Since if there is a single cause of whatever men observe and this cause is subject to the logical law of non-contradiction, it follows that we must be able to logically relate and correlate our observations as we formulate natural laws. We should even be able to link these laws in a tighter logical network and thus conclude that there may exist one law (fundamental idea) or a small (simple) set of complementary laws or principles. Simply stated, any movement from many observations to fewer principles is a movement in the direction of greater logical unity. This unity, if reflective of God's nature, should be evident in our scientific endeavors. In fact, Maatman continues, the history of science is but the confirmation of this central principle.
It is unclear to me why the search for unity in creation has to follow this particular path. I think, if I may state it succinctly, it misreads the scriptural revelation on the Creator/creature distinction. It all too frequently interprets it in the scholastic mold of an analogy of being: Ultimate Cause, immediate cause(s); ultimate Unity, relative unity; Archetype (of these who care), ectype. Does this approach not support the idea that God is subject to logical laws or conditions that must necessarily hold for Him as well as His creatures? How can God then be considered as the Sovereign? If God is perceived as the Ultimate Cause, does this not rule out probabilistic approaches and stochastic processes in the sciences and argue instead for a (static) determinism? What remains of human responsibility in our scientific endeavors? Or are humans not subject to conditions in the manner physical entities are?
Although other questions could be raised, the major point I wish to explore is the validity of Maatman's claim concerning the historical development of science, "history ... shows that physical scientists understand more clearly, as time passes, that there is but a single cause of all physical scientific observations." (p. 70) Taking science in its present form, Maatman wishes to derive from science (and ultimately from God's nature) the model of its explanation and understanding of natural phenomena. One key feature in this argument is the conflation of physical and logical order in the sense that the logical order reflects the physical order, i.e., the order in time of cause and effect is reflected in logic in the order of premise and consequent. This close "identification" also suggests that scientific knowledge is best acquired by taking the logical product of statements describing the components of natural processes, or conversely by empirically testing the
truth of statements that are the consequences of higher-order theories or laws (fundamental ideas). in general one can ask if this approach does not assume a derivational reduction scheme is normative for physical theories, and further whether it rests on a methodological commitment to the logical unity of science.
The norm of derivational reduction is hardly met by most, if not all, extant physical theories. Efforts at axiornatization of theories such as classical mechanics, thermodynamics, classical electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics have not been all that successful. Often several axiornatizations are possible for a physical theory. In the main, scientists come up with descriptions of various structures and regularities that are related, for example, by having a common object of study, rather than by being immediately deduced from a common set of fundamental ideas (laws) or axioms. I do not mean to minimize the role that reduction and axiornatization can play in the development and extension of physical theories. But it cannot be the dominant theme. If it were the "name of the game" or ruling paradigm, we would have to either discard many of our physical theories or issue promissory notes, due who knows when.
One brief example illustrates this points. Despite many efforts, the classical program of physics "tracing the phenomena of nature back to the simple laws of mechanics" as Heinrich Hertz expressed it, has not been realizable. The universal validity of the second law of thermodynamics could not be reduced to dynamics, or conversely, Carnot's principle as expressed in the second law does not follow from the conservation of energy (first law of thermodynamics). Even the statistical regularity of systems composed of a large number of molecules, as described in statistical mechanics, could not be reduced to classical thermodynamics. The macroscopic irreversible processes described by the second law cannot ultimately be explained by the reversible motion of microscopic entities. Spontaneous fluctuations at the microscopic level had to be introduced as an irreducible Fremdkorper into the theory. Classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics appear to be physically complementary, each with a different range of validity and application.
Limits of space prevent me from discussing other examples, but an examination of the relations between, say, special relativity and general relativity or between classical chemistry and quantum chemistry will cause similar reductive issues
Arie Leegwater was educated at Calvin College (BA 1962), Ohio State University (Ph.D., 1967) and The Free University of Amsterdam (1967-1969). He is presently Professor of Chemistry at Calvin College and offers occasional courses in the History of Science. Professor Leegwater has received various awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the area of history and philosophy of science. He is presently investigating the interrelationships between chemistry and physics during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
to surface. We are faced with a plethora of theories and laws many of which are not related to each other in any apparent or imaginable deductive scheme. If that is the case, what does it say about the claim of (logical) unity in science? I would maintain that a different historical point can be made. Efforts to find unity within creation tend to conflate or reduce one physical theory to another, and consequently minimize the diversity of approaches that are required in the investigation of typical structures of matter (e.g. atoms and molecules).
