Our public library has a second-hand bookstore that is a treasure trove. Recently my daughter stopped there to do a little prospecting.
Waiting to check out, she heard the customer in front of her chatting with the clerk. These two women thought they recognized each other and were speculating together about how they might have been acquainted. My daughter quoted this part of the ladies’ exchange:
Clerk: “I know I’ve seen you somewhere before. Do you go to church?”
Customer: “No. I’m a scientist. I don’t need any of that.”
The customer spoke in a perfectly friendly, pleasant manner. Yet she was utterly matter-of-fact, as if it were self-evident that one who pursues science would not go to church!
This is an extremely common attitude among scientists. Many scientists take the philosophical position that they will not believe anything that cannot be proven scientifically.
Of course this philosophical position is logically self-contradictory, because this philosophical position itself cannot be proven scientifically. Therefore a scientist who holds this position should not hold it.
Science literally means knowledge. The scientific enterprise should be a search for truth about the natural world. But if you restrict yourself to naturalistic causes and effects, you may miss the truth.
Science cannot prove that there is no God who made the universe and all it contains. If there is a Creator, as I believe, then assuming there is not severely limits one’s analysis of Creation. It’s like investigating a crime scene and assuming the perpetrator is not from a neighboring state. You are potentially making it impossible to ascertain the truth, no matter how much evidence you collect or how many tests you run.
Assumptions are dangerous and potentially limiting — like the one many scientists make that there is no God.
The Argument from Design (a design implies a designer) is strong evidence that there is a Creator who made us and to whom we are responsible.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… (Romans 1:18-22)
The User Manual from this Creator gives the secret to scientific success. The beginning of knowledge and wisdom is the fear of the LORD. Understanding comes from knowing Yahweh.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. (Psalm 111:10)
Thus the key to success in science (or any other field) is the fear of the LORD and the knowledge of the Holy One.
The job of the scientist is to study the works of the Lord with the goal of understanding His work. The 17th-century German astronomer Johann Kepler (1571-1630) understood this and described his scientific research and study of the universe as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” Through his research he discovered the laws that describe the movements of the planets that God placed in orbit around the sun.
Kepler saw the world as a reflection of the mind and order of God. Kepler believed that God had created the universe according to a logical plan that man could ascertain through the application of his reasoning powers. He said,
“The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.”
“Geometry is unique and eternal, a reflection from the mind of God. That mankind shares in it is because man is an image of God.”
Kepler’s influence on astronomy has been so great that 400 years later NASA named a 2009 space mission for him. We named our little dog Kepler as a continual reminder of honoring the Creator through scientific study. Professor Johann Kepler would have scoffed at the notion that a scientist should deny God.
Questions to Ponder
- If you were part of the conversation, how would you reply to the woman who said she doesn’t need church because she is a scientist?
- In the words of Johann Kepler, where do you observe the “rational order and harmony” that God has imposed upon the world?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday September 9, 2015 A.D.
Great are the works of the LORD; they are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work, and His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. (Psalms 111:2-4)