Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Science Deepens My Worship of God

Image result for john piippo dragonfly
Common whitetail dragonfly, in my back yard

It has been my privilege to know many scientists. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. At University Baptist Church in East Lansing, and The Baptist Student Center, we had professors and doctoral students in every imaginable scientific field, from biochemistry to physics, chemistry to microbiology, and engineering to medicine.

One of my joys was to have many deep, interactive times with them discussing the Bible, and reading books together (when Richard Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker came out, I and four doctoral students read and discussed it.).

One of my observations was this. These scientists were people of deep faith in God and Jesus. Science, for them, was not a way to fill in gaps in knowledge. Science was, rather, exploring the beauty of how God does things. Scientific research deepened their experience of the transcendent beauty and awesomeness of God.

This idea is deeply rooted in the history of science. For the astronomers Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, studying the heavens was tantamount to studying the mind of God. From this perspective, there is not only no fear of what one might discover, but great expectation that new discoveries will bring new worship of God. The creation is the handwork of God. Therefore, to unpack the creation is to know more about God.

The great physicist Max Planck wrote, "It was not by any accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls, even though they made no public show of their religious feelings." (In Gordon Leidner, Of God and Dice: Quotes from Eminent Scientists Supporting a Creator Kindle Locations 332-333)

Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, "The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you." (Ib., Kindle Locations 339-340)

"Science," wrote Louis Pasteur, "brings men nearer to God." (Ib., Kindle Location 373)

Owen Gingerich is professor emeritus of astronomy and of the history of science at Harvard University and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Gingerich writes: "I believe the book of nature .. suggests a God of purpose and a God of design. And I think my belief makes me no less a scientist." (Ib., Kindle Locations 739-740)

As for me, I walk back to the river on our three-and-a-half acres, with my camera. I started out as an undergraduate in engineering, before switching to philosophy, thereby losing a summer home in the Hamptons. Now, I'm an amateur photographer of God's handiwork. I still have a lot of science in me, and read scientific literature constantly. At night, especially when the skies are clear and, for me, preferably cold, I tell Linda, "I'm stepping outside for a few moments and looking up."

Science looks within, and looks up, causing me and my scientist friends to agree that the heavens declare the glory of God.