18 Dec Personal Memoir: God’s Creative Genius
Why recreate average when you can copy genius?
Most people do not understand that theology is quite different from religion. I define myself as theological, mainly because I reject the label of being religious. I agree with the assertion of C.S. Lewis (loosely paraphrased here) that theology is like a map that is based on experiencing God rather than merely learning and thinking about God through doctrine. Simply being religious is like learning about the earth and the fullness thereof yet experiencing the earth as if it were flat.
I am not theological by formal training and education, nor do I desire to be. My true desire is simply to know and experience God on a daily basis and to base my gift of life on knowing and experiencing God. As a Christian, I’m actually a bit put off when people label me as religious. Being a Christian essentially means I believe God is my creator, savior and comforter all at the same time. I’m put off because the modern use of the term “religious” is weighed down by underpinnings of sociocultural and sociopolitical thoughts that do not at all reflect my personal relationship or experience with God as creator, savior and comforter. I cannot argue with theological scholars nor participate in discourse about liberal or postmodern theology. My theological stance is based 100 percent on my direct personal experiences and encounters with God Himself beginning when I was five years of age.
Interestingly, most of my professional career has been as a research scientist. Science was something I was drawn to even as a child. In my 8th grade year at Homestead Junior High School, my science teacher, Mr Izadore, was hands down the best teacher of my entire life. I say that because his teaching opened up something inside of me that defined who I would become later in life. (I often regret that I never had the chance to go back and thank him for that.) I remember one Christmas as a kid begging my mother to give me a chemistry set for Christmas, which she did. As a youngster and teenager I imagined myself going to medical school, becoming a pediatrician, and spending my life just nurturing babies and children. I talked about it so much that occasionally when I visit my hometown someone will ask me if I am a doctor! However, when I walked into a research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in my sophomore year of college I realized a different calling. So, I ended up embarking on a career as a research scientist in honor of those days I spent doing experiments from that chemistry set I got for Christmas.
At the very foundation of my identity, I am and always have been a Christian (even when going through seasons when I did not behave, look, speak or even think like one). At times there was a war going on inside of me as my education progressed deeper and deeper into the thought process of scientific endeavors and scientific philosophy. Evolution was particularly troubling for me because I simply could not bring myself to believe it; I actually thought it was foolish. Noteworthy to me was the fact that evolution was being taught as if it were a scientific law rather than a theory. At the same time I was also being taught about the scientific method and how critically important it is to test a theory in order to move it from theory to law; so, the juxtaposition of the two teachings seemed contradictory to me.
As baffling as it may sound to some, the study of evolution served to deepened my theological understanding of God, precisely because the often unspoken (or categorically ignored) central issue in evolutionary theory is the existence or nonexistence of God. I eventually came to see the theory of evolution as simply a choice one made to refute or deny the existence of God and to accept a scientific narrative designed to support that choice.
Somewhere along the line in my college career I read The Structure of Scientific Revolution by Thomas Kuhn and things began to take shape as I better understood the underlying philosophy of science and the influence of scientific revolutions and paradigm shifts throughout the ages. What emerged for me as I read the book was actually a theological revelation. I walked away believing that, in its most basal form, man’s scientific endeavors were really about unraveling the science of God and the mysteries of God’s creation. Even when science seemingly refutes or denies the existence of God, as with the theory of evolution, the existence of God is still consciously or unconsciously, the central question. Even with atheism, God is still the central question.
My beliefs about the science of God’s creative works began to emerge even more so as I progressed in a career as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry. One day a fellow scientist asked me how my mind as a scientist can coexist with my mind as a Christian. I realized in that moment that I perceived the two as mutually inclusive and I said something that I had never heard myself say out loud before. To me scientific research had become the study, discovery and application of the underlying mechanics of God’s creation for the purpose of solving the problems of humanity. There is nothing in the universe that man has ever discovered that wasn’t already there with the potential to be discovered. For me research was a process by which the unknowns in the universe became the knowns that contributed to the expansion of scientific knowledge. As Kuhn eloquently points out, when new scientific knowledge is integrated into the consciousness of mankind, paradigm shifts often occur as old data are refuted and replaced by new data.
The more knowledge I gained through scientific research, the closer to God I became. I realized the truth of Psalm 13:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I came to know that full well by studying the biological, physiological, biochemical and physical mechanics of God’s creative works, particularly the human body. How cells work, how Krebs cycle works, or how the AIDS virus works are all explorations into the creative works of God. Scientific research became a way for me to dig deeper and deeper into the genius of the creator Himself. Scientific research became a way for me to personally experience the genius of God.
One of my role models often says, “Why recreate average when you can copy genius?” Everything that man has discovered since the beginning was already there and we simply shifted from a state of not knowing to a state of knowing. Everything that man has discovered since the beginning was put in place by God at the beginning. We simply build, refute and expand the knowledge base of humanity by becoming more aware of how God’s creation actually works, even if we do not acknowledge it as such. Discovering the science of God’s creative genius is an amazing human endeavor. I look for ways that I can copy God’s genius in how I interact, connect and engage with life, people and situations on a daily basis. It’s nice to know that God created with eternity in mind, allowing every day to be an opportunity to discover and copy genius.