God of the Living World

planets photoQuotation

Job 26: 7-8 (NIV), see below

Reflection

Biologists study life processes – perhaps we should be astounded by them. 

Planet Earth is a gem of biological activity glistening in the light of our sun, in the midst of a universe that may well be otherwise lifeless. Many features of life strike me as amazing, including the prerequisites for life to exist on this planet, the intrinsic purposefulness of all life, and the biosphere’s almost gratuitous complexity, diversity, and abundance. The abundance, beauty, and ingenuity found within nature fit comfortably with a Christian outlook which sees it as created.

Job 26:7-8 (NIV)
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

The biblical figure of Job attributed God with the set-up of our world; he was aware of the water cycle and had some awareness of the vastness of the heavens, and various other features of the natural world. Along the line of the arguments advanced in the book of Job, modern discoveries continue to testify to God’s greatness as evidenced by the creation. 

To get systems that achieve whatever standard is needed for them to be ‘living’ requires, it seems, at a minimum remarkable fine-tuning at a cosmic scale, the right kind of planet, and then the origin of life itself. The cosmic fine-tuning must allow stars and planets of the right kind, with the right elements in the right amounts. It also requires an array of chemicals which allow for complex macromolecules because of the interactions between atoms such as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The planet must be situated in the right place and various other features such as a magnetic field of suitable strength will come in handy. Life’s origin, whether through sudden or gradual processes, was a remarkable event. It involved, or perhaps evolved, the combination of: a complex metabolism which enables self-making, a coding system which enables stable transmission of information between information-bearing and functional molecules and between generations, and protection within a cellular membrane. Once life had begun, the process of diversification and complexification was fraught with many challenges, but God’s plans were worked out. A faith in scientism requires that the whole grand process be found ultimately purposeless, no matter how many layers are peeled back, but Christianity offers an alternative purposeful narrative of life history. This story has an author!

The same claims to control over creation which are made for God in the Hebrew Bible are made by Jesus in a number of events in the gospels. The call to trust in this Jesus has greater coherence when we understand His claims to be Lord over this remarkable creation. 

Questions

What amazes you about the diversity of life on this planet?

If Jesus claims to be Lord over the whole natural universe, what are some implications for your research or career?

Prayer

Lord God, thank you for this amazing world, with all of its intricate detail and beauty. Please help me to see your plan for this world centred on Jesus, and to joyfully participate in it.


Image courtesy of WikiImages at Pixabay.com.


Scholars-Compass-image-40x40Note: Part of both the Scholar’s Compass series and a series on how studying biology reveals God on the Emerging Scholars Blog. Part 2 of 3. Find Part 1 here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Zachary Ardern

Zachary Ardern is currently completing his PhD in biology in New Zealand, investigating the genetic basis of adaptation across environments in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. He has been involved in the IFES movement in that country and in various talks, panels, and debates exploring the reasonableness of Christian faith. Zachary blogs on his broader interests in natural theology, ethics, and associated musings at zacharyardern.wordpress.com

More Posts

2 Comments

  • David Parry commented on August 27, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for your thoughts, Zachary. You might be interested in this book by Christian physicist Tom McLeish, which engages the faith and science conversation from a slightly different angle than usual. He makes particular use of the book of Job:

    Tom McLeish, Faith and Wisdom in Science (Oxford University Press, 2014)
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198702610.do

  • drandrewwalsh@gmail.com'
    Andy Walsh commented on August 29, 2015 Reply

    I’m fascinated by the astounding range of things that bacteria are capable of, from living in thermal vents to eating rocks to going without water for extraordinary lengths of time. They are remarkable problem solvers.

Leave a Reply