The Hike

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					                                                             The Hike:
                                                  Exploring the Relationship
                                                  Between Science and Faith

                                                          By Emily N. Capo

   G         alileo did not think that science
             and faith were incompatible. In
             fact, it is likely that he did not
see any need for reconciliation whatsoever,
for a reconciliation presupposes a divorce.
                                                   twine to reveal a greater understanding of
                                                   our creator and His role in our lives. “We
                                                   should seek the inconvertible sense of the
                                                   Bible with the assistance of demonstrated
                                                                                                    addressed, however, we have to dissect them,
                                                                                                    digging down to the core arguments and
                                                                                                    determining whether or not we agree with
                                                                                                    them. It is a waste of time to talk about
                                                                                                    science, faith and “conflicts” between them
Science and faith, Galileo argued, are depen-          I heartily agree with Galileo that science   if there is no God behind it all. Whereas
dent on each other, and not separated like oil     and faith should be taken together in our        Galileo wrote to the Grand Duchess under
and water. In his Letter to the Grand Duchess      pursuit of truth. While science allows us to     the assumption that his audience did be-
he writes, “I do not feel obliged to believe       better understand God, faith gives us pur-       lieve in God as the omnipotent creator of
that the same God who has endowed us with          pose and final cause for all things we find      the universe, we usually have no such luxury
senses, reason, and intellect has intended us      scientifically.                                  to make such an assumption. Thus we can-
to forgo their use and by some other means             Yet, despite this view, many conflicts       not, like Galileo, skip this enormous step in
to give us knowledge which we can attain by        seem to arise in a discussion of science and     showing why science and faith depend on
them.” For Galileo, faith and science inter-       faith. Before the conflicts can be properly      each other. If we did, how then could we se-

