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Humility | How to Hold Knowledge

We explore the tensions between truth and knowledge and humility in science and in faith.


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snail in leaves

We explore the tensions between truth and knowledge and humility in science and in faith.

Description

Both science and the Christian faith share a commitment to humility. Each also provides us with a perspective of the world which we believe to be true. How then do we hold onto these things we believe to be true and be open to the fact that we can’t know everything? In this episode we explore that tension, looking into the deeper meaning of humility in the realms of both science and faith.

Before You Read

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Transcript

Stump:

Welcome to Language of God. I’m Jim Stump. And today we’re going to explore humility. It’s a virtue we talk about a lot at BioLogos, but it’s also one of those words, like grace or righteousness or courage, which are words that have a rich history and depth but also have lost some of their meaning in our culture which often prefers simplicity to nuance. Humility is pretty clearly an important virtue for Christians, but it also plays a vital role in science. The science and faith dialogue has often been marked by a lack of humility, either by scientists who claim that their knowledge of the world is complete and deny any kind of spiritual truth, or by Christians who deny scientific conclusions based on the confidence they have in certain biblical interpretations.

Like our other themed episodes we’ve done, our producer Colin has taken the lead in this. Colin, can you set this up for us?

Hoogerwerf:

Hey Jim. Today’s episode is in going to be in three parts. First, we’ll dive into the meaning of the word humility. Second, we’ll think about how a humble person approaches important questions and beliefs, like the ones raised by science. And third, we’ll hear about how humility is an important part of the scientific method. 

We interviewed our first guest back in February when you and I could actually sit down with her in our office studio. 

Stump:

Oh yes… that was fun.

[musical interlude]

Part One

Stump: 

Rolling?

Hoogerwerf:

Yep.

Stump: 

So we like to start by just having you state what your name and position is so that we can take that and put it into—so this says I’m Charlotte, I’m professor of whatever.

vanOyen-Witvliet

Sure. I’m Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet and I’m a professor of psychology at Hope College. 

Hoogerwerf:

Charlotte is going to help us start by thinking about this word, humility. To do that let’s try and think about humility as a space that lies between two extremes.

vanOyen-Witvliet

So it’s not like the pusillanimous snail who gravels in lowly unworthiness without anything to offer. But humility also isn’t the arrogant peacock who has everything figured out without any limitations or constraints, with nothing to learn. Right? 

So it’s this space of seeing clearly, who one is and understanding one’s positions. And there can be confidence associated with humility. There’s also a receptivity to the input of others and a willingness, intellectually, I think, to examine and engage and test those claims and to determine again, what is right, what’s accurate, and what do we do about that. So a humble person is not primarily concerned with being the one who’s right. A humble person is primarily concerned with learning what is right and what is true and acting on it.

Stump:

It’s easy for us to contrast humility with Charlotte’s arrogant peacock. And the most common understanding of what humility is, I think, is comparison to that kind of behavior and to traits like selfishness and egoism or over-confidence. We’re told to have some humility when we act as if we know all the answers, especially when it’s clear that we don’t. But there is another end to this spectrum which is less often thought of in relation to humility which is pusillanimity—is that what she called it? Pusillanimity. I always think of the Wizard of Oz and the cowardly lion when I hear that word. We might define it as cowardliness, or complete unconfidence. So far this is good Ancient Greek philosophy, which looked at virtues as the mean between extremes—you have arrogance on the one side and a kind of cowardly abasement on the other.

Hoogerwerf:

Yes, but sometimes that space in the middle can be a narrow one and difficult to identify clearly. Let’s go back to that word humility and see what we can learn. 

Ó Tuama

I looked up the etymology of humility and one of the considered backgrounds for humility is indeed humus, the earth or the ground. 

Hoogerwerf:

This is Padraig Ó Tuama, a theologian and a poet. 

Ó Tuama

There’s also humilis, meaning low or slight and lots of words in various languages. I looked up Irish and English and Hebrew and Greek and they all seem to kind of indicate something to do with lowering oneself or the ground.