Despite the existence of a range of general, universal laws (laws of motion, special theory of relativity, laws of classical thermodynamics, conservation laws) and some more restricted ones (laws of classical electromagnetism) none are capable either singly or jointly of explaining or giving an adequate account of the structure and stability of an atom of a particular element. By emphasizing only the more general relationships in reality insufficient recognition is given to the fact that physical entities are generally individuals of a certain kind. As integral wholes with their own typical structure (law) they are often irreducible to their constituents. Such instances must not mean that we declare the classical,
more general theories to be invalid, but should rather encourage us to develop an understanding of reality in which the mutual dependence of theories and laws is highlighted and honored in our scientific work. For an elaboration of this position, see the recent book by M.D. Stafleu, Time and Again: A Systematic Analysis of the Foundations of Physics, Wedge Publishing Foundation, Toronto, Canada (1980).
The theme of unity and coherence properly explores the mutual relatedness of all things in creation. Man, as the crown of creation, and all creatures great and small are inter-related and inter-dependent. The creational setting in which man finds himself-as revelation-requires that he respond to God's call and act responsibly in unfolding, disclosing, and even enjoying the richness and diversity of potential and actual structures. But no structure or relation-whether physical or logical (or analogically conceived)-can grasp or encompass the radical character of the creature's dependence on the Creator. There is always a sense in which the very structures themselves defy analysis and explanation. Their individuality and uniqueness harbor the mystery of creation: the divine origin and continued sustenance of all things.
No structure or relation can grasp or encompass the radical
character of the creature's dependence on the Creator. There
is always a sense in which the very structures themselves defy
The cosmos appears incredibly harmonious to me as a physicist, exhibiting a deep unity among its structures within its various domains. At least such a coherence appears authentic when we view the world through our conceptual apparatus of ideas, and of course we cannot easily lay aside this apparatus. We are quite naturally led to ask whether or not this appearance of unity is a false impression, or perhaps wrongly formulated. What, in fact, shapes what we find? Will our unifying perspective of today escape a demise similar to that of the adamantly affirmed ones of past ages?
To get at these questions I wish briefly to consider what has shaped past unifying perspectives, what might be called world views on the grand scale, and to discuss what factors led to their reformulation or abandonment. My purpose is to clarify what, in fact, it means to have a unified viewpoint, and to understand better the factors that have shaped it. We
should then be more sensitive to the strengths as well as the limitations of a unifying perspective. Finally I suggest a direction for future unifying efforts. In this short essay I cannot thoroughly consider the full historical support for my premises, but I tentatively put them forth for discussion.
From historical studies it becomes clear that the nature of the unity or unifying perspective that a scientific community adopts is strongly shaped by the community's accepted aim or goal for the scientific endeavor. Furthermore, whether explicitly or tacitly, this adopted aim then influences the choice of scientific procedure to be adopted and, most importantly, it sets the stage for what the community means by explanation. The particular explanatory perspective adopted may in turn influence the perceived aim-but the point is that the interaction of both sets the course in the search for unity. (Naturally this is true only if the aim
adopted judges the search for unity as a potentially rewarding endeavor. I assume that it does).
An outstanding illustration of such influences can be seen in the important squabble between Galileo and his contemporary Aristotelians. The Aristotelians can be criticized for their narrow mindedness but not for their lack of a unified system. Their scheme was highly rational and systematic and even led to "deep" explanations. It provided a common-sense way of studying nature, and suggested appropriate questions, even appropriate experiments, while judging others to be improper or irrelevant. But Galileo broke with the Aristotelian perspective when he redefined the aim of science; he formulated a different aim for science, and with it, a new notion of what was meant by explaining something. This new focus led to a new methodology. Science became a search for the quaDtitative (such as size, weight and number) instead of for qualities (such as color and taste). The task became one of explaining nature by reducing it to a new conceptual set, the mathematical. So while an Aristotelian "explained" motion by identifying certain qualitative aspects and relating such to essential properties, Galileo searched out quantitative relationships and "explained" the phenomena in terms of mathematical relations. These new relations became the real essence of nature. And of course, neither was happy with the other's scientific aim or categories of explanation.
