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Christ’s Lordship over Everything: PHYSICS Mathematics & Science & the Biblical Christian Worldview Sean Bird – teacher of physics & calculus at
Psalm 19 5. 7 Jehovah’s perfect law Restores the soul again; His testimony sure Gives wisdom unto men; 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, And fill the heart with great delight. 6. The LORD’s command is pure, Enlightening the eyes; 9 Jehovah’s fear is clean, More lasting than the skies. The judgments of the LORD express His truth and perfect righteousness. 7. 10 They’re more to be desired Than stores of finest gold; Than honey from the comb More sweetness far they hold. 11 With warnings they Thy servant guard In keeping them is great reward 8. 12 His errors who can know? Cleanse me from hidden stain 13 Keep me from willful sins, Nor let them o’er me reign. And then I upright shall appear And be from great transgression clear. 9. 14 Let all the words I speak And all the thoughts within Come up before Thy sight And Thine approval win. O Thou Jehovah, unto me My rock and my Redeemer be.
I want to know how God created this world. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details. - Albert Einstein, not a Christian, but firmly denies atheism 1879 -1955 God created everything by number, weight and measure. -Sir Isaac Newton 1642 -1727 I think that each individual man should do all he can to impress his own mind with the extent, the order, and the unity of the universe, and should carry these ideas with him as he reads such passages as the 1 st Chap. of the Ep. to Colossians (see Lightfoot on Colossians, p. 182), just as enlarged conceptions of the extent and unity of the world of life may be of service to us in reading Psalm viii, Heb ii 6, etc. - James Clerk Maxwell, founder of E&M 1831 -1879
Genesis 3: 6 The woman saw that the tree was 1. Good for food 2. A delight to the eyes 3. To be desired to make one wise NO ! My question is, WAS IT? Did this match reality?
“From the Christian point of view, every fact of the space-time universe is created by God and is what it is by virtue of its place in the plan of God” - Cornelius Van. Til James Clerk Maxwell gave as the basis, or foundation of all intellectual pursuits the following declaration: I believe with the Westminster Divines and their predecessors ad Infinitum that ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. ’ In answer to how to enjoy the Lord, Maxwell states that Happiness is indissolubly connected with the full exercise of these powers in the intended direction… In order to advance, the soul must converse with things external to itself.
Purpose of Science & Mathematics
i) SATISFY GOD-GIVEN CURIOSITY ABOUT NATURE Seeing that God does “great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number” (Job 5: 9), many people have dedicated their lives to unraveling the mysteries of creation. The challenge never ends, for each solution raises many more questions.
“The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics. ” - Kepler (1571 -1630)
ii) PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS. . Technology Christians in particular are to realize that man is commissioned by God to have dominion over the earth and to steward it resources without wasting them. In accordance with the dominion mandate given shortly after creation (Gen 1: 28), mathematics is a tool that enables man to take constructive and godly dominion over God’s creation. Since man must be godly in order to take constructive dominion, then man must be presented with the claims of Christ, the Redeemer.
Gen 1: 28 quoted on State Historical Site plaque. Where Aviation History Was Born.
Technology example: MRI http: //www. creationsafaris. com/wgcs_ 5. htm#damadian
iii) SHARPENS REASONING SKILLS. It challenges you to apply principles to everyday problems. This skill will aid you in study of the Bible and even in the worship of God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10: 27). Because man is sinful, he tends to be lazy and not exercise his mind. But you must gird your mind to protect yourself from the deceit of false teachers and fend off attacks against your faith.
iv) PHYSICS REVEALS MUCH ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF GOD. Rom 1: 20 In addition to seeing His power that created and sustains the universe, you can see His matchless wisdom that orders the universe in infinite detail: “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your riches” (Psalm 104: 24) (
“It is especially in sciences … that we see the wonders of God, his power, wisdom and goodness; … that is why, since my youth, I have given myself to the sciences that I loved. ” - Leibniz
“The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being…This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God , or Universal Ruler…The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect; but a being, however perfect, without dominion, cannot be said to be Lord God; for we say, my God, your God, the God of Israel, the God of Gods, and Lord of Lords…” -Newton (1643 -1727) Principia Newton explains God as being personal and sustaining all things by his powerful word for the purpose of His own glory. His dominion is evident in creation. And to see this was Newton’s purpose for the work that he did.
