V44 #6 Scholars Speak

Reprinted from Orthodox Life Vol. 44, No. 6 November - December, 1994


What is science? What is religion? What is their interaction? From times past these questions have occupied the human mind. Is it true that religion belongs to the past, to the infantile beginnings (postulated by science) of the human race, and science to a future period of maturity, with the second replacing the first, as some people believe? Or, on the contrary, does religion constitute the cornerstone of truth and knowledge for mankind, and only in religion, as others maintain, can science find a solution to its purely practical problems? Finally, there exists a third, a middle opinion, which recognizes the independent bases of both and seeks their agreement. But how does one reach such an agreement? The bitter controversy continues to seethe as opinions draw further apart.
For many, without any doubt, the presence of these questions is a sign of old-fashioned belief. The more meager our education, the more confused our understanding, the more all these questions are considered answered. The "politically correct" consider themselves obligated to view religion scornfully and with enmity.
In the preface of Professor Stephen W. Hawking's best seller, A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, Professor Carl Sagan of Cornell University, an ardent adherent of Darwin's theory of evolution and author of the best seller Cosmos, reflects:
"This book is about God or perhaps the absence of God..., about the never-ending universe without a beginning or an end, where there is nothing to do for its Creator. In this never-ending universe there is no God because everything is God!" Here is characterized our era of atheistical denial and pantheistical assertion that God is in all.
For more than a century, a godless media has presented science and religion, or, better yet, science and Christianity, to our society as two irreconcilable fronts, ready at a moment's notice for deadly combat. Godless pseudo-educators, are trying with all their might to inject generations of youth with a dying Marxist theory. Science, they say, leading mankind to progress, peace, and tranquility, safeguards bright minds from dark, ignorant times. This poison saturates our schools and manifests itself in educational television programs.
Neo-pagans, destroyers of faith in the Almighty, are cutting the last remaining branch they have to stand on. Only in God are hidden all treasures of wisdom and direction. If the Apostle Paul states that in God are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col.2: 3), if in Him we acknowledge and reap our salvation, then for us unfolds a totally new understanding of the world's order and its makeup. Only from here are we granted the real possibility of comprehending the truth of our lives, mankind's meaning and God's purpose in history.
In 1990 Professor Roy F. Peacock published a book entitled A Brief History of Eternity. A professor of Aerospace Sciences, world-renowned in thermodynamics, holder of the Galileo Chair at Pisa University in Italy, he writes: "Between Ptolemy and Einstein there exists an unbroken chain of scholars who, like a magnet, are drawn to God. On the heroic shoulders of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, did Newton find his strength. All of them were believers in the Almighty God, the Creator and Provider."
Copernicus freed cosmology from the Ptolemaic system of geocen trism, thus disproving a 1000-year-old theory that the sun rotates around the earth. Copernicus' system is a triumph of truth and spirit. But is it incompatible with Christianity, as Professor Hawking asserts? Copernicus did not share this opinion. "My goal," writes Copernicus, "is to find the truth in God's majestic creation." With research in astronomy he com bined the responsibility of a religious person, and it was precisely his reli gious outlook which brought his religious views to a great discovery. His personal epitaph gives witness to this:
Not the Grace received by Paul do I desire,
Nor the good will with which Thou forgavest Peter,
Only that which Thou didst grant the thief on the cross,
That mercy I ask of Thee.
The mathematician Kepler was enraptured through his contempla tion of God's creation, and his book on planetary movements concludes with an inspired glorification of God: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth the work of His hands." (Ps.18:1)
Men of science have been, at the same time, students of heavenly wis dom, of which the holy Apostle James says that God gives it to all men liberally, and upbraideth not (lames 1:5). And as we are led further by all that we learn, does it not lead us deeper into knowledge - to God? Concerning philosophy, Francis Bacon states that studied superficially, it removes one from God, but investigated thoroughly, it leads one to Him. The same thing applies to science. When they search heaven and earth, the highest subject of science is finally God Himself, Who is the Cornerstone in the edifice of existence.
