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God and Creation
Each week seems to bring us new and more incredible discoveries about our universe. Recently the Hubble space telescope gave us pictures of a tiny segment of the sky. Even this tiny segment revealed an astonishing number of galaxies. The light we now receive from one of the most distant of galaxies is said to have started its journey just 460 million years after “Big Bang” – no time at all in terms of the current scientific age of the universe. Scientists also tell us that there was a time when time and space itself did not exist.
Although this is a concept that humans surely cannot comprehend, it is something that scientists seem quite happy with, and one that I can accept along with the concept of infinity. What seems strange, therefore, is the difficulty some have in accepting the concept of God. To my mind modern scientific discoveries can only tend to underline – indeed prove – the existence of God. How did the universe, time and space come into being?
I suspect that the trouble modern man has with the notion of God is the fact that we all, to a greater or lesser extent, tend to create an image of God in our minds. These anthropomorphic images can easily be knocked down. A Christian response to Professor Dawkins could well be “I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in either!” Of course, these images do not begin to define that which cannot be defined due to the limitations of human intellect. However, the Church acknowledges two ways of approaching a definition: the Apophatic and the Cataphatic. The first adopts the way of negation. God is uncreated, unlimited, invisible, unknowable, inaccessible, incorruptible, and outside the realm if time. The second permits God coming to us and revealing Himself by way of affirmation. God is Spirit, Love, Light, Wisdom and Power. He is Holy, Just and Good.
Perhaps the Church has, unwittingly, used symbols and metaphors that make it difficult for modern man to clear his mind of this imagery, stand back, and contemplate the awesome majesty of God. For example, we talk of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, immediately fostering the image of sovereigns in a throne room, whereas what is intended is an understanding of the triune relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Church has always had an uneasy relationship with science, with poor old Galileo falling out with Pope Urban VIII and the Jesuits, and Darwin’s work in the 19th century still causing difficulties. What science is doing is revealing the wonder of God’s creation and thereby forcing us to accept the unknowable nature of the Creator.
1st October 2012
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