There are these people who give me little snap shots of who they are, and I think, “Wow. I want to know more.”
That is how I have always felt about “Science Mike” McHargue. He is a thinker, writer, and blogger. He is also one of the two Mike’s behind the liturgist podcast, and does some solo work, here which is more focused on science.
I got what I had been wishing for. I just finished his book, “Finding God in the Waves.”
If you could spin the book really fast to force all the things that went into it to separate, or maybe boil the book, and reach the melting point of some of the constituents in order to isolate the things that make it up, I think you would come up with 3 different ingredients.
First, the book is a spiritual autobiography. Science Mike spent the first half of his life in a fairly conservative/evangelical Christian Church. When life circumstances lead him to question his faith, he began a transition to closeted atheist. He eventual left the closet, and began a journey back to a reconstructed faith.
Secondly, the book is an attempt to balance the newest findings of science with the ongoing wisdom of following Christ. Astronomy and brain chemistry get the most attention, but there’s lots of compelling psychology and sociology, too. I can be a bit of a snob about these sort-of attempts. In my experience, authors who try to bring together faith and science usually end up doing a mediocre job on one of these. Or both. McHargue is kind of intimidating, because he is way smarter than me in both these areas. So near as my little brain can figure, he gets them both right.
Thirdly, “Finding God in the Waves” is a blue print of what a reconstructed, science-informed faith might look like. There are times that this book reminded me of Descrarte’s Meditations. The French Philosopher began with the question, “What if everything my senses bring me is wrong?” The American thinker begins with the question “What if everything I used to believe is wrong?” Both authors respond to this by creating a series of axioms that will prove to be the building blocks of a new set of beliefs, which hopefully end up being more defensible than the previously unquestioned assumptions.
My favorite thing about the writing here is how frequently it flips the script. I will be cruising along, reading almost on autopilot. A few key sentences will start me heading in a certain direction, and then, from nowhere: Blam! Suddenly, things do exactly the opposite of where I expected to. The effect is sometimes funny, or touching, or both.
My favorite thing about the author is that he is so courageously even-handed. That’s a thing about hanging out in the middle: Sometimes it feels like you are pissing off everybody. I wonder if the author sometimes feels tempted to play to one side, or the other, just to get somebody to sign-on, whole-heartedly with his ideas.
This even-handedness plays out in a couple ways. Sometimes, it is around intellectual debates. He takes an amazingly consistent approach with calling out the good and the bad in targets as diverse as New Atheism and Old-School Baptist Churches.
But this even-handedness plays out in another way that is a little more difficult to articulate. One way to say it is to say that he has all these different intelligences. He is compellingly analytical when the situation calls for it. And then, a page later, he will say something that demonstrates an emotional intelligence, that isn’t about chopping things up so much as looking at the big picture. His proficiency with using the right mental tool for the right mental job lead me to be so fascinated that I read this book in like 3 days.
You should go buy it and read it. It was really good. It will be released on September 13