Hoogerwerf: 

The lowering aspect of humility I think is one that is helpful. Humility is the understanding that each of us is only a part of something that is much bigger than we are. In that sense, to gain humility it’s useful to have some knowledge of the scale of the world around us. This goes in two directions. First, outward. As we study astronomy we become a smaller and smaller part of the universe. 

Let’s take a quick tour. [music begins]

At about 260 miles away, the international space station floats in space. 

Stump:

Out further: 238,900 miles is the moon. That’s about the farthest we humans have ever travelled away from the earth. 

Hoogerwerf:

We’ll have to skip all the planets and the sun because we don’t have time. Instead we go to Voyager 1, the furthest man made object in space, which took 35 years to leave our solar system and reach interstellar space. 

Stump:

Voyager 1’s next stop: a star called AC +79 3888. It’s going to take it about 40,000 years to get there.  

Hoogerwerf:

That’s not even close to the edge of the observable universe which is about 46 billion light years away. And that’s only what we can see. 

Stump: 

Feeling small yet?

Hoogerwerf:

Well let’s go the other direction. As we study biology and physics we see that we are by no means the smallest of things. Of course there are living things much smaller than us, including microorganisms like bacteria and viruses which live inside us and actually outnumber human cells 10 to 1. 

Stump:

That means there are trillions of microorganisms inside each of us. All of that stuff is made out of atoms, right?

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah, and each human cell might have 100 trillion atoms. 

Stump:

Each atom has a nucleus which is only a small fraction of the size of the atom and that’s made of protons and neutrons and those are made of quarks, which as far as we know can’t be broken down any further. 

Hoogerwerf:

Now just to put this into perspective, even the most new and powerful microscopes can barely show us an atom, let alone a quark, so we have only known they exist because of how they affect the things we can see.  This all starts to place us a bit. [music ends]

We can look at our species and we can see that while we are special in many ways, we are not almighty and we are not all-knowing. We can also place ourselves as individuals, realizing that we are one in a group.

vanOyen-Witvliet

Yeah, it seems that one important feature of humility is being other focused more than self-focused. And so that emphasis on what can be learned and how another’s perspective could be important. 

Hoogerwerf:

As you dig into this word, you start to realize that humility is closely tied to many other concepts.

vanOyen-Witvliet

Humility plays an important role in other relational virtues that we show toward God and toward other people. For example humility seems very important in the practice of gratitude. To be able to see something as gift, one needs to see oneself as the recipient of a good gift by a gracious giver. And that means that we’re less arrogant, right? Entitlement is at odds with gratitude just as that arrogant entitlement is at odds with humility. And one who is low in humility because they are pusillanimous or snail-like or wormly and groveling and feel they are deserving of nothing   also may be inhibited in some way from really experiencing and expressing gratitude as the virtue because they may somehow distort what the other person is really doing and giving to them and the value of that in their own life when they become self-absorbed with their own imperfections and inadequacies. That can distort things.

Stump: 

OK, so humility sounds like this really good and important trait, if we get it right there in the middle; in the sweet spot between the extremes. The tendency, I suspect, though is to keep leaning toward one extreme or the other, which is not so good, right?

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah, I think that’s right. Padraig had a good story about another word which has connections to humility. 

Ó Tuama

What’s really interesting is that the word humiliation also comes from the same etymology. And I have never been, I have yet to see where a situation of public humiliation has led to a person changing their mind for the better, because that hurts. And I have had the experiences where people who have been horrible to me, I have heard them be humiliated in public. Somebody once who said something abhorrent to me in a public forum. I heard him be decimated by a professional colleague of his on the BBC a few weeks later. And it gave me no pleasure. Much and all as I would’ve liked him to have said sorry for the awful things he’d said to me in public, it gave me no pleasure to hear him be ripped apart a few weeks later. And so it’s interesting to think about the shared history of this etymology: humble, humiliation. How do we do this to each other? Do we seek our knowledge to prove ourselves to be correct? Or do we seek our knowledge to seek further knowledge? I think that’s always an ethical question about how do you hold your history and how do you hold your knowledge?

