Friday, April 07, 2006

Gaps, Order, and God

Herewith, another sample the chapter called "Physics and Theology" from a fantastic book: The Relevance of Physics, by S. L. Jaki (pp. 436-437).

--Dr. Thursday

The old temptation to locate God in the no-man's-land of science is far from being extinct. It was not long ago that E. N. da C. Andrade took the view that "the electron leads us to the doorway of religion."[92] Being an atomic scientist, he should have been more aware of the rapid changes that characterize scientific research of the subatomic realm of matter. There might be many gaps in the present-day scientific information about the electron, but none of these gaps can serve as doorways to God. "Gaps in knowledge," as Weizsacker aptly put it, "have a habit of closing - and God is no stopgap."[93] What are meant to be doorways invariably become trapdoors that take as their victims those to whom the lessons provided by the history of science are pretty much a closed book. Instead of indicating clear-cut frontiers of what can be known in science, the advances made by science suggest strongly that there is rather a continuity between what we know and what we do not know.

More reliable than the "gaps," as regards the proofs of God's existence, has been the order in nature evidenced by the laws of physics. While scientific progress has proved consistently detrimental to resting God's case on a gap that sooner or later came to be filled, new discoveries have only enhanced the range and universality of scientific laws. No law, however imperfect or limited, has ever disappeared completely as research progressed. They have rather proved to be particular cases of other laws much wider and deeper in application. That order and lawfulness are the Creator's fingerprints in nature was a conviction shared by all major figures of classical physics. Seeing the world "established in the best order," stated Copernicus at the very outset of his work, was a sure way to lead one to "wonder at the Artificer of all things."[94] For Kepler, discovering laws in nature was nothing short of reading the mind of God himself. It was the desire "to obtain a sample test of the delight of the divine Creator in his work and to partake of his joy"[95] that provided him with the ultimate motivation for his nearly superhuman scientific labors. To Galileo, the inexorable and immutable nature that "never transgresses the laws imposed upon her" brought clear testimony of a Lawgiver.[96] What is more, knowledge of nature's laws expressed mathematically was in Galileo's eyes a sharing in the truthfulness of divine Wisdom.[97] Newton was no less emphatic on this point: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."[98]


92. The Listener, July 10, 1947 quoted by C. A. Coulson, Science and Christian Belief (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1955), p. 23.
93. The History of Nature,translated by F. D. Wieck (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949), p. 127.
94. Revolutions,Book 1, introduction.
95. Harmonice mundi,Book 5, chap. 7, in Werke, VI,388.
96. Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina, in Discovéries, p. 182.
97. Dialogue, p. 103.
98. Principia, p. 544.


Post a Comment

<< Home