August 22, 2014.
I finished my first week of graduate school today and it has reaffirmed my love and awe of science. Yes, I know, I’m a nerd, but some of this stuff is just amazing! The detail of our DNA, the signaling pathways and cascades, the homeostasis of the body that regulates to the minute detail of maintaining a blood pH of 7.37-7.44- what’s not to love, right? Okay, so maybe you’re not into science and that was just a bunch of random words to you, but take it from me, the level of accuracy and precision that the natural world around us including our own body system is no less than extraordinary. At the end of the day sometimes I wonder how a scientist can look at whatever they study, or even the smallest organism, and not be inclined to believe at least in some sort of higher power. And that power, God, is awe inspiring.
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.”
It occurred to me today that perhaps one of the reason a scientist is opposed to the notion of God might be because somehow, the concept of an omnipotent God creating the universe and all that is therein might take away from the beauty and inspiration of nature. While on a surface level, I can somewhat see a little bit of logic in this sentiment, upon deeper contemplation it simply doesn’t make much sense. I saw a picture the other day of the inner mechanisms of a watch designed by the man who is considered the most prestigious watch maker in the world today (no, I didn’t choose a watch story just to bring up the watch maker argument, I really just saw this picture so it was on my mind). It was nothing less than beautiful. Stunning really. I’m sure you could find a picture of it through Google. The fact that this watch had a maker took no beauty away from it. It didn’t make me think any less of it, nor did it make it in anyway second class. The same holds true for the natural world. The fact that God created the universe does in no way take away from its awe inspiring appeal. Actually, it should just bring more glory to the one who made it all. Those who believe in a natural origin and no God in some ways (though not admittedly) elevate mother nature to a god (or goddess, I suppose). It’s very hard to get away from the concept of a god, and I believe there is a reason for that.
Obviously I am a scientist, as I am an Christian apologist. I do not believe science and religion are mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that the study of science is simply the study of the laws and manifestation of the Almighty. It is amazing to me that our whole universe is governed by laws that we can set mathematical equations to. It is amazing that the instruction code responsible for all the diverse life on this planet is just composed of four bases (adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine if you are interested). And if you are a Christian who is opposed to the study of science, let me plead with you that what you have been fed by the world of “science disproves God” is simply false (science, by definition can neither prove or disprove God- He is not in its scope). On the contrary, we are able to study science because this universe is highly organized and governed by laws and constants that, in my opinion, demand a God. The laws of physics were created by God. Why would I not want to study his handiwork? Solomon puts it this way:
“I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
This verse has been taken a couple of different ways over time, but the eternity that is set in man’s heart I think has something to do with our innate sense of God and our curiosity about the world around us (a.k.a. science). The more I learn, the more amazed I am about God.”How great thou art!” as the old hymn goes. Our very propensity to gain this knowledge, to study our surroundings or to do anything characteristically human begs for a God. I heard a friend once say that he believed in God because of art. Art is something so characteristically human that we often take for granted the deep implications it has about ourselves. I’ll let you chew on that for a while on your own, because I think he made an excellent point.
True science will never contradict God, because God is the creator of science. Have you ever thought about it that way? We have this inclination that we must constantly be on the defense of God, like he needs our help to prove he is real and alive. And when we get heavily involved in doing this, I feel that sometimes we get scared that something is going to turn up and debase our whole argument. The fact of the matter is, God does not need us to defend him. God is, and he stands regardless of what we think about him. His own defense is everything we see around us.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
I have definitely fallen into this trap before of feeling like I have to “prove” the existence of God. I don’t. He’s already done that. But what we do have as our mission is to witness on his behalf. Often, this takes a use of logic and reasoning to show the world the evidences that are clearly displayed in nature. This is why I’m an apologist. But my pointing out to you the beauty and awe of created nature is not me “proving” the existence of God. It is simply showing the existence of God. There is a subtle, but important difference between the two in my opinion. I think most of that difference is worry. If I have to prove something, I might very well worry that I will not be able to or that I am even wrong. But if I just have to show you the proof that already is in existence, well then the hard part is done. You can accept it or reject it, that does not make the evidence disappear.
If you are curious about why I think so highly of science and its relationship to God, maybe a bit of explanation will help. In the field of science, typically a researcher focuses his or her word on one, singular tiny aspect of scientific knowledge. You might meet a biologist who’s entire life work has been devoted to understanding the American Plumb tree, or even a specific subtopic about the tree such as its reproduction and genetic code (I don’t think I would really enjoy that, so that’s one reason I am in the medical research field). The point is, science is so large that you simply cannot study it all, or even a small percentage of it, fully. You can get a broad overview that would still leave out so much, but it would be impossible to specialize in anything more than a very small subset of the knowledge base. So, researches choose something interesting and dig a deep, deep whole in their area of expertise. At this level, it may be a little bit easier to conjecture that everything just happened from a natural origin. You may even be able to use some logic that is tied directly to your research to purpose a theory about how it happened. But when you zoom out and look at the universe as a whole, it is inconceivable (at least in my opinion) that all of it just happened. That’s what I would refer to as missing the forrest for the trees.
I could probably go on and on about all kinds of really cool things that we have learned about the universe and how they in effect give evidence of an omnipotent designer and maker, but I will leave that up to you. The literature is out there and I don’t want to sit here and bore you too much. But the end of the matter is, science is simply amazing because it was created by God. I sometimes think that God looks down on our research and chuckles at our little theories about life and the universe. Some of them may well be correct, but I would venture to guess that many are not. And any scientist who would disagree, I will just refer to all the mistakes and incorrect theories there have been in the past (and not even the long distant past) when the scientists back then thought for sure they were right. Even classical physics which has been a staple for hundreds and hundreds of years is slowly getting replaced with quantum physics. How did our equations work then? A matter of statistics. If that doesn’t make us aware of the loose ground we are standing on when we make our theories, then I don’t know what will. But as it is, the study of God’s handiwork will continue on because he is eternal and we will never be able to search it all out. But it is a thrilling task, at least to me.
Science is wonderful, the laws that govern our universe are elegant, the natural world is a thing of pure beauty and all glory should go to the one who made it all.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Suggested Daily Reading: Job 38-40, Psalm 19.
The Lord give you wisdom.