Monday, October 20, 2008

The Holdfast

A poem sent to me by my brother. A slightly different take on the "hold fast", but I like it. What do you think?

I THREATNED to observe the strict decree
Of my deare God with all my power and might :
But I was told by one, it could not be ;
Yet I might trust in God to be my light.

Then will I trust, said I, in him alone.
Nay, ev’n to trust in him, was also his :
We must confesse, that nothing is our own.
Then I confesse that he my succour is :

But to have nought is ours, not to confesse
That we have nought. I stood amaz’d at this,
Much troubled, till I heard a friend expresse,
That all things were more ours by being his.
What Adam had, and forfeited for all,
Christ keepeth now, who cannot fail or fall.

--George Herbert

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The God of Science

I must have been born a few centuries too late. Anyone who has a casual relationship with me know at least two things about me. 1) I am a Christian and I try to glorify God with all parts of my being. 2) I love science. Many Christians I know, when they learn that I have an undying fascination with science, give a look of shock, disgust, or even horror. And many of the scientists I know at school, when they learn that I am a Christian respond with an equally tactful five seconds of reverent (read as "awkward") silence. This may be just my experience, but it seems that there is some distance between these two camps. There was a time in the not too distant past when science was a field that was studied in tandem with theology, when most scientists could be found in Church or in monasteries performing their experiments along side of their religious duties. Even as late as the nineteenth century, monks, clergy, and theologians couldn’t get enough of science.

Now the Christian attitude toward science treats it as a thing of boredom or as irrelevant to our lives. There are even cries varying in volume, intensity, and intelligence coming from Christian circles against science decrying it as the spawn of the devil and as packaged lies. Had I lived two hundred years ago and then somehow traveled to the present to hear this cry, I’m sure I would have been shocked and distressed to hear such notions. What has gone wrong that Christians hate science as they hate heresy? How did such a masterpiece bore those who study it? How is it irrelevant to those who live by it? How is such a medium of truth denounced as a bundle of lies?

God formed human nature to be naturally inquisitive. He made all humans to be scientists of some sort who enjoy figuring out how exactly the world works. We’ve all asked questions like “Why is the sky blue?” or “ Why does the moon change shape?” or “Do fish ever sleep?” Curiosity about the world is part of human nature, and we who know the Creator of the world should have a special love for understanding how His creation works.

Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings to search things out.”

I suspect that Christians today don’t realize that there is a kingly opportunity before them that was not available to a common person a hundred years ago. We have the opportunity to hunt for the treasures hidden within the labyrinthine halls and corridors of science. We have the unique opportunity to behold the Creator’s masterpiece in great detail. We have the opportunity to lose ourselves in the deep, majestic craft of our Creator.

When viewing a magnificent painting, viewers sometimes stand at different distances to enhance their perception of the painting. Sometimes closer to see more details. Sometimes farther away to better grasp the totality of the work. Creation is God’s masterpiece that you can neither stand too close nor too far from. You can observe this work as closely as you want but you can never reach the extent of the finest details. You can stand as far away as you want, but you can never truly grasp just how vast creation is.

Take the field of biology for example. No scientist can learn and truly understand the principles of biology and be unamazed. Regardless of what the scientist believes about the origins of life, the fact that life exists is miraculous! The intricate molecular patterns, the perfect reproduction of 3 billion genetic subunits, the mind-blowing engineering, are too conspicuously amazing for a good scientist or good Christian to not stand in awe.

Lest we become infatuated with ourselves in the wondrous study of life, God gave us the much bigger and equally mind-blowing science of astronomy. While we sit on earth and study the wonders of life, our planet revolves around a star that is 1.3 million times bigger than the earth. Meanwhile, our sun is still a very young and small star comparatively and is only one of billions in a galaxy that is only average size. Exactly how many galaxies there are is unknown. However, if the whole known universe was my front yard, the whole earth, the whole solar system, indeed, our whole galaxy would be smaller than a grain of pollen.

How can anyone be unimpressed by this? How someone fail to blow their mind when they try to comprehend such wonders? This universe is so small that you could spend your life learning about a microbe a billionth the size of a grain of sand. Yet it’s so big that even the best astrophysicists with the best equipment have been unable to venture a guess about its size. How could we not love how immense and complex our big-little universe is?

Yet as marvelous as the universe of science is it would be dull if it were not so beautiful. The terrifyingly powerful phenomenon of nuclear fusion which powers the stars is not just some scientific process: it is the beautiful warm glow of the sun that brings glory to the day time and it is the speckled brilliance that makes the night sky so vast. Intricately woven carbon chains are not simply patterns of molecules: they are the colors of a soft, smooth petal swathed around the aromatic center of a rose. Such wonders could be nothing but the work of a master architect, biologist, engineer, and artist.

Truly, creation is a masterpiece and it is the joy of Christians to worship the Master. Therefore, let us delve as deeply as we can into these mysteries, while humbly admitting that they are mysteries, so that we might see the beauty of creation and worship the Author of this beautiful creation, indeed the Author of beauty itself, by marveling at His work.

Genesis 1:31a “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”