But is General Revelation sufficient for salvation today? What converts the soul? (Psalm 19: 7) What is a means by which we have faith? (Rom 10: 17) Where do we learn of the Trinity and the Resurrection of Jesus? (Matt 28: 19; 1 Cor 15: 2 -4, 17)
But is General Revelation sufficient for salvation today? 1 Cor 15: 1 -4, 17 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
But is General Revelation sufficient for salvation today? What converts the soul? (Psalm 19: 7) What is a means by which we have faith? (Rom 10: 17) Where do we learn of the Trinity and the Resurrection of Jesus? (Matt 28: 19; 1 Cor 15: 2 -4, 17) How can we know the Savior?
v) DELIGHT As the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, it is not only possible but proper to delight in the study of science. Jules Henri Poincaré [who was not even necessarily a believer] got close to capturing the correct sense of the truth: “The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living. ”
v) DELIGHT (continued) We are to delight in the presence of God in every subject of pursuit. “The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. ” -Psalm 111: 2
LIMITATIONS 1. Must be observable 2. Science changes because man’s knowledge is incomplete. 3. Only describe natural process – not the philosophical “why” 4. Unseen/spiritual truth are beyond the realm of science: Origins Morality sociology
Without the Protestant Reformation and its destruction of the dichotomy between sacred and secular, the integrated Biblical Christian Worldview of the Puritans with their optimistic eschatology, there would not have been a Scientific Revolution
In fact, the famous scientific club, the Royal Society of London, was founded by English Puritans Their stated purpose was “to improve the knowledge of natural things, and all useful Arts, Manufatures, Mechanick practises, Engynes … To examine all systems, theories, principles, hypotheses, elements, histories, and experiments of things naturall, mathematicall, and mechanicall, invented, recorded, or practised, by any considerable author ancient or modern… All to advance the glory of God, … and the generall good of mankind. ”
Origin of Science • Discussing this attitude among the Puritans, R. K. Merton remarks: • "This is the very motif that recurs in constant measure in the very writings which often contained considerable scientific contributions: these worldly activities and scientific achievements manifest the Glory of God and enhance the Good of Man. The juxtaposition of the spiritual and the material is characteristic and significant. This culture rested securely on a substratum of utilitarian norms which identified the useful and the true. Puritanism itself had imputed a threefold utility to science. Natural philosophy was instrumental first, in establishing practicalproofs of the scientist's state of grace, second in enlarging control of nature [Gen 1: 28]and third, in glorifying God. Science ; was enlisted in the service of individual, society and deity. That these were adequate grounds could not be denied. They comprised not merely a claim to legitimacy, they afforded incentives which cannot be readily overestimated. One need only to look through the personal correspondence of seventeenth century scientists to realize this. " Merton, Robert K. The Sociology of Science U. of Chicago Press Chicago 1973 p. 232. http: //www. samizdat. qc. ca/cosmos/sc_soc/cosmoeng. html
Origin of Science • In an essay published initially in 1925 Alfred North Whitehead, an English mathematician, made the following remarks on the origins of science. • "I do not think, however, that I have even yet brought out the greatest contribution of medievalism to the formation of the scientific movement. I mean the inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labours of scientists would be without hope. It is this instinctive conviction, vividly poised before the imagination, which is the motive power of research: that there is a secret which can be unveiled. How has this conviction been so vividly implanted on the European mind? When we compare this tone of thought in Europe with the attitude of other civilizations when left to themselves, there seems but one source for its origin. It must have