I remember years ago sitting around a campfire talking with some kids I mentored about God and the questions that surround this mystery. One child shared a story about how his church had brought in a creationist to “totally destroy science.” In other words they brought in a man who held very strictly to the biblical teaching of a six day created, 6,000 year old universe. Anything that taught otherwise was to be rejected.
I remember sitting through the Religion Program at Florida State University and hearing lecture after lecture that revealed that the Bible didn’t behave the way I had always been taught it did.
I remember going through the pains of deconstructing and aimlessly trying to reconstruct my own Christian faith; the painful process of unlearning my spoon-fed theology and seeking deeply to identify the truths about Jesus and God.
When you work in ministry, belief is kind of a big deal. When you lead bible studies people have expectations that you teach a certain way. But when you don’t line up with those expectations, it can be a very scary and isolating place to float. Whenever you try to explain, people often push you out or try and conform you back in. But you can’t unlearn certain things. What I’ve been finding in recent years has brought such freshness and beauty to my life. I’ve found that I’m not alone.
In Finding God in the Waves, Mike McHargue tells the beautiful, hilarious, and absolutely heartbreaking story of his own journey through faith, atheism, and a return to God through science. He has so beautifully captured a place and isolation that so many people have found themselves in as we learn more about ourselves and the world. With each new discovery our old definitions and language come into greater tension. What “Science Mike” has done here, is create a book that will make a lasting impact on the great debate of faith and science. What Science Mike has done here is create a book that will humble every person who reads.
Imagine being a Deacon of the Southern Baptist Church; leading Sunday School, playing in the worship band, baptizing believers, and leading people to the Lord. Now imagine that coming to a heartbreaking, life-crumbling realization that there is no God. What would you do? How would you respond to this? Who could you tell?
Mike’s story places each of us in the painful world of being a wolf among sheep. Your whole community believes something passionately that you no longer can accept. And worse, they now believe that because you deny the faith, you will be separated from God forever in hell. Now imagine your entire marriage and identity existing around this faith you no longer hold. How would you go on?
This is what happened to Science Mike after he began to see that certain declarations of his Southern Baptist faith didn’t behave when looking closely with logic and reason. So Mike faked it for two years. In the book we see the story of loneliness and loss as Mike tries to keep his secret from his community. After all he’s a leading member of this Church. What would you do when you hold information that could cripple the faiths of all of your congregants. Do you go in with a baseball bat and tear down all the idols? Or is there still beauty in what they believe?
Finding God in the Waves is a beautiful opportunity for each reader to play the skeptic and understand the isolation we often put on people when their beliefs begin to shift from orthodox. Are there ways of knowing God that are compatible with what science has revealed about ourselves and the universe? And Can the church bring into question some of its more traditional beliefs with this new information?
This book has a power to it. Mike’s life has been crafted in a way that robs his search from the venom that comes into the conversation of Science and Faith. In Mike’s atheism he found that there are many Christian claims that simply had no basis for validity when truly observed and thought through. But what happens when you experience God as an atheist? Do you return to all the things you used to believe even when the facts don’t add up? For many believers these “facts” are essential to following Jesus. But what if you can’t unlearn what once led you away from God? No matter how hard you try to make it work? How do you move forward?
What Science Mike has done here is what many atheist writers have done before. Mike tells you the story of how he lost God. Mike deconstructs the Christian faith in ways similar to Dawkins, Bart Ehrman, Hitchens. He brings to light the inconsistencies of the faith and he challenges you to process the information. But anyone can deconstruct something. As a believer in God, Mike challenges each of us to ask what actually is the point of all of this. In his search for truth in the midst of mystery, Mike brings each of us to reconstruct our faith through the lenses of science and reason. Not rejecting all that we are learning about our brains and the universe, but bringing it along with us. Mike has created a book that honestly could stand for decades to come as an end to the divisiveness of certain faith vs. scientific arguments. Mike has invited all of us into a holy tension.
Mike’s story is beautiful. I laughed so loud I scared those sitting around me at my local Starbucks and I hid in the same corner as I cried my eyes out. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more honest and purposeful book. His life has been weaved a certain way that allows him to speak from a seemingly “no reason to bullsh–” perspective and I think this book will do great healing for the church. I don’t believe that anyone could walk away from this book without being humbled. Mike shows us a grace-filled way to approach our differences and to be okay with both sides of these discussions. Not to mention, you’ll sound so much smarter knowing the information he loans you so freely!
Mike invites us all into the waves of his life, and in them we find God more beautifully than ever.
Finding God in the Waves will be released September 13, 2016. You can pre-order a copy here.