“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:1-4).”
Michael Crow knows who the enemy is. As Pogo noted, it is us.
Crow, the president of Arizona State University, says scientists today are so proud that they are unable to understand that there are limits to our knowledge. In an article in the webzine “Issues in Science and Technology”, he calls the failure of academia to see that the problems of mankind are NOT external to ourselves “hubris”.
Crow cites six areas of limitation to our ability to control nature. Of particular interest are the knowledge and philosophical constraints he mentions.
Regarding knowledge, Crow makes an interesting point about our own capacity for self governance. He says that we do not even have the ability to manage ourselves well enough to confront the challenges of dealing with the damage we have done to our own world.
Regarding philosophy, Crow believes science in unable in this hyperactive age to discover real meaning behind our relationship with nature. Such age-old questions as “Why are we here?” and “How should we behave?” are beyond the researcher today.
While Crow laments the literal answers to meaning that science provides, calling them a “mockery”, his purpose in questioning current approaches is far different than mine. His goal would be unified effort to be good stewards of the planet.
When I think of our lovely world, I understand it as God’s creation. Yet, I acknowledge that I have barely scratched the surface in understanding the beauty He has made, and more importantly, why he has made it.
Crow says of our hubris (and I include myself in the human race on this):
We trumpet the onset of the “knowledge society,” but we might be much better off if we accepted that, when it comes to our relations with nature, we are still pretty much an “ignorance society.” Our situation is reminiscent of Sherman McCoy, the protagonist of Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, who fancies himself a “Master of the Universe” just as his life is taken over by events far beyond his control. We have the illusion of understanding and are not humbled by the fact that we do not understand. We refuse even to consider the possibility.
I did indeed stumble into a deep thought over the weekend regarding God’s purpose in nature, however, despite my own selfishness and pride. I got an epiphany that God has put it there partly to help me deal with the things I cannot control.
The first s of the Twelve Steps of the Celebrate Recovery movement, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous, is:
We admitted to ourselves that we were powerless over our dependencies-that our life had become unmanageable.
In a couple areas of my life, this confession holds true. It took a walk through the forest this weekend to help me get hold of an idea that God’s creation is an antidote to the addictions that would want to consume me and draw me away from God.
Sunday was a gorgeous, cool day in Finland, the county where I currently reside. I knew I would be stupid to spend my day inside, so I decided to walk a trail that leads past the gigantic lake in our region and into town. (In addition, the aspect of God’s work called “my body” needed the exercise.)
As I was out there, it was so beautiful that I realized something. I understood that the next time I was facing one of my common temptations, I could look seek out God through His creation.
Methodologically speaking, this could mean anything. For example, today I set a beautiful autumn scene from my home state on my computer wallpaper.
In any case, the idea is to put off the sinfulness and put on God (Romans 13:13,14). I can’t see God because He is invisible, but I can see His likeness through what He has made (Romans 1:20).
Let’s get back to science for a minute. In the opening page of his book “Science and Its Limits”, Del Ratsch notes that there is no accepted definition of natural science.
This is not a problem, according to the author:
That might seem to be an insurmountable difficulty. How can we investigate the nature of science if we do not, strictly speaking, know what we are talking about? But such problems are not insurmountable in comparable situations. For instance, it is almost a cliché that no one can define love. But that does not stop us from proclaiming (often correctly) our undying version of love to select persons on Valentine’s Day, and it does not stop us from marrying for love. We can often recognize instances of and characteristics of a concept even if we are unable to formulate an ironclad definition of it, and we often have a good general idea even if we cannot specify all the details. Such is the case with the concept of science.
And such is the case with the concept of God. His beauty, His love, and His personal care for me are all there in the woods and the waterways of the area in which I live.
My dependencies are cheap imitations and limitations. I can find the real deal in nature, and that reality is spectacular, far greater than my flesh, the world, or the devil can conjure up.
So the next time I am tempted to succumb to the pull of temptation, I have to endeavor to find a way to muse on God’s beauty in creation. It’ not hard to find. It’s everywhere.