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In the Beginning ….

January 4, 2015

I subscribe to the online magazine, Medium. It is published daily, and buried beneath an ever-growing mountain of media vying for my attention, often I simply cannot give time to it when it arrives in my mailbox. Sometimes I quickly scan the list of recommended articles, peruse those that catch my interest, and ignore those on topics in which I have little or no interest. Other times I save issues without even opening them, in hope that I will find time for them later.

But sometimes an article jumps out from my laptop screen and demands my immediate attention. Most recently it was Ethan Siegel’s Can science prove the existence of God?  Responding to the appropriately timed Christmas Day article in the Wall Street Journal by Eric Mataxas (author of excellent biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, both of which I highly recommend) entitled Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God, the writer lays out his arguments for the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, indeed not just life but intelligent life, being not only probable, but inevitable, and that this life, as did life on earth, came into being as a result of random forces rather than by intelligent design as Mataxas asserts. Although well written, both articles are shopworn restatements (albeit dressed up with the latest scientific foofaraw which both authors insist supports their case) of opposing sides of the tiresome dispute between scientism and creationism.

[You can read the articles I discuss by clicking on the titles.}

Although very emphatically declaring he himself is not a man of faith, Siegel’s arguments, like those of many scientists who contend for extraterrestrial life, suggest to me that he indeed is. It’s just that he has faith in something different, and as much as we who believe in God often do, he presents those beliefs as fact.  Science, it would seem, has abandoned its empirical roots and proclaimed theory to be truth.

But there were bright spots in Siegel’s article. He asks a question that I suggest every person of faith ask themselves:

“can your beliefs — whatever they are — stand up to whatever scientific truths the Universe reveals about itself, regardless of what they are?”

I was especially impressed with the closing paragraphs of the article. There may be stronger arguments for people of faith embracing scientific discovery as evidence of God rather than fearing it as an assault on their belief, but I cannot remember having encountered one.

“The truths of the Universe are written out there, on the Universe itself, and are accessible to us all through the process of inquiry. To allow an uncertain faith to stand in as an answer where scientific knowledge is required does us all a disservice; the illusion of knowledge — or reaching a conclusion before obtaining the evidence — is a poor substitute for what we might actually come to learn, if only we ask the right questions. Science can never prove or disprove the existence of God, but if we use our beliefs as an excuse to draw conclusions that scientifically, we’re not ready for, we run the grave risk of depriving ourselves of what we might have come to truly learn.

So as this year draws to a close and a new one begins, I implore you: don’t let your faith close you off to the joys and wonders of the natural world. The joys of knowing — of figuring out the answers to questions for ourselves — is one that none of us should be cheated out of. May your faith, if you have one, only serve to enhance and enrich you, not take the wonder of science away!”

Creation itself was, and continues to be, my First Bible. The wonder of it all spoke loudly to me from the time I was a child, and still does to this day. Indeed, as Claire Yiyi Zhang commented in response to Siegel’s article:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1–4

“I’m not an expert in what the universe has to offer. Still, I appreciate your article. Science and God are not exclusive. Like music, you can learn the mechanisms of how sound waves reach the eardrum and the technicalities behind it all you want; but to really get music is another matter entirely. Only first hand experience can teach us what music is like. Hence, for someone like me who has personally felt the change in her life since learning her life was bought at a price, being able to confidently deny God’s existence in the face of the intricacies unearthed by science — now that would takes guts that I just don’t rationally have.”

In the final analysis, seeking to prove the existence of God is a mug’s game.  For what can be proved requires no faith at all.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Hebrews 11:1-3

God can no more be removed from science than God can be removed from my being.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 5, 2015 12:08 pm

    belief in the equality of all universal existense …….does not need a god…..
    but here on earth for the human species we are never just happy to be a part of everything
    else….we need to set ourselves apart… from our own and everything else so we can feel
    more worthy……greater than!!!!

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