Stump:

The challenge back the other way, then is moving toward the extreme of hubris and certainty. And this is where things can get complicated, we see this in the faith and science dialogue all time, where we are in dialogue with people who believe differently about some important thing. And we want to be open to hear what they have to say, but we’re also pretty sure and confident of our own position. So how might we approach that kind of tension? How do we proceed with conviction in our beliefs while also being open to information we learn about the world which might be asking us to change some of what we believe? 

vanOyen-Witvliet

I think a humble person can be deeply convicted of something and can be quite certain about it and still be receptive to engage how new perspectives and information intersects or refines or hones or raises questions that need to be engaged so that one can be deeply committed and a humble learner. And so how do you robustly seek to discern what is and how it is and to have a deep sense that this is true and to also have a humble sense that there are things we can learn and that we are historically located, we are culturally located, that we see through a glass darkly and someday we will see face to face. There are things yet to be revealed to us, nuances, even ways of engaging what we believe really is true that we can mature into, and to be receptive in that while rigorous and robust in our pursuits.

[musical interlude]

Part Two

Hoogerwerf:

Have you ever heard a story that was just too outrageous to believe and just didn’t fit the rules of the world as you’ve experienced it?

Ó Tuama

Do you want me to tell the story?

Hoogerwerf: 

Yes. 

Ó Tuama

Is that helpful?

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah, yeah. 

Ó Tuama

So my mother said to me once in the middle of the conversation, “did I ever tell you about the time that our lady appeared to me?” And I wasn’t even half listening. So I suddenly began to listen and I said “no you didn’t.” And she told me about a time when, I mean, there had been a period of time when she was very depressed, my mother, and she said she was lying in the bed during the afternoon and she woke up because the strange woman had walked into the room. And she said she knew immediately it was Mary, the mother of God.

[musical stops abruptly]

Stump: 

Hold on a second. Mary, the woman who gave birth to Jesus made an appearance in the bedroom of Padraig’s mother? You’re going to have to give us a little context for this.

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah. Stick with me here. I promise we’ll get back to humility. 

We encounter strange stories every day. I think a lot of times we let them pass by us because they are too fanciful or disturbing or we simply might not recognize them as stories at all. There are the stories you’ve heard: the story about the expansiveness of the universe around us, the story of millions of years of history on this earth filled with fantastic creatures, or the story about how everything we see is made up of tinier and tinier particles buzzing around us, like we talked about earlier..

Stump: 

And that’s just science. What about religion? 

Hoogerwerf: 

Yeah. The Bible is filled with all kinds of stories that strain our modern sense of what happens—not least of which is the story of a man who died on the cross and then resurrected to save us all from sin and death. We’re not here today to debate the truth of these stories, though I think there is a time and a place to do that. Instead, today we’re here to think about how we approach the stories we come across and the stories we tell.  

Stump:

So the way you’re using the word “story” here is doing a lot of work. Can you unpack what you mean by it? 

Hoogerwerf:

I mean story as something more than some entertaining plot line. A story is information, packaged in language that we use, to make meaning of the world around us. A story can be a lot of things: it can be factual, it can be true, it can be fiction, it can be symbolic, it can be a mix of some of these things. When we’re presented with a story we have a lot of different ways we can respond. We can listen or we can ignore it. We can analyze it: for how well it fits what we already know, or how compelling it is, how entertaining it is. We can make some judgement about what kind of story it is. 

Stump: 

OK, so let me see if I’m following you: We hear some story that on the face of it sounds crazy to us. But you’re suggesting that the craziness we’re experiencing is only related to one aspect of that story? I’m guessing this relates not just to fanciful sounding stories like the one about Mary—which I hope we get back to soon—but also our more normal experience, which is in a sense interpreted through stories?

Hoogerwerf: 

Yeah. I mean, we humans are complicated and amazing creatures. Our brains and bodies can do amazing things, including process multiple streams of information at the same time. We put all this information we take together and it becomes our perception of the world. Our story, maybe. But what that means, is that you and I walk around the world, thinking that we see it and understand it (most of the time at least). After years of doing this we begin to trust our experiences as being the true representations of the world.

Stump: 

So we’ve been conditioned by our culture or community to interpret our experience in a certain way, say the way we might see the sunset as a kind of illusion. The sun isn’t really going down; we’re just spinning away from it. Isn’t that the correct story though?

