Bethany Sollereder, Ph.D., is a fellow graduate of Regent College and a Christian who has spent much time exploring the relationships between Science and Faith. She has written a helpful paper entitled, “Evolution, Suffering and the Creative Love of God,” in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. It is a philosophical and theological paper that is technical enough that I will not try to analyze it here in this post. Her logic and conclusions speak for themselves and the paper is a valuable read for anyone who would like to explore these topics more deeply than is often done in this blog.
What I will note here in this space is the interaction between logic and imagination. Sollereder and I met once when I was at Regent working on the Comprehensive Exam for my Master of Arts degree. I was wrestling with the question of the historicity of Adam, and my supervisor, Ross Hastings, Ph.D. had suggested that I should interact with Bethany Sollereder on this topic. I found her to be an exceptionally brilliant and logical mind and knew that she would make significant contributions in the literature regarding Faith and Science, and Theodicy (a technical term for the theological study of why we have evil in a world created by a good God). In the paper to which I am referring today, Sollereder is not only extremely logical but also, at points, imaginative, creative, and poetic. One sentence in particular caused me to pause and think carefully: “In describing divine action, then, our compassionate imagination—rather than our logic—may be the more reliable guide.”
Here is an especially logical young mind arguing for the inclusion of a “compassionate imagination” in the technical fields of theology, philosophy, and theodicy. For a person like me who writes poetry, creative novels, songs, science papers, and religious journal articles, this statement by Sollereder was an encouragement of the highest degree. It would seem to me that she is calling for an application of all aspects of the mind. For such interesting and difficult subjects as the relationships between science and faith, we must apply every aspect of our mental faculties. We do not simply use logic in one conversation and poetry in another. We use both to help us understand the intricacies of the universe in which we live. Indeed, the very consciousness with which we think, is capable of a variety of methods for coming at difficult topics. Sometimes, imagination and poetry are the only ways to adequately explain a concept and they may open other avenues of thought leading to a greater logical understanding.
In her paper, “Evolution, Suffering and the Creative Love of God,” Sollereder uses creative thought experiments and metaphors of life to logically explain possible explanations for the workings of God and our universe. The logic is exemplary, but her logic would not stand as well if it were not for the helpful images that bolster the logic. Perhaps this makes even more sense when we read Sollereder’s bio which states that she “enjoys hiking, horseback riding, [and] reading novels (particularly those of “the Inklings”).” This paper encourages me to continue to use creativity, logic, poetry, and metaphor to explore the universe and the explanations which help us live in this amazing place in which we find ourselves. May the spirit of writers such as Lewis, Tolkien, and MacDonald (some of the writers known as The Inklings) live on in the works of Sollereder and others.
Sollereder, “Evolution, Suffering and the Creative Love of God,”Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith68, no. 2 (2016): 99-110, http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2016/PSCF6-16Sollereder.pdf