Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Richard Baxter on Science and Religion

Richard Baxter might seem like an unusual person to quote on science and religion. As far as I know, the Vicar of Kidderminster didn't have any real connection with science. But he was clearly part of the Puritan movement, and the scientific revolution of the 1600s largely grew out of Puritanism. Baxter wrote his classic book The Reformed Pastor just 4 years before the Royal Society was founded, so it's an interesting reflection of what sort of thing Puritans were saying about science at the time...

I hope you perceive what I aim at in all this, namely that to see God in his creatures, and to love him, and converse with him, was the employment of man in his upright state; that this is so far from ceasing to be our duty, that it is the work of Christ to bring us, by faith, back to it; and therefore the most holy men are the most excellent students of God's works, and none but the holy can rightly study them or know them 'Great are the works of the Lord, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein;' but not for themselves, but for him that made them. Your study of physics and other sciences is not worth a rush, if it be not God that you seek after in them. To see and admire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in God, as exhibited in his works - this is the true and only philosophy.


Roger said...

Stumbled upon your blog while looking up the phrase "strivings cease" -- found your post from 2006 on Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. I like what I see in your blog so far and intend to delve deeper into what you are writing about. I've taught Physics and Chemistry in high school and just on the verge of retirement.
Thanks for your post.

John said...

Welcome! Hope you enjoy it!

little2u said...

Faith and science. I love it. I'm sure you've seen the news footage of the riots in Egypt. A couple of weeks ago, MSNBC filmed a miracle. In fact, I just posted a blog post on this topic. Science and religion are intimately entwined. In the OT, when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness and surviving on manna, they asked Moses for meat and God directed them and birds fell from the sky and the people feasted and rejoiced at the miracle. A couple of centuries later, science discovers that the quail is a rather dull bird and just stops flapping their wings when they get tired. So does that mean it wasn't a miracle? No because science couldn't explain how the Israelites ended up in the quail migration path at exactly the time when they would begin falling to the ground.
So back to the Egypt footage. In the footage of the riots, a pale, phantom horse and rider appeared to gallop thru the crowd and disappear. While there has been no official explanation, some have suggested a "lens flare". I thought about that and wondered: what are the odds that conditions were perfect for a lens flare? What are the odds that the flare just happened to be in the shape of a horse and rider? What are the odds that this shape just happens to have meaning to Christians? What are the odds that this meaninful symbol for Christians just happened to appear in footage of riots in Egypt who is a player in end times Christian prophecy?
So then, I believe that the definition of a miracle is how God displays His perfect knowledge of science and planetary laws and His authority to manipulate them. Good post. TY.