Kate Boyd | Science and the Messy Middle

Kate Boyd has been learning to live out her faith in the messy middle in a culture that rewards picking a side. While her journey didn’t begin with a conflict between science and religion, her story explores the complexities of understanding the Bible in today’s context and anyone who has struggled with issues of science and faith will resonate with this conversation.

Kate’s new book, which tells the story of her journey is called An Untidy Faith: Journeying Back to the Joy of Following Jesus. In the episode, Jim and Kate dive into Kate’s story of her realization of the “untidy” nature of faith and how she has come to embrace the messiness without letting go of core beliefs and how this might apply to the science and faith dialogue.

I have had this thought also that the messiness of this religious stuff is a good thing and God has good reason to do it this way. So I haven’t been sympathetic with the attitude which sees all the disagreements and diversity of Christianity as one of the things wrong in Christianity.

Of course I am coming from a different direction. I am not rediscovering truth or joy in a childhood Christian background but finding value in it as an adult coming from a nonreligious scientific background. So… I am not dealing with the problem of distinguishing the cultural stuff from what Christianity is really about. It is not that my own cultural background does not give me some challenges: 1) some of my reactions can look inappropriate to other Christians and make it difficult for them to see me as Christian, 2) some of the theological issues which seem unimportant to most Christians are of critical importance to me because I wouldn’t believe without those answers, 3) without a guided tour to the Bible drilled into me, my take on some parts of the Bible diverge significantly from those that did, 4) the universal application doubt and skepticism (not to mention distrust of religious organizations) can be hard for other Christians to take.

I will add more as I listen to more.

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I’ve found myself at times in a “messy middle” from the first moment I opened my Novum Testamentum Graece and encountered the critical apparatus that shows the most significant variant readings. While we were taught how to interpret the symbols used and discuss the the possible significance of the variants given, some students suffered through it while seeming to pretend the variants didn’t matter, others struggled with why God would allow His revelation to have any flaws at all (Bart Ehrman’s problem), and others held still different views, while my reaction was that since God had plainly allowed the variants to happen then there was at least one lesson to be had.

And I still get bombarded with negative declarations about my faith when I assert that the presence of all those variants is meant to remind us that our confidence is not in a Book but in a Person!

[note: the professors insisted that textual criticism is a science]