wrestled with science and faith in my own life.
I’m a bona fide geek. I watch Star Trek, read blogs about 3D printers, cheer when SpaceX capsules reach their destinations, and follow news of the search for the Higgs boson particle with fervor. I spend much of my time solving problems of logic as a programmer working in the web industry. I tend to be a skeptic who needs a clear, detailed explanation of anything from trustworthy sources before I’m going to accept it as fact.
I’m a Christian. I pray, I meditate, I read the Bible. I belong to a couple of Christian fellowships that meet at homes regularly and worship Jesus. I believe in God’s supernatural gifts as recorded in the New Testament. I’ve both participated in and witnessed prophecy, healing, and other miracles. I “speak in tongues” (a spiritual prayer language) on occasion.
To some, those two paragraphs stand in stark contrast to each other. The first statement is logical, reasonable, sensible. A celebration of science and modern technology. The second statement is illogical, foolish, fanciful. A bunch of nonsense and wishful thinking by a weak mind.
To me, those statements are simultaenously reasonable and an important facet of who I am as an individual. I’d like to share three observations I’ve made about how this can be.
- God is revealed in the natural world – if you’re looking out for Him. When I admire the beauty of nature, the emotional experiences I have when I fall in love or become a new parent, the incredible order found in DNA or the solar system, the way a piece of music or a work of visual art moves me to tears…these things constantly point me towards the conclusion that, in fact, we are not alone. (And I’m not talking about aliens!) We exist in a creation, a designed universe. It’s not all happenstance…a random outcome from blind forces. The disorder, chaos, corruption, and evil we may find in the world around us appear to mar what is otherwise exemplary. They aren’t reasons to doubt, but reasons to seek further why evil exists alongside good, chaos exists alongside order.
- It’s OK to be a skeptic. When Thomas, one of Jesus disciples, heard from his fellow disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to them, Thomas boldly stated that unless he could feel the holes in Jesus’ hands and the wound in Jesus’ side as a result of torture and crucifixion, he simply wouldn’t believe the news. When Gideon, one of the most famous judges of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament, heard from God when he was but a young lad that he would be leading the people of Israel out of bondage to foreign tribes, he put God on trial through a variety of tests before he would accept that prophecy. Many of the great heroes of the faith argued with God, wrestled with angels, and sometimes received a direct command and ran in the opposite direction. God isn’t afraid of skepticism. He simply works around it.
- I could never become an atheist – I’ve seen too much. We can debate what it means to be a Christian when “it’s but one of thousands of religions” or it has this thing or that thing wrong with it or what horrible thing somebody’s done in Jesus’ name or what contradictions it has with this theory or that theory. But there’s one factor that’s simply not up for debate: what I’ve seen with my two eyes and heard with my two ears. You can call me a liar if you wish, but you can’t argue with this: I’ve seen people supernaturally healed of severe ailments. I’ve heard prophecies from complete strangers that were totally accurate. I’ve experienced God’s voice directing me in my life at times when I was frustrated, confused, and depressed – and His leading has always brought amazing and unexpected blessings. Even further still, I personally have prayed for people to be healed and seen results. I personally have prophecied over complete strangers and they verified its accuracy. I’m not saying this to place myself on some kind of pedestal. I’m a nobody. I’m a regular dude just like anyone. There’s nothing special about me whatsoever. But God is good, Jesus is alive, and the Holy Spirit is active and powerful in the lives of Christian believers today. I’ve seen, and I believe. For me to leave God behind, I’d have to talk myself out of a myriad of mindblowing memories and basically assume I spent years being completely delusional.
OK man, now you’re scaring me
I fully recognize that, if you’re reading this and you’re not a Christian and especially if you don’t believe in any supernatural possibilities, what I’m saying just sounds ridiculous and hard to believe. Maybe I am delusional. But if that is indeed the case, it sure doesn’t seem to be interferring with my ability to accomplish some pretty useful – and in some cases highly technical – tasks in the “real world” we all live in. Yes, you can be a Christian and a techy at the same time. Strange but true.
Now I’m not trying to convince you or convert you with one article. My goal is simply to open a doorway to the thought that, wow, maybe, just maybe there’s more to life than work, play, sex, games, fame, fortune, and a burial at the end with an appropriate eulogy. Maybe, just maybe you don’t have to check your brain at the door to explore the possibilities of a spiritual life. Maybe, just maybe God isn’t dead and Nietzsche had it wrong.
Maybe, just maybe God really loves you and cares about you, more than you could possibly imagine.
I could be wrong.
But I could be right. Isn’t that worth finding out?