Certainly Galileo is not the only illustration of such influences. Issac Newton also introduced a significant shift in aim and explanatory concepts, as he sketched in the Principia and in Opticks. The search for a scientific understanding became a new search for a unified perspective, and this was to be gained by first investigating the phenomena using analysis. Analysis, for example, isolated the crucial forces behind the phenomena and also aided in formulating a theory relating the forces to phenomena. The success of this endeavor was to be demonstrated by then applying the theory and forces to new phenomena. If success were then achieved, Newton claimed a new unification that could be put forth as an
explanation of the phenomena. Nature's secrets had been laid bare, or at least more bare. Certainly in this Newton marvelously succeeded although it must be said that, in fact, he was not completely satisfied with the completeness nor finality of such an explanation. But the initial goal was to have ended here. A new category of explanation-that of force-was introduced. Of course Newton's contemporaries were not all happy either with his aim or his category of explanation. Leibniz thought it akin to re-introducing occult causes; the Cartesians thought it to be lacking the real and essential mechanisms and in violation of indubitable maxims as well.
The important thing for us to note is the central controlling influence that the different aims exerted in shaping the nature of the perceived unity and the character of explanation as well. Galileo's aim differed from that of the Aristotelians, and Newton's from the Cartesians. Each shift in aim modified the nature of the unity expected and accepted.
Now when reviewing such historical struggles, it is tempting to conclude that the essential feature evident is the maturation of science. Science has matured-that I do not wish to deny. However, it is not always clear that a particular shift in scientific aim or in the criteria for what constitutes a good or a complete explanation, is in fact, progressive. Maybe progress was made; or maybe something (not necessarily everything) was lost. But what is clear is that one's judgment is shaped to some extent by his perceived aim for the endeavor. In any case, maturation and progress often come about by adopting a new aim.
Thus historical and philosophical enquiries have led us to recognize the existence of a very complicated situation. We cannot hope to get at nature at a deep level without using theoretical structures to help us define, develop and interpret the needed conceptual ideas. And of course the accepted aim for this endeavor influences our choices of theories and guides our thinking about what we expect to learn about nature from such theoretical /conceptual structures as well. However it is
Robert W. Manweiler majored in physics at the University of Kansas where he received his bachelor's degree, He then pursued graduate study in physics at Cornell University. After growing weary of the "dirty work" associated with electron accelerators, he took the easy road and went into theoretical nuclear physics. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1972, he went to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. However desiring both to work with university students and to more substantially challenge them in the Christian faith, Bob left ORNL and attended Biblical Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary near Philadelphia. He received the M. Div. degree from the latter institution. He then went to Calvin College to teach in the physics department, and for one year he was a fellow of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship. The topic Of the CCCS team was "Faith and Reason". Bob is presently in the physics department at Valparaiso University, and in addition to the more traditional physics responsibilities, he regularly teaches a Philosophy of Science course. He and his wife actively work with IVCF at Valpo, and are members of a PCA church.
hard to escape the fact that, to some extent, concepts and theories interact, and meaning and explanation emerge within the context of the theory. Such rational schemes can powerfully extend our probings into the deep structure of nature and therefore help us carry out the perceived aim. But of course their adoption also brings a certain degree of tunnel vision or blindness.
When we attempt to get at the essence of nature, we, at least in the physical sciences, must rely upon these theoretical-conceptual schemes. We use them to identify and analyze phenomena, to formulate our questions. And if we are "lucky" (as were Newton and Einstein) we can formulate more universal, more profound and deeper unified theories. We then hope that these theoretical schemes capture the deep relations of nature.
