Susan was with a bunch of Woodlands people at a day seminar for youth workers on Saturday. It was organised by the Good Book Company entitled Understanding and Teaching the Sovereignty of God. How often do you hear a topic like that in youth work today?! I am increasingly impressed by GBC, the more I hear about them.
During our family devotional time later in the evening we got on to discussing God and science. (It didn’t have anything directly to so with the passage we were reading, but these times often function as an opportunity to discuss spiritual issues that are on my daughter’s mind.) Susan quoted someone she had heard speak earlier that day. Her paraphrase was something like,
There are no Laws of Nature, just acts of God.
What a great statement! I thought it was brilliant. What a great starting point for thinking about the world we live in, and about what science is about! Thinking like this stops us thinking there is “something else” out there to which we owe alliegance (i.e. physical Laws), alongside God.
In other words, it destroys another idol.
5 thoughts on “Knock Them Down, One at a Time.”
Without the laws of nature, we would have only chaos. The extent to which the world is orderly is precisely the extent to which there are “laws of nature” – they are descriptive, not prescriptive.
Science is the study of that orderliness. Whether it’s an idol or an icon depends on us.
pax et bonum
I think we are on the same page on this, but there is a particular angle I wanted to draw attention to.
My comment was not directed against the orderliness of nature, or our ability to describe that orderliness. Rather, the problem I see, and I am conscious of it as my daughter grows up learning science in school, is that when we call such a description a “law of nature” and stop abruptly there we are strongly tempted effectively to think of the “laws” as little deities out there somewhere.
Now, I understand that such “laws” can function as a kind of shorthand in discussion, but Christians must must not forget that they describe not simply orderliness, but God’s orderly moment-by-moment governing of the universe. They are first and foremost “acts of God”.
(PS Hope the novel has gone well!)
We’re saying much the same, but the usual differences of approach mean that each of us, I think, a little uncomfortable with the other’s way of expressing things!
Laws of nature exist because they are ordained by God – they are the way God chose to make the world and are expressions of God’s creative, sustaining action. Seeing them as laws is not intrinsically bad – it depends on the context we use.
So, instead of thinking about destroying idols, I’d prefer to think about restoring icons.
(And it’s gone about as I’d expected – which is to say, not as long as it should be 😦 )
pax et bonum
You said: I’d prefer to think about restoring icons.
This caught me by surprise. What are you getting at?
If we think about idols as things that we revere instead of God, and icons as things that direct our worship through them towards God, perhaps what I’m trying to say will be a little clearer. A classic description of icons in the Orthodox Church is that they are windows into heaven – the idea is that we don’t actually see the icon but rather we look through it to the spiritual reality it represents.
So with science. Understood within a Christian worldview, science is the investigation of God’s Creation using the tools God has given us. So, what we find reflects to God’s glory – even when what we find is strange or unsettling, we trust that the God who created it will help us to understand and appreciate it.
The problem thus isn’t with science but with the worldview within which we seek to understand it.
pax et bonum
Comments are closed.