The Disciplines of Knowing: The Sciences (3)
Science offers many avenues into Christ and His glorious work.
“Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14.17
Science as witness
Let’s take a few moments to consider all the science that goes into the work of harvesting a crop. Now, not all the science that operates in the field of agriculture was discovered by scientists. At least, not scientists in the strictest sense. Much was known and fruitfully practiced in farming before science began to take an interest in it. And what science has added to agriculture is sometimes a mixed blessing. Fertilizers enrich and replenish the soil, but they also wash into lakes – like Lake Champlain – where they feed blooms of various sorts that starve the lake of oxygen and kill many native fish.
But that aside, let’s look out, say, over a Kansas wheat field at harvest time. What do we see? Those heavy, golden heads waving in the wind, “amber waves of grain” that flow with the breezes in rhythmic elegance. Teams of combines, staggered side-by-side to maximize the harvest. The rich, dark soil exposed, God’s gift to farmers, and their stewardship to Him. That soil will either be reinforced with lime and fertilizers for the next crop, or it will be “rotated” and sown with clover or some other nitrogen-rich mineral to restore what the hungry wheat crop devoured. And then the plans being realized – both of sowing and harvesting, as well as getting the grain to market. The timing of the work, like a great ballet of technology and weather; and the sounds – music to a farmer’s ears – of a harvest in progress.
A Kansas wheat harvest is a thing of majesty and mystery, timing and technology, plowing and planting, beauty and bounty, wisdom and wealth. And all this, and all the science that goes into it, Paul says, is a witness to God and His grace. We can look out over that glorious, golden field, see those machines rumbling through together, watch as the template of the field changes row by row, and sigh with wonder and gratitude over the beauty of it all. Imagine how much more we would be moved to wonder and praise if we understood the science behind all that technology and agriculture!
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the upholding Word of the Father, has left a witness to Himself in the creation and its operations; and science can help us see more of His greatness, wisdom, power, beauty, majesty, goodness, and love, so that we know, love, and serve Him more.
The gift of God
Science is a gift of God to humankind. It is a simple discipline involving observation, hypothesis, testing, confirming, and sharing of knowledge, all of which issues from the Treasury of knowledge Himself – our Lord Jesus.
Simple as the process and protocols of science are, they are wildly diverse and profoundly sophisticated in the ways they are applied. All of creation is the legitimate field of study for scientists, and by their methods they discover the works of God, which they publish and share, to create goods and services beneficial to all life on the earth.
The fields of science are many and varied. Resources abound to take us into the work of scientists, and to help us appreciate the variegated witness of our infinitely wise God. Books, journals, periodicals, programs on public television, free online courses, and much, much more are readily available to us. Why would we not take the time to seek out the goodness of God by learning about the creation and its processes? Why would we prefer mind-numbing sitcoms to reading about the work of scientists who are bent on eradicating disease or conserving some aspect of our environment? Why are we loathe to take up such modest and easily-obtainable skills as learning the night sky, or the names of local flora and fauna, or new and delicious ways of serving familiar foods? Jesus has left a witness to Himself in all aspects of creation, and He has given good gifts to scientists in many different fields, so that we by their exertions we might better appreciate His works, and know and love Him more.
What to look for
I can only offer a short list of things to bear in mind as you take up a more consistent study of the works of God. Those who delight in His works, the psalmist tells us, will pursue His works to His praise and glory (Ps. 111). Once you get started in looking to science as a viable and rewarding means for increasing in the knowledge of Christ, you will continue to do so, and that despite science’s reluctance to lead you all the way to His throne, but your grounding in the Word of God will take you there.
So here’s a brief checklist of what to seek, what to observe, what to meditate and reflect on as you read or engage in science as a way of knowing the Lord:
- Look for things beautiful, good, and true; things you delight in and rely on, because of how they lead you to delight in and rely on Jesus.
- Consider things large – like Orion, as he steals across the southern horizon – to remind you of the greatness and majesty of God.
- Ponder things small – cells, atoms, particles – to lead you to give thanks for His detailed, infinite care.
- Try to understand things useful – tools and technologies, for example – to remind you that God works all things for our good and His glory.
- Study about things long in coming – such as a cure for cancer – to nurture patience in seeking the Lord.
- Learn about things sudden and unexpected (“Eureka!” “Watson, come here, I need you!”), to lead you always to hope and pray for a sudden and widespread revival of God’s saving and sanctifying grace.
- Read about things more complex and profound than you can ever fully grasp, to teach you wonder, trust, and the importance of mystery.
- Discover things easy to explain – like the names of local wildflowers – so you’ll always have something to talk about appreciatively and with a view to rejoicing in the Lord.
- Learn the patterns and cycles and other indications of order in the cosmos, and let such things remind you that the craziness and unpredictability of our lives occurs within a framework held together by God’s faithfulness and love.
The creation abounds in wondrous witnesses to our glorious Savior and King. He is speaking to us, making His glory known, and calling us to seek and know Him in all the amazing works of the cosmos. Every good gift of creation and science awaits us, that we may discover the glory God has hidden in His world, and thus come to know, love, and serve Him with increasing fruitfulness and joy (Prov. 25.2).
1. Can you think of one beautiful thing about the creation that science has helped you to appreciate? How can this be a witness to the Lord Jesus?
2. Why can we expect to learn about God and Jesus Christ even from the work of unbelieving scientists?
3. Would you be content only to read a few books of the Bible? Why not? How can science help us to “read” the revelation of God in creation?
Next steps – Transformation: Choose one aspect of science that you are familiar with and enjoy – such as the weather, or computers, or nutrition. Why do you enjoy this? How is it helpful? In what ways can this help you increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Share the results of this exercise with a Christian friend.
T. M. Moore
Science has been taken captive by the secular temper of the times, and we need to understand how this has happened. Our book, Understanding the Times, is a valuable guide to understanding the world we live in and how we as Christians can understand how to live in it. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.