By Faith We Know God and Our Place in the World

God is greater than the creation He made, that God is timeless, and He will outlast the creation as it is and as we know it

M74, nicknamed the Phantom Galaxy, as seen by the James Webb Telescope

In my daily reading today, I read these verses from the Letter to the Hebrews:


“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” 

Hebrews 1:10‭-‬12 NIV


These words were written in the 1st century, and they recall the words in Genesis that were written many hundreds, maybe even thousands of years before:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1

The statements written in the letter to the Hebrews and in Genesis, long before that, were all written before the revelations of modern science.

We argue today over the passages in Genesis about the creation of the world, whether God did it in seven days or over seven periods of time. Some people say we should take Genesis “literally” (whatever that means), and other people say that the creation account in Genesis is simply poetry and should not be taken literally. There are many people in between, and many people who do not believe or take the Bible seriously either way.

Yet, whether these words are intended to be read as a literal, seven day creation event, seven periods of time, merely a poetic conception or otherwise, they express by faith an understanding that God created the world we live in – “the heavens and the earth”. They also expressed an understanding that God is greater than the creation He made, that God is timeless, and He will outlast the creation as it is and as we know it.

Whatever you believe about the description of creation in Genesis and elsewhere, the understanding is accurate: that the earth and the greater universe as we know it will not remain the same. It is subject to entropy governed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In poetic words, “[The Heavens and the Earth] will wear out like a a garment…. like a garment they will be changed.” In more philosophical terms, the Apostle, Paul, says:


“[T]he creation was subjected to futility….”

Romans 8:20


We don’t need to have a sophisticated scientific understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to realize that the universe is, in a sense, winding down and wearing out, that it is “subjected to futility”. The earth, which is such an incredibly minute part of the universe, will not support the life that teams on it very far into the future.

We live in a very narrow band of time in which creatures such as ourselves can thrive on planet earth, sandwiched between ice ages and other inhospitable fluctuations and epochs space and time. Out time will pass like a flower that blooms one day and is gone the next in relation to the full space/time continuum.

Regardless of any Herculean efforts we give on our part to preserve the environment of this planet as we know it, the laws of the universe guarantee that life will no longer be supportable on planet earth, or anywhere in the universe for that matter, at some point in the future. It is inevitable.

It is remarkable to me that the writers of these ancient texts understood this fact by faith, though they had no hint of the science behind it. Knowing nothing of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, they understood nevertheless that this world will wear out.

They also had faith that the God who created it is the constant. Ignorant of the science, they nevertheless perceived and understood the reality of God, His creation and their place in the world.

Though modern science seems to reveal that our universe had a beginning, just as these ancient writings stated, many modern people who have the aid and benefit of science fail to see or acknowledge the creator. This is not a failing of science, though; it’s a failing of faith.

Though science provides many benefits, science is not essential for our faith or relationship to God. All the science in the world is not sufficient to gain us knowledge of God, as it necessarily rests on faith. At the same time, we can have none of the knowledge and understanding of science and still know God and our place in the world.

I love science, as it reveals the wonder of a universe that God made understandable and searchable by us. By faith we grasp all the reality we need to know, but science reveals majesty and wonder and appreciation of the greatness of our God all the more.

By faith, we also understand that God loves us. We understand that there is more to reality than the physical, space/time continuum. We perceive that God had a purpose in subjecting the creation to futility:


“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Called to the Purpose for which Christ Died

. We may be tempted to assume that we are just biding our time here as God prepares rooms for us in heaven – an escape from the present futility of the world


If we are truly in Christ, we know the love the Father has for us. “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 Often, however, our sense of God’s greater purpose can get lost in the immediacy of our lives in this world.

As heirs of the Father in Christ, together with Christ, we await God’s glory. We may be tempted to assume that we are just biding our time here as God prepares rooms for us in heaven – an escape from the present futility of the world – but there is a catch:

“if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

Romans 8:17

God emptied Himself of His glory to come to us in human form, and he entered into our suffering. This was God’s purpose from before the foundation of the earth. God became human in Christ as part of the fulfillment of that purpose.

Likewise, Jesus calls us to take up our crosses and to follow him, just as He followed the Father in the fulfillment of God’s ultimate purpose.

This notion of entering into Christ’s suffering, and even rejoicing in suffering, was central to the message Paul preached. Suffering was also the familiar experience of early Christ followers.

As with Abraham, those early Christian knew they were not at home on this earth. They were waiting for a “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God“. Suffering in this life reminds us that we are not home yet. Our home lies beyond.

More importantly, God has a purpose, and His purpose includes us. Just as Abraham lived out his life in seeking to fulfill the purpose for which and to which God called him – by which he was going to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth – we are called to this greater purpose of God.

Most Christians in the western world know practically nothing about suffering for Christ. “Cancel culture” and political disagreements, are not the same as what Christ suffered or even what many Christians in other parts of the world suffer.

Not that we should wish suffering upon ourselves. The reality is, though, that we don’t really have a good personal and intimate sense of what it means to suffer, and to embrace suffering, as Paul and the early Christians experienced it. For that reason, perhaps, these words Paul spoke are not as poignant for us as they should be:

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”

Romans 8:18

In the United States, we are tempted to fight back against the insults of the world, to assert our political, social, cultural, and even (sometimes) our physical power – to gain advantage. We do this “for the Church”, we say. We say, “We do it for God”, to put God back in schools, to save the family, to reclaim this nation for Christ, etc.

But is that really God’s greater purpose?

