Summary: Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.” Science and religion aren’t enemies. They are allies. In a sense, every ology is a branch of theology.
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.” Science and religion aren’t enemies. They are allies. In a sense, every ology is a branch of theology. One way to get to know the Creator is by studying creation. In fact, can you imagine studying about Pablo Picasso without looking at his paintings? Or what about studying Ludwig Von Beethoven without listening to his music? It seems absurd doesn’t it? About as absurd as studying the Creator without studying His creation! So every year we do a series that juxtaposes a branch of science with Scripture. This year we juxtapose neurology and theology.
Let me give a disclaimer up front. I’m neither a neurologist nor the son of a neurologist. I don’t claim expertise. I do claim fascination. I think the human mind is the magnum opus of God’s creative genius. And we are going to dive into the mystery and the miracle over the next six weeks.
Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.”
I know lots of people who say they’ve never experienced a miracle, but the truth is that we all experience miracles all day every day.
Right now you have no sensation of motion, but you are sitting on a planet that is spinning around its axis at approximately 1,000 mph. Planet earth will make one full rotation in the next twenty-four hours. Not only that, you’re traveling through space at approximately 66,600 mph. Before the day is done, you will travel 1.3 million miles in your annual trek around the sun. And you didn’t have any big plans for today!
But here’s the thing. We don’t think about that or worry about that or celebrate that. When was the last time you thanked God for keeping us in orbit? Never! Dear God, I was concerned that we wouldn’t make the full rotation today but you did it again. Phew! What I want you to see is this: we ought to throw a party every day to celebrate what a huge accomplishment that is.
Keeping the planets in orbit is no small feat. We experience an astronomical miracle every single day, but we take it for granted.
Thomas Carlyle said imagine a man who had lived in a cave his entire life stepping outside for the first time to watch the sunrise. Carlyle said he would watch “with rapt astonishment the sight we daily witness with indifference.”
That’s so true isn’t it? We take the daily miracles for granted.
G.K. Chesterton said, “Grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. Is it possible God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon? The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”
Scripture hints at that in Psalm 29. The Message says, “Bravo, God, Bravo. All the angels shout encore!” It’s like the angels are so enthralled with what God does day in and day out that they ask Him to do it over and over again!
The Miracle of Sight
Part of spiritual growth is learning to recognize and appreciate the miracles that surround us.
Did you know that approximately six trillion reactions are taking place in every cell in your body every second? Your heart will pump about 100,000 times today without skipping a beat. You’ll inhale and exhale about 23,000 times. And a hundred things are happening in your body right now that you pay no attention to—digesting, reproducing new cells, purifying toxins, maintaining hormonal balance, converting stored energy from fat to blood sugar, and repairing damaged cells just to name a few.
That is absolutely astounding, but of all the miracles that happen all the time I think the mind is the magnum opus. It is hard for us to even conceive of how complicated even the simplest of mental functions is.
Take the visual cortex for example. Most of us take sight for granted, but that is because we have no idea how it works.
For what it’s worth, when a baby is born their visual resolution is one-fortieth that of a normal adult. They lack depth perception. And their visual range is about eight inches. By four months, a baby can perceive stereoscopic depth. By six months, visual acuity has improved fivefold. They develop color vision and volitional control of their eye movements. And by the time a baby celebrates its first birthday, the child sees the world almost as well as an adult.
When was the last time you stopped to thank God that you can perceive about ten million different colors? We probably owe God a thank you for each color. Have you ever stopped to contemplate how incredible it is that we can read fine print and see stars that are billions of miles away? Have you ever thanked God for depth perception or peripheral vision? Or what about motion vision? We take it for granted, but people who suffer from motion blindness cannot cross the street because they can’t judge the speed of cars. They have difficultly pouring coffee into a cup because the moving liquid appears to be solid. Without the motion-perception pathway you would have a tough time walking much less dancing or catching a Frisbee or hitting a fastball traveling 95 mph. And that is one minor function.