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Friday, August 28, 2009

God's complexity

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (All scripture quotations are from the ESV, which allows such use, if properly credited.)

I have recently posted on simplicity, and also on childlikeness, and children, in the Bible.

Let me now muse about the opposite idea -- complexity. We don't have to understand a lot to have our sins forgiven, and become a believer. It's simple. But, for those who are capable of such things, there are more complex matters to consider. God is complex, complicated, and detailed.

There are things that only mature Christians can know.
Hebrews indicates this:
Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. This implies that there are stages in Christian knowledge, and presumably thinking on a more complex level is possible.

We must be careful here. In the first place, mature Christians should not look down on new Christians, or be proud. The admonition here is to Christians who should have been more mature than they were, apparently not new Christians.
Second, we must not succumb to the temptation of thinking that we need some sort of special knowledge for our salvation. We don't. We just need to accept Christ's sacrifice for our sins, and live with Him as Lord of our lives. A child, or a person who is intellectually challenged, can be a Christian just as I can be, and for the same reasons.

There are deep things for a mature Christian to learn, about herself, about the Bible, about God. That's part of God's complexity.

Another part of God's complexity is His amazing creation.
Zophar challenged Job, in Job 11:7 “Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?

There's more about this subject in Job. Beginning with Job 38, God asks Job to explain the phenomena of nature. This goes on, until, Job confesses his profound ignorance
Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

Job didn't know very much about how nature works. He didn't understand the weather, astronomy, or animal diversity and behavior. We don't, either.

Let me deal only with astronomy here.

The ancients could see stars. They didn't understand the nature of what they were seeing, or comprehend the vastness of space. We now believe that some of the "stars" we see are actually galaxies -- vast collections of stars, so far away that they look like stars to us. We now understand that some other stars, probably a lot of them, have their own planets. (For a graphic portrayal of the vastness of space, see this video, a little over four minutes in length.)

We now believe that our sun, and other stars, are visible, not because they are burning, but because they are giant thermonuclear reactors, giving off tremendous amounts of energy -- so much so that, even though we are over 90,000,000 miles from the sun, we receive enough energy to keep us warm and lighted, and to fuel photosynthesis. Our own sun loses over 4 billion kilograms of mass each second, converted to energy by its fusion reactions.

There are galaxies very far away, and, as far as we can tell, the size of the universe is vast beyond all comprehension, and it may be infinite in size.

We believe that there are black holes, objects so dense that their gravity bends space so that light from these objects cannot escape.

I have previously mused about the possibility of intelligent life on other worlds, and its theological implications.

With all of this size, the possibility of other planets, some with their own life forms, surely there are many phenomena, perhaps even types of astronomical objects, that we have never yet encountered, and can't even imagine. The universe is exceedingly complex.

Weather, and the states of matter, or the diversity of the animals on the earth, and their behavior, are equally complex, and, in their own way, incomprehensible.

Job 5:8 “As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
9 who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:

Thank God for His marvelous creation!

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