The God Christians Believe In

I’m sharing excerpts from my new book, Creed: What Christians Believe and Why, on the blog in these next few weeks as we approach the Lenten season. Today, I’m including a portion from Chapter One, “God.” Click here to read last week’s post, which was the book’s Introduction. The Apostles’ Creed begins, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” Christians believe there is a God, a Supreme Being, and Ultimate Reality that created the universe. Many would be willing to use the term “God” when referring to the creative and powerful forces that gave rise to, and hold together, the universe as we know it—forces such as the mysterious “dark energy” of astrophysics. When Einstein referred to God, it seems to me that he was willing to use the word in such a way—not a personal being, but an impersonal power or force, or perhaps a mystery of science yet unsolved. Yet Christians perceive God not simply as a force of nature, but as an entity, a Being, that is both intelligent and powerful. Max Planck, the brilliant theoretical physicist and father of quantum theory, captured part of this idea in a 1944 speech in which he said, “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” Planck, a Nobel Laureate, did not see his work in the field of quantum mechanics as incompatible with his Christian faith. Sustaining and holding the universe together was an almighty force that was both “conscious” and “intelligent.” George Lemaître, a Catholic priest and cosmological physicist, was perhaps best known as the father of the Big Bang theory. He championed the idea that the universe had a beginning, a day on which it was born. His theory of cosmic expansion pointed backward to “a day when there was no yesterday.” Lemaître did not see this idea as proof of God’s existence, but he did seem to recognize that his theory, now widely accepted, made it intellectually possible to reconcile faith and science. There are many scientists who believe that science and faith are incompatible, but many others throughout history have believed, and continue to believe, that the two are not mutually exclusive. During the “scientific revolution” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for example, some of the leading luminaries were Christian believers—people such as Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, and Galileo, who, despite the church’s blunder in criticizing his conclusions, continued to maintain his faith in God. My point is that, despite frequent statements by some scientists that science and Christian faith are incompatible, there are numerous other scientists who have played significant roles in the advancement of knowledge and who believed in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Christians believe that God is the creative force, the power, the source from which everything that exists derives its existence and upon which all that exists is contingent. This is just a brief excerpt form Chapter One of Creed: What Christians Believe and Why. If you would like to know more about the book or the children, youth or adult small group study resources based upon it, click here; or click here to view the promo videos (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the "Videos" tab). 

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