Some have tried to resolve the dilemma by arguing that the aim of science should not be one of getting at the deep levels of nature. They suggest that our aim should be to economically organize phenomena in an instrumental sense. In this view of science such claims to knowledge are so weak that one simply lives with a great deal of relativism. But it seems to me that such an extreme instrumental portrayal of science, even though more sophisticated than that of the positivists, still misses the very heart of what we have hoped for in the doing of science. For example, it does not harmonize with Einstein's central motivating drive to get to the essence of nature. I think that we must be slow in accepting an instrumental view. We must resolve the subjectivity problem by another road.
Since God created man and the cosmos together, should we
not expect a complex interaction to exist between the
perceiving subject and creation, which also must be rej-Hected
within an overall unifying perspective?
But then what happens? These formulations are often turned around to interpret what nature is like! Thus while Newton interprets some of nature's characteristics using his mechanics, Laplace extended its applicability to more dogmatically tell us what nature is really like-it then became mechanistically deterministic because theory said it was so. But was it not the aim of the scientific endeavor to do just this, to formulate theories that then can be used to get at nature at a deeper level? I think so. We still do it today. Indeed, some would argue that such Laplacian naivete has been displaced after the advent of quantum theory, because quantum physics now tells us what nature is really like. Our aim, you see, is the same-to get at nature at an ever deeper and deeper level. But obviously there are pitfalls there, for we so easily absolutize our present conceptual theoretical perspective.
Where do we end up? The aims of the scientific endeavor, carried out by means of concepts and theoretical structures and networks of such all come to shape what we accept as explanatory. Thus the unity that one finds is determined, at least in part, and limited by this aim. Is this subjectivism? Need we therefore become skeptics, plunged into total subjectivism or into an extreme idealism in which our perceptions are so distorted by our minds and by our aim that we learn nothing of the real world?
Certainly historical investigations that bring to light the great distortions of the past may indeed make one skeptical of the present scientific endeavor, leading one to believe that its trustworthiness is no greater than those of yesteryear. But while I think that this critical attitude offers an important corrective to an overly naive confidence in our own conceptual perspective that is only too easily absolutized, I still think that it is much too pessimistic. Yet it does seem hard to find the narrow way between skepticism and a naive view of science. But where do we turn? Need we give up even a
Furthermore, if there is to be any convergence, any progress to the endeavor, and there certainly seems to be such, this must mean that in part the initially adopted aim itself must be shaped and not arbitrary. But by what? It would seem that such guidance must come not only from our own conceptual choices and rational thought as we wrestle to make sense of the phenomena, but it must also come somehow from nature itself. Yet at any present moment one cannot forget the importance of the guidance provided by one's aim.
I think that we can learn something from this complicated picture that too often leads to skepticism. Indeed I think that our Christian perspective can give us an important directive. We should perceive a yet different aim for the endeavor. If so, of what sort? If we accept as a tentative goal the search for unity, should not this unity be one including both creation and its perceiving rational creatures? Since God created man and the cosmos together, should we not expect a complex interaction to exist between the perceiving subject and creation, which also must be reflected within an overall unifying perspective? (And such interaction need not be limited to that proposed by Niels Bohr.)
The existence of such an interaction would not necessarily make our task more futile or radically subjective, but more challenging. It warns us that when we study and theorize about nature, our categories of conceptualization cannot help but have some effect upon what unities we perceive-and so we must work hard also to discern, but not necessarily eliminate, the correlations between creation and our conceptualization of it. This added dimensionality perhaps helps us understand why there are so many different vantage points from which to stand and analyze. Furthermore, the challenge is to relate these different vantage points, perhaps as different levels of explanation. The nature of the unity we might
expect should be sought in a likely complicated, multidimensional set of conceptualizations and theoretical structures-all of which organize not just creation, but creation and the rational creatures that perceive it. And when we examine the broad perspective from multiple vantage points, are we not seeing cross-sections of such a complex unity like projections of a multi-dimensional function?
Of course one may argue that we have lost the objectivity of science. But if we wish to maintain a modest realism as our aim, then I see no clear alternative. But of course we have transformed the focus of science from an isolated study of 11 objective phenomena" to one that acknowledges that the full
story is to be found in integrating the complete set composed of rational observer and his conceptualizations with the phenomena. It can then be our hope to really get at nature. And this hope, as Kepler and Galileo recognized, is ultimately based upon the reality that God has created ourselves and nature in unity.
