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TheotherPaul (2)



Pre-scientific or truly enlightened

So my apologies to everyone that has been reading my blogs on a weekly basis.  Last week got away from me and I didn't get this posted.     

I have been noticing more and more as of late that so many people have very poorly formed worldviews.  Our school system seems to be the most culpable in this.  It has essentially indoctrinated a whole generation of people to accept what they have been told as truth and to question nothing.  This is extremely frightening.  One of the things that seems to have taken hold is this idea that science is the end all determiner of truth.  In essence the argument is that the only way truth and knowledge can be gleaned is through empirical research and experimentation.  This in itself is a completely nonsensical idea.  For it to be true it, would require a scientific experiment or research study to prove it thus making it a logically incoherent way of thinking.  This is not however the idea that I want to write about today. 

Now first understand that science fascinates me even though in school my application of it was pitiful at best.  Yet I can watch, listen and read things about science quite easily and enjoy them.  Where I begin to run into trouble is when people posit the idea that science will answer all the questions; when they expect to be able to debunk the supernatural and claim that these types of things are quite natural and not so extraordinary.  You see the very heart of this argument is one that precludes the very existence of God.  If everything is natural and can be explained by science, then we are very much alone and God is nothing more than a figment of our imagination.  Last week I was reading the book of Job and came across some verses from Job 38: “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?  Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?  Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? (Job 38:31, 32 ESV)  One of the common arguments made by liberal scholars and scripture “debunkers” today is that these ancient texts were written by pre-scientific people.  In essence they were not “well educated” people- not as enlightened as we are today.  There is some truth to this.  We know that for many years it was the accepted belief (especially amongst clergy) that the sun orbited the earth.  Copernicus suggested a model (not actually a new idea) which suggested that the earth orbited the sun; subsequent to this, his name and reputation took some what of beating over his ideas.  Turns out he was right.  Thanks Galileo.  This whole incident sheds light on a very important question:  what is the nature of Bible?  Those that are trying to debunk the scriptures and calling it pre-scientific seem to be trying to look at the scriptures as some sort of scientific textbook.  What has happened is that our scientific worldview has removed the supernatural, the miraculous,  and the inexplicable wonder from what God has created and now maintains daily.  Let me try to quickly explain how this happens.  When one watches a program like “the Simpsons”, one is instantaneously in error if one tries to see it through lens of historical narrative or as documentary (though I suppose one could argue that in many ways it does reflect 21st century American culture).  “The Simpsons” is satire- to view it any other way is ridiculous.  How about Star Trek?  It is quite possible if the Lord doesn’t return in the near future that some of the ideas posited in the TV series and movies could come into being; certainly not at this time though.  200 years from now if someone were to look at it as scientific narrative it would probably prove mostly false.  Hence we classify this genre as science fiction and fantasy.   This is what we try to do with scripture today.  We try to peg the bible as documents written by pre-scientific peoples and then say that their science is wrong or unenlightened.  They were not to be read as a science journal.  The scriptures are documents written with one purpose: to reveal and glorify the infinite, holy and almighty God, the creator of the universe. 

This is what makes the aforementioned passage in Job so incredibly amazing.  Science would say “there are no cords which hold the Pleiades together”.  Science is right.  The universe is moving.  Galaxies are moving.  In fact the stars have orbits which they follow within the galaxy.  In another 30000 years the constellations may not even be recognizable.  Those who argue that this text is ignorant of science are completely missing the point.  If there are any cords holding the constellations in place, then they are the cords of physics.  Simple gravity and who created gravity and the laws of physics?  Who placed the stars in the sky the way they appear each night?  What difference does it make if they have moved in the last 6000 years- this is not focus of the text.  It is God’s response to a man who has basically lost everything (family, wealth, physical possession and health).  It is the response to the declaration and questions:  God I have lost everything- I am not going to curse you… but are you really in control?  Are you really there with me in the midst of this?

Look at how the text unfolds.  At the beginning of chapter 38 God begins to question Job about his whereabouts when God was creating the foundations of world and determining its measurements.  I don’t want to suggest that God is sarcastic in his response, but he actually says to Job in verse 5 “surely you know”.  He asks if Job is capable of causing the dawn to know its place and whether he has seen the store houses of snow.  Honestly- we know there is no literal store house of snow.  The point is that God is able to govern and control all of these things- from a macro universal level (the movements of the stars and planets etc.) to the more micro planetary level (microscopic organisms etc.).  The texts continues saying that it is God who provides for the young lions and the ravens.  He knows at any given moment when the doe or the mountain goat is ready to give birth and how far along they are in their gestation.  God is the one who can control the wild ox when no man is able.  God asks if it is Job that gives the hawk its ability to soar or eagle the desire to nest in the mountains.  God’s answers and responses are to speak of his sovereignty and his involvement in the intricate details of every single thing that goes on every second of every day of every year since it came into being.  All creation speaks of His sovereignty and deep involvement with creation.  I love the words of the writer of Hebrews as he begins to explain how God has created the world through Jesus and subsequently sustains it through Him:  “He upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb 1:3 NASB); or the words of Paul in Colossians when he declares that Jesus “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:17 NASB).  No, here are no literal cords that hold the stars in place.  There is however, a God who exists and miraculously holds the existence of all things in His hands, guiding creation to its ultimate purpose; His purpose.  The ancient writers may have been pre-scientific, but they understood something that many of us have lost today:  Creation is miraculous.  Something has to exist that holds the universe together.  We are not alone.  God sees it all and is working for our benefit in every situation.  Maybe we need paradigm shift in how we look at the world.  If we see creation around us as only a natural phenomenon, we have missed the boat.  If we see everything as a miraculous Work of an omnipotent creator- then our whole perspective changes.              


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TheotherPaul | Tue Feb 12, 2013, 23:02

A couple of generations ago crowds bowed at the altar of the great god of science and progress. It was going to usher in a utopian society where there was no disease How many hear both sides of the argument? How many realize that science can not answer the really important questions in life: Who am I? How did I get here and why am I here?  Where am I going after this life? Science is a great handmaid to religion - it shows us the order and beauty of God - but how do the benefits and deficits of modern science weigh in the balance.

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