God in Science

One of my lecturers this term likes to start with a quote from one of the physicists we are to be studying the works of over the course of the lecture. On one such occasion he made the point that ‘back in the day people would study physics, so as to study the nature of God’s creation and hopefully get a reflection of God through this, this is rather a beautiful thing.’ This can then be combined with the observation that they would make observations of the most minute details without any electrical aid. They would think of experiments, such as one for the measurement of the earths mass in a garden shed and get a remarkably accurate result, an experiment often done in uni labs, by students, but now with electricity to easily measure angels. How is it that such intricate observations and such well thought out experiment were thought out by them. I have seen experiments were the changes due to a system are hardly noticeable yet the physicists back in the time could derive equations for the interactions of such bodies. The short answer is that they would offer all study ad majorem dei gloriam (for the glory of God), or to find the creator through the created as my lecturer noted.

A second lecturer made the comment that, ‘in our time science is entirely driven by what can make money, and so research is only funded were companies or governments can see new technology coming out of it. This is not were the revolutions or the biggest advances come. They come from the studying of something we think there is no future in with perhaps minor inconsistencies, [such as classical physics and particularly black boy radiation], and playing. The minor inconsistencies get rewritten to revolutionise physics [quantum physics].’ This change happens when science loses sight of God, hence the true reason for study, they become focused on making money from the research and not just finding something new, interesting or doing it for fun.

A further result of this degeneration of science into what can produce the most valuable new technology is that anything which is not going to discover something for the market, be it the latest phone technology or the cure for cancer, it is disregarded as useless; hence it does not get funded. The same of going to university in the first place, people will always ask you what is the carrier prospectus for your course. Is it not possible that a person didn’t go to university simply for a job afterwards but because of the personal formation, learning to live on their own, and the glorification of God by developing their understanding of His creation. In disregarding  such subjects as theology you are disregarding that which gives the highest reflection on creator as it not studying Him simply through the created but as Himself. In the Summa theologica St Aquinas argues that ‘other sciences are called the handmaidens of this [sacred doctrine] one’ He backs up this claim for both speculative sciences-what we might now call philosophy or similar, and practical sciences, such as the natural sciences. He says

Now one speculative science is said to be nobler (nobler being a medieval concept of what is objectively greater,more perfect or worthy of respect) than another, either by reason of its certitude, or by reason of higher worth of subject matter. In both these respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of divine knowledge, which cannot be misled: in point of higher worth of its subject-matter, because this science treats chiefly of those things which by their sublimity transcend human reason; while other sciences consider only those things which are within reason’s grasp.

Of the practical sciences, that one is nobler which is ordained to a further purpose, as political science is nobler than military science; for the good of the army is directed to the good of the State. But the purpose of this science, in so far as it is practical, is eternal bliss; to which as an ultimate end the purposes pf every practical science are directed. Hence it is clear that from every standpoint it is nobler than other sciences.

So just as natural sciences may give a glimpse of God through His creation this is entirely by human reason, and only looking at a reflection of Him, Theology particularly in sacred doctrine is looking directly at God through God that He might provide the learning. Such a study can give a better understanding of all things in God. Likewise all study in all subjects must be put into God’s hands for the glory of His name and then the best results shall be gained. The main thing to remember is don’t too caught up in the finer intricate details to lose sight of the bigger picture, yet make a study of the finer details to get a fuller realisation of how epic the bigger picture is. For then science like all else will remain in context and produce the best of both both person and intellect.

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