We can likely make some progress in focusing upon only part of this total. But to push forward toward a deeper unity, we need to seek a unity of the whole. This then becomes our higher aim for the scientific endeavor, and we should seek unified perspectives that converge to this whole.
The unity in God's creation stems from the unity of God himself. But just as the doctrine of the Trinity tells us that God is one in a profound, and not a simple, way, it will not be surprising if the unity displayed in creation is highly subtle, and not of the common-sense variety. It is not obvious that the physical universe forms a real unity, and overly simple attempts to present a unified description of the world, such as that based on Newtonian mechanics, will fail. (And it is no accident that the reign of the Newtonian world view coincided with a period in which unitarian heresies had great popularity.) The unity of creation is a matter of religious faith, connected with the biblical insistence that God is Pantokrator, the Almighty (e.g., Rev.4:8).
The unity of the universe is also a matter of scientific faith. Einstein's affirmation that "The Lord is subtle, but he is not malicious" means that, beneath the baffling complexities of the world, there is sense. It seems to me that it would be difficult for a person really to be a scientific seeker after truth without such a belief in the understandability of the world. And if the entire universe makes the same kind of sense, then it has a unity, for the sense, or the pattern of phenomena, is a basic part of reality.
Now if there are parts of physical reality that have a different kind of understandability from that of the realm of human senses and minds, it is hard to see how we could interact with them or know them. What would carry the messages, and which realm's laws would they obey? This does not mean, of course, that further exploration of the universe may not upset our present understanding of the laws of nature, but the tendency of such exploration will be toward the discovery of more general laws, to which our presently known ones are approximations. At least that will be the case if our faith in the understandability of the universe is to be vindicated.
well do they hold up under the rigors of the actual scientific enterprise? And where should we begin the search for unity? How intimately united are the different aspects of reality? The fact that the scientific investigation of the universe is still in progress means that only tentative answers can be given to such questions, but I believe that the present state of our knowledge makes it plausible that reality does, in fact, possess a high degree of subtle unity.
One way to begin the search for unity is to seek for a fundamental level of structures and interactions, in hopes that diverse complex phenomena may be explainable in terms of a unified description at the basic level of physical reality. The atomic theory of Democritus is an example of such an approach, as is any attempt to explain reality in terms of continuous field-structures. The Newtonian attempt to explain phenomena in terms of particles interacting via forces falls in this category. It failed largely because the fundamental level of reality was imagined to be in accord with common sense, but a considerable amount of success in providing a unified description, especially of astronomical phenomena, was achieved.
In modern times, attempts to find a unity in some fundamental level have been associated with unified field theories. The hope has been that all fundamental interactions can be understood as manifestations of a single field-structure of sufficient mathematical richness. Maxwell's welding of the electric and magnetic fields into a single electromagnetic field provided the first example of this, though a full understanding of the situation came only with the special theory of relativity. Einstein attempted for the last thirty-five years of his life to generalize his relativistic field theory of gravitation to encompass all physical phenomena-without success, in the view of most physicists. More recently, attempts to provide a unified description of elementary particle phenomena in terms of the type of quantum field theory associated with the names of Weinberg and Salam have had consider-
able success, especially in the unification of the weak and electromagnetic interactions.
It must be realized, however, that such successes involve unification at a supposedly fundamental level, and not necessarily further unification from the fundamental level. They show that the phenomenon of beta decay and the operation of electric motors have a common basis, but do not provide new insight on, for example, the old question of whether or not biological phenomena are explainable in terms of the fundamental interactions of physics.
It is not, however, only at this fundamental level that it is possible to search for unity. On the contrary, it may be possible to discern sense and unity precisely in very complex structures that resist complete reduction to simple components. Hofstadter's recent book Gbdel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, (Basic, New York, 1979), develops this idea very well: Ant colonies and brains make at least a different kind of sense when seen as a whole than they do when considered only as conglomerates of thousands of ants or millions of cells. We must look at entire complexes of events in order to make sense of them.
