Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pushed out of the Picture

Scientific discovery seems to widen the chasm between reason and faith. A scientific mind can remain religious. But, religion must start to make extra room for scientific observations. This often translates into gradually shedding unproven claims about how God governs our universe.

Copernicus and Galileo experienced their difficulties because of the prevailing understanding of nature. The understanding of nature was controlled by religious leaders of their day. As a result, Copernicus and Galileo nudged the hand of God upon publishing their discoveries; they both gently backed God's sovereign hand away from his own creation. And worse, these men also nudged at the self proclaimed infallibility of God's clergy. Why? Because their observations were in conflict with religious thought. These scientists became heretics.

Issac Newton was perhaps the glue that made the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo finally stick. Also, some historians argue that the true discipline of science wasn't born until Newton's papers on Optiks and the Laws of Motion were published. But when Newton introduced his discoveries, he seemed willing to give God credit for whatever he found. Newton mentions God's influence in his primary work, the Principia, and is quoted by sources saying things like:

Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.

So, Newton did not fully abandon his religious mind in the face of great scientific discovery.

But as time went along, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Psychology began to develop into their own stand-alone fields of study. And with more and more scientific discoveries from each filed, reason was making a regular habit of nudging the hand of God and his clergy a little further out of the picture of creation.

So, today, when we hear about a child being born with 12 fingers and 12 toes, should we wonder why God allowed this? Why did God let such a thing to happen? Yet, biology helps us understand better how this happened. Genetics shows us that this child was likely to inherit this physical anomaly because his decedents were known to have a higher incidence of extra fingers and toes. The newborn's father admitted this characteristic was prevalent in his family.

Personally, I don't blame God for this. Would you? Nor would I mock and ostracize this child for being different. All good natured people will accept his differences and hope that he has a relatively normal life.

But what do we say about God when he allows people to develop Multiple Sclerosis, now that scientists are discovering that vitamin D deficiency is correlated with this disease? Can we blame God for the way the MS gene behaves when vitamin D is deficient? MS can possibly be prevented or cured with a better understanding of how vitamin D works in pregnant mothers and in developing children. Did God deliberately keep us ignorant of this new found fact? And why didn't God also let us know that stem cell therapy could improve MS patients?

Or, do we simply start praising God for his benevolence, since he's given us these wonderful new discoveries?

Why praise? I admitted to not blaming God for these things, but not because I accept his "higher" and "mysterious" ways.

Instead, I don't blame God because I see his hand being pushed further out of the picture.

Therefore, I don't have much praise for God, either.
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