Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rules of the Game

Over the years my enjoyment of the game of football has been increasing. This game offers a level of complexity which I had not recognized in my earlier years. The offensive and defensive options are fascinating because they are nearly limitless. But football and other sports would not be possible without a strict set of rules. The National Football League rulebook extends well over 100 pages and close to 100,000 words. Just imagine what football would be like without adherence to the rules of the game!

In the universe we call home, all matter and energy and the behavior of every physical system must play by “the rules.” What are these rules? Scientists develop descriptive scientific laws based on “physical constants.” The behavior of matter under all conditions must adhere to the constraints of these physical constants. Most people do not or would not care to study a list of these physical constants or their mathematical quantifiers. They would say these constants are boring and esoteric, and for people who are not scientists, perhaps they would be correct. After I downloaded the NFL rulebook, I realized that spending an afternoon buried in the nuances of football rule technicalities would be tedious, at best. But then, I do enjoy watching the nuances of the football game.

What spiritual lessons could we learn without making the science boring and tedious? Is there a way our science educators could make science more fascinating, perhaps by presenting the physical constants as “rules of the game” to our sports-loving young people? Could pastors and church education leaders, on occasion, bolster the science/faith connection by connecting even mundane activities with a little reverent awe for the rules governing them? In my opinion, the answer is an enthusiastic “Yes.” Many years ago a relative posed this question to me: Who is the author of the physical laws which govern this universe? At that time I had not thought very deeply about that challenge. Since then, I have become more thoughtful and appreciative of what scientists call the laws of nature which depend on a well-defined set of physical constants.

When God created this universe, He also created the physical constants on which all natural laws depend. It appears these rules of the game have been divinely masterminded just as surely as football’s rules of the game have been set in place by the masterminds of the game of football. Without rules and strict adherence to the rules, both the natural world and the game of football would be chaos. In future posts we will take a closer look at more physical constants--the rules of the game.