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Saturday, October 04, 2014

Seven themes related to Christianity and science

There’s a recent post on the BioLogos Forum, dealing with the relationship between Christianity and science. There have been lots of those, but this one is especially good. One of the things that make it good is that it considers wisdom literature, especially Job, more than Genesis 1 and 2, which have been covered so many times. Another is that the author, Tom McLeish, who is a physicist in the UK, lists seven themes, related to science, that he says are found in the Bible. This is a paraphrase (and simplification) of those themes:
1) Things change -- the future will be different from the past.
2) Humans are able to learn how nature works, and should do so.
3) Knowledge is not enough -- wisdom is important.
4) “Doing science is hard.”
5) There is both order and chaos in the world.
6) We don't know everything, but can learn by asking questions.
7) We should love nature, and other people.

Well said. Thanks for reading. Read McLeish. There’s an attempt at something similar in a post in this blog.

Appendix: Biblical background to McLeish’s themes:
1) The future will be different from the past:
Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measures, if you know?
Or who stretched the line on it?
6 Whereupon were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

2) Humans are able to learn how nature works and should do so: 
Job 39:1 “Do you know the time when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears fawns?
2 Can you count the months that they fulfill?
Or do you know the time when they give birth?
3 They bow themselves, they bear their young.
They end their labor pains. ...”
(God speaking to Job. This implies that humans could know this, and also, of course, that we understand that young mammals develop in the womb.)

Genesis 1:28b “... Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Effective environmental stewardship requires knowledge of how the environment works.

3) Knowledge is not enough -- wisdom is important:
Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be restrained. ...” 

(Job, speaking of God. One of the most important pieces of wisdom.)
1 Kings 4:34 People of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, sent by all kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom. 

4) “Doing science is hard:”
1 Kings 4:32 He spoke three thousand proverbs; and his songs numbered one thousand five. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he also spoke of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. (This feat of Solomon was considered to be a unique accomplishment, and must have taken considerable effort on his part, and, perhaps effort on the part of his servants.)
5) There is both order and chaos in the world:
Job 37:5 God thunders marvelously with his voice.
He does great things, which we can’t comprehend.
6 For he says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth;’
likewise to the shower of rain,
and to the showers of his mighty rain.

 6) We can learn from asking questions:
Job 42:4 You said, ‘Listen, now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you will answer me.’
(Job, speaking to God.)

7) We should love nature, and other people:
Job 42:10a Yahweh turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends. (These supposed friends had been vigorously disagreeing with Job for more than three dozen chapters.)
Psalm 24:1 The earth is Yahweh’s, with its fullness;
the world, and those who dwell therein.

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