Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 6

The homoousion (of the same being) has far reaching implications on how humanity perceives the world around them.  We have the Eternal Word who is beyond this world who has now made His home in us.  The Word is in union with the Father, in union with us, in union with the Spirit who is in union with the whole created order.  God had a plan and a vision in mind when He created the universe and everything in it from out of nothing.  All things visible and invisible was created by Him and therefore is grounded upon His Truth.  The Truth of God has now personified Himself as the Man Jesus Christ.  God not only creates the Universe and everything in it but He also creates a sanctified window to allow the creature to enter into and engage the mind of Jesus Christ.  Thus we can mutually indwell and participate in the Truth behind all things and attempt to understand all things in the context of His eternal purpose of love.

As mere human beings, we are in a constant battle to deal with the forces of our fallen and darkened mind that continually subjects itself to ways of knowing and seeing that divides fact and meaning.  There is the tendency in the scientific community to scoff at the possibilities of a dependance upon something “beyond.”  Even within the Christian scientific community, there can be the tendency to function along with the rest of the scientific community and disregard a dependency from beyond i.e. contingency.  Some are willing to push the Truth of Christ aside and work on a different premise as if a truth of their object appears elsewhere.  Then this truth is pressed onto the only revealed “Truth” there is and the whole story of salvation history has to be changed to make the two fit together.  We must never put Jesus Christ in a cage by our own hypothesis and theories.

Ultimately, the gospel is God’s intervention in human history to bring about order and to restore things to they way they ought to be.  We have been brought into the redemption activity of Jesus Christ and are able to get a glimpse of the way He sees and understands the universe around us.  The rational order endowed by Jesus Christ in humanity will in no way break away from and fail to comply with the inherent rationale of the Universe.  The role of the observer is to mediate the inherent truths in the Universe to a conceivable level laying down a foundation for the benefit of others within the community and to further facilitate helpful and productive investigation.

Let’s see if I can simplify this even further.  If we believe Jesus Christ to be the Truth of all truths and we believe He is the One through whom the whole universe is created and in Him it consists and is held together, then all truth will have its source and ground in Him.  Now if there is an inherent truth in the universe, then it too will have its source and its ground in Him.  Now if we really believe there is union between our rationality and the rationality in the humanity of Jesus Christ, His logic and rationale will interpenetrate our logic and rationale.  In our study of God, we regard Jesus Christ as the Object through which all the ways and works of God have been graciously revealed to us and as the ground of our being.  In this way we undertake a proper exegesis, i.e. we draw out from Christ the inner truths of God consistent with His nature and character.  As we study science we also conduct a proper exegesis of the object of our study drawing out its inner truths consistent with its nature and character.  In this way, all ideas regarding what we believe the object ‘declares’ can be rigorously and thoroughly tested.  In the same way, all our ideas regarding who we believe God to be and what He can do must be rigorously and thoroughly tested against the revealed Person and work of Jesus Christ against the backdrop of the Hebrew framework of thought.

Albert Einstein said that prior to the innovations of James Clerk Maxwell, the geometric formulations and the mathematics, rather than serve the object of study, became the “master” of the object of study.  Light was thought be be vibrations of ether in empty space.  James Clerk Maxwell along with Michael Faraday and Heinrich Hertz revolutionized the way the electromagnetic wave was understood and found that light had similar properties.  Maxwell was on the very edge of what we know now as the Theory of Relativity.  James Clerk Maxwell was singled out by Albert Einstein as the one who conformed his mind to characteristics of the electromagnetic field and made his observations based on his findings i.e. exegesis.  He allowed his mind to serve the characteristics of the electromagnetic field and drew his conclusions by what it revealed to him.  There was an effort by the wider scientific community to employ methods of reading into what they what they perceived to be the truth about light as vibrations of ether in empty space into the electromagnetic field theory i.e eisegesis.  By the end of the nineteenth century the overwhelming evidence of the validity of Maxwell’s work continued on undisputed and the previous myths of the theory of light had to be discarded.

The point is we do not have to understand the detail and the complexities of physics to understand where T F Torrance and Albert Einstein are coming from.  Torrance says the Object of theology is the disclosure of God as the Man Jesus Christ and it comes to us by way of revelation.  No matter how little or how highly qualified we are, we are not masters of the Object in theology but servants.  If we think we know better than the Person of Jesus Christ then we run the risk of becoming blinded to His inner truths by our own presuppositions, hypothesis and theories.  There is a process going on intuitively where the truth is a witness within by the Spirit of Truth who reminds us everything of God who revealed Himself as the Man Jesus Christ.  It should not be any different in science.  If we act as masters of the object we study and believe we know better than the object, then we run the risk of becoming blinded to its inner truths by our ill-conceived premises, theories and hypotheses.  There is a reasonable expectation that whatever truth is told about a particular object of study it can be meaningfully verified by others without having to resorts to myths that might blind us to its inner truths.

What this means is theology no longer has to be pushed into a corner by science.  It is possible to have dialogue between the two disciplines.  The method employed in theology as a discipline is to ensure we do not veer away from the Truth revealed in Jesus Christ.  We are all held to account to Him alone.  This discipline can be also employed to ensure the claims made in science remains true to its field.  There are truths in science and humanities that hold some truths relevant to theology.  However, in theology, it is Jesus Christ who has the final say as the One who is the Truth of all truths.  Theology reserves the right to consider claims made by science in all its fields including humanities.  Theology can weigh the evidence of other fields and determine whether or not it has mythological elements that have skewed the results of their observations.  What we ask of the scientific community is to play fair in its assertions.

The doctrine of God according to evangelicals is one that begins outside the person of Jesus Christ grounded on the doctrine of limited atonement.  It defines God according to what humans believe He can and cannot do and what He must and must not be.  Without using Jesus Christ as the only One where we can disclose who God is, a so called truth is established about the ways and works of God.  Everything is interpreted through the lens of this non-Christological assertions of God.  Jesus Christ and Scripture is bent and twisted to fit into this doctrine of God.  Then the gospel is bent and twisted to fit into this doctrine of God.  When we focus on Jesus Christ all of what the evangelical doctrine of God claims starts to fall apart and an understanding of the gospel more consistent with the revelation of Jesus Christ begins to emerge.

This can also happen in the field of science.  A preposition, premise, theory or hypothesis can be established apart from the object of study that may give a bent and twisted view of the object in question.  This is what James Clerk Maxwell was faced with when he began his work on his electromagnetic field.  The overwhelming consensus had presuppositions and premises that were imposed on the object where their observations made no sense and gave a twisted and bent view of it.  Maxwell had to place these presuppositions and premises aside and allow the object to speak for itself and made observations that was consistent with its inner reality.  Once this inner reality was uncovered, the premises and presuppositions began to fall away and a fresh and  new information consistent with the truth of the object began to emerge.  It has taken almost a century for this method of approach of investigation to begin to spill over into other disciplines.  This accounts for the enormous strides forward in better developing an understanding of the world we live that is more consistent with its inner reality.

What is more important is Torrance has provided a way of maintaining the integrity of the gospel with Jesus Christ and showing due respect to scientific endeavour and bringing the two together.  It is not necessary for us to bow to science in all its various disciplines and change our understanding of Scripture and Jesus Christ.  The two must function in a way that is open and free from manipulation of ideas that may bring about a different result contrary to the truth.  The truth of science should have a harmonious relationship with empirical reality and the reality revealed in Jesus Christ.

to be continued . . .