|The Book of the World|
|by T. M. Moore|
|June 26, 2012|
Science is an important way for us to understand the Creator.
Understand the creation, if you wish to know the Creator; if you will not know the former, be silent concerning the Creator, but believe in the Creator.
- Columbanus, Sermon I
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
- Psalm 145:5-7
Columbanus was the greatest of the Irish peregrini, those wandering missionary-monks who brought the Gospel anew to the dying churches of Europe in the 6th and 7th centuries. He had spent many years teaching at the monastery in Bangor prior to taking up this work, and it is clear from his existing writings that his interests and knowledge roamed over a good many topics.
He challenges a notion cherished by evangelical believers – the idea that Scripture is sufficient to lead us into the knowledge of God. Now there is no doubt that the Bible reveals God, especially in that the Bible leads us to consider Jesus, Who is the express image of God. We cannot know God apart from Jesus and the Scriptures.
But we cannot know God as clearly as we might if the Scriptures are all we ever look to for insight to His nature, character, purposes, and will.
Columbanus, like many of his Celtic contemporaries, believed that a fuller knowledge of God is available through the study of creation. The literature of the Celtic period features some very impressive meditations on the revelation of God in the things of creation. These were so clear and compelling to Celtic Christians like Columbanus, that some believed you could not really know God – not well enough to talk about Him anyway – unless you took up the study of creation as well.
Here is all the more reason for Christians to pursue the study of science. We believe that God is revealing Himself through the things of creation (Ps. 19:1-4). If we want to have a fuller and more complete knowledge of God – which is eternal life (Jn. 17:3) – then we must embrace the study of Scripture and the study of the book of creation.
As the poet William Drummond (1585-1649) put it, “Of this faire Volumne which wee World do name,/ If we the sheetes and leaves could turne with care,/ Of Him who it correctes, and did it frame,/ Wee clear might read the Art and Wisdome rare?” ("The Book of the World") Drummond continued along the same line as Columbanus, saying that if all we ever do is study the Bible, we are “leaving what is best” unread, as it were.
It is the duty of all believers, therefore, to include some study of the creation in their disciplined pursuit of the knowledge of God. And it is the duty of those believers who work in the sciences to help the rest of us understand what it is about the “Art and Wisdome rare” of God we may expect to encounter through reading and studying in the sciences.
Science does not provide the last word on the knowledge of God. Only Scripture can give us this true picture. Scripture is the larger “light” of divine revelation in which we may see and understand clearly what the lesser “lights” of creation, culture, and history may be revealing to us (Ps. 36:9; 2 Tim. 3:15-17).
But science is an important way for us to understand the Creator and, understanding Him, to be bolder, clearer, and more persuasive in our conversations about Him, and more erudite and exalting in our worship.
Understand the creation, if you would understand the Creator. That’s very good advice, both for the pursuit of the study of science, and for the pursuit of the knowledge of God.