Science & God - Our Good Father
There are a couple of classic reactions that I get when I tell people that I teach Religion and Science. Some go for the slight double take before quickly moving the conversation on, for some there is genuine confusion, or amused disdain and sometimes people tell me that that is impossible.
And in some ways I get it, because there is this loud angry voice that comes at us from somewhere in the culture telling us that Science means that there is no reason or room in this world for a God. And yet, as someone who loves Science, and has found great joy and satisfaction in the answers it gives me about the world - I know I need a God because my heart is searching for something that the clinical answers of Science cannot fill. I need a hope, meaning and purpose in life which isn’t offered by the forces of physics. But I don’t find this answer by ignoring Scientific truths, rather the study of Science points me to the truth of the Bible.
There are lots of questions that Science can answer; questions about how the world works, how we can make plastics that are both strong and water resistant, what the universe was like 13.6 billion years ago, why the sky is blue and why it hurts when you fall over (and why you fell over in the first place).
But there are questions that Science can’t answer.
If you are looking at a sunset, Science can tell you why you see reds and oranges, about how light scattered through the atmosphere results in a particular gradient of light and colour. But, if you are sitting on a beach watching the sunset, holding the hand of someone you think is special and you are thinking about Rayleigh's theory of scattered light, you are probably doing something wrong.
Science can’t tell you why the sunset is lovely, or what gives your life meaning and purpose or why it hurts so much when someone you love lets you down. We need something more than Science to answer the deep fundamental questions of life and Science has an important role in leading us to these answers, as we take joy in seeing God’s goodness and faithfulness in his gift to us of the natural world. As the psalmist has taught us, the heavens declare the glory of God.
It is precisely because I love this logical order of the world, that I find a need for a God. Because in the face of the random chaos that could be the history of our universe we find precision, beauty and life. The most logical explanation that I can find for life in this universe is a creator God. In John 1 we read that “through Jesus all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind”.
Personally, and from the evidence of Science, I understand that God created this world through a 14.7 billion year process of phenomenal cosmology and evolutionary biology. But I have no doubt that God ordained and ordered every step of that process, right down to the atoms that make up my spleen. When I see the precision through which this world was made, I turn to the creator who made it and continues to sustain it. Colossians 1:17 teaches us that Christ is before all things and that in him all things hold together.
I believe that God can and will continue to sustain the world through the process of Science, lovingly, through the work of the Son. But, I also know that should the creator God want to, that he can break the physical laws that he so lovingly put in place. He can do that because he is creator and upholder of the rules. So when I say that I believe that the miracles of the Bible are true, I do so not as someone who thinks that the laws of physics and chemistry don’t hold but rather as someone who knows that the God who is enforcing them does not always have to.
There are some things that you have to give up if you want to fully and completely give your life to God in the way that he calls Christians to. Those things, are attitudes that God promises us are actually things which are hurting us, like a love of money or a desire to please ourselves in a way that hurts others. But God does not ask us to compromise our academic integrity, not in Science or any other field, in order to love and serve him. In fact Proverbs 25:2 tells us that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter and to search them out is the glory of kings.
In the study of Science we see God’s unrelenting faithfulness to us as we delight in the seeking out of truths about the universe. Our God is the God of truth, scientific, historical, moral, philosophical, all truth is known and upheld by him. But he is more than the God of truth - he is the God of love and light who offers peace, joy and hope to a world that so desperately needs them.
And on an individual level, this brings us to something phenomenal; the same God who 13.7 billion years ago put the universe in motion, the God who knows each of the 100 octillion stars by name is the God who knows the number of hairs on your head, the God who can recite the base code pairs for your entire genome. That is the God who wants to call you child, if you want to call him Father.