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah it’s true that we’re spinning away from the sun, but there’s more to a sunset than just the scientific explanation. There’s also the experiences we have, the feelings that it produces, the memories we have of seeing sunsets. 

The scientific explanation helps to expand our knowledge, for sure. But the scientific story is only one of the ways at getting at what is true. Our Christian faith also expands our view of the world and helps us find truth. But like science, the Bible too must be understood and interpreted by people.

Stump:

…imperfect and fallible people right?

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah, so this where we come to humility. Humility is about realizing that imperfection. And that can start by thinking about how we respond to stories. 

Stump:

I hope we’re going to hear the rest of the Mary story.

Hoogerwerf: 

Yeah, here’s Padraig again. 

Ó Tuama

And she says she was dressed totally ordinary, like you just dress out of the ordinary kind of a shop that everybody would buy clothes from, you know, nothing fancy at all. Iron, gray hair in curls fairly short. And mum says that she remembers the depression on the mattress where Mary sat down. And Mary looked at her and said, “you’ve never liked me very much have you?” And my mother was caught into this moment of encounter and told the truth, to her surprise, where she said, “no, I haven’t liked you very much.” And Mary just looked at her and said, “that’s okay.” And my little brother walked into the room and my mother turned her head to look at my little brother and then turned back and the woman was gone. The star of the sea—realta na mara we call her in Irish—Mary. 

Such a beautiful, beautiful story. And it occurred to me that when you tell that story, the question—it would feel inappropriate to ask only the question of is that verifiably true? What’s the data from that? How can you explain it? And that all demeans the power of the human imagination and the power of things that are made up and the idea of the things that are made up, it can promote the idea that things that are made up have no correlation to truth.

Hoogerwerf:

Padraig tells this story in his book In the Shelter. Afterwards he asks several questions. He asks, “is it a good question to ask whether something happened or not? Is information-recovery enough to mine this story for meaning? Is it true that the Blessed Virgin Mary visited my mother? Or is it true that it helped? If it’s true that it helped, does it finally matter how it happened?”

Ó Tuama 

And so I suppose I put all those questions after that story in the book because I think those are really good questions to ask. And by posing the questions and holding it together in a kind of a circle, then we create an interesting platform and table of hospitality around which to explore that story. I’m uninterested in coming to any conclusions about them, but I am really interested in validating and dignifying multiple points of view on an experience like that and recognizing that verifiable data is only one interesting question.

Hoogerwerf:

So then is the pursuit of an unanswerable question still worthwhile?

Ó Tuama

Oh, Totally. I mean I think that’s what human life is. Isn’t human life an unanswerable question. That’s what I feel like I do every day. [laughs]

Hoogerwerf:

To someone who was raised with a young-earth perspective, the story of the origins of the earth can sound just as far outside the rules as a mystical experience can to an atheist. 

Stump: 

And to be fair, scientific stories these days can sound crazy to anyone—even the scientists themselves!

Hoogerwerf:

Humility comes to play in how we respond to these stories, both the scientific ones and the faith ones. And not only in how we behave toward those who are telling us the story, but how we hold our own knowledge and beliefs, recognizing that ours is only a limited view of the world. 

Ó Tuama

I think humility should always mean that whatever we think about grand notions of truth, religiously or scientifically, that all of those things need to be grounded in what it’s like to be a human person interacting with other human people who are not you. And how do we support each other and meet each other in the here and now and then find a language with which to converse and find a way to recognize the agnostic nature about the human experience. And then within that some people will approach that desperately searching for verifiable data and other people would approach that desperately holding onto a religious narrative. Those two things aren’t at war with each other. They have been in some kind of complicated dance for millennia, and will continue to be and each is trying to do something different. I think one is seeking wisdom and the other is seeking knowledge. And those are not enemies. Wisdom and knowledge can converse with each other.

[musical interlude]

BioLogos:

Hi Language of God listeners. We wanted to take a quick break from the episode to tell you about the BioLogos resource centers found at our website, biologos.org. You’ll find articles, videos, and other resources curated for pastors, educators, youth ministry, campus ministry and small groups. Help bring the science and faith conversation to the places that are important to you. Just click the resources tab at the top of the page. Now back to the conversation. 

