Re: [asa] Does nature leads you to believe or to reject God?

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Sat Nov 28 2009 - 16:30:38 EST

Hi Oscar,

First, welcome to the ASA list! I hope you find it a stimulating forum for discussion of scientific and spiritual issues - even if it does get a bit rowdy at times! It's often a case of God's treasure in earthen vessels, I'm afraid!

On your main question, I'd offer the following;

Basically we have two issues here: the intellectual and the spiritual - and I think you need to be careful not to overlook the second whilst dealing with the first.

I think what your advisor needs is to come to recognize that the problem of suffering and evil isn't something from which God is remote, but it is something God shares with us by becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:10-18).

But just as God could only make that clear to us through Christ in the incarnation, so he can only make it clear to others through us as we ourselves bear witness to the incarnate one.

Part of that witness will be sharing with your advisor what God has taught you about the purpose of suffering - and remember it's suffering *without purpose* that most people find objectionable. Like the rest of us, I'm sure you feel you have no profound answers here - but the greater part will simply be living your life as a Christian, pointing to the glory and grace of God in both your own experience and in the world he has created.

And notice that I'm talking about "what God has taught you". I'm talking about the deep assurance of the spirit rather than a good intellectual argument that you might find in a book or on the internet. Such arguments might speak volumes to some folk at some point in their lives, but I think that unless God has really imprinted them on YOUR heart, then you shouldn't be offering them to others except as a nice idea to kick around.

What I'm suggesting is that you be honest with God first, and then with yourself, and then with him. Sometimes "I don't know why God allows all this suffering and death, but I do know a world this full of beauty and wonder doesn't happen by chance" is good enough to remind folk that not all the arguments run one way.

Over and above that, it's the Holy Spirit's task to open his eyes.

So, I don't have a "formula" that you can apply to get your advisor to turn back to his lost faith - all I can do is encourage you to prayerfully reflect upon some of the other advice already given, and to seek from God himself the wisdom to bear witness, by word and deed, to the work of Christ in your own life.

I will say, though, that from what you write, you seem to have a passion for pursuing biology as God's calling on your life. That's a pretty good place to start, in my opinion. And if you can just go on in your studies understanding that everything you discover is testimony to the glory and grace of the creator, rejoicing in and praising God for even the dark side of the created order (and, yes, you'll have to get God to teach you how to do that), then I'm sure that God will be with you in all things - including your relationships with your advisor.

I'll be praying for you on the journey - and I look forward to hearing what you discover on the way.


> Hello Asaers.
> I ask this question in this forum for this reason: I have started this
> year my PhD studies in Ecology; and this topic appeared while I was
> talking with my advisor. He is a well known ecologist with several years
> of experience in the Neotropics. Mean while I was discussing my research
> proposal, which is in the effects of climate change on birds, we swifted
> to social causes of environmental degradation and he expressed his
> interest in how religious communities impact the environment.
> I told him how I worked with a faith-based institution in my country to
> get christians towards nature conservation and the opennes that we found
> in poor rural communities; also explained him what is the responsible
> stewardship of creation and how to interpret the bible. He defined
> himself as a atheist but not a "hard-core" hater of religion. He was
> raised as a baptist, his parents are christian; but he lossed his faith
> while studying nature and as he told me, understood how cruel,
> irrational and senseless the interactions of animals are.
> Then I felt free to share how I became a christian a year before I
> entered the University when I was 16, to study my bachelor's degree as a
> biologist. I did see Biology as the wonders of God's creation; also how
> I became a young earth creationist (It was impossible to be an
> evangelical christian and not be a creationist in the fundamentalist
> environmment where I lived) and later a Theistic evolutionist.
> The time for the interview reached an end, but he wants to talk more
> about this, I know that he has a strong spiritual need.
> I will not advocate intelligent design or something similar to convince
> him that God is present in nature, I know that ID is not science. But if
> he thinks that nature led him to reject God, what can I say? Any advice
> of how to preach to your advisor?
> Thanks,
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Received on Sat Nov 28 16:31:07 2009

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