Patristic Theology and Modern Science Pt 15

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The whole purpose of these articles is to try and find a unitary relationship between theology and natural science as belonging together. Patristic theology gives real meaning and purpose to science.  Science gives vision to Patristic theology particularly in the area of contingency.  Albert Einstein understood the link between what he describes as religion and science stating that one cannot truly function without the other.  Science and theology both must move on from the Newtonian, enlightenment framework of thought with is tendencies to hold things apart in their endeavour to hold together unverifiable premises, theories and hypotheses.  In addition, due credit and mutual respect must be given to those who passionately hunger for the truth within their particular field of theology, natural and human sciences.  In recent times, there has been a rapid growing of understanding there is a truth that speaks for itself which cannot be negotiated or manipulated into anything other than what it is.  Thus it is vitally important to respect the truth we uncover by acting in accordance with it.

The key fundamental question confronted by many scientists is, “Why is the universe what it is and not something else?”  This question is also asked in many other scientific disciplines.  Why are human beings what they are and not something else?  Why does nature function the way it does and not in any other way?”    If the object we study tells us something about itself and it contradicts our previous way of understanding it, then we do not change the truth of the object into something else to validate our previous way of understanding.  The ethics of scientific investigation requires that our rational mind serves the truth rather than try to master it for our own ends.  Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life.  We do not try to make our truth more truer than the truth revealed in Jesus Christ.  We serve the sacred gift of God Himself and allow our rational mind to conform to and serve Him.  We do not replace the sacred gift of the truth of God Himself with anything else.  The truth inherent in whatever we study in science must not be replaced by anything else other than what it reveals inherent to itself.

In recent times, this is the generally accepted view that there is “real time” embedded into the universe.  For this reason, there is the growing understanding that the universe is not infinite but finite and is continually expanding from its once dense state.  Of course in Patristic theology we fully understand that the universe has a real beginning.  But it is more than this.  It goes beyond the “beginning” and “when” to the “Whence” whom we know to be Jesus Christ.    It is Jesus Christ who is “real time” who is embedded throughout the universe.  We know the universe has come from somewhere/someone and will consummate somewhere/someone, the Protos and the Teleos. This too is evident in science.  There is the widespread understanding the universe has come from somewhere/someone and is going somewhere/someone.

Science has an obligation to seek the truth and reflect its integrity in a way that gives proper justice to what it truly is.  As we have found this integrity particularly in physics, we can see how theology is related to this field and can provide some real answers to its probing questions.  On the one hand, we have to move on from the insistence of evolutionists  with its carefully structured logical and deductive processes with the view that everything happened by natural selection, accident and chance.  It is full of speculation, inference and conjecture where objects are forced to conform to what is considered a mere possibility.  The science in evolution is lame because it tends ignore the belief there is something beyond the universe upon which it is contingent. On the other hand, the insistence of creationists that the six literal days in Genesis as the viable argument offering the scientific alternative also has to be left behind.  It is not a handbook that describes the mechanical process of how the universe was created, how long it took and when it happened.  Its literalist approach to Scripture tend to twist and distort the truths uncovered in science to fit in with their “young earth” premise. Generally speaking, the aim of the Genesis account points to someone beyond the text as the origin of all things.  It is more than when and how.  It points to who created and why He created.  We find in Judeo-Christian cosmology a strong emphasis on contingency, the One in whom, we live move and have our being (Acts 17:28).  In Jesus Christ, we find the One who created all things for Him and in Him all things are held together.  One thing science and theology know for sure is there is something beyond the universe upon which it is based.

What is becoming more and more evident in the physical sciences and starting to spill over into other disciplines is the overwhelming realisation of an order, structure and phenomena that is what it is without any input from the observer.  It functions in truth all on its own and has done so since the dawn of time.  Time itself is embedded in all phenomena and is an integral part of reality.  As we start to tap into this reality, we begin to find there are unchangeable laws which govern and shape all other laws.  These laws at the ground of all created order did not stumble into existence by mere accident or chance.  One has to consider that these fundamental regulating principles existed before the universe came into existence from out of nothing.  So it is to the Word of God who gave creation such beauty, structure, order and an intelligibility all of its own where we are given the freedom to access by our human understanding in scientific investigation.  The Word of God’s inherent truth through whom He promises that we will know for ourselves is embedded in creation.  The inherent truth in nature is not there to trick or deceive us into believing it is anything other than what it is.  God speaks to His creatures in such a way as to remain true to Himself.  Therefore, if we adopt a listening mode towards our investigation of nature in combination with our scientific practices, this will open many possibilities into the future.