Advent Reflection (7) – In the Beginning was the Word: Where Faith and Science meet.

‘In the beginning was the Word…’

John 1:1 (NRSV)

Our lives are given meaning by God. We are given definition by God. Our worth, our value, our vocation, our yearnings and hopes, all coalesce around God.

Our lives are given meaning by God. We are given definition by God. Our worth, our value, our vocation, our yearnings and hopes, all coalesce around God.

Of course, our culture is deeply offended by such a notion. What an arrogant thing to suggest, they tell someone like me. Angry voices are raised, and fingers are wagged at theologians and pastors like me because our societies have largely moved away from the idea that God, God’s purposes and God’s ways might be objectively true. Leslie Newbiggin, in his remarkable book, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, had a pin point accuracy about this issue. He argues that we have objectified, and sometimes deified scientific knowledge and turned it into the real facts, the verifiable fact-based view of the world, whilst we have largely consigned theological or Biblical truth to the realm of subjective truth, or belief. We can ‘believe’ Christian doctrine, our culture tells us, but we can ‘know’ scientific facts. Such categorising of knowledge is bunkum of course.

We can ‘believe’ Christian doctrine, our culture tells us, but we can ‘know’ scientific facts. Such categorising of knowledge is bunkum of course.

Scientific discovery always requires faith. Einstein’s general theory of relativity was reached before it could be proven. Science had to take a leap. The same is true in Quantum Physics (which requires huge faith). What about the search for the ‘God-particle’? Scientists had to take a step of faith, based on their observations and studies, and say they were sure there was a hidden ‘particle’ – they just needed to find it. They keep searching until they did. Newtonian physics is a world away from Einsteinian relativity – the jump from one to another required faith and it required imagination. Why do we allow such inspiring attributes in science bur eschew them in religious conviction? Why is it not possible that God has set a way of ‘knowing’? The imperative of Gospel proclamation, of witness, of mission and of our purpose rests on the belief that God has powerfully and uniquely revealed Godself to the world through God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the One Who held the galaxies together and continues to hold the world in His Hands. His life is given to those who will trust Him. His power sustains every breath that we inhale. To believe this is not irrational or illogical. Why is it? Why can it be acceptable to be dogmatic about scientific ‘facts’ – which are often simply articulated beliefs, convictions and theories and yet it is seen as wrong to be clear about our purpose and our worth?

The imperative of Gospel proclamation, of witness, of mission and of our purpose rests on the belief that God has powerfully and uniquely revealed Godself to the world through God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have always found it odd that so many try to drive a wedge between science and faith. The two are not unequal bedfellows – they can coexist beautifully together. Together they can answer more questions than they do apart. Science does not answer the ‘purpose’ question. Science may explain the matter of humanity but it can’t very well explain what is the matter with humanity. The ‘how’ and the ‘why’ questions need one another. Science needs philosophy and philosophy needs science. And, dare I say it, science and philosophy both need theology. The latter was once described as the ‘queen of the sciences’ but is often now treated as the orphan of the intellectual world. Such sweeping dismissals can only be offered by those with closed minds, who have already decided their belief system and are not open to the possibility that God might exist and have revealed Godself through Jesus.

I have always found it odd that so many try to drive a wedge between science and faith. The two are not unequal bedfellows – they can coexist beautifully together. Together they can answer more questions than they do apart. Science does not answer the ‘purpose’ question. Science may explain the matter of humanity but it can’t very well explain what is the matter with humanity.

Christians belief precisely this – that God has revealed God’s character, heart, purpose, grace and beauty through Jesus. The Word has come to live amongst us. We can discover God’s mercy in the pages of the Scriptures. We can encounter the Creator through the Great Story of God given to us in sacred text and lived amongst us in Jesus. The ‘Word’ that was at the beginning still is, and that Word is always sustaining us, always reaching out to us, always in the present moment, offering life, hope, peace and joy.

If only we would still our hearts long enough to hear that Word – we might also hear the most beautiful expression of purpose and hope and belonging that we had ever experienced – or ever will.

If only we would still our hearts long enough to hear that Word – we might also hear the most beautiful expression of purpose and hope and belonging that we had ever experienced – or ever will.

Look for that Word in the stars tonight, hear it in the breeze, experience it in the beauty of a child, or the touch of a lover. Let it tug at your heart as you think about why you are here. Let the Love that created you encounter You tonight. And for those of you who must say goodbye to someone you love, or lay down a dream that you have had for a very long time, may this Advent be a Season in which you also discover, or perhaps re-discover, a Friendship that is worth everything – and may you hear it in a Word – Emmanuel.

Look it up.

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