Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Physical and Spiritual Laws

Not surprisingly, theories and laws of science do not rise to the level of curiosity and fascination for most people who are content to defer to experts in the field. They are satisfied to endorse the bus company advertising slogan of “Leave the driving to us.” At a basic level, however, they are able to understand that every human activity in the physical realm must obey the set of laws which governs matter. The purpose of this blog is to promote understanding of the laws of matter’s governance and their connection with matters of faith. We could call it “consumer education.” An informed consumer will have an enhanced level of “product enjoyment” based on knowledge.

There are numerous examples. Builders of homes and skyscrapers know the principles of physics which, applied to their constructions, provide functionality such as load-bearing stability. Musicians know the physics of sound production. They subjectively understand what is consonant or dissonant, and its physical basis as well. On the level of human interaction, similar principles apply. Skilled teachers know the complex characteristics of their students, and appropriate strategies for achieving successful learning. Familiarity with characteristics and operational rules, therefore, is a prerequisite for the design of a successful final product.

Highly educated people in any field of learning study in detail the theory and philosophy which undergird the knowledge and value of their academic specialty. But what about the people who are not scholars? Consumers of today’s products are becoming increasingly adept at end-stage applications, but more ignorant of nature’s constants, physical laws, and theories which sparked initial discoveries and now sustain ongoing improvement and refinement. I’ve noted and admired the speed with which most members of our younger generation intuitively comprehend the operational logic of even the newest, most complex technological marvels. New products are proliferating at a breakneck rate, and in our culture there is little need to know anything but applied skills.

Even our church leaders and church members may place too much emphasis on satisfying easy consumerism. A legitimate concern for pastors in our churches is how parishioners may achieve ownership of the theological “rules of the game”--the rules defining belief and behavior. Scripture has significant references to topics we would call scientific in our day, such as advice to study the heavens (the cosmos) and the orderliness of our universe. The Book of Job, in its fascinating insights, proclaims, “He establishes order in the heights of heaven” (Job 25:2 NIV).

Consider the connection between lack of knowledge of God-authored physical constants and laws, and lack of knowledge of God-authored spiritual constants or spiritual laws. Ignorance of or disobedience to physical laws could result in bodily injury or death in situations related to laws of gravitation or laws of motion. Likewise, ignorance, disregard, or disobedience in the spiritual realm results in spiritual disfigurement or death. Imagine the disastrous confusion in societies where the principles of the ten commandments are unknown or dishonored. Consider Moses’ end-of-life instruction to his people about keeping the laws of God: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut. 30:19 NIV).

If we lack certainty about cause and effect in either sphere, and if we are uncertain that both spheres are authored and connected by God the Creator, we reduce our prospects for success in either sphere.