come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God , conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and the rationality of a Greek philosopher. Every detail was supervised and ordered search into nature could only result in the : the vindication of the faith in rationality. Remember that I am not talking about the explicit beliefs of a few individuals. What I mean is the impress made on the European mind arising from the unquestioned faith of centuries. By this I mean the instinctive tone of thought and not mere creed of words. In Asia, the conceptions of God were of a being who was either too arbitrary or too impersonal for such ideas to have much effect on the instinctive habits of mind. Any definite occurrence might be due to the fiat of an irrational despot, or might issue from some impersonal inscrutable origin of things. There was not the same confidence as in the intelligible rationality of a personal being. " Science and the Modern World. Free Press New York 1967 pp. 12 -13. http: //www. samizdat. qc. ca/cosmos/sc_soc/cosmoeng. html
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy There is a knowledge of God natural in and by his works: and a knowledge of God supernatural by revelation out of the Word; and though this be the principal, yet the other is not to be undervalued. Edward Reynolds of England
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy Remember that not only heavenly and spiritual and supernatural knowledge descends from God, but also all natural and human learning and abilities; and therefore pray much, not only for the one but also for the other from the Father of Lights and mercies. The early American Puritan, Thomas Shepard, wrote this to his son at Harvard
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy - Reason, mathematics, and science are tools of dominion (Gen 1: 28) The Word of God and rule of religion teach us, not to destroy, but to improve every faculty that is in us … to the glory of God who gave them to us. Samuel Willard
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy - Reason, mathematics, and science are tools of dominion (Gen 1: 28) 2. God is Creator and Lawgiver - Man given ability to study Physics, which is a great part of human learning, is but the knowledge of God’s admirable works; and hath any man the face to call himself God’s creature, and yet to reproach it as vain human learning. Richard Baxter
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy - Reason, mathematics, and science are tools of dominion (Gen 1: 28) 2. God is Creator and Lawgiver - Man given ability to study - Divine duty to explore His mighty works (joy Ps 111: 2) To study the nature and course and use of all God’s works is a duty imposed by God upon all sorts of men. John Cotton
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture physics, Grammar, rhetoric, logic, - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy mathematics, metaphysics, ethics, politics, - Reason, mathematics, and science are tools of dominion (Gen 1: 28) 2. economics, and history are all useful to the God is Creator and Lawgiver - Man given abilityminister of the gospel. to study - Divine duty to explore His mighty works (joy Ps 111: 2) Richard Bernard 3. Vocation and Calling - application of Biblical principles to secular activities (Eph 2: 8 -10)
Four Puritan Doctrines that promoted the development of culture and science 1. Absolute Authority of Scripture - Rejected nature/grace dichotomy - Reason, mathematics, and science are tools of dominion (Gen 1: 28) 2. God is Creator and Lawgiver - Man given ability to study - Divine duty to explore His mighty works (joy Ps 111: 2) 3. Vocation and Calling - application of Biblical principles to secular activities (Eph 2: 8 -10) 4. Optimistic Eschatology - positive outlook concerning progress of society based on Scriptural promises (Matt 16: 18; Hab 2: 14)
Christianity and the development of science • Those who used the • Reformed theology understanding of God as rejected the subjective a motivation to study mysticism of Roman included but were not Catholicism in favor of limited to Copernicus, objective obedience to Galileo, Kepler, Newton, God’s written revelation. Leibniz, Pascal, Euler, and Maxwell.
