Creation, Evolution, And The Pendulum Problem (4/30/13)

Read: Judges 11:1-12:15, John 1:1-28, Psalm 101:1-8, Proverbs 14:13-14

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)

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Read: I’m currently reading a book right now: The Fabric Of The Cosmos by Brian Greene, absolutely love it. Every few pages or so I have to pause and step back and think about what is being said and about the interplay between the ideas he is proposing and what God has revealed. It forces me to broaden my perspective and to widen my horizons and I love it. Loving God can give me such a greater passion for understanding His universe and learning about His creation can give me such a greater appreciation for the greatness of our God. Science and theology should not be in conflict… they naturally compliment each other so well.

Anyways, between reading that and reading in John 1 today my mind went back to the second blog I ever wrote way back in my myspace days. In it I proposed two difficulties with science that I called the pendulum problem. Mathematics is good for measuring repeatable events or plotting out locations. If I were to start a pendulum and took accurate measurements I could soon use math to chart exactly when and where a pendulum will reach the height of each swing. I could tell you exactly where the pendulum will be at any future moment in time. I could also work backwards and tell you where the pendulum was at any previous moment as well. The problem is, those math equations will not be able to tell me when and where my single, non-repeatable, event of starting the pendulum took place. They would simply push right past that moment into a fictitious past. In fact, if I go back far enough those equations will move into some ridiculous ideas. The math that works so well becomes useless once an outside factor changes the game.

For the second problem, imagine that pendulum is the entire universe. Those living at some point on the pendulum might be able to figure out a lot about the world around them. They might create a workable series of laws about the whats, wheres, and hows on everything they know around them. But they would have no understanding of the whys, the pendulum’s origins, or of anything that goes beyond their pendulum. They would probably believe that the pendulum is the sum of all existence not realizing that it is simply a tool serving a greater purpose. This would be impossible for them to know unless it were revealed to them by someone or something from beyond their pendulum.

React: Science has its place. It is a very important one, but does not have final say. It can tell us much about our world, but there has been one who has come into our world from beyond it. He became one of us so that we can understand Him and emulate Him but He is One far, far greater than the stuff of this earth. This intricate, amazing, beautiful, breathtaking world in His work of art. As am I. So are You. He loves us, and it, and when we do the same we can better understand Him.

Respond: 

God, don’t let me ever lose the passion to learn more and more about You and this wonderful world You have made. You are the star breather. You spread out the galaxies with more ease than I pull aside a curtain. You have named each and every star, yet You have also counted every hair on my head. OK, that’s not hard, but for some other heads… You have not only set in place the tiniest particles in the quantum world but also continue to hold everything together by Your power. All of creation reveals Your greatness, and wisdom, and brilliance. Let me do the same.

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19 comments

  1. Hey BJ. Your pendulum analogy expresses exactly what I understand and believe about this vast subject. Thanks for sharing it. As a novelist who addresses these scientific issues in my writings, I appreciate you perspective very much. Keep up the good work up there in Binghamton and beyond.
    Jesus is Lord!

  2. Don

    Agree – science has its place but it cannot tell us about one who came from eternity into our world. This is the mystery of godliness – He was manifested in flesh. Thank Him !
    He also died and resurrected. Now rather than merely emulate Him, we can receive Him as life, live Him, and let Him live in us, as in Gal. 2:20.

  3. Love the depth to your writing … thanks for making us think :-)

  4. Click me a friend on Face book..Have a great group with a lot of pastors too. https://www.facebook.com/jans.right

  5. Fantastic! So well put, and the analogy is great! Thanks for sharing!

  6. That is a fundamental limitation to science. All attempts at prediction assume that the future will reflect the past. That assumption is not always true. When it is true the predictions / estimates / forecasts can be quite accurate. But if that assumption is violated then the predictions can be completely wrong. This exact issue has been discussed for centuries and is still a topic of conversation in philosophy and statistics. If you are interested in reading more about it then look up Hume’s problem of induction.

  7. I like that analogy a lot. Of course, it’s not going to win any arguments with rationalists, but you and I both know that strict empiricism has at its heart the faulty self-contradicting absolute that “only that which can be observed and measured is true.” And perhaps it can help explain why we are willing to believe to those who are also willing to listen. Good post!

  8. Your analogy of when did the starting of the pendulum take place speaks volumes that any rationale scientist or person would question. The problem with today’s science is it has become a political tool that leaves no room for debate the obvious. So, ur from Binghamton. Would that be like in New York? If so, you and I are neighbors. :)

  9. Yes, this beautiful, amazing world is His work of art and from it we see His fingerprints everywhere. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the expanse declares the work of His hands. Every day the sun comes up it speaks…Though there are no words, its voice is heard to the ends of the earth.” (From Psalm 19:1-4) Thank you…enjoyed your post and Mercy Me:-)

  10. geekborj

    As Catholics would daily (no hourly, if around the globe) acclaim: “Holy holy holy Lord, God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory! Hosannah in the highest!”.
    The heavens and the earth speak of the glory of God. Finding the glory of God in them was the primary reason why science existed — to find the philosophy of nature. It was because of the engineering that found its use that it derailed the primary objective of science.
    It is the task of every scientist (and mathematicians) to recognize that every model has assumptions, consequently limitations in what it tries to model. Adding more interpretations beyond the capacity of the models we build that science goes out of hand.
    At any rate, true that Science and Faith (Ratio et Fide) do go hand in hand, otherwise our search for truth would be in vain.
    Thanks for the article. Cheers!

  11. jennisahagun

    Oh how my heart echos your prayer. I want to know and understand all of creation, but from His perspective. I want to know science, after His heart. Since, through Him all things were made, I can trust Him to teach me what I need to know, when I need to know it. That includes how science and theology work. Every moment here, on earth, is one I get to learn of my Lord. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    Psalm 86:11 (AMP)
    11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk and live in Your truth; direct and unite my heart [solely, reverently] to fear and honor Your name.

  12. Thank you for a thoughtful, beautiful meditation on creation. One of your best ones yet.

  13. What a wonderful view of all that God created including science.

  14. As a [public] high school science teacher, it’s a really interested road to walk as a Christian. I read lots and lots and lots of books about creation, evolution, the big bang, intelligent design…you name the theory, I can go toe to toe with you! BTW theory has a lot of weight in science (it’s still called the “theory of evolution”). Anyways, you should also check out Saving Darwin by Karl Giberson. It’s amazing…especially the last chapter. The way he paints the beginning of creation is so cool because it lets the laws of science (i.e. gravity) do their job and gives God ultimate power over everything.

    Thanks for giving this a non-science-bashing approach. Too many times Christians are threatened by science when they don’t need to be. Both my husband and I are Jesus-following believers and public middle and high school science teachers and Christian family members are shocked and almost dismayed that we dare teach science. Thanks for not being afraid to dig into something as awesome as science, especially as a pastor! Perhaps others will follow your lead instead of saying it’s all crap and being afraid of it…

  15. The whole earth is filled with His glory!

  16. Very nice post. Thank God for His sovereignty and mysteries!

  17. I agree with you 100%
    The problem comes when on which God to believe in? Then a further paradox is created that if God exists, who created him? If no one created him, then why not take a step back and say the universe always existed? (Quote from Carl Sagan)
    I’m an agnostic btw , but open to enlightenment if you can provide.
    What science has also proven so far from sheer observation is that prayers don’t change a thing

    • BJ

      I have seen the dead raised back to life through prayer with my very eyes. It is just one of many, many prayers I have seen answered. There is no way you will ever convince me that prayers don’t change a thing. That simply is not true.

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