8                                      “Skepticism is the beginning of Faith.” - Oscar Wilde                                      The Fish
riously consider God’s will and God’s word?        George, our hiker, is a biologist studying can-
God simply comes first in the philosophy.          cer, curious about the mechanisms involved                      THE HIKE
    It is not my intention to prove the ex-        in metastasis1. He first asks “What makes a
istence of a God. Rather, I intend only to         tumor metastasize?”                                             By Emily N. Capo
demonstrate that if one asserts that God ex-          With this question George begins his
ists, pursuing science and faith in conjunction    hike, with each answer leading him to more         sponse: when you become a doctor, he said,
may not be so irrational. I have developed         questions. For instance, if George tracks          you lose part of your humanity—you be-
an illustration for the establishment of this      the migration of tumor cells through mem-          come somewhat immune to death in order
God, and though it is no doubt imperfect, I        branes in culture wells, he may wonder next        to continue serving those who are still alive.
hope that it will provide a way of looking at      what would happen if there were endothelial           No matter how good a doctor or re-
how this crucial step allows faith and science
to be applied together to better understand
this God. The illustration begins with a per-
                                                        Experiments, ideas, failures, successes
son asking a question.
    It doesn’t really matter what question. If               —hiking, tripping, falling,
this person is curious at all he will most defi-
nitely be asking questions from the day he be-                jumping, getting dirty—
gins to talk. The question could be anything
from “What is the color of that flower?” to
“Where do babies come from?” Obviously,
                                                                 science is a hike.
the second question demands a more elabo-
rate answer, but regardless of the question,       tissue in the bottoms of the wells. Would          searcher George may become, he is still on
curiosity leads into a question cascade such       the tissue attract the tumor cells? It turns       this hike in pursuit of truth, and is compelled
that he next wonders “Why is the flower that       out that this is the case. Is there a difference   to continue. Either he loses part of his hu-
color?” and “How do zygotes form?” Ques-           between lymphatic and vascular endothelial         manity, trying to become immune to death
tions lead to more questions. Few answers          tissue? It turns out that there is, and the        and pain in order to help people, or he must
satisfy lingering curiosity.                       tumors are more attracted to the lymphatic         face that horrid question of WHY. Why is
                                                   endothelial cells. What proteins are involved      there pain? Why are we here if so much of
The Hike                                           in signaling between the endothelial cell and      life is suffering? Why is the earth so compli-
                                                   the tumors? Tumor cells apparently send out        cated that we humans with all of our reason-
    Imagine the person asking these questions      vascular endothelial growth factors C and D        ing faculties cannot understand it?
is hiking down a steep cavern seeking truth        to make lymphatic vessels grow towards the             Indeed, we cannot understand. Science is
at the bottom. The reason the first question       tumor, thus facilitating metastasis. How is        limited. At this point, George’s path becomes
does not matter is because it is merely one        George figuring all this out? Experiments,         a vertical drop into a cavern, and George can-
of many trailheads to a long path of inqui-        ideas, failures, successes—hiking, tripping,       not see a bottom. He stands over the cliff
ry. With each question, the hiker seeks to         falling, jumping, getting dirty—science is a       and looks, debating whether or not to try to
go further down, and with each answer he           hike.                                              continue seeking answers to the plethora of
is able to step onto lower ground. At the              Though this is probably more than you          excessively difficult questions. Looking up,
outset, the hiker does not see a bottom, but       planned to learn about metastasis, the truth       he sees a narrow bridge connecting his cliff
curiosity drives him onward. Sometimes             George uncovers may be affecting people            to the bluff on the other side of the canyon.
he slips and comes to new knowledge ac-            you know and love, though I hope this is not       Beyond the bridge there is a clear path that
cidentally, and other times he cautiously          the case. Cancer won’t kill them: metastasis       leads upward along the other hill. Though
steps down after much consideration of the         of cancer will. It is the metastasis that ironi-   we as spectators might think that George’s
move, and perhaps after much testing of the        cally is under-researched, and so George’s         choice is clear, and that he should cross the
ground beneath him. Sometimes he requires          curiosity is amplified by the cry of thousands     bridge, to do so would mean crossing what
the aid of trail markers, or direction from        of suffering people suffocating to death as        seems to be an infinite chasm. Furthermore,
other people, especially at first. For many        the cancer gets to their lungs or as too much      up until now, George has been going only
questions, he is able to find answers from         brain radiation leads to memory loss. Sci-         down to find answers, while the path across
people more knowledgeable than he. Later           ence now is not a nature walk, but a serious       from him goes up. The choice is somewhat
questions, however, prove to be too difficult      struggle on a steep, rocky path that becomes       counterintuitive and possibly unsafe. Yet,
for anyone to answer succinctly, or perhaps        difficult to navigate with new questions con-      at the same time, he has come so far. To go
demand more than human knowledge can               stantly appearing and creating a labyrinth out     back up the way he came would be counter-
answer. For instance, questions like ‘What is      of George’s route.                                 productive, and to stay where he is would
Freedom?’ or ‘Is string theory true?’ cannot           I once spoke with a neurosurgeon
really be answered completely.                     about what it is was like to become a doc-         1 Metastasis is the spread of individual tumor
    Perhaps this hike would be better de-          tor. My idealistic vision of the glamorous         cells through various parts of the body. The
scribed with a more concrete example.              life in medicine was shattered by his re-          lymph nodes, liver and bone marrow are usually
                                                                                                      affected first.