“I am indebted to the Puritans for their excellence and example in living all of life Soli Deo Gloria Coram Deo. Their Biblical Theology enflames my heart, enlightens my mind, and has transformed my life so that even my scientific pursuits make sense within the plan of God. ” For more information see http: //covenantchristian. org /bird
Physics topics Newtonian mechanics n Our knowledge of God is analogical… What orthodox, or non-heretical, spiritual analogies can be made from the 3 laws of motion? (Be careful to avoid false concepts like we are saved by works (see Eph 2: 8 -9), or confusing and dividing the persons of the Trinity see the Definition of Chalcedon or the Athanasian Creed) E. g. (i) The kingdom of God is like the _____ law of motion, because we come to the Lord when He draws us - (John 6: 44). (ii) Or we see this same principle in Malachi 3: 7 “Return to me, and I will return to you, ” says the Lord Almighty. And again we can only return to him if He has redeemed us (Isaiah 44: 22). (iii) Furthermore, there are consequences when we sin: Paul wrote in Rom 6: 23, “The wages of sin is death. ” (iv) We also see this principle when we pray, Matt 7: 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. ” These are spiritual analogies to Action-Reaction, but like most, this analogy falls apart because I could never exert an equal and opposite force on God. He is sovereign and like He says in Isaiah 46: 10, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure. ”
Physics topics Magnetism n n n “Truth is iconoclastic” It tears down our false ideas of God, superstition, and idolatry. When we understand how something works we are less likely to attribute a phenomena to magic, chance, or gremlins Note the 1 st and 2 nd commandments
2 nd Law of Thermodynamics The second law is useful in classical apoplectics. It helps show that there must by must be a beginning to the universe. The Second law defines Entropy as either energy, disorder, or information. The second law states that Entropy is always increasing in the universe. If the universe had not had a beginning, we would have reached an equilibrium of disorder right now, the universe being completely in disorder. We would all be a bunch of quarks and mesons flying around in a soup of energy. But, since that hasn’t happened, then the universe had a beginning.
2 nd Law of Thermodynamics Have the laws of physics always been the same? Many say that the laws of physics were different for the first part of a second of the universe. The Fall - Gen 3: 17 God cursed the ground, i. e. the basic elements. Everything was brought under the principle of decay and death, of increasing entropy, because of our representative’s sin. Rom 8: 20 ff - Creation groans under its bondage to corruption/decay.
Physics topics LIGHT n The spiritual import of the concept of light is manifold. From Gen 1 to Rev 22 light is a theme of Scripture n n And God said, "Let there be light, " and there was light. Rev 22: 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light Scripture lights our path; it illumines n Psalm 119: 105, 130 We are to be lights (reflecting His glory) n Mt 5: 16; Phil 2: 14 -16 …in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life
Physics topics LIGHT n (continued) We sing praises to God and are not afraid n Ps 27: 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Jesus is the LIGHT (see John 1 & 8: 12) n n Christ is fully man and fully God. He has a dual nature. Interestingly … Light has a dual nature It behaves like a particle and a wave.
Physics topics Speed of Light n The speed of electromagnetic waves has a wide range of impacts As Physics is the study of the smallest subatomic particle to the universe itself, the speed of light is a value which affects our knowledge of astronomy and the very behavior of subatomic particles. n n n Today, the speed of light in vacuum is defined to be 2. 99792458 x 108 m/s or about 186, 000 miles per second. Several sources suggest this ‘constant’ has been slowing down over time. http: //www. glencoe. com/sec/science/physics/wwwlinks/updates/feb 2003. php? yr=
What We Gather • It is quite obvious that the concept and understanding of God presented scientists from the time of the Protestant Reformation on with an unsurpassed motivation to mathematically model the world around them. • The idea of God as the Law-Giver helped give weight to theory that nature was created with a set of its own laws. Job 38: 32 -33 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth? • The Reformation restored the Biblical perspective and thereby stimulated an interest in God’s handiwork. Atheistic scientists today are operating on borrowed capital.
“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, who hast set Thy glory above the heavens, and out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast perfected praise. When we consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained, teach us to know that Thou art mindful of us, and visitest us, making us rulers over the works of Thy hands, showing us the wisdom of Thy laws, and crowning us with honour and glory in our earthly life; and looking higher than the heavens, may we see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man. O Lord, fulfil Thy promise, and put all things in subjection under His feet. Let sin be rooted out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless Thou the Lord, O my soul, praise the Lord. ” (Prayer by James Clerk Maxwell)