“We can see God in science,” said Dr. Sharon Bloch, associate professor of science at Lincoln Christian University. Since her arrival at LCU in 2015, Bloch has been teaching her students about our world’s delicate state of equilibrium—and how it points to the work of a Creator.
She loves talking about water and our carbon-based planet as well as fish that survive in the Arctic and microorganisms that thrive in volcanoes. The precise conditions in which every plant and animal and microorganism lives on this planet could not have originated on their own, she would say. They were made.
“Someone had to make it,” Bloch says. “Scientists have been bombarding fruit flies with x-rays and chemicals and what have you for upwards of 60 years, and they’ve never come up with anything but a sick fruit fly.”
When Bloch was in graduate school, she began noticing these elements of design. “I was reading about cells and studying evolution,” she said, “and I’d wonder, ‘Where did the first cell come from?’” No scientist could give her a satisfactory answer. God ended up being the only viable answer.
Bloch had just married a man named David, who was a Conservative Jew from Omaha. She converted to Conservative Judaism and, in about a year and a half, they transitioned into Orthodoxy. “We only ate Kosher, we observed the Sabbath, which meant no driving, no watching TV, no turning lights on. I covered my hair, followed all the laws. We did that for about 14 years.”
And then her husband developed lung cancer. He died 15 months after the diagnosis.
“When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer,” Bloch said, “my Orthodox friends—who really meant well—started calling me and asking me if I was sure that I was following this particular rule correctly. You know, there’s a rule for everything. You put your right shoe on then your left shoe, then you tie your left shoe, then you tie your right shoe.
“That was one of the first things to go,” she said. “You know, I thought, ‘God killed my husband. I really don’t care how I put my shoes on. Like, what’s He going to do to me now?’
Bloch was angry for a time. Her husband had never smoked a cigarette, and yet he died of lung cancer. Despite the pain of losing her husband and the difficulty of living as a single mother in an Orthodox community, Bloch never lost the sense that God would take care of her. “Whatever was going to happen, God was not going to abandon me,” she said. “Here I was, 43, I had a 13-year-old son. I was working full-time, had to get him to school, go to work, pick him up from school. I had a lot on my plate. Somehow, I knew that God was going to take care of me, that I would get what I needed and end up where I needed to be.”
After her son bar-mitzvahed, they both began skipping synagogue. Then they turned lights on and off during Sabbath. “We lived through a couple of years like that,” said Bloch. “I’d see neighbors in the grocery store, and I’d be buying something that wasn’t really Kosher, and nobody ever said anything, but I’d get that sort of sideways glance.”
Two years later, Bloch and her son were driving to Waffle House for breakfast—“we’re eating bacon at this point,” she said—when her son asked, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about Jesus.” Bloch laughed at the recollection. “I almost wrecked the car,” she said. “I really did. And then I said, ‘Okay, if you want to go to church, we’ll go to church.’”
They did. Within a few months, her son accepted Christ as his savior. Bloch was growing more and more interested in Christianity every day—but it took one sentence in N.T. Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God to make everything clear: “In the view of the Pharisees, Jesus gave something he had no right to give to people who had no right to receive it.” The forgiveness Jesus offered fulfilled the entire sacrificial system. “It just clicked,” said Bloch, “and I finally got it. Jesus was the Messiah, and the Pharisees didn’t like him because he was cutting into their business, since people didn’t need to go to the Temple and give sacrifices if Jesus was giving forgiveness away for free.” She could see how Christianity and Judaism fit together, which was essential for her conversion: “I needed continuity,” she said. “After 14 plus years following every little rule, it was important for me to connect them historically. In the end, I didn’t feel like I was even changing religions. I felt like I was moving into the natural evolution of my religion as opposed to saying I was wrong before.”
In 2012, Bloch and her son were both baptized. About five years into their Christian journey, she a professor at Lincoln Christian and he is a senior ministry major at Missouri Baptist. Whatever questions still linger for her, one is abundantly clear: God will never abandon her.