On Science and Faith
                                                        “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
                                               To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” - St. Thomas Aquinas                           9
                                                       Why. George soon finds that it doesn’t mat-         in projected images of truth instead of the
              THE HIKE                                 ter what you ask—God is behind it all. The          truth itself, people on the Godless side of the
                                                       hike continues upward, and with each step           bridge see only images of God’s truth on the
          By Emily N. Capo                             up, George answers more questions, but now          other side, and do not understand or experi-
                                                       with a new foundation, on the new ground            ence the truth themselves. Where the will
mean remaining in his despair and wallowing            of God. With each question, he grows
in the question of Why.                                to know God better, and with each ac-
    What would it mean to cross the bridge?            quisition of new insight he becomes
What is on the other side? The bridge is               happier and happier that he crossed          What of conflict?
faith. Faith is the means we use to make
sense of things we do not know or under-
                                                       that bridge of faith, for he gradually re-
                                                       alizes that even if he cannot obtain all
                                                                                                                   God can do
stand, such as the answer to Why. By cross-
ing the cavern on the bridge of faith, we ac-
                                                       knowledge of the universe himself, he
                                                       can rely on the God who created that
                                                                                                           whatever He wants.
cept that our science is limited by our own            universe. In essence, God gives access       Why?
inability to answer questions, and we require          to knowledge through Himself. If you
a separate explanation other than what our             want to know what is in a recipe, you             Because He created it.
minds can muster. What does the bridge of              ask the chef. If you want to know the
faith get you? God.                                    inspiration for a painting, you ask the
    Even if George is uncertain about God,             artist. This creation is no different. Thus,        of God does not answer why things are they
and about crossing a bridge that seems par-            science and the pursuit of truth become the         way they are, the images of faith and religion
ticularly precarious, he decides that he could         study of God’s creation.                            on the other side of the cavern seem con-
at least try it. He is, after all, still curious. He   Science leads us to limitations which are           fusing, misleading, and perhaps even fool-
could come back if he changes his mind. He             breached only through faith. Faith in God           ish. But with God, the gradual path towards
still has questions, and he sees a path of an-         then gives us access to new knowledge, due          understanding Him and His creation makes
swers on the other side, and even if the path          to the supposition that God created every-          faith seem a necessary component to science
goes up instead of down, maybe he would                thing. Science and Faith by this description        and religion a desirable practice of worship-
learn something useful. As he clearly knows            are thus united.                                    ing this marvelous, omnipotent divinity.
from his scientific journey so far, failure is                                                                 Galileo could be an example of someone
one of the best ways to learn. George de-              Conflicts                                           who had crossed the bridge. Science for
cides to cross the bridge.                                                                                 Galileo was a way of learning about God;
    When he gets to the other side, he says,               I propose that all people face the bridge       science and faith intermingle and bolster
“Well, let me just assume that there is a God,         at some point in their lives. The bridge is         each other so he can understand not only
and that He is the source of all knowledge,            located in a different spot for each indi-          Why, but What and How as well. Thus,
                                                                                 vidual; some reach        Galileo, knowing why, most likely set out to
                                                                                 it earlier in life, and   find the What and How about the universe
In essence, God gives access to knowledge                                        some later, but it all    as a way to know God better. Each thing he
                                                                                                           learned must have fascinated him, not only
      through Himself.                                                           depends on when
                                                                                 they choose to ask        because it satisfied curiosity, but also because
If you want to know what is in a                                                 that big question of      the mere idea of a creator of so intricate a
                                                                                                           system seemed to have simply bedazzled his
                                                                                 Why. Some folks
      recipe, you ask the chef.                                                  choose not cross          senses. Whereas without God science leads
                                                                                                           to a limiting, painful conclusion of discon-
If you want to know the inspiration for a                                        the bridge at all,
                                                                                                           tented curiosity, science with faith in God
                                                                                 but continue trying
      painting, you ask the artist.                                              to find answers on        provides intense joy.
                                                                                                               What of conflict? God can do whatever
This creation is no different.                                                   their own, despite
                                                                                 the steepness of the      He wants. Why? Because He created it. If
      Thus, science and the pursuit of                                           path of questioning.      I made a small figure out of a piece of clay, I
                                                                                                           can make it any way I want, and also change
                                                                                 If they, on their
      truth become the study of God’s                                            path without God,         it or destroy it if I so desired. God has this
                                                                                                           ability and right over His creation as well.
      creation.                                                                  hear about religion,
                                                                                                           There is no conflict in what He does. But is
                                                                                 or something called
                                                                                 faith, OF COURSE          there purpose in what He does? If so, what
                                                                                 there are incon-          is it?
as He is the creator of everything. His will           sistencies and conflicts: they have not yet             When we make figures out of clay, we
governs the entire universe. This is why I             established the supposition of God. As in           usually have a purpose in doing so, even if
exist. This is why everything exists. Because          Plato’s cave, where the unenlightened people        the purpose is mere amusement. I do not
He wills it.” God provides an answer to                in chains are forced to look at a wall covered      suggest that God created us simply for His

