You Can't Do Away With God

July 26, 1998 ~ Pickering Standard Church

Genesis 1:1-3 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.


2 Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.


Revelation 21:1 - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.


We as Christians live with a view of the world that is unique in this modern age. It is unique because it teaches that our universe had a definite beginning and that it will have a definite end. Correspondingly, we do not believe that our universe is cyclical and random, but that it is singular and planned. That this is not a commonly held belief by the general public of today is evident when we consider that we hear regularly that this is one of an endless sequence of cycles and that this cycle is billions of years in age and that it will last for billions more before this current universe collapses upon itself and the whole process begins anew. We believe that this universe was carefully designed by God for man, in opposition to almost an entire world that believes that all that is exists as the result of the random interaction of energy and that man is merely one step on an endless ladder.


This has not always been the case. There was a time in the past when God, or god, was more intimately involved in the day-to-day running of the universe; at least from man's point of view. Our current scientific age is unique in history as it is the first culture of any lasting importance that has found no place for beings beyond man, it has almost completely done away with the need for God. This is not to say that religion has ceased to exist. Religion, Christian or otherwise, may still be important to the individual, but to society as a whole it is merely a collection of beliefs that no longer have anything of significance to say to mankind.


To show how this is so I would like to read to you two quotations from the August 1998 issue of Astronomy magazine in answering the question "Can one believe simultaneously in God and the Big Bang?"  The following statement is made by a sixteen year old: 


My own view is that we will never have a final and complete understanding of the creation, so there will always be room for God. Laurie Shaw, Astronomy, Aug. 1998, pp. 73-74.


Earlier in this issue a similar sentiment is shown by an adult as he answers the same question:


As our knowledge of the physical sciences has increased, however, the need to resort to God as a causal agent has steadily decreased. There appears to be little in cosmology that be explained by natural laws. A more likely question may be, "How can one still believe in God given our present understanding of the cosmos?" Thomas L. Diana, Astronomy, Aug. 1998, pp. 48-49.


Each of the above statements is rooted in a system of thought that is quite widespread in our modern culture and stands in opposition to Christianity. This system of thought can be simply stated as follows: As our knowledge and understanding of the universe around us becomes greater the need for us to rely on an all powerful, creator God to cause and maintain it becomes less. This system of thought holds as well the idea that religion, in general, was the response of primitive man to the incredible world in which they lived and that, as scientific knowledge increased and began to explain in a rational manner the operations of this universe that had previously been attributed to a power beyond that of man the need for that greater power became less and less until today there is no need at all for a power greater than man to sustain the universe around him.


Science, which began, in the immortal words of Kepler, as the desire of thoughtful Christians to "think God's thoughts after Him," seeking to better understand creation's God through the study of God's creation, has instead become satisfied with treating the creation as though it were all that is. Being unable to either prove or disprove the truth of God science has simply done away with Him, the natural consequence of trusting our interpretation of reality rather than that reality itself. Science has taken up for itself an authority all of its own such that it considers itself the means by which the validity of everything may be determined.


What science can no longer realize is that the miraculous daily invades our satisfied feelings of constancy, that the only reason that the universe makes sense is because the God who both created and sustains it is a constant, unchangeable, God. The miracle, the unexplainable event, the occurrence that leaves us speechless for wonder cannot be reconciled to scientific inquiry. Scientific inquiry demands repeatability and miracles, by their very definition, cannot be repeated since it is not the circumstance that is causal to the miracle but God Himself.


What is a miracle but an grand act of God that is abnormal only in its rarity. The rising of the Sun each morning, the birth of a child, the life of a bird are no less miraculous for their frequency, though we may be tempted to view them as normal due to that frequency. Yet we are told that there will come a day when the Sun will set never to rise again.


William Dryness writes:


The OT picture is of God working in and through the order of nature to realize his purposes. The image found there is a personal one..We often dismiss this way of speaking as metaphoric. In a certain sense it is, because the OT sets itself against all forms of pantheism, which identifies God with his creation. But at the same time, God's use of secondary causes that we can understand in a scientific way (a reduced way of knowing after all) does not mean that God is any less intimately present in these processes, using them according to his plan. The most natural things we know in this world may be supernatural as well. William Dryness, Themes in Old Testament Theology, pp. 74- 75.


The theology of the apostle Paul supports just such a view for he is reported by Luke to have said:


Acts 17:24-28 - The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  "For in him we live and move and have our being." As some of your own poets have said, "We are his offspring."


Our Lord Jesus Christ expresses the same belief when admonishing His followers not to worry of worldly things through the illustration of His Father's care for even the least things of creation:


Luke 12:24-28 - Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!


Throughout the Bible the basic understanding of creation is that God is not only its creator but that He is also its maintainer, that nothing that happens in this world is outside of His will. We have spoken in conversation of coincidence so as to say "Wow, imagine the chances of that happening to both of us at the same time," thus giving more power to the event than to the God who brought the event about. There is nothing in this world that happens by chance, all is at the favour of God.


As a Christian I am only able to understand this universe as the creation of an infinite and personal God, a God who is daily maintaining us that our lives may continue. The discoveries of science of various laws that are interpreted as being instrumental in the operation of this universe are mere uncoverings of the hand of God around us. With Kepler I believe that each new advance of scientific discovery does not remove God further from this reality but rather shows further the infiniteness of our God who so carefully constructed this magnificent universe for His image-bearer. We must remember when confronted by the statements of science that science is able to only look at and evaluate the effects of this reality, but can never make any definitive statement regarding the Cause of this reality. Our only response, as truly thinking human beings, can be that of praise to our God for His glory as it is revealed in the universe in which we live. As the Psalmist said so very well:


Psalm 147:7-11 - Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.


Our hope in God, our reverential fear of Him, can be built upon His acts in this creation that is not so far from Him as some would have us think. The world about us thinks that our need for God is a crutch that we use because we can't handle reality as they see it. In essence this is true, our faith in God is a crutch of sorts, but not because we can't accept reality as science explains it to us but because there is an aspect of reality of which science has no clue and in which the only salvation comes from God. If anyone is using a crutch in this current debate it is those who consider science adequate to the task of preparing man to deal with the universe as God created it.