Today’s guest post comes from Chris Eidson, one of an excellent class of students from Bethel Seminary who recently studied the intersection between theology and science.
I was fortunate enough recently to spend a week of seminary intensives studying “Science and Theology” that this was truly a life-changing experience for me.
In the class, we leaned on a history and philosophy of science approach, which evaluated theology and science as two methods of explaining aspects of reality. In particular we took a really close look at Christian perspectives on evolution and creation. This often meant that we looked at evidence that scientifically pointed to competing views on evolution.
Theology nerd talk aside, we looked at scientific proof of the fingerprint of God on creation.
Early on in the week, we discussed how creation is continually sustained by God’s love. I am a person of faith and certainly do not always require physical evidence to believe, but in light of our study of science and faith, we had been exploring some really concrete scientific proofs on many theological questions. What then does it look like for God to sustain his creation? Why couldn’t God just wind up creation like a watchmaker and step back and watch it go? How exactly is God sustaining creation? Is our world spinning around on God’s finger like a cosmic basketball? Is creation in a metaphysical snow globe that God peers into day and night? How are we speaking so confidently about how God sustains his creation when we don’t really know what that looks like?
I was pondering this question over coffee and pancakes at my favorite breakfast hangout when I noticed a single mom and her child a few tables over. “Stuart”, I overheard the mother referring to the little guy, was pretty much oblivious to the fact that he was in a diner on a Friday morning. Stuart was busy coloring with crayons on a kid’s menu and his one and only goal for the morning was to stay inside the lines. I couldn’t help but to notice how Stuart’s mom was caring for him. While Stuart was engulfed in his artwork, his mother was ordering his breakfast, positioning him safely in his high chair, making sure he had the right layering of clothes on, wiping his nose, and eventually feeding him. Stuart’s mother was sustaining him by her love.
Then it hit me. Love. That’s how God does it. Creation is continually sustained by God’s love. In an entry on biologos.org, David Opderbeck said,
“Creation is a product of love… In fact creation is continually sustained by God’s love… The entire creation depends utterly on God’s sustaining will and power for its ongoing existence. From the perspective of Christian theology, there is simply no such thing as “nature” without God. And despite our sin, God has not abandoned the creation. This too is a thought worth meditating upon: God has never withdrawn His presence from the creation (if He did this, creation would cease to exist!); He has not given up on what He has made; it all remains entirely His and it all continues because of His love.”
So I propose the question once more… What then does it look like for God to sustain His creation? I suppose it looks a lot like the relationship between Stuart and his mom. Like Stuart, we are doing our best to color inside the lines, sometimes completely unaware of the care and love being continually poured out over us, sustaining us.
“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” Psalm 54:4