The Idea Of God In The Light Of Modern Science -- By: John E. Wishart

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 087:346 (Apr 1930)
Article: The Idea Of God In The Light Of Modern Science
Author: John E. Wishart


The Idea Of God In The Light Of Modern Science

John E. Wishart

Do we need a new idea of God? We do—we always do. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven: what canst thou do? Deeper than Sheol; what canst thou know?” (Job 11:7–8). In this realm our conceptions are ever partial and inadequate. Each advance in knowledge, each discovery of the secrets of the universe, each experience of life that deepens our own characters, may well teach us something new about the Father of our spirits. The new need not falsify or stultify the old, but it will give breadth and depth. A devout peasant may not think of God as does a believing sage who has laid up great stores of knowledge, yet both may be living in fellowship with Him and have an acquaintance with Him which is real as far as it goes.

And the history of religious progress has been the history of enlarging ideas of God. The Almighty was known and worshipped before the time of Amos and Hosea and Isaiah but the value of the great prophets was that they revealed novel conceptions of the righteousness, the majesty and the love of Jehovah. It was a long step in advance, though a step in the same direction, when Jesus mingled with men and said to them, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” And still there is new light to break from the word and the works of God. We certainly have no interest in denying that recent science with its overwhelming teachings as to the immeasurable vastness of the universe and the infinitesimal minuteness of the little systems out of which it is built, calls for larger views concerning its Creator. The words which Michael Angelo wrote under the painting of a promising young artist would apply to our highest conceptions of the Eternal— “amplius”—broader.

“Let knowledge grow from more to more
But more of reverence in us dwell
That mind and soul according well
May make one music as before But vaster.”

(Tennyson)

But there are voices to-day, some of them rather strident, which are calling loudly for a scientific religion. Now it is certainly true that one cannot keep his science and his religion in two separate mental compartments, hermetically sealed, so that they can never touch one another. There have been discoveries that have made some beliefs untenable. I should be willing to agree that we cannot hold to a religion which can be shown to be unscientific. But having admitted so much, I may add that I doubt the possibility of a scientific religion, if it be meant that its experiences must be tested by scientific methods and i...

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