Having recently retired from being a Professor of Biology, I find the transition strange. No longer Professor, I am Professor Emeritus, and have the privilege of carrying on what I have been doing over the last couple of decades: on the biological side, exploring the physiology of sexual reproduction in blood-feeding insects, and on the theological side, more fully understanding the relationship between science and my Christian faith. When I am asked, "How is retirement treating you?" it is difficult to say. Except for not having courses to teach, I haven't really stopped doing what I have been doing. But the transition has occurred, and like any recent retiree, I do need to consider that my life has changed, and to ponder how I can be used by the Lord in the future.
As I now take stock of where I am, and where I might be heading, I can truly empathize with the apostle Paul when he wrote:
1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (KJV)
With my insect research, there are some things that we know in part, but more studies and more experiments need to be conducted before we can truly know the whole story. From my experience, I have found that science actually works like that. Every time we publish a paper answering one particular question, another question rises from our work which also needs to be explored and answered. When people assure me that science has proven without a doubt that such-and-such is a fact which is beyond question, I do have a bit of a chuckle. Let them wait a decade, or a year, or even a week, and that fact could very well be superseded by yet another scientific study.
Similarly, the study of faith and science has given rise to a number of theories and world views, each of which often depends on the prevailing scientific opinions, and the thoughts of well-respected philosophers and theologians. As with the case for many scientific theories, every time a particular explanation or interpretation of a passage of the Bible is proposed — and has even gained popular support — it often leads to even more questions that need to be answered.
What I have learned from this life experience in science and Christianity is that the more we discover, the more we realize that what we do know, we know only in part. Moreover, it is also very important that we continue to ask and seek answers to questions. If we accept the latest popular scientific theories or interpretations of Scripture without question, and believe that we know the whole truth, we will be missing out on what science and the Bible can really tell us. I once heard of a Christian who no longer reads the Bible. Why? He read the Bible once, so why read it again? He hasn't realized that the Bible is full of wonderful mysteries and stories that come alive as we diligently explore the questions that they pose.
Will we ever know everything? According to Paul, not on this side of eternity. He had the best theological educator of the time, and he may have even visited heaven. Yet, he still admitted that he knew only in part. Like Paul, I hope that all Christians will continue to have questions that will prompt us to delve into the Scripture and to get to know our Lord and His Word more deeply. Now that's something to look forward to!
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we will never stop seeking to know more of You and more of Your love for us. Keep our minds open to explore Your Word and Your works, and empower us to share the gospel by filling our hearts with Your love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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