Part Three

Hoogerwerf:

The concept of humility is well rooted in the Christian life, with Jesus Christ being the ultimate example. His very presence was an act of humility. He lowered himself from the heights and splendor of heaven to the earthly soil, into the mud and mold and muskiness of a manger. He lowered himself throughout his ministry by spending his time with thieves and prostitutes and the sick and sinners. And finally, he lowered himself again on the cross, accepting a death of the worst criminals. We learn from his example the importance of humility and of not judging others, and to be conscious of our own limitations. Humility is crucial to discipleship. 

Humility also has a place in the realm of science.

Stump:

Though the popular conception of science often sees it very differently. 

Roels:

There’s kind of this stereotype out there of the know-it-all scientist who’s just, you know, wildly successful, but also doesn’t have to listen to anybody else and can just go off and be an island of information and insight.

Hoogerwerf:

We’ve talked about humility as a general concept but it plays a crucial role in science and so I wanted to hear the particulars from some actual scientists. 

Roels:

Hi, my name is Steve Roels. I’m a biologist and I currently work for the city of Louisville, which is a suburb of the Denver Metro area, as a natural resources steward and manager.

Bodbyl Roels:

I’m Sarah Bodbyl Roels. I currently work at the Colorado School of Mines. My training is in evolutionary biology. And right now I am a faculty developer, meaning that I help faculty at the University with their teaching and learning needs. 

Hoogerwerf:

Scientists can sometimes come across as people who think they have learned everything there is about the world, who have found answers to all of life’s questions that are worth asking. 

Stump:

In other words, the arrogant peacock. 

Roels:

But that’s really the exception to the reality that the really exceptional scientists that are looked up to by other members of the community are those that are always open to ideas that aren’t their own and are very cautious in interpreting their own scientific results and the extent of their own expertise.

Hoogerwerf:

It might also seem natural that the more learning one does, the more arrogant one might become. 

Bodbyl Roels: 

One of the premises of science is that you’re pushing the boundary of knowledge. And there’s this interesting counterintuitive trend, as you go through academia and increase your expertise: the more you know, as you’re learning, the more you realize you don’t know. And frequently, your knowledge of what you don’t know grows in relation to that which you think you do.

Stump: 

The way science often works is that answering one question leads to more and more questions. 

Hoogerwerf:

Yeah, so for me, this has happens with geology. I begin to look at the earth in a different way as I learn more and more. When before, I might have seen the Grand Canyon as simply beautiful, now I might see the layers and begin to wonder about it’s formation, about the history that is held within each layer, about why different layers has a different color. The answer to each of these questions leads to a hundred new questions I didn’t even know to ask before. 

Stump:

In a certain sense, then, the gaining of knowledge is also the gaining of awareness of how much we don’t really know about the world and the universe. 

Hoogerwerf:

But even arriving at answers to scientific questions, also requires a kind of humility. 

Roels:

One of the things that’s really drilled into you in graduate school as you’re training to be a scientist is relentless self-doubt, in the sense that you’re constantly looking for where could my experiment go awry? What mistakes could I make? What variables might be uncontrolled? And in what ways could I interpret the data that aren’t actually correct, you know, what are the alternative theories that might fit?

Bodbyl Roels:

There’s another side to that coin of developing intellectual humility, I think, other than just the doubt and self questioning. Part of being a scientist and being humble as a scientist is having the capacity for surprise. And so I think as much as the questioning and the self doubt is there, it’s also being open to looking at the data in a way that you might not expect. Every scientist has stories of experiments or hypotheses or questions that they’ve had and when they investigate those questions, the results turn out completely different than they expected. And part of being humble in that situation is incorporating the perspectives of other people. It might be going back to the research and seeing what you may have missed. It may have long reaching implications for your own research to just really dig into it and see what you can and can’t figure out. But part of that ability to still be surprised by what you find is some of the, I would say, the driving impetus of science. And so if you don’t have that ability, and you think that you know it all, and are not humble, it’s hard to progress forward and actually make interesting discoveries.

