Saturday, 8 May 2010

Deus ex Machina

Science does, in a sense, disprove God. At least, that is to say, it is fast on its way to disproving God as deus ex machina. I was sitting there, grumbling to myself that so many people are absolutely convinced that Evolution disproves God. Even if we make the assumption that Evolution is the case, it doesn't write God out of the picture. All it does is move Him a step backward, from Creator of life forms to Creator of the process that produces life forms. But that's the deal, I realized. That's the issue. It doesn't take God out of the the picture, but it takes God a bit further away from us.

Now, science has a way of opening up twenty new questions for every one question it answers (or so I've been told - I'm not a great scientist myself). I kinda scratch my head at the claim that science will soon solve all our problems because it seems that we keep running into more problems - it's just that they're a bit further removed from us. These unanswered questions are prime places to insert God as an answer. However, when any of these new questions are answered with anything other than God, it makes people skeptical that God is the right answer to the other unanswered questions, scientific or not. And it keeps God on the continual retreat, even if it will never actually extinguish God.

There was a "Does God Exist" debate at the university this last semester. One of the main arguments of the pro-God debater was that you need an initial Creator. The universe couldn't just spontaneously have begun to exist. We need a First Cause, because out of nothing, nothing comes. I agree with this (and because it's more of a philosophical statement than a scientific one, it seems that science is going to be a long time trying to counter it). But look at where it puts God! How much further can God get from the lives of people today? Is God still active? Is God still personal? Can God still intervene in the lives of people? Not necessarily, like it was necessary before science started God on the retreat.

But all this is God as deus ex machina, as an explanation for things we don't know. Isn't God more than that? God is our Saviour, our King, our Father. God is the alpha and the beginning, but the omega and the end, too! God is a whole lot more than a catch-all answer for what we don't know.

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." Colossians 1:17-18, NASB

God is the head - the part that controls the rest. The Overseer. And God is probably a whole lot more interested in how we live now than in how we think the ape-men lived two million years ago, and in the place and role we give God now than in where we slot Him at the dawn of time. Whenever I'm on the C-train, I pass a sign that says "Christ is the Answer", and I'm always inclined to think "Answer to what?" Maybe it's time we start figuring out how to make God our Lord, rather than our Answer.

As a bit of a disclaimer, I know that science can be wrong about a lot of things. I'm not saying that it's not. However, whether science is or isn't correct most of the time is mostly a moot point. All that matters is that it is now it's more appropriate to explain that the sky is blue because air particles scatter more high frequency than low frequency electromagnetic radiation than it is to say that the sky is blue because God made it that way. What matters is the perception that God has been explained away.

So, when someone comes and implies that science is the new God, we can understand that they do not have an all-enveloping idea of God. If it bothers us that science has forced our deus ex machina to take another step back, it is because we have put God in a box. And we all know that putting God in a box is very bad idea...

“God is beyond in the midst of our life. The church stands not at the boundaries where human powers give out, but in the middle of the village.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1 comment:

art said...

You write interesting articles. Yes, I think people have decided how God works and who he is and placed him neatly in that box. Some have said that we must continue to defend the 6000 year old earth because if we concede that, then God is diminished and eventually God will end up being nothing. How many layers do we need to go back before we finally reach God? It is possible it may even go back before the Big Bang. Perhaps our whole universe is just a shadow and we need to look beyond our physical universe.

I think mankind tends to look only at the physical universe and as 'science' figures out the rules on how it works, we congratulate ourselves and somehow infer that there is no God. What about questions like "Who created consciousness?" For that matter, what is consciousness? Some stuff I have been reading seems to indicate that consciousness is not bound by our physical universe. If that is true, then this physical realm is just a blip in the bigger picture. It is possible that our universe sits inside another realm that sits inside another one. There may be several layers that exist. God is spirit and to find God we must pursue his spirit.