Monday, July 23, 2012

How Science Loses God

God is simple. That does not mean He is easy to understand. It means He cannot be subdivided. His love is His justice is His mercy is His wisdom is His providence ... Humans love to subdivide. Science tends to understand things by breaking them into component parts. Then they try understand each part and then understand the relationships between the parts. You can learn a lot about something that way. You can lose a lot too. One of the things you are likely to lose is God. You can see God in a sunset. If you analyze all the rays of light one by one you might still see some beauty there but you will lose the sunset.

We all know that science cannot find God. The truth is worse. If we are not careful science will lose God. They say the devil is in the details. That is not completely true but God is much easier to see in the big picture. When we consider all aspects of all of creation for all of history. We can't do that of course because we can't understand God but our tendency is to do the opposite. To learn more and more about less and less. Small is comfortable.

Peter Kreeft calls this reductionism.
Science's reductionistic method fails to see cosmic love. Modern science requires the use of the simplest possible explanation. This is the principle called "Occam's Razor." The modern mind always tends to reduce the greater to the lesser rather than seeing the lesser as reflecting the greater. It thinks of human love as only complex animal instinct, or even complex electrochemical attraction, rather than thinking of these subhuman attractions as love on a lesser level. Premodern thought saw lust as confused love. Modern thought sees love as rationalized lust. This is reductionism.
Just separating love and lust is a big enough problem. People also separate sex and procreation. They separate marriage and sex.  By analyzing the parts rather than the whole we can distort things badly. What is worse we don't see the potential that we might miss something. We not only end up wrong but wrong while being very sure we are right. We sum the parts and when we are told the whole is greater than that we check our sums and declare that it can't be.

Biblical interpretation has this danger as well. We tend to focus on one text at a time. Then we try and build a systematic theology. The word of God is scripture, tradition, and the magisterium. That is "word" singular. God is not giving us a bunch of independent revelations. He gave us one word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. But if God cannot be subdivided then how can we subdivide the Word? If we do we have lost God because God cannot be subdivided.

We are not meant to live in a small world we can understand. That is the world of pettiness and sin. A world closed in on itself. We are called to live in a world that we cannot possibly understand or control. That is the nature of God. If we will but trust and obey we can live that large and get a glimpse of glory. If we insist on living what we understand then we will always analyze God out of our life. We may not become explicit atheists but our image of God will be so tame we may as well be.

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