Jeremiah 51.13-17 – Science and God’s sovereign freedom
Posted: 23 August 2013 in Jeremiah

O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness. The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillers; and they shall lift up a shout against thee. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

The above passage speaks of God’s absolute control over creation. And yet we know today that the universe is governed by unchanging natural laws, which, amongst other things, allow us to predict the weather and send men to the Moon. Some might argue that the two are easily reconcilable, because God preordains all things, and the inexorable working out of the laws of nature merely brings to pass what he has preordained. However, I would not be overly inclined to buy that, because in the Bible God is depicted as being actively involved in his Creation. When Acts 12.23 says that Herod Agrippa I was struck dead by an angel of the Lord, it means what it says.

Our God is not just one who lit the blue touch paper, and then stood back to watch what he had preordained come to pass (although he did preordain it). So we are left with a paradox where two apparently irreconcilable things must both be held to be true. For the purposes of doing science it must be accepted that the universe is governed by physical laws. But overwhelmingly more important than that, it must also be held that the universe is under God’s absolute and unmediated control, everywhere and at all times. To insist upon anything less than God’s complete and sovereign governance of the universe would both detract from his glory and be untrue. That must never be allowed to happen.

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