[In Fearfully and Wonderfully, Dr. Paul Brand describes a time when his Christian faith was tested by doubt, especially regarding the issue of evolution.]

In medical school I encountered professors who took for granted that the universe is based on randomness, with no place for an intelligent Designer. As I have grappled with these and other issues, I have learned the value of accepting as a rule of life something about which I have intellectual uncertainties. In other words, I have learned to trust the basic skeleton of faith and rely on it even when I cannot figure out how various bones fit together and why some are shaped the way they are.

For example, in medical school I studied under some of the pioneers of evolutionary theory, such as J. B. S. Haldane and H. H. Woolard. Some churches encouraged a kind of intellectual dishonesty on this subject. In the university their students took exams and recited the theories of evolution; when they joined the church, they declared their faith in a way that contradicted their exam answers. Ultimately this dichotomy led to a type of intellectual schizophrenia.

Only after much research and long periods of reflection was I able to put together what I had learned at church and what I had learned at school. In the meantime, I determined that my faith was based on realities that could stand on their own and did not need to be subordinated to an explanation from science. I operated with that assumption for years during which I was unable to resolve some of the mystery of how creation and evolution fit together. Indeed, in recent years, a new understanding of Big Bang cosmology and of the nature of DNA coding has greatly strengthened my faith in a guiding supernatural intelligence.

I have stood before a bridge in South America constructed of interlocking vines that support a precariously swinging platform hundreds of feet above a river. I know that hundreds of people have trusted that bridge over the years, and as I stand at the edge of the chasm I can see people confidently crossing it. The engineer in me wants to weigh all the factors—measure the stress tolerances of the vines, test any wood for termites, survey all the bridges in the area for one that might be stronger. I could spend a lifetime determining whether this bridge is fully trustworthy. Eventually, though, if I really want to cross, I must take a step. When I put my weight on that bridge and walk across, even though my heart is pounding and my knees are shaking, I am declaring my position.

In my Christian walk I sometimes must proceed like this, making choices which involve uncertainty. If I wait for all the possible evidence, I’ll never move.

— Dr. Paul Brand

This bridge depicted in the video below is built in traditional Inkan style, much like the bridge Dr. Brand refers to.

[Note: an organization called BioLogos  (https://biologos.org) provides many resources for those struggling to put together science and faith. BioLogos was founded by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins led the Human Genome Project and authored the New York Times bestseller The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.]

 

 

 

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9 responses to “Trusting the Bridge”

  1. Rick Jebb says:

    Great post Phil. I can’t wait to read it. It’s so refreshing to know of this growing body of work that takes the Gospel to the places of greater resistance with more honest and authentic voices. Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” reminds me of this modern calling. Peace. Rick Jebb

  2. Tammy says:

    I would recommend Hugh Ross with Reasons to Believe as a better resource than Biologos. He and his group of scientists are brilliant and really explain the world through science and the Bible. Biologos relies on the theory of macro evolution which has never been proven and diminishes the power of God. RTB proves that the Bible had it right all along. Check them out!

  3. Linda Cabe says:

    Iene E.
    Thank you for your words of clarification about the Bible. I needed that. “The Bible is not a history book nor a science book; it’s meant to point us to Jesus.” Thank you!

  4. David Morris says:

    Dear Philip. I heard you speak recently in Torquay, UK about your work with Paul Brand.I purchased your book with interest as I have an old friend who you met that evening who had worked with Paul many years ago. Whilst reading your book I bookmarked the passage ‘Trusting the bridge” which summed up my present doubts/dilemma about faith. I completed reading the book only last night and returned to this passage and read it again before sleeping. Imagine my surprise when I received your blog in my Inbox this morning! Should I consider this as confirmation…maybe I need to put my doubts to one side and trust more! Thank you for your writing which has been a great inspiration over the years and helped me when wrestling with my faith.

  5. Iene E says:

    I have never had to struggle to balance my belief in God and the scientific explanation of creation. I decided long ago that the Bible was never meant to be a science book or a history book, but is meant to point us to Christ. So, whenever I read of a new, more astonishing scientific discovery, I just say “How Great Thou Art!!” And I imagine the God who created the entire world, including science, laughing with joy as we unwrap more and more of creation, his gift to us.

    And God saw that it was good.

  6. Darlene Hixon says:

    Beautiful and intelligent description of the unexplainable realities of walking with God and toward God. Loved the video attachment. Thank you Phillip. .

  7. Dr. Tom King says:

    Powerful story by Dr. Brand, Mr. Yancey. For a reason I cannot explain, my strong faith in a Divine Creator has never interfered with my study of science and evolution. The living creatures of the world are all changing over time, with some new forms of life emerging and previous forms disappearing….all in a Divine Plan I will never understand but marvel at. The brilliant cosmologist, Carl Sagan, told us all about the billions of stars, but for some reason, known only to his creator, could not accecpt a divine plan for their being there. We are who we are, and someday it may all make sense to us. In the meantime, count me among those who think Father De Chardin was both scientifically and faithfully right when he said, “Everything that rises must converge.” I await it.

  8. Nicola says:

    Thank you for this. I loved Paul Brand. He was one of the most amazing men I have ever read about. This post made me want to cry. Faith is horrible! Like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, stepping out into a chasm you cannot see. And trusting you will not fall. But that is the nature of faith. God does suck sometimes in what He expects us to do-believe the impossible- that which we cannot see. But like the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, if the dead cannot come back and convince us – because we will refuse to ‘believe’ in them, the only way forward IS faith. When I struggle and stumble in my faith I do what Jesus said. I remember. Everything God has ever done for me. I have my little temper and cry. Then I call out to God what the demonised father did, ‘Lord help my unbelief.’ Because we are told we have a God who understands. And who will never snuff us out. Even when all our faith is, is a smouldering wick, it’s why the Holy Spirit comes as a wind. To fan our faltering, flickering fire, gently. And remind us God never fails. Even when we do.

  9. Emil says:

    Multumesc, Philip!
    Domnul sa te binecuvanteze!

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