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Thomas the scientist?

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."  (John 20:24-25)

In the gospel reading Thomas shows his rational instincts by asking what any decent thinking person normally asks for – proof! Wanting to extrapolate a little further one might suggest that Thomas wants to engage in a process of scientific enquiry.

What this story emphasises for me is the false dichotomy that we have in our modern world between science and religion, as if the two have little bearing on one another because science is about facts and truth whereas religion is about faith in things not seen.

But as any good scientist knows scientific theory is also built on faith that the hypotheses that we are working with will continue to hold true. And, as any decent theologian knows, faith whilst a gift does involved processes of logical inquiry about knowledge and truth.

The tools of both disciplines can complement and assist us as people as we seek to deepen our experience and knowledge of god and our relationship with Jesus.

Whilst we as Christians may want to make particular truth claims about whom Jesus is and what he did, ultimately we must accept these for what they are faith claims, not provable facts. In the same way scientists must also accept that hypotheses whilst testable are ultimately also subject to fallibility.

Maybe it is that Thomas, without knowing it, combined rational scientific inquiry in his search for faith and thus through his encounter with the risen Jesus was able to come to a point of faithful witness. As people on the journey of faith accepting that part of our journey is searching for proof as we wait upon encounters is what we do is helpful in our engagement with our faith journey and as we realise this to accept experiences and sources of knowledge from all around us.