September 25, 2015
My favorite quote, that I ran across while writing the book and sermon series ASK, came from a German physicist, Werner Heisenberg, (You might recognize the name from the Heisenberg uncertainty principle). He wrote, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” This quote explains to me why there are so many atheists that are scientists and yet why some of the wisest people (scientists included) believe in God.
I have spent this week on a mission trip with the Cabecars, the native tribes of southern Costa Rica, where our church operates a health clinic called Clinica Emmanuel (God is with us.) In our Bible study times, we noted that the pastor of the village begins and ends everything with the phrase “Gracias a Dios” – “Thanks to God.” To be honest, it felt quaint. This was a simple man giving a simple blessing.
In the United States, we have stopped giving thanks to God for everything. I think it is because we believe that we have a better sense of how the world works. We don’t marvel at God’s goodness when we see a Lexus – we marvel at the engineering. We don’t wonder at the glory of God when a great meal is prepared – we thank the chef. We think we understand so much that the idea of God daily making our lives happen is quaint, sweet, and somewhat unnecessary.
In the United States and the “educated world,” we have taken the first gulp from the glass of natural sciences and decided that God is simply not necessary. And yet, I read the scriptures, like Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and I think that the pastor of the Cabecar village might be wiser than the physicists in the West. Here is Paul’s recommendation in the fourth chapter of Philippians:
“Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.”
We can also come to the same conclusion when we look at the very logic behind the physics of the world, or as Werner Heisenberg said – when we come to the bottom of the glass. Scientists have come a long way to explain everything from the diversity of our world to the human immune systems to the alignment of the planets. And yet there comes a point, just a millisecond before the big bang, where no one can quite explain how the world was created out of nothing. And how, even in deep space where there seems to be nothing, particles are popping into and out of existence.
This is the place where the logic of the world agrees with the pastor from the Cabecar village, and we can learn from the wisdom of Psalm 14:1: “Fools say in their hearts, There is no God.” The logic of science, physics, religion, and my friend at the top of a mountain in Costa Rica all lend us to give thanks to that Being who made all of this happen out of nothing.
This Sunday we are talking about science, logic, and creation – I hope you can make it. I expect that we will look at the structure and logic of this world and get to the bottom of the glass of natural sciences, and there we will find wisdom in God.