Lately I have been engaged in a book by Mike McHargue called, God in the Waves. While reading this book I am reminded that the divide in the world between the Christian and the Scientist is a false distinction. There are more than McHargue who work to talk about religion and science as compatible and those are interesting conversations. What McHargue makes the case for in this book is the approach of an individual to life and that being a person who seeks out information is not necessarily the same person who seeks out being in formation.
The great Abraham Joshua Heschel said that the action purifies the motive. Neuroscientist Dr. Adele Diamond gives this example of what Heschel meant:
He (Heschel) said, “I don't care why you're doing the good deed. Do the good deed.” And the example he gives is a musician may be playing a concert to earn a lot of money. But if when he’s playing the concert he’s concentrating on all of the money he’s going to make, he’s going to play a lousy concert. While he’s playing the concert, he has to be in the moment. He has to be concentrated on the music. And if he’s concentrated on the music, he’ll play well. So he talks about how the act can purify the motive if you really do the act fully.
McHargue speaks of prayer and invites the reader to practice prayer even if you are atheist. This may make little sense to some people but the point that I think that McHargue is making is that we often think that Christianity is the pursuit of information about a particular understanding of God. Thus, if one rejects the Christian information then one rejects Christianity. The problem is that Christianity is not the pursuit of information but the pursuit of being in formation.
Being in formation is taking on practices that mold and shape our heart, brain and spirit. The difference between information and being in formation is that one does not have be believe in order to be in formation. This is the hope that I want my Christian sisters and brothers to understand - belief is not the essential matter to be a disciple of Christ because Practice purifies the motive. We are called to follow Christ, we are called to be in formation; not to seek the right information.