Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spiritual Homelessness

Because I have chosen to study physics I frequently am asked by people, "How do you reconcile what you study with your religion?" I have to admit that I find this question difficult, but not because I do not have an answer but rather because to me the question does not make sense. Asking me how I reconcile science and religion is like asking me how I reconcile owning a car with owning a house. I was not aware that they were mutually exclusive.

Science is merely a vehicle that allows us to interact with the world. It allows us greater movement and ability. It is a way of thinking that gives us a different perspective and allows us to see things we would not have see or understood otherwise. Religion is like a home. It is an anchor to our spiritual lives, and protects us from the storms and troubles of life. It offers us a place of safety and security.

The reason the question is even asked is because in our society some people have the mistaken idea that a car is a home. For them because it has walls, a floor and a place to sit (and a place to put a cup) they assume that it is adequate for living. Thus it is with science. Some labor under the illusion that because science can give them food and basic shelter, and provide them with stunning scenery, that it is adequate and fundamental for life.

There are even some vehicles that carry with them all the basic aspects of a home. But just because it can function as a house does not make it equivalent to a house. Just as our society can tolerate a certain number of people with no fixed address and still be able to function, our society can also tolerate a certain number of spiritual nomads and still function. These few who decide to abandon their spiritual homes for the prospect of "seeing the world" leave themselves with neither anchor nor place of protection and security. They are able to maintain their life styles only because someone has a permanent home. By "freeing" themselves from the "shackles" of religion they become spiritual leeches free to drift with every wind of doctrine.

A problem arises when others see the apparent freedom of these spiritual nomads and get the idea that they to can abandon house and home with no ill effects. But rather than plan for the future and consider eventualities there are those who abandon their spiritual homes looking for "freedom" and the "open road" and rather than acquiring a "motor home", they simply become spiritually homeless, forced to wander the streets living off the spiritual generosity of others.

Unfortunately in our society we have an ever increasing number of people who have abandoned their spiritual havens of security for a little "freedom" but have failed to consider the consequences. It is true that some people can become spiritual nomads and live out their lives, but as always they can only do it because someone owns a spiritual home. Others have left their homes with nothing other than the clothes on their backs, expecting that society will provide for them. In our current spiritual economy we have too many who are homeless, and too many who insist on maintaining their nomadic lifestyle. There are too many who will not be able to weather the storms of life or will be unable to maintain their nomadic lifestyle when society fails them and they spiritually run out of gas.

In the end the thing to keep in mind is that the vehicle of our travels is not a bad thing. Much good can be done with it, but when we use it as justification for abandoning our spiritual houses, we have failed ourselves and all those who depend on us. A vehicle for travel will never be useful unless we have someplace to call home and to find protection from the storms of life. But it can be very useful when we take the time to maintain our homes and keep that which is necessary for life.


Tiffany said...

Thanks--that was an interesting way to expain. :)

James Tanner said...

You always have something worthwhile to say.

Jared said...

I think that's one of your best posts you've written. Thanks for sharing it. :)

CaliZona said...

Crazy coincidence! Asia invited a non-member friend to watch General Conference with us. When I pointed out one of the Apostles preparing to speak was a scientist, our guest was visibly shocked. I laughed, & replied, "Mormons don't have a problem with science." There wasn't opportunity for further explanation as the talk was beginning. My casual answer to someone who deserved more troubled me.

I wanted to articulate what I felt about faith and science. Leiland loaned me some of his excellent books on the subject, and after studying them and a variety of other papers, I wrote my version of what you address very nicely here. I titled mine "THE DEFINITION OF GLORY". You can see it at:

Alan said...

Very interesting way to look at the question, but I agree with with the diagnosis.