What is your relationship with God? Do you find yourself waiting for God to show up? Do you think of God as being up there? Do you sense a distance between you and God? Do you find yourself hoping to get near God? Answers to questions like these can help us unearth our deep beliefs about the nature of God, about who He is.
Let’s start by dipping a bit into a theology of the natural world. In Christian Theology, where we start for now, the universe is God’s creation (it has a beginning and God is the cause as Creator). The question is, did he create it like a clock and once set in motion has removed Himself from it, leaving it to work according to internal laws or did He create it in such a way that it cannot function without God’s involvement in every minute detail for its sustenance.
- Our cosmology will reflect our theology and vice-versa. In other words how we view God (distant and removed or intimate and involved) will determine our understanding of natural world.
Although Newton was not the first to deal with natural philosophy he is the first who created a mathematical system to explain the workings of the natural world, which started the enterprise of modern science. So what? Our understanding of the natural (also known as physical) world is greatly influenced by this modern approach to nature. Although the “founders” of modern science strongly believed in God as Creator, as time went by God was slowly pushed to the periphery and eventually removed altogether out of the picture. Here’s the rationale in a nutshell: since we can’t see God, only the physical universe and since we can explain (by the articulation of the physical laws) how the natural world works, there’s no need for God … we can be in charge of our own destiny.
Now for someone who doesn’t have a category for God in their worldview this is as good as it gets in trying to make sense of the universe we live in. There are these laws and as long as we live in harmony with them, we’re fine. Again, I don’t want to engage with that right now. What I want to address here is those who believe in a God who created this universe and yet feel they need to incorporate this natural understanding in their cosmology. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware and I am all for the great discoveries and benefits of modern science. How can I not be? I am writing this post on a laptop for crying out loud and don’t want to change that!!! What I am talking about is this. Why do we accept that understanding and articulating the laws of this universe (albeit not entirely and thoroughly) excludes God’s presence and involvement in it all? Why for example when an apple falls to the ground we believe that the law of gravity is what causes it to fall and not God? BTW, did you know that although Isaac Newton is famous for “discovering”/explaining gravity he actually believed (secretly) that God was behind it all?
Here’s my point. Just because we can identify the movements of a glove does not exclude the possibility of a hand behind those moves, because we can’t see it. Why do we have to accept the verdict of a distant, removed God when the witness of Scriptures points to an involved God, intimate with his creation? What sense is there in the belief of God’s presence everywhere? I am wondering if in our reaction to a pantheistic understanding of God (where God is synonymous with the material universe) we have fallen for the natural philosophy gospel of a transcendental, removed, outside God. There is God up there and here we are down here and we’re trying to connect long-distance (maybe wirelessly) to Him. Hmmm …