God is Hidden
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Colossians 1:15 (ESV)
God is Hidden. It feels contrary to everything I’ve been told about Him. Yet it seems an apt description because, all things being equal, two individuals standing next to each other could not prove to one another the existence, or lack thereof, of God. Some might be better at debating the issue, but that’s not the same thing as proving it (if it were, the discussion would have been over eons ago).
While the Bible is not a science textbook, as followers of Christ we believe God is the author of creation, and this creation includes science.
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
Genesis 1:31-2:1 (ESV)
God saw everything that He had made and it was finished. When the Bible addresses creation it’s explicit that God completely concluded creating everything. Two things stand out in the above passage:
- God existed before anything; and,
- God created everything.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)
God invented science. Not the field of science, that’s ours. God invented all that there is that we study in the field of science; God made science complete because He made creation complete. We don’t have all the answers as to how the universe and everything in it works, but science does. Given enough time we could unravel the mysteries.
But we wouldn’t find God. God doesn’t exist in our created universe in the sense that He can be hypothesized and proved or disproved. This is a hard point for those who believe because we have always been taught that God is evidenced by everything around us. And to a certain extent that’s true. But evidence isn’t the same as proof.
- An outward sign;
- Something that furnishes proof.
Sometimes evidence makes the truth rather obvious, other times it points us in a direction. When we look at everything around us we see evidence of God.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Romans 1:19-20 (ESV)
It’s important to recognize that creation is not what causes us to believe, rather we choose to believe and in so doing recognize God’s fingerprint in creation. It is our belief in God that moves us into a place where we can identify His involvement in creation. This is even the recurring theme in the Bible—that those who believe do so based on faith. Like evidence, faith doesn’t provide proof, it supports it.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:1, 6 (ESV)
Verses 1 through 6 are worth reading but the focal points are verses 1 and 6. Faith is believing in the absence of proof, it is the assurance or the thing upon which we firmly stand. And more than that, we need it to please God. Hebrews 11:6 creates an interesting dilemma for followers of Christ who are resistant to science. If God could somehow be proved in creation or through a scientific method we wouldn’t need faith because we would have proof. Yet the Bible tells us without faith we wouldn’t be able to please God. The Bible is replete with stories of faith and Hebrews 11 highlights some of them. It is clear that God is more interested in a process to completion than an instantaneous transformation into a final product; faith is a part of that process.
Admitting that we cannot prove God exists is not a failing or shortcoming. It is an acknowledgment that God desires a response from us that is based entirely upon our ability to believe Him. Now not only can science not prove God does exist, science cannot prove God does not exist, because as the architect God exists outside the bounds of science. This creates the unusual situation in which followers of Christ must stop using the Bible as a source for authoritative science. And, equally important, proponents of science must understand that if an Intelligent Designer does exist, it’s possible He or She simply doesn’t want to be evidenced through the scientific method, but rather discovered by another means.
This freedom allows proponents of science to explore creation freely with the understanding that everything can be unraveled. It allows Christians to freely explore their faith and understanding of God. More importantly, it allows both to do so in a collaborative manner without hostility for one other.
I do not believe God ever intended people to disagree about faith and science to the point of bigotry. I do believe that there are those passionate about studying religious texts and learning more about the nature of God described within them. And there are those passionate about studying the universe and learning more about how it formed and evolved. I cannot, however, imagine any situation in which God would want these two to despise one another.