Magazine articles December 2017

Dear Friends

It is thought by many that science and religion are at odds with each other: science is about what can be proven, and it converts into useful technology; religion is about subjective beliefs and has no practical use beyond wish fulfilment. Whilst these thoughts are true of a very ‘conservative’, literal reading of the Bible, it is not true for those who see the Bible as a rather different set of books written for many different reasons, none of which had any intention of doing the work of science. They are two different disciplines, two distinct ways of exploring the world, but complimentary, science asking ‘how’ and religion ‘why’.

Science, through objective, empirical study, explains how different aspects of the universe are interdependent and interacting – e.g. the hidden force of gravity cause the planets to orbit the sun; bees pollinate fruits. Through science there is a growing understanding of all that there is, with fresh discoveries overturning previous theories. But science is totally objective. It does not attempt to give any value or meaning to the existence of anything, or the processes that govern all that there is, but religion does.

In the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures we read that God created all, through the power of love and thereby everything is of inestimable value. Its beauty, wonder and order tell us about the nature of God.  Christians make a distinctive leap in our understanding of God and creation.  In Jesus, God became human and fully part of the physical the Universe; the creator became part of her creation. Therefore it is sacred and holy, the physical and spiritual are one; we cannot separate mind from body from spirit.

The value and holiness of creation is shown in the story of Jesus’ birth. All creation are worshipping the incarnate God in Jesus.  In Mary’s open welcoming womb, God found a home as he took our human flesh, a mystery, the beginning of a new creation. There was the star representing all that mathematicians, physicists, chemists, geologists study. There were the straw and the animals gathered around in awe and worship. Mary and Joseph and the shepherds representing humanity are full of praise. In the worship of the angels, the coming of Jesus declares Heaven and the universe are joined. It is humanity who God entrusts to care for creation, the stewards appointed for this holy task.

But… and it is a very big but… If creation is sacred, full of the glory of God, and humanity has been given equipped with talents we are failing in a huge and sacred responsibility. e.g. 25,000 species have been made extinct in the last years due to human activity. This is far more than the extinctions brought by the meteorite that collided and destroyed the dinosaurs and much else. This is just one example of how we humans are failing in the holy task of caring for creation. Science is our ally in this task.

In the scriptures set for the days of Advent a major theme is repentance. Another is the dire warnings of judgement and destruction because of human sin. Let us repent, and in every season enjoy and praise God in thanks giving and the wonder of creation.  Let us also explore it in scientific study, and treasure it as we would a Christmas gift from a loved one.

Repent! Let us turn our lives around towards God and his will.

‘The earth is full of the glory of God’

Wishing you a most blessed Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

James


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