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Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Beginning of Science

   Last summer I was reading through the book of Proverbs intensively by reading each chapter multiple times and in different versions and languages.  As I read Proverbs 1:7 in French, I was struck while reading “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of la science.”  Furthermore, each time when the word knowledge is used in English, the French uses science
   As I thought it over, I wondered why it should surprise me that science is in the Bible.  It must be that I am conditioned by my culture to see science and religion as two separate categories that do not belong together.  By pondering this a little more, I recognized that the writer of many of the biblical proverbs was indeed a scientist himself.  King Solomon was a keen observer of the created world and a recognized authority:
He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop plant that
grows out of walls.  He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.  
Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom.  (1 Kings 4:33-34)

   Returning to the connection between science and faith, medieval church father Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) saw no contradiction when he called theology “The Queen of the Sciences.”  Two other well-known scientists of the past who demonstrated that the Greeks had faulty notions of planetary motion (Johannes Kepler) and the properties of light (Sir Isaac Newton), respectively were believers in God’s grandeur and gave him glory as they made their discoveries.  Kepler is quoted as saying, “We see how God, like a human architect, approached the founding of the world according to order and rule and measured everything in such a manner.”[1]
   There is still a place for people of faith in science today.  True science begins with the fear of the Lord.  Hymn writer William Cowper said it well:

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan his works in vain
God is his own interpreter
And he will make it plain.[2]

[1] Quoted in J.H. Tiner’s book Johannes Kepler—Giant of Faith and Science. 1977 (inside front cover)
[2] From his hymn “God moves in a mysterious way”, 1774

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