January 5, 2020
Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of this Sunday’s (January 5) Bulletin at Fishkill UMC. We will be focusing on Epiphany of the Lord (Year A). Services start at 10:15 am and you are welcome to be a part of a new year of worship.
As you may know, I am a chemist and a science educator. If you were to trace the lineage of my profession backwards in time, sooner or later you would end in some obscure laboratory in 17th century Europe. More importantly, if you continued the travel back in time, you would also end up in an equally obscure laboratory outside 16th century Baghdad.
The wise men are the intellectual ancestors of today’s mathematicians and scientists. While we call what they did alchemy, it was still a study of matter and its reactions, the basic definition of chemistry. The driving force behind these studies was to gain a better understand of who God was and what God was doing. It should be noted that Robert Boyle, considered the father of modern chemistry, was also a prolific writer of religious manuscripts and Sir Isaac Newton, in the preface to his most famous work, Principia Mathematica, wrote that he hoped that what he presented would lead the reader to a better understanding of God.
Did not Jesus, when asked if He was the expected Messiah, tell the questioners to look at the evidence before them?
The evidence before me tells me that the universe is not quite 14 billion years old and not, as determined by some quirky and faulty calculations, 10,000 years old. But the evidence does not tell me why it was created.
If nothing else, that I am both a Christian and a scientist dispels the notion that one cannot be both or that one must sacrifice one for the other. When I look at the processes of creation, I can understand how it occurred but it is though my faith that I begin to understand why it was created.
And in doing so, I continue the legacy of Boyle and Newton and those who saw the Star in the East and sought to understand the meaning of what they saw.
In including the wise men in the Christmas narrative, Matthew suggested that, like the wise men, we must seek our understanding of God. In looking at the world around us, in trying to understand the world around us, we can better understand who God is and what our relationship to Him through Christ might be.
~~Dr. Tony Mitchell