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Some things in life mix better than others. Take macaroni and cheese, as a case in point. For a guy like myself, who can’t assemble a four course meal without sweating all day before I give up and order a pizza, there’s something wondrous, about those curly, starch encrusted noodles in the familiar blue and white box with the orange trim.

If I can be considered an expert in any one dish, this is it. But it’s not the noodles that make for such a powerful rush of culinary adrenaline (my wife Arlene, an astounding chef has just left the room in tears). Not until you take the effort to add some hormone riddled homogenized milk, pour in a couple of orange spoonfuls of “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-toxic” from the envelope, does Mac and Cheese takes on its familiar alien glow and become everything you knew it would be.

But somewhere, in the ancient mists of kitchens long since renovated (and untraceable with current tools of cookbook archaeology) a bankrupt soul, ravenous beyond the edge of reason, reached for a ketchup bottle.

And what started out as good (and it was very good) was forever ruined.

This is the way I’ve always viewed my faith. There are certain flavors and textures in life that mesh with my understanding of God, and some that don’t. Majestic concepts like order and grace, virtues like patience and contentment, or the necessities of morality, duty and serving all make sense to me from a faith perspective.

And then there is science.

I’ve always viewed science as trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I like science. If it helps us combat scurvy, download ring-tones, or cure flatulence bring it on. I totally respect Science – as long as it doesn’t touch anything else on my plate. But as soon as those star-bellied sneeches over at the lab start implying that their genetics or geology should impact my theology – well that’s where it starts to get a little heated in this kitchen.

At least that’s the way I used to think. Recently I’ve been reading and researching the troubled history between the community of faith and the community of science and do you know what I’ve learned?

Science hasn’t always been considered the enemy. In fact, St. Augustine showed a lot more respect for the scientific elite in his day than many evangelical Christians do today. In The Literal Meaning of Genesis he wrote:

“If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?”

And Augustine was just getting started.

“Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books…”

Obviously, as early as the fourth century, some of the faithful had decided that it was better to oppose science than embrace it. Race ahead, 1500 years, and it doesn’t look like much has changed. a quick perusal of the life of Galileo or Newton seem to indicate that Christians are categorically suspect of scientific advancement. And then along came Charles Darwin with those ridiculous sideburns and an absurd notion that all of life – ferns, reptiles, lemurs, and even scrabble players developed over millions of years from the same primordial broth. Most Christians, find Darwin’s theory so distasteful, that even a single mention of his name, has been known to turn a pleasant sunday school picnic into a tribal council bloodletting.

Is it possible that the line in the sand between science and faith can be rubbed out without causing irreparable damage?

While I have always had some use for ketchup, I have only recently discovered that mixing ketchup with Mac and cheese isn’t so bad after all. Once you got over the initial shock of color (your rods and cones stop fighting with each other and your optic nerve settles down) ketchup merges effortlessly with Mac and Cheese – the tangy aftertaste in the former actually compliments the familiar cheddery smoothness of the latter.

I bet St. Augustine would have loved this stuff.

Title Image: Painting by Claudio Coello
CC-logoWikimedia Commons / Public Domain