Religious and Moral Issues

Part 4:  Church And Science

So – there I was, a poor shy, high school – a poor lost sheep safe in the fold of the Methodist church.  But something began to crumble some of the walls of the fold.  I’m not certain in just what order things happened.

      I had been interested in pebbles from Sugar Creek since earliest school years, -- perhaps even before school age.  From probably 5th or 6th grade on I was carrying home from the Keokuk Library arm loads of books on rocks – and then on geology.  These before too long became college-type text books for, in the 1920’s, I remember very few non-fiction for children.

      Picking out the geology volumes gave natural access to other non fiction.  School assignments in “The Microbe Hunters” probably lead me toward a similar popular book on philosophers and their thoughts.  Such books along with church studies of the Bible and Bible teachings perhaps turned me to the Public Library volumes about the Bible.

      As I began to read the Bible, I also read ABOUT the Bible.  I remember discovering a spot in one of the Genesis creation stories (Genesis I:26) “And God said, Let us make man in our likeness”.  I wondered why the plural pronouns were used – “us” and “our” instead of the singular for One God.

      Dr Loose had been moved to a church in another town just a few months after taking me into the church.  The new minister seemed more business-like and less reachable by me so I wrote to ask Dr Loose for answers to several questions.

      His answers failed completely to satisfy me.  Maybe it could be argued I was already bias.  I don’t think that myself.  To Dr Loose the plural pronouns were used because it was the Trinity – the 3-Part God speaking.  If so, why wasn’t that style used more frequently in the Bible?

      Perhaps it was in the correspondence with Dr Loose that I also asked about Heaven.  At any rate someone told me they wanted nothing more in the after life than to walk and talk with Jesus.  I guess my practicality bogged down at the vision of all the souls in Heaven being able to crowd near enough to walk and talk with Jesus.  I can see where some good points could be made for such a vision.  As a high school girl, I was not ready for that.

      I remember being called to the assistant principal’s office one day in Sr. High School.  I went in fear and trembling – wondering what I might have done wrong.  It was far from that.  Someone had heard me say I wished I had a Bible.  Assist Prin., old sweet Harriet Solomon, had purchased a Bible to give to me.  I still have it.  Who I had made such a remark to, I could never remember; and who passed it on to Miss Solomon, I never knew.

      I had discovered in Jr. High General Science, and in my library reading, a great interest in science.  J. Garth Johnson was a new biology and chemistry teacher the year I entered Sr. High.  He was the teacher of my biology class.  That was a very interesting class to me.  I especially liked the laboratory.  I remember his first talk to the biology class emphasised that word “laboratory”.  He wrote the word on the board and then crossed out the “-atory” to let us know he expected us to “Labor”!

      The laboratory had tripod magnifiers and microscopes for each two students.  There were cages, aquariums.  At the proper time of year, it had a glass sided observation bee hive.  I’m not certain how I gradually became a “lab assistant”.  I know one Christmas Holiday I went to school daily to feed liver or hamburger bits to a small alligator and to water some potted plants.  Another Christmas vacation I had access to school and the lab to keep going an experiment.  In an aquarium we had a bunch of elodea – a water plant.  A glass funnel inverted over the elodea trapped gas bubbles from the plant and steered the bubbles up to an inverted glass test tube.  The test tube had started filled with water.  The bubbles gradually replaced the water.  Finally the test tube of gas was tested in a manner the class had previously learned gave indication of oxygen.  Sure enough, red hot steel wool burst into bright flame when inserted into the test tube of gas from the water plant.

      Other ways I was lab assistant – I grew paramecium from wet hay; I nursed along and increased a few amoebae to plenty for each two in class to study under the microscopes.  Mr. Johnson found I had a steady hand and eyes to slice microscopic sections of squash stem and corn stem for mic slides.

      In the course of all these interesting chores, the teacher and I became good friends.  He had interest in philosophy, so I’m certain he must have guided some of my reading.

      I remember there was one time I was struggling with ideas of God.  Mr. Johnson asked me “How do you know there IS a God?  What proof is there of existence of a God?”  I had no immediate answer.  The replies I gave him a few days later, I can record rather straight for I put this into a scrapbook I was building during my high school days.

                  1. Some people live on the assumption that there is a God.  It seems to work for them.  Other live on the assumption there is no God.

                  2. Don’t you have to define what God is before you can present any proof of His existence?

                  3. Can you prove such as God – can you disprove?

      J. Garth Johnson, in my memory, seemed pleased, and proud of my thinking for those answers.  He told me those were points made by three important philosophers.  I wish I remembered what philosopher used each of my three points.  If I weren’t such a “Jack of All Trades” I might go back to some of those thinkers and dig it out again.

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