Continue reading “Called to the Purpose for which Christ Died”

A Preface to the Problem of the Origin of Life

The problem of the origin of life is an Achilles heel, not for science, but for the materialist

Particles of DNA strands flying through space to Earth.
Concept of the origin of life. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Michael Guillen, who obtained degrees in physics and mathematics from Cornell University, where he studied under Carl Sagan and Fred Hoyle, and who taught physics at Harvard University, has a podcast in which he addresses the problem of the origin of life (among many other things). (See Science + God with Dr. G. Episode #44)

Guillen was an atheist into his late 20’s or early 30’s. Then he became a theist, and then a Christian. He has always been a “science guy”, however.

You can find the explanation of how he gravitated from atheism to Christianity in earlier episodes of the podcast. I am not going to address it here. I want to address the origin of life problem using this particular episode as a backdrop because I think he explains the problem well.

Before I do that, I want to preface the origin of life problem and put it in some context. The unspoken and unexamined assumptions we make can cloud our understanding, so I want to seek a little clarity first.

Continue reading “A Preface to the Problem of the Origin of Life”

Christianity’s Ties to the Scientific Method

Christianity was the fertile soil in which scientific method and modern science began to grow

History of science, Isaac Newton and physics. The science of light, optics. Light refraction and scientific research in physics.

I have heard a number of people assert that Christianity gave birth to the scientific method. Perhaps, the first time I heard that claim was from John Lennox, the famous Oxford University professor of mathematics. I was intrigued, but I didn’t take the time to research his claim at the time.

I have heard the claim repeated multiple times, most recently by Dr. Michael Guillen the astrophysicist, former Harvard professor and TV personality. In fact, he devoted a podcast to the subject, so I took my opportunity to learn more.

I did some of my own research as well. Wikipedia, for instance, has a page on scientific method. It begins with Aristotle and focuses on rationalism as the basis for scientific method.

Properly speaking, rationalism is not a method. It is a philosophy, a way to approach the world. Rationalism and Aristotelian though seem to have helped led the way to the development of the scientific method.

Aristotle’s inductive-deductive method that depended on axiomatic truths and the “self-evident concepts” developed by Epicurus would would be jettisoned for something more like the modern scientific method beginning around the 16th Century. Perhaps, this is why Guillen doesn’t mention them.

After those early pioneers, Wikipedia mentions some great Muslim thinkers who were influenced by Aristotle, but placed “greater emphasis on combining theory with practice” and “the use of experiment as a source of knowledge”. Guillen starts with these early “flashes” of scientific method in the Muslim world, including and Avicenna (Ibn Sina) Averroes (Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd)

These men of the Islamic Golden Age pioneered a form of scientific method, but the inertia did not continue. Likewise, Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides), the great Jewish theologian, physician, and astronomer displayed a flash of scientific light. He urged “that man should believe only what can be supported either by rational proof, by the evidence of the senses, or by trustworthy authority”, foreshadowing a future scientific posture, but is prescience did not yet take hold.

Dr. Guillen credits Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon with the formation of principles of scientific method that “caught fire” in Christian Europe beginning in the 1200’s. “Concluding from particular observations into a universal law, and then back again, from universal laws to prediction of particulars”, Grosseteste emphasized confirmation “through experimentation to verify the principles” in both directions.

Roger Bacon, Grosseteste’s pupil, “described a repeating cycle of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and the need for independent verification”, including the recording of the way experiments were conducted in precise detail so that outcomes could be replicated independently by others. This became the foundation for the importance of peer-review in science, says Guillen.

Wikipedia mentions Francis Bacon and Descartes, who Guillen skips to get to Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. Bacon and Descartes emphasized the importance of skepticism and rigid experimentation, eliminating the Aristotelean dependence on first (axiomatic) principles.

Galileo Galilei introduced mathematical proof into the process and continued to distance science from reliance on Aristotelean first principles. Galileo and Newton formulated the terms of scientific method that would inform modern scientists ever afterward.


That the two latter men were men of faith, along with Grosseteste (Catholic Bishop) and Roger Bacon, his student, is significant. So were Maimonides and the Islamic thinkers before him men of faith.

Guillen emphasizes the fact that these men who pioneered the way to modern science were devout religious believers at the same time. Guillen also observes that science did not really take off until the 17th Century. The trailblazers of the modern scientific method were religious men, and the scientific method caught fire in Christian Europe during that time, lead, chiefly, by men of faith.

Why did science catch fire in Christian Europe and not in other parts of the world? Why not in the Islamic or Jewish world? Or the world of the eastern religions? This is question Guillen poses, and he provides a possible answer.

Continue reading “Christianity’s Ties to the Scientific Method”

Why Did God Subject the World to Futility?

Photo by Ken Gortowski

I want to focus on the following statements Paul made in his letter to the Romans:

“[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject[i] itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so…. 

Romans 8:7

“[C]reation was subjected[ii] to futility[iii], not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free ….”

Romans 8: 20-21

Life and death, the universe and all the “stuff” that is, ever was and ever will be are “in God’s hands”. That is another way of saying that God created everything. God is timeless and immaterial and has created all that is material out of nothing, including us.

But the material world, the world as we know it, is passing away (1 John 2:17), even from the moment it was created! That’s what science (the second law of thermodynamics) tells us also. The world has been has been “winding down” since the “Big Bang”.

Paul’s statement about the “futility” to which the world has been subjected suggests that futility is part of God’s ultimate plan, because it was done “in hope”.

If that doesn’t add up for you, I don’t think you are alone. I have been puzzling on it for awhile. What possibly could be the plan?

The trite response that “God’s ways are not our ways” falls short. We want to know, though perhaps it’s true that we may never completely understand. Still, I have some ideas that are informed by Scripture that I will try to lay out in this article.

Continue reading “Why Did God Subject the World to Futility?”