A true knowledge of God is inseparably linked with His revelation in Christ. Not without reason did the chemist and microbiologist Pasteur caution his generation of scientists: "There will come a day when we will be laughed at for our current foolish materialistic philosophy. The more I occupy myself with the study of nature, the more I stand in reverent amazement before the works of the Creator. I pray during my work in the laboratory." The great physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton, whose name is associated with a whole series of scientific discoveries, in his Principia Philosophia writes: "A heavenly Master governs all the world as Sovereign of the universe. We are astonished at Him by reason of His perfection, we honor Him and fall down before Him because of His unlimited power. From blind physical necessity, which is always and everywhere the same, no variety adhering to time and place could evolve, and all vari ety of created objects which represent order and life in the universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, Whom I call the Lord God." Through great irony of circumstances, the chair where Newton taught at Cambridge University is now occupied by the atheist Stephen W. Hawking.
"I consulted the 'Judeo-Christian Bible' in order to find the initial reason for all creation," writes Hawking, "but there, to my great disappointment, I could not find an answer." Hawking is disappointed because he does not know "the spirit of Scripture." First of all, one must establish a correct point of view. The Bible is not a textbook of astronomy or geology, but a document of religion; it is not designed to give answers to questions of scientists, nor to praise their efforts, or even to scold them, but has only one goal to satisfy religious needs. For example, that which is written about our world's creation is not written as a natural science abstract, but as religious edification. For that reason it is nonsensical to search for what is not written there.
In the Bible our attention is drawn to the creation of the world by God from nothing. Geology begins with chaos, finds itself in a state of fermentation and motion. Where does this chaos come from? Geologists do not know. Holy Scripture goes further than chaos and geology, and states that God created the very first matter out of nothing, from which, little by little, this well-organized world was formed. For that reason Holy Scripture says that life on earth, the world of plants and animals, had its beginnings mainly through an interaction of natural forces and the creative activity of God, Who said: Let the earth bring forth, let the waters bring forth. Further, Holy Scripture states that the earth, in its gradual change from general to individual, from imperfection to perfection, from bondage to freedom, approaches closer to man, until in man it forms a crowning purpose. This narration has deep religious significance. From it we see that man was the purpose of God's creation. He was truly the last and therefore the first thought of God, since God exists outside of time. According to the Bible, in the beginning, the earth was covered with water, then mountains appeared, and dry land, then light in the firmament of the heavens, and the earth was adorned by vegetation, the waters filled with fish, the air with winged birds, followed by living creatures, and all ended with the crowning creation of man. Our hearts and our spirits rejoice when every where we acknowledge God's embodiment of thought. Nature is a world symbolic and picturesque which we must and can unriddle and interpret. Everything visible holds in itself a mystery, an invisible mystery, but the principle mystery of mysteries is God!
"I consulted," continues Professor Hawking, "St. Augustine's book, The City of God, to find out the expedient first cause of the world, but Augustine was humbly silent." The professor, being a pantheist and an environmentalist, should turn to the Confessions of Blessed Augustine, where he would find an answer to his perplexing question, because that supernatural which he seeks beyond the limits of the world, and where this world takes us, is God, the true God, the true strength of the world. "But what is my God?" asks Blessed Augustine in his Confessions: "I put my question to the earth. It answered, I am not God, and all things on earth declared the same. I asked the sea and the chasms of the deep and the living things that creep in them, but they answered, We are not your God. Seek what is above us. I spoke to the winds that blow, and the whole air and all that lives in it replied: Anaximenes is wrong, I am not God. (Anaximenes of Miletus, the philosopher, lived in the sixth century who taught that air is the first cause of all things). I asked the sky, the sun, the moon, and the stars, but they all told me, neither are we the God you seek. I spoke to all the things that are about me, all that can be admitted by the door of the senses, and I said, 'Since you are not my God, tell me about Him. Tell me something of my God.' Clear and loud they answered, 'God is He Who made us.' I asked these questions simply by gazing at these things, and their beauty was all the answer they gave."
All things speak to us in a unique language, and we can understand it. The language of all things offers testimony of God the Creator. That is exactly what Hawking does not understand.