Roels:

Related to that, one of the ways in which science progresses most quickly is in the studies where at the end of the study the scientist says, “I was wrong.” I came in with particular expectations based on what’s already known and based on some theory that I was testing. And then to get results that are contrary to that, first, you need to have that professional humility to say, “I was wrong and I’m going to trust the data versus just trust my pre-existing notions of what should have happened here.” And usually your pre-existing notions, I mean you have good reasons for your expectations. And studies are done within the context of all this pre-existing work that’s been done. And so it’s not just that your ideas are being plucked out of thin air. And so those situations will where your expectations are not met, then that raises a lot of interesting questions about why they haven’t been. What is different about this particular experiment or the system that you’re studying that deviates from what, quote, everybody knows to be true, or suspects is true anyways. And you have to have the humility to say, “I’m going to let go of these ideas that I previously had,” at least within the context of the study. And that’s really a powerful way that science makes progress beyond just always building upon what’s already known and saying, “Okay, this is consistent with what we already know. And here’s a little bit more.” It’s those inconsistencies that can be really powerful.

Stump:

Don’t we ever get to the point of certainty in some of these?

Hoogerwerf:

Certainty takes on new meaning in the field of science, and often the general public and the scientific community have different understandings of what it means to be certain about the knowledge we gain from science. 

Bodbyl Roels:

I think that’s huge in understanding the implications of science. And it ranges in scale from, you know, high uncertainty about something very specific to low uncertainty around something like gravity or, you know, evolution. And that term uncertainty means such different things to certain people. Scientists don’t think in absolutes. Everything, you know, finding is interpreted through the lens of statistics and probability. And so uncertainty is expected. And that’s the way we operate. Science never really fully 100% is used as a proof because it can’t be. Yet, in certain cases, evidence is so overwhelming and has been shown to be reality so many times, that it becomes something close to what the public sees as certainty or fact.

Roels:

Uncertainty is an opportunity, right? Uncertainty in science is exciting in that you realize, okay, I’ve done enough background research to finally find something we really don’t know that maybe I could explore and, you know, give us just one tiny little pimple on the circle of scientific knowledge. 

Stump:

So it’s clear that scientists and non-scientists have a different understanding of certainty. How then do these two groups communicate? 

Hoogerwerf:

As Charlotte reminded us earlier, when people of faith enter a conversation with non-Christians it doesn’t mean they have to give up their convictions. Humility is not the pusillanimous snail. In the same way, engagements with those who are skeptical of science don’t require that we let the things which science has proven with a high degree of certainty fall by the way-side.

Roels:

You can approach conversations and engagements with people that are skeptical about any number of well established scientific findings, with the personal humility that says the things that we feel very confident that we know scientifically, it’s not that we know them because I myself know them because I was the one that generated all this information and I have all the answers or I’ve been able to read all the papers. And so, as an individual, I recognize that I am small, and I can relate to you, person who is skeptical, and say, each one of us is only one brain. And the human brain is incredible, but it’s still only one and it does have these limitations. Well, at the same time, you can say, professionally I have both the professional humility to recognize that science is very big and it’s this team sport but also those things if we’re all individually humble as scientists, then collectively we can become very confident. And I think expressing that confidence, and with what Sarah said about degrees of certainty, being able to express how confident we are about particularly things and why we’re confident about them, is really important. And I think that’s something that the lay person often misunderstands about the scientific process.

Hoogerwerf:

We’ve been talking about humility within science. But the humility required for good science to be done and required by all of us who attempt to learn and understand the world using science, is the same humility that is taught to us by Jesus. Humility is a value that is shared between science and faith and the practice of intellectual humility can help to promote individual humility as well as the other way around. 

Roels:

There are a lot of shared virtues and personal practices between the Christian faith and the scientific endeavor in terms of humility and seeking out truth and the ways in which we interact with other members of the community and recognize that everyone has something to contribute to that community, that we all have different gifts and that it’s only through acting as one body, whether it’s the body of Christ or the body of science, that we really are able to realize the full potential of that particular way of thinking, that particular way of life. And so I certainly think that the personal growth I’ve experienced in my training to become a scientist and then also, my years being a scientist, are virtues and character traits that do also have evidence in my life as a Christian.

