Monday, October 22, 2012

True Rapturous Amazement

We learn much from the pronouncements of secular scientists. Those who work within the venue of nature’s wonders are uniquely positioned to see the beauty and harmony of natural law. The wonder they experience observing and working within this harmony sometimes reads like a true religious experience. In one sense, their experience is religious, but it is not the religion of Christianity, nor is it born of a Christian worldview. Secular religious feeling must not be disparaged, but the religious feeling of scientists triggered by a Christian worldview is superior, by far.

Albert Einstein was an agnostic who did not believe in a personal God. He uttered many laudable sentiments even Christians could embrace but his experience fell far short of the biblical Christian experience. Likewise, appreciation for the aesthetic beauty of our environment, not to mention the awe such a scientist experiences as he observes the precision, complexity, and behavior of matter surrounding us, should exceed the enjoyment of the secular, naturalistic scientist exponentially. The Christian worldview sees God as Creator. Agnostic scientists have a different view of metaphysical reality, a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality. Ultimately the Christian worldview sees our cosmos as the product of a supernatural act of ex nihilo creation.

Einstein’s statement follows: “Religious feeling (for the scientist) takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” Other Einstein statements clarified his religious views and distinguished his beliefs from a genuinely Christian worldview: “If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

Many quotations from Einstein relate to the nature of his religious beliefs. Many people are eager to be identified with the beliefs and statements of famous people insofar as their own beliefs are affirmed. Those interested in science and its relationship with faith may cite the declarations of famous scientists which help establish their concepts of the science/faith connection. For example, in the “rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law,” we recognize the exuberance a Christian feels for the natural world created by God. Such enthusiasm is justified, but its confirmation is not established in the statements of people who reject biblical notions of the God of Creation.

Albert Einstein experienced many stages of belief on his rapturous journey but in the end his rapture did not lead him to belief in the one true God. He proclaimed he believed in “Spinoza’s God.” Spinoza articulated the belief later to be labelled pantheism, the belief that the natural universe is identical with divinity. He did not see the body and spirit as separate entities, but believed in the essential unity of God and matter. Einstein’s religious beliefs have been dissected by many researchers, but it is doubtful he ever embraced a belief of reality matching that set forth in the Judeo-Christian Bible.

Science professionals who work within the Christian worldview are uniquely privileged to experience a special quality of rapturous amazement, particularly if they recognize the reality of a God who has authored transcendent, transformational, and sustaining miracles along the historic timeline of our cosmos.