Then, says Hawking on page 113 of his sensational work, everything happened by chance, as a result of the "Big Bang."
"We find ourselves on the horizon of scientific knowledge," states Professor Roy C. Peacock. "The closer to sunrise, the brighter the morning, so distinctly do the works of a wise Creator make clear to us. Now in the humble spirit of science, in the spirit of faith, founded in knowledge, we draw closer to the unshaken certainty of God's being."
In wide social circles Einstein's theory of relativity is well known, but not all know that it led the scientist to formulate a cosmic religion. This religion recognized the existence of a Supreme Personal Spirit, creator of a world harmony.
"Mathematical arguments say concerning the fact," notes academic scholar Morrison, "that for life's rise and development on earth, it requires an incredible number of mutual intercorrelations and connec tions that without wise direction, simply by accident, could not emerge. The speed at which the earth rotates is estimated be 1000 miles per hour. If the earth rotated at the speed of 100 miles per hour, then our days and nights would become ten times longer. In the course of the long day the sun would burn all living things, and in the course of the long night all living things would freeze to death. For that purpose the sun's temperature equals 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The earth is distanced from the sun as far as necessary, so that this 'eternal fire' appropriately warms us, not too little and not too much. If the sun gave us half its heat, we would freeze; if it gave twice as much, we would perish from the heat. These and numerous other examples show that chance did not originate life on earth, not a chance in a million."
Proof of God's being exists from time immemorial. We meet it in pre-Christian philosophy, in Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Their purpose is not to disprove what has not yet been proven, but to show everywhere God's footprints. Not in vain does the Psalmist King David, observing nature, exclaim:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth the work of His hands. Day unto day poureth forth speech, and night unto night proclaimeth knowledge. There are no tongues nor words in which their voices are not heard (Ps.18:1-3). This thought resounds throughout all Scripture, and echoes within us. But we have no need to submerge ourselves in history's whirl winds and investigate its mysteries in order to find God. In our own per sonal life each of us can find the commanding, guiding, trusting hand of God, if only we open our eyes, if only we believe in what we can see and feel, as we often experience.
Conscience is our last court of appeal, the highest, unconditional moral law in all matters. Consequently, it is the product of a higher spirit, a higher legislator of an absolute free will. In fact, conscience serves as proof of the existence of God. Conscience exhibits a moral law the will of God -and binds our will to His. For that reason Cicero said: "The conviction of truly wise men has always been this: that moral law is not something devised by men or introduced by nations, but something external by which the whole world should be governed." This law is as old as the Spirit of God.
It is worthwhile to speak of one more point: concerning man's reasoning, thanks to which we find ourselves capable of judging about what we are. This ability is due to the fact that man is the crown of creation, and this spark was placed in him by the Creator of the Universe Himself.
Unknown to Darwin, the miracle of genes and and other new discoveries certify that care was exhibited about every living thing. Professor A.K. Morrison states: "The size of genes is 50 minute, that all genes, if gathered together, would fit in a thimble," - because of them the world has life. What is more, these ultra-microscopic genes and their accompanying chromosomes are in all living cells, representing a means whereby they govern the functions of the cell, and are primarily responsible for its properties and behavior in man, animal, and plants. A thimble can hold the individual characteristics of all six billion human beings. If this is so, then how does a gene include in such a minute space the psychological traits of every individual human being?"
"The fact that a few million atoms included in ultra-microscopic genes can prove to be the absolute key to governing life on earth, thereby provides evidence that care has been shown for all living things, that someone had foreseen all this"- and this foresight comes from the cre ative wisdom of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the Trinity One in essence and indivisible!
In conclusion we can say that religion and science interact, agree with, and complement each other. The great scientist of our century, Max Planck, awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, states: "Religion and science demand for their foundation faith in God. For the former (religion), God stands foremost; for the latter (science), at the end of all thought. For religion He represents a basis; for science, a crowning solution towards a world view."
After everything has been said, to believe in the accidental beginning of the universe by means of the "Big Bang" theory, is to believe whole heartedly that this article which you are reading is the product of a big explosion in the print shop.

Priest Anatoly Trepatschko

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