Bodbyl Roels:

Yeah, I would say that through my work as a scientist and needing to be humble enough to recognize what I don’t know and always being open to being wrong and being surprised and needing the help of others to progress, also helps me in the Christian life be able to be open to being surprised by the Christian faith—through the actions of others, you know, like a kindness that might be unexpected or the contributions of others within the community that might be unexpected. And just, it’s kind of like this being surprised by data, in a lot of ways is like being surprised by hope, as funny as that sounds. But I can draw a lot of parallels between the two. And I think it perhaps removes some of the fear that often can come with religion, thinking that if you don’t know the answers, then you’re not doing it right. And so I think that’s one really great way to draw a parallel between doing experiments and being a scientist and also being a Christian. Because if you have doubts, and if you feel like you’re not doing it, right, that’s okay. And you can still be surprised and grow and work through the community and make the world a much bigger and better place than if you kind of stayed within your preconceived notions and stayed within the box, of either what you think you can know through religion or science.

Credits

Stump: 

Thanks to Charlotte, Padraig, Steve and Sarah for their conversations with us, and sharing their expertise on humility. 

Hoogerwerf: 

Language of God is produced by BioLogos. 

Stump:

It’s been funded in part by the John Templeton Foundation and more than 300 individuals who donated to our crowdfunding campaign. 

Hoogerwerf:

Language of God is produced and mixed by Colin Hoogerwerf. 

Stump:

That’s you!

Hoogerwerf:

Our theme song is by Breakmaster Cylinder. We are produced out of the remote workspaces and homes of BioLogos staff in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Stump:

And in my case, northern Indiana. If you have questions or want to join in a conversation about this episode find a link in the show notes for the BioLogos forum. 

Hoogerwerf:

Find more episodes of Language of God on your favorite podcast app or at our website, biologos.org, where you will also find tons of great articles and resources on faith and science. 

Stump:

And hey, if you like this podcast, would you consider leaving a review on iTunes?

Hoogerwerf: 

Thanks for listening.


Featured guests

Sarah Bodbyl Roels

Sarah Bodbyl Roels

Sarah Bodbyl Roels is Associate Dean at the Van Andel Institute Graduate School where she supports the curriculum, student fellowships, and student internships. Sarah earned her doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas, where she studied mating system evolution, behavioral ecology, and conservation. Postdoctoral experiences at Michigan State University formed Sarah's continuing interests in science communication and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Prior to her current appointment, Sarah supported faculty development at Colorado School of Mines, offering professional teaching and learning opportunities across the university. Sarah enjoys assisting continuous improvement of teaching and learning across all instructional levels. Sarah is a member of the BioLogos Voices speakers bureau, the Advisory Council, and the BioLogos Integrate curriculum development team. Sarah passionately explores the relationship between science and faith and appreciates opportunities to learn from others. She and her husband Steve, also a scientist, are avid birders and their family includes a horse, a donkey, a dog, and numerous chickens.
Steve Roels

Steve Roels

Steve Roels (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is the Senior Natural Resource Specialist for a municipal Parks and Open Space department near Denver. His graduate research and professional work focus on restoration ecology and conservation biology in tropical forests and prairie ecosystems. When not matching wits with wily prairie dogs in town, he enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains with his wife, Sarah Bodbyl Roels.

Padraig Ó Tuama

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and a theologian and host of the Poetry Unbound podcast with OnBeing Studios. His works centers about themes of language, power, conflict, and religion. His publish work includes prose (In The Shelter) poetry (Readings from the Book of Exile and Sorry for Your Troubles) and theology (Daily Prayer).

Charlote vanOyen-Witvliet's Headshot

Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet

Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet is the Lavern ’39 and Betty DePree ’41 VanKley Professor of Psychology at Hope College. She loves teaching and mentoring students with a vision to cultivate competence with compassion so that they are prepared for effective and faithful service and leadership in a diverse world. Charlotte has published 75 peer-reviewed journal articles about her research and has had over 125 professional presentations in local, national and international venues. She has been a member of national, multi-year, interdisciplinary work groups on the pursuit of happiness, leading from the soul, and living accountably.


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