The Key Difference: Nature

by William Michael

godcreatedThe majority of modern scientists, regardless of their professed religion, are “mechanists”.  What this means is that they believe that everything that concerns living things can be explained in mechanical terms, that the natural world, animals, weather, and human beings can and should all be thought of and managed like machines.

This is not a new idea.  It was held by some ancient philosophers who were refuted by the famous physician Galen.  Of these men, he wrote,

“According to [one] school…the soul possesses no reasoning faculty, but that we are led like cattle by the impression of our senses, and are unable to refuse or dissent from anything. In their view, obviously, courage, wisdom, temperance, and self-control are all mere nonsense, we do not love either each other or our offspring, nor do the gods care anything for us. This school also despises dreams, birds, omens, and the whole of astrology.”

In other words, there were men in the ancient world who scoffed at any idea of the world having any greater purpose than mere existence–no God, no soul, no heaven, no hell, no angels, no creation–nothing.  Everything in the natural world was argued to be the result of “chance”, everything being composed of a random collection unchangeable “elements” in the form of atoms that can change or be changed at any time.

This view of the natural world is false.

God, a living person, created the world and imparted his own life to it, as He willed and all for His own glory and His creatures’ good.  The creation of the heavens, seas, earth, plants and animals was all for the welfare of God’s chief creature–man.  Man is not one of many inhabitants of the universe, but the focus of the universe as far as the actions of the creatures is concerned.  God made them all for the good of man.  As regards the animals other than man, God made man the master of them all, as Genesis teaches us.  God said,

“Let us make man in our Image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

Now, that may lead us to conclude, as the modern scientists do that all things are rather chaotic and aimless, unless man gives them meaning and sets them into some order that pleases him, but this is not so.  God himself created the order and gave to each created thing its own unique power and purpose.  We see this in the inspired text:

“And God said, “Let the Earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree, yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, vpon the earth: and it was so.”

The earth, therefore, naturally seeks to bring forth grasses, herbs and fruits.  Man does not cause the earth to do so but merely helps it.

Likewise, the celestial objects were created with a manifold purpose:

“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night: and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.  And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven, to give light vpon the earth: and it was so.”

The order of the seasons, use of the constellations as sources of marking time, etc., were not mere inventions of man, but were intentions of the Creator, which man observed rather than established.  They were created to do these things and man uses them as they were created for him to.  It is not coincidental that these things are observed in the heavens, but the intention of the Creator for the welfare of man.

Having narrated the creation of the world and its inhabitants, God reveals for us the purpose of the vegetation He created:

“I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for food:  And to every beast of the earth, and to every foul of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food.”

This teaches us that man never existed as a “hunter-gatherer”, but that from the beginning, man understood the nature and purpose of all created things.  They were gifts of the Creator to him, for his welfare.  He was not his own, but was the chief of the creatures, made in the likeness of God, the recipient of such amazing grace, and steward of all these wonderful things.  They all had their own unique qualities, which man was to observe, note and manage as God intended.  There was no chance, no chaos–all was purposeful and significant of greater truths and beings that existed outside of them, yet were present in and through them.

We know, by divine revelation, that man did not fulfill his office faithfully, but disobeyed God.  God added to the original order of creation a penitential quality that filled the earth in the form of a “curse”.  This curse, nevertheless, although painful is yet intended for man’s welfare and he must embrace it with humility and not despise it as he returns to his original work as God’s steward.  He must embrace the reality that “by the sweat of your brow you shall eat your food”, and that the created world now contains hindrances that were not originally there, but remain within the power of man’s strength and reason to overcome with constant toil.

The beautiful world created by God, and the “spirit”, if you will, of that original order, which we may call “Nature” (as the ancients did) remains with us today.  “Nature” is living and active, intended for our welfare and designed to work with us and for us.  In this we must believe, for it is the foundation of ancient–and true–natural philosophy, with all the practical arts related to it.

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