Creation leads to Christ

I don't often post sermons but as one of my parishioners was kind enough to email me saying that he found today's interesting, I thought it might be worth an airing. My decision to preach on this subject was partly prompted by the depressing sight of Richard Dawkins' latest book The God Delusion on the best-seller shelves in WH Smith and Waterstones.

We have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him. (Matt 2.2)
The Magi, or wise men, represent the “gentiles” of the world, that is to say, the people who had not had the benefit of God’s divine revelation through the law and the prophets as we have written in the Old Testament of our Bible.

They were led to Christ by a star, that is to say, through something created. The same is true for many people today. People can observe the beauty and complexity of creation, in the natural sciences, whether through the study of the living cell, the study of the human genome, the study of the mechanism of evolution in the natural world, or the study of the formation of the galaxies, the behaviour of the fundamental particles of the universe and the laws which govern them.

Ultimately, scientists are looking for a simple explanation of complex realities, they search for order, a way of explaining how things are in the universe, or in the natural world on earth.

When we realise that the whole universe itself can be studied terms of the fundamental laws of physics such as Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, or the field of quantum mechanics, and that there are a small number of constants which can be used to give a mathematical description of the most basic and universal laws which operate in the universe, we have to ask “Why?” We can explain things in the universe, but we are still led to seek an explanation of the universe itself – a universe which is a cosmos, not a chaos.

It is important to realise that we do not worship a “God of the gaps.” We do not say “science cannot explain, say, the human eye, or the tiny structures within the living cell; and therefore we must invoke God to explain it. No! Such an approach is doomed to failure if science subsequently finds out “This is how it works.” Richard Dawkins is perhaps the best known exponent of this particular “demolition job” on weak arguments for the existence of God.

We do not rely on what science cannot explain; on the contrary, we should say “science can explain this – why?” The very fact that our universe is subject to scientific enquiry leads us to seek a further explanation outside of the material universe itself. Why is the universe an ordered cosmos? Why can we find these answers?

The modern sciences arose within a Christian context. The Christian doctrine of creation gives us a motive for enquiring into the natural world. We believe that creation is good, made by God, and ordered. Therefore we can investigate it; such a project in itself gives glory to God and can help us to make the world a better place.

As Christianity fades from our society, we are likely to see more and more “anti-science” movements based upon scepticism about the human mind’s ability to know, and one form or another of superstition and anti-rational belief. To go along with such movements of thought would be to return to the great mistake that was made in the case of Galileo. We should never be frightened of the facts, of the evidence. Rather, we should follow it with our God-given minds and human intelligence to find the wonders that God has built into this universe.

The revelation of God takes us beyond the natural sciences to a supernatural knowledge of the ultimate purpose of creation. It does not and cannot contradict the data of reason. God is truth and his creation does not contradict what he has told us by revelation.

Quite the opposite. St Paul said, speaking of Jesus Christ, “all things were created through him and for him, and in him all things hold together.” Everything in this wonderful universe that God created was made through his Wisdom and for his glory. Our sinful misuse of some aspects of science is, in a way, a blasphemy against our creator. Our use of science for the common good is, in a way, a prayer, allied to an act of charity.

The magi were led by creation to worship Christ. Today, at this Mass on the feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ, the eternal Wisdom, we join those wise men in spirit as we bow down in adoration before the Lord of the cosmos and the Lord of history.

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