Ten days ago I posted the first of 30 articles of my not-yet-published book titled “Thirty True Things Everyone Needs to Know Now” (abbreviated as TTT). This article presents the gist of the second chapter, which is closely related to the first chapter but does not require prior reading of that opening chapter.
An Important Question
Many people seem to think that embracing a religious faith narrows one’s understanding of the world. Some people have even jettisoned religion because they wanted a broader worldview. Such people have viewed belief in God as a straitjacket that limits thought about the world in which we live. But are such views well founded?
It cannot be denied that some types of religion do limit exploration of, and acceptance of, a more comprehensive view of the universe than that has traditionally been held. There has long been, for example, an anti-intellectual bias among some Christians. Such a position, though, is clearly a perversion of what Christianity is, or at least should be.
The Answer of the Early Scientists
Many people have held the widespread perception that “warfare” between science and religion has persisted through the centuries. But investigation into the true nature of the situation reveals that most of the early scientists in the Western world were people of deep faith in God.
As most of you know well, Nicholas Copernicus initiated a massive change in how people understand the nature of the universe. The Polish-born Copernicus (1473-1543) was a first-class astronomer, but he was also a Catholic cleric and an ardent believer in God.
The striking painting below is titled “Astronomer Copernicus: Conversation with God.” It is an 1873 work of the prominent Polish painter Jan Matejko.
Is Theology the “Queen of the Sciences”?
There was a time, long ago, when theology was widely considered to be the “queen of the sciences.” It was so called because if God is the creator and sustainer of the entire universe from the beginning to the present and on into the vast future, there is nothing that is not related to God.
So theology, the study of God, must include everything since everything is related to God.
Because of various misunderstandings of God – mostly because of parochial views that failed to grasp the greatness of God – and because of a growing secularization which grew partly as a reaction against the narrowness into which religion had fallen, theology gradually lost its place as the “queen of the sciences.”
Now theology is even seen by many in the academic world as an unwanted stepchild.
Nevertheless, the attempt to know God includes the desire to know everything related to God – and as we have seen, the physical sciences were developed as a means not just to understand the universe better but also as a means to know God better. Thus, the study of God includes the theology of science and the theology of nature.
Rightly understood, the idea of theology as the “queen” of our human quest for understanding the universe is a claim worth taking seriously.
God and the Basic Virtues
In both Western and Eastern societies, truth, beauty, and goodness have long been understood as basic virtues. If we accept the “true thing” explicated in the first chapter, then we can consider the likelihood that God is the basis for all truth, beauty, and goodness.
So, it seems clear that the better we know God, the broader and deeper will be our understanding of the universe and everything in it.
[To read the five-page chapter of TTT #2, please click on this link.]