Self-proclaimed nerd, Florida local Mike McHargue has just released his book Finding God in the Waves. He tells Jessica Morris about being ‘Science Mike’, his hopes for the future of the US and how he reconciled science and faith.
You’ve had a unique spiritual journey, so why have you chosen to share it with the world?
I think my journey is unique in that I had such a powerful mystical (supernatural) experience that I processed using science instead of theology, but I think faith transitions are incredibly common—and many people hide in fear as they experience them.
I share my story so that other people who find themselves unable to believe what they once did about God know they are not alone.
You were a church-attending atheist for two years without anybody knowing. How did this happen?
When you lose your faith, it’s not like you forget all you knew before. You just don’t believe it any more. It’s not hard to present a faith that looks genuine if you participate in the same social rituals and know good answers to ‘church’ questions.
How have you reconciled your understanding of science with a faith in God?
Well, that’s what the entire book is about, so trying to give a short answer is tough. I guess I’d say I realised that science and faith are different ways of looking at life. Science gives us facts about reality, while faith allows us to find meaning among all those facts.
What compels you to ask the tough questions about life, existence and creation?
I’m a nerd, so I’ve always successfully navigated through life using superior information. That led to an obsessive need to know, to be certain about life’s tough questions. But today, I’ve learned to enjoy the exploration, with the knowledge that most of these questions are definitively answerable.
What would you say to someone wrestling to understand the nature of God and science?
Enjoy the struggle and let go of fear.
How were you given the name ‘Science Mike’?
At a party! I was doing an impromptu science Q&A with friends and new acquaintances, and one of my friends said, ‘Look at Science Mike wowing the crowd.’ After that, everyone started calling me Science Mike. I hated it at first, but it’s grown on me.
You have shared your story through a variety of media—from your book, to podcasts (The Liturgists and Ask Science Mike), public speaking and articles. hat is your favourite method of doing this?
I love telling the story in book form, because it allows a deeper exploration of the questions my experience raises. But I also love to tell the story on stage, because the emotional reaction of an audience can take me back to moments in the story more powerfully than anything else.
What single scientific discovery would you like to occur in your lifetime?
A unified theory of physics that integrates relativity with quantum mechanics.
What are your hopes for America under your new president?
Our president-elect ran a very controversial campaign. My hopes are that President-elect Trump makes quick, decisive actions to demonstrate that he’ll be a president for all Americans—and a reliable ally to nations all over the globe.