MacKay has made a similar point in a more explicitly theological setting in The Clockwork Image (Inter-Varsity, London, 1974). Here the example of an advertising sign composed of many light bulbs is used. While one can deal with this system at what corresponds to the fundamental level of basic interactions, describing the pattern of electric currents in the system, that description will probably not grasp the important fact that the lights spell out words. This aspect of order in the system must be sought at the top structural level, and not just at the level of basic units and physical laws. That means that there are two types of unity to be considered as well. Different signs will have in common the laws of electric circuitry which govern the fundamental units. But their messages also share a common membership in the English language-or, more generally, in the family of human languages. And the rules of English cannot be deduced from circuit theory, any more than Kirchoff's laws can be derived from "Eat at Joe's"!
So there seem to be two ways in which we could approach the issue of unity in creation-we can deal either with a supposedly fundamental level or with highly organized levels. A biological organism is a unity, and shares in an even higher unity with all the other organisms, living, dead and to
be born. But it is a unity built up through many levels, and ultimately connected with the basic level of fundamental physical interactions that we try to explain with such structures as quantum fields. If it seems that the latter unity is the real one, and biological patterns and unities "merely" derived ones' it should be remembered that in practice the f undamental level has been reached by attempting first to explain phenomena on the level of everyday experience. In addition, the supposedly fundamental level may turn out not to be so-the successive analysis of matter into atoms, electrons and nuclei, protons and neutrons, and now quarks, illustrates this point sufficiently.
Two unities-doesn't that contradict what was said earlier, that there are not separate islands of sense in the universe? Not necessarily. The course of science up to this time can give us some confidence that these unities are the same. Certainly no one has derived the structure and behavior of the human brain from quantum field theory with full mathematical rigor! But there has been enough success, from artificial synthesis of organic compounds to current work on molecular biology, to justify confidence that biological phenomena are rooted in basic physics. There is no reason yet to believe in any discontinuity.
But that is not a vindication of any simple reductionism. It is true that we may understand many life processes in terms of molecular physics, but many of the phenomena with which we are concerned at high structural levels are not even meaningful at the fundamental level. It is not just that a single neuron or electron cannot think, for example, but that the concept of thought does not enter into the description of such entities.
Though it seems very plausible, then, that the unities that we discover at opposite extremes of complexity-the universality of the genetic code and the group structures of elementary particles-are the same, this is ultimately a matter of faith on the part of scientists. Given the limited capacity of created minds, it may never be possible to prove that there is no discontinuity at some intermediate level. But it goes against the grain of the scientific enterprise to introduce such a discontinuity in our thinking without sufficent reason. The faith of a scientist in the understandability of the universe is here in agreement with the Christian belief in the unity of creation.
George L. Murphy was born in Alliance, Ohio in 1942, and studied physics at Ohio University (B.S. 1963) and Johns Hopkins (Ph.D. 1972). He has taught at Westminster College (PA), the University of Western Australia, Luther College and Loras College. He has published a number of papers on topics in cosmology, astrophysics and relativity, as well as several dealing with the science-theology interface. A member of the American Lutheran Church, he is presently in the final year of study for the ministry at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque.
This agreement should not be surprising, since modern science developed only in the intellectual tradition nourished by the judaeo-Christian view of the world. Scientists who may have no interest at all in formal theology or in Christianity as a faith for their own lives are still indebted to Christianity for providing science with an insistence that the universe is a unity and comprehensible to human minds. One need not be a Christian in order to discover fundamental truths about the physical universe.
The complex character of the unity that science has discerned in the world is consistent with what Christian theology suggests about creation. We are not concerned with the creation of a unitarian clockmaker. The tension between unities at fundamental and upper levels matches that which any serious thinker will always find in the doctrine that the One God is the Holy Trinity.
There are two ways in which we could approach the issue of
unity in creation-we can deal either with a supposedly
fundamental level or with highly organized levels.
