4th November 2013

Science and Theology: Basic Concepts 

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
Hebrews 11:3 (NIV)
 

In a letter entitled “Concerning the Use of Biblical Quotations in Matters of Science,” Galileo Galilei wrote, “That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.” This was written in the early seventeenth century at a time when there was a debate about whether the solar system was earth- or sun-centred, and some were quoting certain scriptures to support the earth-centred view. The sentiment expressed by Galileo in his letter is still valid today; the Bible was never intended to be a modern scientific textbook. 

It does, however, make some broad but vital statements about creation which, when combined with other Biblical data, produce a coherent picture of God’s involvement and relationship to creation. The Bible reveals that the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit brought this universe into being and that God’s will is the ultimate source of all creation, as Genesis Chapter 1 states, “And God said, ‘Let there be—’”. Also God sustains, or keeps the universe in being, from moment to moment (Hebrews 1:3). 

The Bible answers questions about the Who of creation, not the how. The discovery of the laws of gravity and motion by Sir Isaac Newton led many to view creation as a kind of clockwork universe. This led to a rise in deism, i.e., the belief that God created the universe but then became a disinterested spectator and took no further part in its unfolding history. After all, they reasoned, apart from its creation, what need was there for a God in Newton’s mechanistic universe that continues inexorably on, like a great machine, acting according to a precise and predictable set of fixed laws? From deism it was, and still is, but a short step to atheism. But the Bible reveals that God is intimately involved in, though not part of, the universe and sustains it from moment to moment. Creation ex nihilo also raises the interesting question, is a universe created from nothing inherently stable and self-sustaining? The Bible does not answer this question but reveals what no scientific textbook can, that the created order in space and time owes its origin and continued existence to God. Creation was a free act of God and he decreed it to be good. Even now, although fallen, it is not intrinsically evil. 

The Bible is consistent in its view of creation—that God cares for and is intimately involved in his creation. As John wrote, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Of course the greatest testimony to God’s deepest possible involvement with his creation is the incarnation. 

Prayer
Father, we thank you that through your love and grace you have created and sustain the whole of creation including all humanity, and have given us an eternal future through Jesus Christ.
Amen
 

Study by Eddie Marsh

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eddiemarshAbout the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, Grace Communion, Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion, Sheffield
Please email for Meeting Place

Meeting time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.org.uk

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