Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Fingerprints of God: Science and Spirituality

Barbara Bradley Hagerty is the religion reporter for National Public Radio. I have spoken with Barbara on a few occasions via telephone, but have not had the opportunity of meeting her. However, this past week I read Barbara's first book Fingerprints of God . It will be evident to all who read this book that Barbara possesses an extraordinary mind. She recently received the Religion Newswriters Award and the 200 Gracie Award for Women in Radio and Television. She was also one of 10 journalists selected for a Templeton-Cambridge fellowship in science and religion in 2005, where she and her colleagues spent weeks questioning world-class scientists and theologians at Cambridge University. Barbara grew up a Christian Scientist, but in the early 1990's she left Christian Science and through a series of events, eventually came to faith in a personal God and now considers herself a mainstream Christian.

Fingerprints of God is her attempt to answer skeptics' questions about spirituality by diving into the emerging science of spirituality. The first chapter of the book is worth the purchase price alone. Barbara shares about a fascinating spiritual encounter she had outside Saddleback Church in California. She was on assignment for the L.A. Times in 1995 to discover what causes churches to grow numerically. She interviewed a young lady named Kathy Young on a park bench outside Saddleback's auditorium. Kathy shared with Barbara that cancer had returned to her body, but she believed the cancer was God's way of showing her she was on earth for a transcendent purpose. Barbara writes of how she experienced a spiritual encounter with God on that bench as Kathy described her faith in Jesus. I was captivated as Barbara went on in chapter one to describe her own crossing the "river" experience of personal faith in Christ. The book is written primarily for atheists, agnostics or others who struggle with the very concept of God or that the spiritual is real. Not everyone will appreciate the book, but for those who wrestle with the idea of a personal God who actually cares about individuals, Barbara's book will become a classic answer to their skeptical questions. Barbara Bradley Hagerty lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Devin Hagerty, professor and international security expert, and her yellow Labrador retriever, Sandra Day.

I don't agree with 95 percent of Barbara Hagerty's conclusions, particularly with her denial of the exclusivity of Christ, but if an evangelical conservative is going to be able to reach the intellectual liberal, it is important that we understand the way he or she thinks. This book will help you understand. The only thing we evangelicals should fear about intellectual liberalism is our ignorance of it. I think we display a genuine weakness within our own Bible believing faith when we act scared of what liberalism might do to our own faith. Christ in me is my hope of glory, and others who deny His exclusivity will not be won for truth through those ignorant of their views.

In His Grace,



Ramesh said...

Some links:

NPR > Baptist Leaders Face Challenge On Women's Roles by Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

NPR > People > Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR Biography.

Google Books > Fingerprints of God.

Amazon > Fingerprints of God.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

Fingerprints of God - Excerpt: Chapter 1.

Ramesh said...

NPR > All Things Considered > Bradley Hagerty On Science And God.

NPR > Weekend Edition Sunday > NPR Reporter Goes On Scientific Quest For God.

WAMU > The Diane Rehm Show > 11:00Barbara Bradley Hagerty: "Fingerprints of God".

Ramesh said...

Sorry about some of the bottom NPR links. It appears NPR is going through some technical difficulties, for those links were working 15 minutes ago and now they are not. Will try to correct for them tomorrow :-)

Ramesh said...

It appears NPR is slowly doing a face lift to it's web pages and some are orphaned as a result. Hopefully they will all be corrected by tomorrow morning.

Ramesh said...

All the NPR links are working again. I hope I do not have to do ALL the 200 comments for this post. Just kidding. :)
Here is the excerpt, Pastor Wade mentioned of Kathy Younge ...

Right, I thought. Yet there was something wondrous about Kathy’s confidence as she struggled through this disease that could kill her. She told me then how she had been diagnosed with melanoma in her twenties, how her fear and loneliness had led her to Saddleback on a random Sunday, how she had come to believe that God had placed cancer in her life not to snuff it out but to give it a transcendent purpose.

As we talked, the night darkened. The streetlamp next to our bench cast a circle around us, creating the eerie sense that we were actors in a spotlight on a stage. The temperature had dropped into the fifties. I was shivering but pinned to the spot, riveted by Kathy and her serene faith.

My body responded before my mind, alerting me to some unseen change, a danger perhaps. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, and my heart start beating a little faster—as it is now, recalling the moment. Imperceptibly at first, the air around us thickened, and I wondered whether a clear, dense mist had rolled in from the ocean. The air grew warmer and heavier, as if someone had moved into the circle and was breathing on us. I glanced at Kathy. She had fallen silent in mid-sentence. Neither of us spoke. Gradually, and ever so gently, I was engulfed by a presence I could feel but not touch. I was paralyzed. I could manage only shallow breaths. After a minute, although it seemed longer, the presence melted away. We sat quietly, while I waited for the earth to steady itself. I was too spooked to speak, and yet I was exhilarated, as the first time I skied down an expert slope, terrified and oddly happy that I could not turn back. Those few moments, the time it takes to boil water for tea, reoriented my life. The episode left a mark on my psyche that I bear to this day

Christiane said...

If 'Kathy's serene faith' brought Barbara into an awareness of The Presence, that is not unknown to happen among Christians.

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." St. Seraphim of Russia

Jason said...

Very cool, Wade. This is the kind of thing I'd be quite interested in checking out.


Former FBC Insider said...

You are wise to research 'the other side' Wade. We have to know how to reach them. We can't be afraid that we will somehow be sucked into their unbelief.

I appreciate your posts.

Anonymous said...

The only thing we evangelicals should fear about intellectual liberalism is our ignorance of it..

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