Summary: Science can help us better understand how we are created to know God.
Everyone is price conscious, at least a little bit. I knew that Christianity Today voted What Your Body Knows About God as book of the year and it was on a number of other lists. But it wasn’t until it went on sale this week for $2.99 on kindle that I decided to pick it up (although I ended up listing to the audiobook at Scribd).
Christianity and Science books are a bit iffy much of the time, in large part because Christians tend to not be great scientists. Rob Moll is not a scientist, he is a journalist. So What Your Body Knows About God is more like one of Mary Roach’s books or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Christianity and Science books also tend to be apologetics oriented, either trying to prove that God was behind the science or that science is wrong (neither of which I am all that interested in). There is a little of that, but the focus is different. This is the Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic type of apologetics if it is anything. Moll is not trying to convince the skeptic, Moll is trying to pull the attention of the believer toward how we can use science about the body to help us better find God.
The first section is about how our bodies are designed to find God, how prayer calms our body but also makes us more aware of spiritual things, how we are designed to be in community and learn by imitating, how sex works to draw a couple together and how we are designed to need rest. All of these things are presented not as proof of God’s creation of us, but instead as examples of how Christianity has known in some sense that we are designed for God.
The second section is about how spiritual growth can be reenforced by understanding what how we work as humans. Humans are ritualistic creatures. Habits are important, senses help connect us deeply to what is around us and serving actually is part of our design.
By the end of the second section I was pretty sure that Moll was Anglican (as it seems everyone is that I am reading these days.) The points he highlights about repetition, worship, sensory awareness are just part of the awareness of Anglican theology and practice and philosophically and physiologically there is real wisdom in liturgical practice similar Anglican and Catholic practices. It wasn’t until the third section that I actually heard him say he was Anglican, but if I hadn’t of heard him say it, I would have assumed he was on his way toward the Anglican world soon.
The third section is the ‘So What’ section. If we know that God as created us this way, and that is what the science says, then how do we use that knowledge to better seek after God. One of the important points out of the third section is that science and faith are doing two different things. So there is a limit to what science can tell us about faith. For instance in prayer, we can try to figure out if people are helped by prayer, but prayer is more than simply healing. And in the case of studies on prayer, prayer requires a faith in God if we actually believe in the Christian version of prayer. So while we can use science we should not attempt to mis-use science in the round peg, square hole sense. Science and faith are different and they tell us different things about ourselves.
There is a lot of neuroscience in the book. I have read some popular science books about neuroscience and enough articles and blog posts to know that while it is exciting field of research, it is also cutting edge and lots of the science is still very hypothetical. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some neuroscientists that are skeptical of some of these conclusions or the science gets refined a lot over the next few years. But I do think the main thrust, regardless of the science seems to be an important conclusion. If we are Christians, why would we not want to know more about how God created us so that we can know more about who God is and how we can find him?
This is a fairly brief book, and I listened to it in two days easily. Had I read it last year, I am not sure it would have been my book of the year, but I do think it is well worth reading, especially if you are going to pick it up on sale.
What Your Body Knows About God/ How We Are Designed to Connect, Serve and Thrive by Rob Moll Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook, Scribd Audiobook, audiobook is discounted to $3.99 with the purchase of the kindle edition