How does God relate to physics/chemistry/etc?

Discussion in 'Natural Revelation and God's Creation' started by rekcor, Mar 1, 2018.

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  1. rekcor

    rekcor Puritan Board Freshman

    This question has been on my mind for some time: What exactly is God's relation to what we observe as physical/chemical/etc laws like gravity, chemical reactions, and so forth?

    I believe its quite reformed not to hold the pure deistic position (God created everything, pressed - so to speak - the 'start button' and did not interfere with creation every since). It's also not quite reformed to have gnostic-like ideas, in which creation somehow equals God and the natural laws we observe are in a way God.

    So where on the scale (if it is a scale) is the biblical view on this relationship? Do you have any good books/articles/etc which might be of help here?
     
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I believe the decretive will of God vs the preceptive will would solve the struggle.
     
  3. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

  4. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" includes all things be they laws, like gravity, or the composition of rocks.
     
  5. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    All of the laws and happenings of nature are God's works of love to His children. They all work together for our good. Nothing just happens in nature, but rather all of the fixed laws of the universe are of God, and are controlled for our well being. In a sense, we as His children are the center of the universe.
     
  6. Ackbeet

    Ackbeet Puritan Board Freshman

    Totally agree with Ryan&Amber2013. God created the world and set its laws in place. Unlike the Deist position, though, we believe that God constantly sustains the universe. If he were to withhold his support for a moment, the entire universe would immediately cease to exist. So God is continually enforcing his physical laws that he has set in place. However, being God, naturally (irony intended) he can set those aside anytime he wants. Hence, miracles. Now the nature of the laws God has set in place will reflect the nature of God himself. That's why you get unchanging universal physical laws. Moreover, God has told us in the Creation Mandate to seek out those physical laws - which is part of subduing the earth. In order to do that, we have to think like him in our own highly imperfect way, which, of course, is only possible through the communicable attributes God has given us like the ability to think rationally. And, since the Fall, those communicable attributes are tarnished to a high degree, but still not so tarnished that unbelieving scientists and engineers can't do amazing things and find out great approximations to the truth (science can only approximate, never arrive at, the exact truth of God's physical laws).

    Those are my beliefs.
     
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  7. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    God decrees whatever comes to past spiritually and physically. He also reveals Himself in creation and the Word. The gnostic reference puzzle me because that system of thought is generally suspicious of the physical world.
     
  8. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    It is helpful to remember what the Sciences really are: systematic summaries of careful observations of what happens in the world.

    God created heavens and earth. He sustains it (upholding all things by the word of his power... Heb 1:3).

    So, to thumbnail answer your question: God is the creator of an orderly universe that behaves a certain way because of his word.

    Physics, Chemistry, etc., are systematic collections of observations of God's orderly universe.

    Keeping this perspective in mind helps us remember that all scientific observations are based upon at least one article of faith: the universe is orderly and observations are repeatable. For us, this is an easy article of faith because we know God created an orderly universe.

    BTW, natural laws, like the law of gravity, are, in essence, mere descriptions of physical behavior. So, using a gravitational constant like 9.8m/sec^2 is saying the same thing as--"we always observe things to fall at this measurable rate of acceleration, as long as we are close to the surface of the earth and nothing interferes...." It says no more than "God causes things to be attracted to one another in particular, observable, ways."

    So we can also say God is not subject to natural laws like gravity, not because he transcends them, but because they only describe what we see his universe doing.
     
  9. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I see this as the decretive will of God...
    I see this as the preceptive will of God....
     
  10. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    The bible says that God created and sustains everything.
    I don't know that a scale is a great metaphor here; good caveat, Rekcor. Christians believe God controls everything in His creation, and that, of course, His handiwork is not Him.

    I hope others will chime in with some helpful resources.

    Let me add something,
    You might say that there are natural laws because God chooses to cause something to act that way every time. He is like a micro-manager in that way. In other words, when there is a miracle, God decided to cause something to behave in an alternative way to the usual, he prescribed a different way than he usually does.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  11. rekcor

    rekcor Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks all! Especially for pointing me to Dr Poythress :)
     
  12. RBachman

    RBachman Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps stated another way, the consistency of creation with its natural laws is a blessing of the Lord. He created us as beings that understand. We couldn't function in world of never ending chaos and lawlessness. That is the irony creation poses for us: we need and long for and search for consistency in nature - laws, yet because of sin we war continuously and struggle and resist God's laws at every turn. I am not saying that airplanes are a rebellious act of man to defy God's law of gravity, but ...
     
  13. chuckd

    chuckd Puritan Board Sophomore

    Jonathan Edwards and Richard Sibbs wrote on "Continuous Creation" in how God preserves creation. You might want to research that.
     
  14. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    It only could not come into existence without Him, but it cannot continue to exist without Him.

    Genesis 1 and Genesis 6 & 7 hold a mighty hint. At creation “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters,” holding that chaotic mass together, and I believe acting as the direct agent of creation. I say that too because when the Spirit stopped striving with man in Genesis 7 “the great fountains of the deep burst forth,” which happened at the moment that the Spirit stopped striving with man. His absence is judgment, even physically. It’s the Spirit who keeps the world together.

    Job 33:4 - The Spirit of God made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Still does, not just at birth)

    Psalm 104:30 - You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground. (Read the immediately preceding verses to get the full feel of this statement)

    In Colossians 1:17 all things are held together by the Word of His power. (They we upheld by Him, and still are).

    Nothing operates on its own because nothing can hold together apart from God. Neither is nature itself God, because it depends on Him.
     
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