My belief in God is not founded on evidence from the physical world. I believe because I am in a relationship with Him. I’ve gotten to know Him. I recognize his voice in others.
I want to argue that some of the suspicion that exists between certain Mormon Saints and science is grounded in not recognizing this relationship is the fundamental relation in knowing God. Oddly enough I see the fundamentalist atheists and LDS saints who fear evolution as arguing from the same flawed assumptions.
What both the evangelical atheists and those Mormons suspicious of science, have in common is that they argue for reading God off the features of the physical world. They’ve both made a category mistake. Russell’s quip when asked what he would say when be met God face-to-face at the judgment bar, “I will tell Him He just did not give me enough evidence.” Sums up this view nicely. That’s because both groups think that somehow God should be found inferentially in the physical facts of the universe—and when Russell, Dawkins, or Dennett don’t see evidence they howl at the believers. Then the believers scramble to give answer and you end up with things like Intelligent Design or the God of the Gaps aficionados, who look for God in what is missing from science—“Look you don’t have a fossil transition from Homo erectus to Homo heidelbergensis there’s where God did His work,” or “Science doesn’t have an answer of how life begin so that’s where God did his labor.” Then when science closes that gap, such theologians have to keep retreating into narrower and narrower spaces and the atheists make an induction that the gap is going to keep narrowing until God is gone. This results in inappropriate suspicions from both camps that science is against a belief in God. The trouble is both the fanatical atheists and the modern natural theologians have moved the battle to the wrong place.
The presence of God is found in inwardness, as Kierkegaard argued. God’s grace is his willingness to be known. Directly. Not found as part of a scientific deduction. This is where the fear of evolution goes astray. It’s granting to the physical materialists that God must be found as a certain reading of the physical evidence. But that’s not the way it works. God is only found by opening a relationship with Him, then, as He teaches you, you begin to recognize His voice in others who speak in His name, you recognize (or even find it first) His voice in scripture. You get to know Him directly. That is when He can open greater truths and views to your sight. These truths are often metaphorical, musical, found in gestures of grace in our lives, directions we take as we are led in unsuspected ways, and as suggestions to our mind though one of the greatest sources of knowledge about God: the scriptures. I’ve always pitied literalists because they miss so much of the depth and power the scriptures have to offer.
The naïve view that we must protect our belief in God from the physical facts of the universe (like evolution, big bang etc.) generates harm because it suggests that God can only work in our lives like we can—as a physical mechanic that intervenes in simple manipulations of matter (God took a handful of dust and made it into a body like an advanced claymation creature). No. Unlike the atheists, and those believers who have joined with them, in thinking the battle is fought in the physical world, I suggest that they look towards building a relationship with God in the inward reaches of their soul. That’s where the atheists will find the evidence they seek, and the believers will find they don’t need to protect our religion from the findings of science. And what they’ll find once they discover (the atheists), or trust (the threatened believers), this relationship with God in inwardness, they’ll find that God permeates the physical universe in ways they never expected.