How we answer is important, because it reveals a lot about how we will approach the topic of science and faith. I know that God is within every part of photosynthesis. If we don't immediately see God as responsible for every part of photosynthesis, we take part in modern western thinking that assumes describing something in scientific terms somehow leaves less room for God.
Instead, Christians may inherently praise God for the mechanisms of photosynthesis and for every valid scientific description put forth by modern scientists. How wonderful it is to marvel at a newborn infant. This is my youngest daughter holding our new grandnephew. At the same time, modern science can describe in increasing detail how the human form arises from the unfolding of specific genes and progresses through stages without apparent intervention by God.
These two ideas may seem in conflict. They are both true! This approach to God and nature seems puzzling to our western perceptions, but there is a long, biblically-based church history of understanding that God works with the characteristics of the natural things he created and sustains. This seeming paradox may be compared to our strange modern understanding of light energy.
Some observations confirm that light behaves like a wave in a medium, while other equally valid tests show light is composed of different sized packets of energy called photons. These descriptions are contradictory from our everyday perceptions, but we are forced to acknowledge that they are simultaneously true, even as they seem to be in conflict. Christians may even more readily accept seeming paradox when we describe the divine action of the transcendent and unfathomable God who was before all things, created everything from nothing, and knows the end from the beginning.
He acts from beyond the confines of our limited space-time perceptions in a way that must ultimately be puzzling to us. I approach the science of evolution in the same way as photosynthesis and embryo development. Our modern knowledge of evolutionary history is vast and complex, and evolutionary theory explains innumerable aspects of biology, from the tiniest cell structures to intertwined interactions within ecosystems. Evolution is a major unifying principle for valuable reasons. And yet, I know that God is the artist of the marvelous and intricate evolutionary masterpiece painted across his natural creation.
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To be sure, there are still many questions to be answered about evolution. Even so, I have seen in my 40 years of study that we have acquired ever-increasing scientific clarity, not exposed difficulties or limitations. Our general picture of ancestral relationships among organisms is routinely reinforced and extended by ongoing fossil finds and genetic studies. And our understanding of evolutionary mechanisms the area of least certainty has been bolstered beyond simple mutation-selection models by a flurry of new discoveries from modern genomics. The broadest conclusion is not that God is revealed in the descriptions of evolutionary science; it is that God interacts with his natural creation in such a way that he is not directly evident.
There is stunning beauty in the intricate form of these Phacelia flowers from the desert in Joshua Tree National Monument. At a time when so much is described using naturalistic explanations, the church is challenged with considering how we see God in the natural world. I was personally swayed from my atheistic reasoning not by scientific data, but by an overwhelming sense that mechanistic descriptions could not account for all I perceived about existence.
Ultimately, this is a work of the Holy Spirit and an assent of the heart. There are different paths to Christian faith. I was particularly struck by the awe, wonder, and beauty I experience sitting in the solitude of a high mountain lake, gazing at a colorful sunset, or pondering the delicate structure of a flower.
Atheistic scientists argue that these universal emotions are solely products of a mechanistic evolutionary history. I have long been intrigued that the Bible claims God is apparent in nature, without reference to scientific information. The heavens declare the glory of God. An unexpected, beautiful sunset from northern California. Similarly, David composed Psalm Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. Reformation leader John Calvin offered this commentary: And it is then that we will see his hand, his presence, in all aspects of nature!
These reflections may be a reminder that a key event in perceiving God in nature is a work of the Holy Spirit, a divine communication that gives us eyes to see. Sharing the gospel of Jesus in our scientific age will always involve an invitation to accept a supernatural reality and to acknowledge that God is responsible for all that scientists study.
Where is God in Nature? Through deeds of love. I encourage you to do the same. Recently a friend shared the following quote by Dale Carnegie: Some things in the world are far more important than wealth: I was reminded of the richness to be found in the sounds of nature on a recent trip with Rob to northern Minnesota. One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to hear the loons call out.
21 Top Bible Verses about Nature - Displaying God's Glory Scriptures
I knew what their calls sounded like but had never experienced that in person. What a treat it was to hear their song!
But we would never have heard the loons had we not found quiet places to experience them. I realize this is just the way things are, a necessity of life, but if we want to hear the music of the meadow or the symphony that glorifies the forest then we must find quiet places in nature. I believe the same thing can be said about listening to God. I am convinced that God does still speak to us but we often fail to hear what God is saying because of all of the noise in our lives.
Once again, much of that noise is necessary and important. But if we want to hear the still small voice of God we must find quiet places for our soul. I definitely need to discipline myself to find those quiet places more often—both in nature and in the spiritual realm.
Carnegie was right, some things in the world are far more important than wealth. Dale Carnegie , loons , Minnesota , Psalm Earlier this month I took a photography trip to Arizona and Utah.
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It proved to be a wise choice. In this book Olson has chapters on solitude, harmony, awareness, beauty, simplicity, wholeness, contemplation, and a number of other interesting topics. While I was in Arizona I was blessed to stay with a dear friend who took me to some remote locations where I experienced beautiful sites I had not visited before. In addition to photographing the stupendous scenery and rock formations I also sought to let the beauty before me sink in.
There was a reason for this extra step. At the end of his chapter on beauty Olson wrote these words: I also know one must take time and wait for the glimpses of beauty that always come, and one must see each as though it were his last chance. That final phrase struck a chord with me. We must see each expression of beauty as though it could be the last chance we had to do so. There are places and things we must enjoy now while we can. Doing so will cause us to experience beauty in a deeper way. A recent example from my personal life has made me even more aware of this.
My mother, a beautiful person, passed away a few days ago. I got to visit with her just a few days before she died.
Had I known, perhaps I would have stayed a bit longer, asked a few more questions, or been more effusive with my affection. Trying to do this will make our lives richer. Let us learn to live in the present more. Take nothing for granted. Let us learn to enjoy fully our time in special places. Give thanks for expressions of beauty wherever they appear. Let us make memories that will sustain us a lifetime.
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There may come a time when memories are all we have. Let beauty sink in deep…. I thought that with thirty years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy… and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. He is, of course, correct but selfishness, greed and apathy are not beyond the realm of the church.
This is a needed reminder as we prepare to observe another Earth Day.
The biblical mandate is clear. Christians are called to be good stewards of the environment. The earth, therefore, is sacred space. In Genesis 1 God declares the goodness of the earth. It was designed to meet both our physical and spiritual needs. The earth is indeed holy ground. The world today faces a number of environmental crises. Many of these are quite daunting. Scientists are at work seeking solutions but as Gus Speth noted, behind the environmental crisis is a moral one.
Selfishness, greed and apathy truly are underlying causes and unless these are addressed by the religious community there is not much hope for improvement. These go hand in hand.