Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Adorare et Servire

I have been reminded on several occasions over the last few years of my education of Romans 1:18 and following:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

This passage was brought to my mind most recently by a lecture on the importance of the scientific method in everyday life. Basically, the professor spent an hour lauding the scientific method as the only way we can overcome our innate habit of building our own concept of truth and not questioning it. He gave as an example the old practice of bloodletting to “restore the bodily humors” in order to cure people. His question was, “why was this absurd practice, having no evidence to support it, and seemingly obvious evidence against it used for so long?” His answer was that it was because people are not trained to use the scientific method, but rather to unquestioningly accept what their education and environment has taught them to be true.

What made me think of Romans 1 was not so much what the professor said, as the it was the way he said it. It is rather hard to describe, but essentially he almost seemed to have the attitude that the scientific method will be our salvation—once we all learn to use it properly we can escape our ignorance, and change the future. Think of the mindset of one of the leaders of the French Enlightenment, who worshiped the goddess of reason, and believed that men could find fulfillment in themselves, or of one of the builders of the Tower of Babel who sought to defy their Creator and make a name for themselves. This worldview can also be seen in some of the earlier writings of H. G. Wells.

This instance was not the first time I have witnessed this belief in a scientists. One of my old professors talked once about how he thought that life itself might be a law of the universe, similar to gravity, and that organic molecules might naturally create themselves when the conditions are right. Judging by his tone and face, one would have assumed he was talking about a religion.

I believe that people innately know there is something greater than themselves. The problem is that the people I have just described have a very limited view. God’s creation is mind-boggling, and should fill us with fearful awe. Every part of it, from the hugest to smallest is a witness to the almighty power of God. The forces that maintain and control the tiniest atom, the very fabric of our existence, are incomprehensible; the power and brilliance contained in the largest star is beyond our understanding. But if one stops there, he misses the point. It is fitting that we should marvel at the universe, from amoebae to supernovas, but more importantly we should marvel at the One who created it. Simply studying the creation is like being invited to feast in a palace for eternity, but instead of staying you grab a cracker from the nearest plate and run back out into the darkness to gloat over it.

People have taken something beautiful and marvelous and corrupted it. They have placed the lowest slave on the throne of their king, and the ugliest pebble in a crown fit for the most priceless diamond. They worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator. The reason humanity is so lost and ignorant is due to this, not due to an improper utilization of the scientific method.


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