Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The rational orderliness of the cosmos as evidence of a Creator

There is one vitally important area where the accounts of science and faith both need to align, and in fact do align, in the understanding of the world. The first, priestly, creation account, whose canonical position [Genesis 1] privileges it in relation to the succeeding stories and poems, is above all an account of ordering. The creation is the organisation of randomness into coherency. This not only gives a significant place to human reason and observation (as the linkage of Wisdom and creation elsewhere implies) but is the fundamental presupposition of scientific investigation. …

Science with God is more rational than science without God. … It is not just that the observable universe is susceptible of rational investigation, but that science can’t work if it isn’t. We have an apparently random quantum fluctuation resolving with great speed into a universe that is not only organised, but finely¹ tuned. … Given the apparently rational and mathematical nature of the world, in which reasonably constructed experiments work, one might be tempted to see greater coherence in postulating a rational rather than a random cause.
Doug at Metacatholic, in a post entitled Creation and Cosmos.

I don't typically borrow from other bloggers unless I have something of value to add to their remarks. In this case, I have nothing to add. I merely want to commend the post (and the blog!) to others who don't regularly read Metacatholic.

¹The original post reads, "finally tuned". I have amended it in light of a subsequent paragraph which speaks of the "fine-tuning" of the universe.

There's probably a lesson in here somewhere about the transmission of biblical texts:  i.e., the introduction of variant readings by copyists who presume to know what the original author intended to write!


Phil Sumpter said...

Given the 'priestly' nature of Gen. 1, I wonder what role the 'cultic' plays in all this ...

Doug Chaplin said...

Thank you Stephen. I have accepted your emendation into the text - so that will confuse things nicely!

Stephen (aka Q) said...

• Phil:
As I understand it, the connection between creation and cult is precisely along the lines Doug discusses. In the act of creating, God overcame the forces of chaos and established order. The priests participate in that project in their turn: by means of their sacrifices, the ever-threatening forces of chaos are beaten back, and the orderliness of creation is maintained.

Somehow, I suspect scientists wouldn't see the cultic contribution as rational.

• Doug:
And now you have me musing over the distinction between amend and emend. You used the latter, and I recognize that it's the convention among biblical scholars. But the dictionary definition of amend also refers to making changes to a document.

I'll leave amend in the text, but I suspect it makes me look like I'm not in the know!

Doug Chaplin said...

The difference between emend and amend is a little odd. Both come from the same Latin verb, the former directly and the latter through French. Current usage suggests to me that outside the discipline of textual criticism (secular and religious) they are now heading for being synonymous. Consequently I only use emend for correcting textual details. I use amend for improvements in the sense of substantial rewriting to make the meaning clearer, amd for things like moral improvement as in "amend your ways".