Monday, 21 December 2009

Emperical Limits?

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed". Albert Einstein.

"When the evening arrives, you say ' it will be fair weather' based upon the colour of the sky, and in the morning, 'it will be stormy today', based upon what you observe. You know how to interpret these things, but not the deeper signs" Jesus (Matthew 16:2&3).

We spend a fair amount of time in England talking about the weather - it's certainly a feature that throws up constant variations, even regarding just what kind of rain we'll have today - I understand that someone has even sought to provide a dictionary of words just to define that one aspect of our climate!
One consequence of this is the interesting relationship we have to our weather forecasts - not only because this gives us lots to complain about (MORE rain!), but for those occasions when the weathermen makes absolute howlers in terms of miss-judgments or mistakes, especially with regards to 'freak' incidents on a local level. It reminds me, somewhat of the variation in the 'themes' of a realm like physics, where Einstein's general image may apply for the 'big' view of the universe, but Quantum mechanics are a must when we seek to scrutinize the 'micro verse' that makes that much larger picture possible. Weather forecasting may give me a general idea of whether its OK to hang the washing out today, but it's often not that good at telling me how much frost or ice to expect on my drive this morning.

The reality is, however good our research, our data, our scrutiny of the information at hand, our understanding of what we even deem as basic reality is pretty limited, and it's even more stifling, as Einstein noted, if it doesn't lead us to a sense of wonder about what we are involved in. There needs to be something deeper going on here, and science itself is beginning to express some of the reasons as to why wonder lies at the heart of it.

In the last twenty years, the 'message' encoded within the language of DNA (and therefore, in every cell of our bodies) has begun to 'speak' plainly, showing that there is, in effect, a 'non-material aspect to all living systems' (Andy Mc Intosh - information & thermodynamics), and this discovery, as William Dembski, Stephen Meyer and others argue, places an intelligent origin of information at the very core of the existence of life.

We can view the world, be it through telescope or microscope, umbrella or sun shade, as merely something 'there', something we inter-act with from the cradle to the grave, and that's it,
or, we can begin to recognize the fact that there's something bigger going on here.

Don't merely read the natural 'signs', says Jesus - that makes us terribly limited.
Look deeper, look harder, look with fascination at the wonder of what we are, of where we are, and you will begin to realize that all of this is but a slight reflection of a far greater, deeper reality, a truth that can truly free us to appreciate the wonder not only of ourselves, but of the God who is there.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Vital Realization

Watching history documentaries, this time on the second world war, certainly gets you thinking...

When engaged in a conflict, you quickly become aware of the fact that your defenses are only as good as their weakest point - a reality, for example, all to painfully realized by the French and the British when facing the Nazi onslaught in 1940.
The same reality is evident when it comes to measuring the health of of our understanding of the Christian faith. There are clear reasons why we need to be those clothed in the armour of God. The Apostles identify many high minded schemes abroad in our world which are, in effect, strongholds against the truth of the Gospel, and only those fully equipped in the totality of truth can hope to stand against such bastions and engines of fatal deceit.

The imperative of being so adorned and trained to fight raises a question that many theologians and teachers of our day avoid, hence showing their resignation to alien concepts, adopted from outside of the faith.
What would Christianity have become if Paul and company had not contended against the supposed insights and imperatives of the philosophical and religious arguments of their day, but had merely responded to these with a welcoming accommodation of such views? What would have become of the uniqueness of the revelation of God working through creation, especially the Incarnation, to redeem the world?

The pain of falsehood, evidenced even amongst that first generation of Christians who departed from the Apostles doctrine, would have overwhelmed the faith, and would have left the modern world with nothing but the slightest echo of the marvel of God saving our wretched race from its own blindness and poverty.

Falsehood, of course, has made itself keenly felt over the centuries within Christendom - the blanket of error and deceit which descended, especially from the early third century onwards, as dualism became the source of so many 'christian' beliefs and practices, leaves no doubt where such murderous accommodation leads. It drains the essential Christian message regarding our creation, our fall and our redemption through God's love and reconciliation of this world of it's strength, and leaves us aspiring to some vague hope of a saving of the soul, not the actual handiwork of God, made very good for His refreshment and purpose.

It is with these considerations in mind that we would do well to take account of the inroads of theistic evolution into the contemporary Christian fold.
As several theologians have recently affirmed in the work, Should Christians Accept Evolution, the real poison here is not the acceptance of some 'new' understanding, supplied by science, of our nature and purpose, but the accommodation of a very old lie concerning life and humanity - that we are merely 'natural' creatures, entirely defined and constrained by the 'natural' realms of death and suffering, and that the Biblical message concerning a good Creation by a good God has no viable bearing on such realities - salvation, if real at all, merely equates, as it did for the Greeks, to an escape from such an inherently dark and consistently cruel world.

There can be little doubt that modern science raises questions that may indeed be hard to answer regarding the nature of our planet, but faith answers first and foremost with a clear and certain response - that a Good God framed and formed the heavens and the earth at the beginning,
that He made us, placed us in the midst of the good work, and it was then that we marred this realm by our deeds, bringing death upon it and ourselves. This is the malady that the one true remedy of Christ's redeeming work resolves, and to empty the faith of this reality is to leave us bare, clutching the merest leaves of religion in an entirely bleak and barren world.

The Gospel is unchanging, and our faith, our living and contending, must always derive from this unchanging reality.