Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Role of Nature

To say that Albert Einstein had no faith is inaccurate. He believed in the potential of man, the evidence of nature for a Creator, and the authenticity of Jesus. He recognized the inadequacies of science as a means for living a "happy and dignified life."  He believed that the Bible, stripped of the Prophet and Jesus, taught a way of living that could cure the world of all social ills. Jewish by birth, he also was "enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene." He believed that much of the literature about Jesus is too shallow saying, "Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot." His opinion was that science and technology improved man's ability to apply the words of the Prophets and of Jesus. He said that proclaimers of high moral standards and values are rightfully placed above those who discover objective truth. Still he pursued the undiscovered laws of Nature with a nod to the Creator, but without belief in a personal God. He understood Natural Law as put in place by some manifest Reason or Intelligence, but refused to look for grace, mercy, and hope. He dismissed the idea that awe and reverence for creation necessitated the existence of a "divine personality." He trusted in the laws of Nature (as created by the God he believed in) to both reward and punish appropriately.

Certainly Einstein understood the role of nature: created, ordered, rational, and consistent.  But when he speaks of understanding "everything better" he comes short. Intelligence is insufficient to fully understand what God has done in creation. All the principles of science and reason are evident there. Higher math is illustrated in flowers and fractals and feathers. Einstein recognized that morality comes from a higher source than man himself, but from that point he stopped searching for the Truth behind that source.

C.S. Lewis, equally intelligent, did not stop there. He pressed the issue of "Natural Law" in his book, Mere Christianity. Lewis expanded the role of Natural Law to include a Moral Law. Einstein would probably agree with him on that point: Natural/Moral Law determines why people respond to situations the way they do. And most humans agree that there IS a "right" or "wrong" but the definition wobbles as cultural paradigms shift. This is the point at which Lewis parts ways with Einstein; Moral Laws do not change with the times because they are based on a Moral Reality. There must be a standard for comparison. Otherwise "decent behaviour" in one culture is unacceptable in another. In order to compare the two, or to really function in either one must decide which one conforms more closely to the Standard. In a perfect world, all humanity would adhere to the Natural/Moral Law because doing so ensures equality, equanimity, and equilibrium. What Einstein and today's humanists ignore is the fact that people don't choose to obey these Natural/Moral Laws unless there is some personal benefit, which in and of itself defies the tenants of the Law. Lewis conjectures that people can't obey the Law by their own power because the source of "good" is not in mankind. Somehow the selfish, cruel, and corrupt people become the ruling class and that particular society ceases to exist because the common good is no longer the reason for service. Socialism, for all of its idealism, will never prevail because humans cannot seem to be faithful to the Natural Laws that even Einstein admits are in place. The old platitude, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is reflected in every great civilization of history.

Nature, because it has no will of its own, consistently adheres to the laws that govern it. As such, those who look deeply into the natural world can learn a great deal from it. Beauty revealed in synchronicity pleases the senses because the observer understands the delicate balance of elements that make it. Nature reveals the Creator from the vastness of the ever-expanding universe to the smallest sub-particle of an atom. God is at once greater than all things and involved with the smallest and most insignificant. Einstein's logic and intelligence prevented him from seeing a personal God. Lewis looked around himself and, after a great deal of adamant denial, found that the world only made sense if the Creator was also the Answer to the questions of why and how. In nature, Einstein saw an omnipotent God who set the universe in motion; Lewis saw an omnipresent God who wants a relationship with the ones He created in His own image.

Looking deep into nature is a place to begin to understand "everything." But the rational and logical mind must look deeper still, to a place where reason is insufficient, for that is where a truer understanding of the Creator exists. It is possible to look at the natural world and marvel at its perfection without seeing the Intelligence behind it. It is also possible to look at nature with awe and wonder that it was designed by a Creator who also provides the Source of all real wisdom and knowledge and virtue. Knowing the true awesomeness (in the fullest meaning of the word) of God should be a humbling experience that drives mankind to its knees, not just for the discovery, but for the things about Him yet to be discovered. To know this God is to understand the reason for nature: it reveals His creative perfection, His expectation, and His law.

Viereck, George Sylvester, "What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck",  The Saturday Evening Post, 26 October 1929 p 17
Pais, Abraham, Subtle is the Lord — The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (Clarendon Press, Oxford, and Oxford University Press, New York, 1982)
Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941.
W. Hermanns, Einstein and the Poet—In Search of the Cosmic Man (Branden Press, Brookline Village, Mass., 1983), p.132, quoted in Jammer, p.123.
Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity, Harper San Francisco, Zondervan Publishing House. 1952, 2001

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