10                                                                                                                                         The Fish
            “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.”
                                                        - Clive Staples Lewis
own entertainment, but I do think that if he          ly, because I can’t possibly know all of His
bothered to create something so detailed and          purpose—I just know that there is one—and                         THE HIKE
so complicated that he didn’t do it out of ob-        reason convinces me that God neither cre-
ligation or from boredom but rather because           ated me nor my mother just so that we would                       By Emily N. Capo
He has great plans for it all. As I articulated       both cease to exist. If my presupposition is
earlier, I do not believe that humans can pos-        right, I am next led to believe that God, who           let us walk through the door.
sibly understand all of knowledge, which              created all, did not create it in vain, but rather
includes a great deal about God’s purpose.            with good purpose.                                      The stone is rolled back, not papier-
Yet, once I establish this omnipotent God as              I accept, as did Galileo, that I cannot             mâché,
my presupposition for explanation, I reason           know everything there is to know within this            not stone in a story,
that this God does things with purpose. Un-           lifetime. The human mind is limited in its              but the vast rock of materiality that in
covering His purpose for my life is my rea-           faculties and abilities, and even though we             the slow
son for pursuing science.                             believe in an omnipotent God, we cannot                 grinding of time will eclipse for each

                                                                                                              of us
                      do not suggest that God created us                                                      the wide light of day.

                      simply for His own entertainment,                                                       And if we will have an Angel at the
                 but I do think that if he bothered to cre-                                                   tomb,
                                                                                                              make it a real angel,
                 ate something so detailed and so compli-                                                     weighty with Max Planck’s quanta,
                 cated that he didn’t do it out of obliga-                                                    vivid with hair,
                                                                                                              opaque in the dawn light, robed in real
                 tion or from boredom but rather because                                                      linen
                 He has great plans for it all.                                                               spun on a definite loom.

    If you still want conflict, then take me,         completely conceive of His omnipotence.                 Let us not seek to make it less mon-
professing to be on the other side of the             Our faith bridges the space between what we             strous,
bridge, gradually coming to know God and              know and that which we can not. Science                 for our own convenience, our own
His purpose for me and all that goes on in            minimizes the gap between what we know                  sense of beauty,
my life, and now add this: my mother re-              and what we can know. Science and faith                 lest, awakened in some unthinkable
cently died of metastatic breast cancer. That         then should be employed simultaneously to               hour, we are
very disease George studied, leading him to           achieve the greatest level of truth possible in         embarrassed by the miracle,
despair in the question of Why, killed my             our lifetime.                                           and crushed by remonstrance.
mother at the age of 50. Both during her              The complexities we reveal in science only
illness and after her death, I researched the         make God seem more amazing. John Up-                     How marvelous it is to know the reality
disease at Mt. Sinai Medical School. I know           dike elegantly describes the Gospel in Seven         and tangibility of God’s creation! How es-
in very exact terms what happened to my               Stanzas on the Resurrection:                         sential it is to understand the facets of bodily
mother. I know how the tumor cells got into                                                                pain that Christ underwent in spilling his
her lungs and brain. I know about the pro-               Make no mistake: if He rose at all                blood, real blood, for the sake of the world!
teins that carried those satanic little cells all        it was as his body.                               Clinging to the realness and the naturalness
over her body. I know quite specifically how             If the cells’ dissolution did not reverse,        brings us to understand that science does not
she died. Believe it or not, knowing all this is         the molecules                                     destroy the faith—it affirms it! Studying the
remarkably comforting, because even in this              reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the             natural world not only impresses the scien-
wretched period of grief, I see God working              Church will fall.                                 tist of faith with the wonders of God’s cre-
with good reason.                                                                                          ation, but the resulting knowledge can also
    How could I possibly lose my mother                  The same hinged thumbs and toes,                  be extremely practical for scientists in serv-
when I’m 19-years-old and never once doubt               The same valved heart                             ing that creation. Whereas science and faith
God or His good purpose? Perhaps I am                    that-pierced-died, withered, paused,              individually might be limited, combining the
not of sound mind, but I am assuredly not                and then                                          physical and the metaphysical for the pursuit
the only person of faith who feels this way.             regathered out of enduring Might                  of truth gives way to enormous spiritual and
In fact, since all of their philosophy of life is        new strength to enclose.                          scientific progress. In conclusion, science
based on the existence of this God, a great                                                                and faith are not only compatible, but they
many people of faith are driven by reason                Let us not mock God with metaphor,                even compliment each other, in that together
to think that God’s will underlies everything            analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;             finite humans can achieve the greatest pos-
that happens. Why did she die? Because                   making of the event a parable, a sign             sible understanding of nature of which they
God desired it that way. Doesn’t this make               painted in the                                    are capable.
me angry at God’s purpose? No, not real-                 faded credulity of earlier ages:

On Science and Faith
                                                     “Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable.
                                                    But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.” - H. L. Mencken                     11

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