Return to 2nd Quarter 2019 articles.
This journal has been in existence since 1970, and in all those years we have had numerous articles dealing with evidence for the existence of God from a scientific perspective. We have talked about cosmology and the question of the creation of time, space, and matter/energy. In recent years, we have considered approaches from quantum mechanics and relativity. We have given numerous evidences from a teleological perspective, that there is design in the creation that cannot be explained by chance. Also, we have talked about evidence that the Bible is not of human origin, and if there is inspiration, there has to be an inspirer. We have dealt with those characteristics of humans that are not a product of our brains and suggested that we are created in God's image. The concept of morality and why humans can be moral is another area we have talked about. All of these arguments tend to say that “there is something out there” without identifying in any detail what the nature of that “something” is.
In previous issues of this journal, we talked about why we exist and knowing God can help us go further with that understanding. Here are five things we can know about God through our observations of the creation itself and through a careful reading of his Word.
1. GOD HAS AN APPRECIATION OF BEAUTY.
In the Genesis account, there is repeated use of the phrase, “and God saw that it was good.” In Genesis 1:10 the phrase is used in reference to dry land and the seas. In Genesis 1:12 the phrase is used in reference to land vegetation. In Genesis 1:18 it is used in reference to sunlight and moonlight, and in Genesis 1:25 it is used in reference to animal life on the surface of the earth.
Scientific studies of the earth and life on Earth not only show how things work, but they also show the beauty in everything we examine. When we think about the wavelengths of visible light that allow photosynthesis and the way that same light displays the colors of leaves in the fall, we marvel at the choices that make it possible. When botanists study the complexities of flowers, the design that allows the colors and patterns we admire, we cannot help but wonder at their creation. Jesus referred to this in Matthew 6:29 when he reminded us as we look at a lily “that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”
Psalm 50:1-2 tells us, “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” We understand the science behind beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and we know why the sky is blue and why trees are green. But our understanding of this involves a conscious creation of God that allows us to admire beauty which in many cases is unnecessary. The choices God has made tell us he knows about beauty at all levels. Have you ever sat near a waterfall and seen the rainbows and the colors of your surroundings and thanked God for creating it with those characteristics? Have you snorkeled or scuba dived and wondered at the beauty of your surroundings and thought about the fact that the colors in some cases are unnecessary from a survival standpoint, but they speak to us about God's love for beauty? We praise diversity for several reasons, but many things in the creation have color not as a requirement for survival, but as a statement about God's nature.
2. GOD HAS WISDOM FAR BEYOND
OUR CAPACITY TO UNDERSTAND.
Proverbs 8 is a passage that speaks about another characteristic we see in God. That is wisdom. In verse 1 we are told, “Does not wisdom cry out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” In Proverbs 8:5 wisdom continues, “You who are simple, gain [wisdom]” and then some wonderful characteristics of God are brought out. Proverbs 8:22 tells us that wisdom was involved before the beginning, before the earth ever was.
The past 25 years we have seen science verify the fact that before the physical creation in which we exist there were a large number of things being carefully and intelligently produced. We are just beginning to understand from a scientific perspective how electric charge, magnetism, mass, gravity, and time were created. What we are seeing is that the universal laws that govern physical matter do not accurately describe how those things were produced. Proverbs 8 ends with wisdom saying, “For those who find me find life and receive favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 8:35).
3. GOD FUNCTIONS IN A DOMAIN THAT FAR
EXCEEDS WHAT HUMANS CAN COMPREHEND.
One of the major human errors is to create a god in our image. The “old man in the sky” concept of God is alien to the Bible and to common sense. But we see cartoons in the media and even read books that relegate God to being a superhuman, but a limited human none the less. Paul addressed this error in his wonderful discourse in Acts 17 when he told the Athenians that he was going to tell them about the God that they ignorantly worshipped (Acts 17:23). He went on to describe God as One in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Science has demonstrated to us that there are dimensions beyond the three dimensions we know about, and that those dimensions have a relationship to us. Scientific discussions about string theory and brane theory argue about eleven spatial dimensions. Studies of light have taught us that two-dimensional objects like photons behave differently than us three-dimensional beings. Understanding that God is not limited as we are allows us to understand more about why God created us. It helps us to understand the nature of our moral choices and why after our physical bodies no longer function we have an existence beyond the physical.
4. GOD HAS LOVE FAR BEYOND
OUR CAPACITY TO UNDERSTAND.
The Being we have just described also has a capacity to love that is beyond our ability to understand. The very fact that there are four different Greek words for love tells us that love is far more complex than we realize. Our culture has become obsessed with sexual love, but there is much more than that. How could God love us enough to give “his one and only Son” that we might enter the domain in which God exists?
We have a hard time with Revelation 21:3-5 in which God describes the domain that his love offers to all people. It tells us that God will be with us, that all pain, tears, death, and crying will be gone. God says he will make “everything new” (verse 5). How can God love us that much? Because we cannot comprehend that dimension of love, humans have reduced the message of the Bible and of salvation to the three-dimensional world in which we live. We see war and death and all kinds of evil instead of the spiritual existence that God describes.
Scientific studies of human love find it far more complex than “survival of the fittest.” The human element of being willing to die for someone else that you are not related to places naturalists between a rock and a hard place. You cannot deny that humans do things that defy Darwinistic models of animal behavior. The very notion of patriotism, adoption, benevolence, and giving speak of what God's love provides us with the capacity to do. All branches of anthropology support the view that human love is unique, and being created in God's image is far more meaningful when we understand that.
5. GOD LOOKS INTO THE FUTURE IN
MAKING HIS DECISIONS AND IN
How many times have we said, “Why did this have to happen?” We as humans have a hard time with life because we cannot look into the distant future. We also struggle with understanding how God can look ahead and not move to change what is going to happen. Someone has said, “If I can know the mind of God, then God is not God.”
There are many aspects of this question to consider. The reason for God's creation of humans and the struggle between the forces of good and evil is a part of this, but those are not things that can be scientifically verified. What we can understand from science is God's patience and his reason for action.
Why is there a New Testament and an Old Testament? Trying to answer this from a political or social standpoint may be satisfying, but not convincing to many of us. What we know scientifically is that the first humans on this planet were nomadic and primitive. There is a good medical reason why the hygienic laws given in the Old Testament were as restrictive as they were. Food taboos are understandable. We understand the danger in eating poorly cooked pork. The reasons for not eating blood are clear. The reason to quarantine certain human ailments has been verified by modern medical science.
God's patience is clearly seen in how long he tolerated potentially destructive human behaviors such as polygamy and war. When Jesus Christ came to Earth, he brought a whole new way of thinking. Modern psychologists and sociologists and even a few political leaders have come to understand from their scientific disciplines the wisdom of what Jesus taught. Modern skeptics trained in the sciences have a tough time denying the validity of everything Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. The potential to eliminate hunger in the world is available to us if we get rid of the practices that worked when humans were nomadic and without ovens or medical facilities. If we consider every human to be special because every human is created in the image of God, we can eliminate war, violence, abuse, and other ills of humanity. God is patient and has created the world patiently and with the understanding that some humans will reject what he has called us to do. “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars … Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes …” (Matthew 24:4-14). We cannot know and see what God knows and understands, but his patience is essential to us.
If God were not patient with me, I would have been destroyed long ago. Paul concludes his discourse in Athens by saying, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by [Jesus Christ]” (Acts 17:30-31).
I am thankful for God's creation of beauty, for his wisdom, for the dimensions that have made this world possible and especially for his love and patience.
Cover article title photo: Roland Earnst
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Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.