There is a biblical theme that reveals how man can actively accomplish the cultural mandate of Genesis 1: 28: " Be f ruitf ul and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over all created reality (my translation)." The theme is that of God the communicator. in the Gospel of John we are told that the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us" thereby communicating to us (note that words are key elements of the human communication process). Earlier in John the "Word" was identified as God and as being the Creator of all things. Furthermore Psalm 19 declares that God communicates to us through created physical reality: "The Heavens are telling the glory of God ... their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4). The God of the Bible is seen to be anactive communicator in all that He does; and, as human beings are made in God's image, they also should be active communicators. Indeed it can be argued that all of human endeavor is most creative and exhibit the most unity when full and open communication exists between all the participants in humanity's many varied disciplines.
The following communication model is presented as a framework from which to study and actively participate in the spectrum of disciplines that form the ongoing cultural tradition. This model is adapted from the ideas of William W. Watts as contained in the article, Natural Science and the Christian Faith in a Cultural Continuum.' It portrays all the disciplines as most creative when actively communicating both with a many-faceted physical reality and with a philosophical-religious framework that acts as a common base to undergird all human activity. This philosophical-religious
base must, in turn, be in open communication with physical reality through which God often reveals His purpose toward His creation. Figure I portrays the main features of the model which are now presented in outline form.
1. Communication is at the heart of the very nature of God. Bef ore the creation, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were in communion with one another.
2. Human beings are made in the image of God. They can therefore participate in communication with God.
3. Through two-way communication with God, human beings develop insights that grow into a philosophical and religious framework that motivates and guides in all endeavors.
4. Philosophy and religion are in continual communication with a physical reality that was created by and is continually held in being by God. Such communication enables philosopby and religion to be open to what God reveals through His prophets (Special Revelation) and the grandeur and variety of physical reality (General revelation).
5. The various cultural disciplines come into being as a result of communicative interactions with a many-faceted physical reality. These cultural disciplines flourish as ongoing communication between the philosophical-religious base provides presuppositions that creatively guide the dialogue with
6. As the various disciplines grow, communication between neighboring disciplines is established. These newly-formed
communication linkages enable insights, concepts, and techniques from one discipline to be modified and adapted to the activities of other disciplines. Such "cross-fertilization" of ideas enables all disciplines to be more creative. Eventually even widely separated disciplines become aware of each others activities as information flows through the network of neighboring communication linkages.
7. Each discipline is distinct as it relates to only certain aspects of a rich and varied physical reality. These differing aspects cause each discipline to have its own subject matter and its own methods. Yet all the disciplines are united together by communication linkages between one another and the philosophy-religion base. Thus they form a cultural continuum, differing but nevertheless sharing a common base of presuppositions whose consequences are worked out by the disciplines in distinctive ways.
8. Sin operates in the world by jamming true communication both between God and its creatures, and between human beings. The first loss of communication results in the development of faulty philosophical and religious presuppositions. Such presuppositions inhibit proper communication between physical reality and the various disciplines, so that the disciplines develop in a distorted way. One of the most common faulty presuppositions is reductionism that occurs when workers in one discipline make the claim that the concepts and methods of their discipline are sufficient to exhaustively explore and understand reality. The insights of all the other disciplines are then "explained away" as not being unique but merely reducible to the concepts of the given discipline. Lastly, further distortion results as the neighboring disciplines no longer communicate accurately with one another, for all communication has been twisted by sin. As a result ugliness results where God intended beauty to be present, and the various disciplines are no longer integrating their varied insights in a holistic fashion to truly form a cultural continuum.
What are some of the presuppositions of biblical philosophy and religion that aid all the disciplines of the cultural continuum in maintaining good communication between
Technology. His professional interests are in quantum physics; systems theory; and the integration of scientific, philosophical, and religious perspectives, all being forms of personal knowledge as ably pointed out by the scientist-philosopher, Michael Polanyi. He is a member of the American Physical Society, American Association of Physics Teachers, Sigma Xi, and a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, and has published twenty-two professional papers. He is also interested in the problems of educationally deprived college-bound students and has taught a college level integrated physics-calculus course for Newark high school seniors. Dr. and Mrs. Neidhardt and their family (all J's) reside in Randolph, N.J.
themselves and physical reality? Some key presuppositions are now listed.
1. Reality at even the most complex level possesses a rational structure, often deeply hidden in unfamiliar patterns. Therefore reality can be comprehended by human beings who exercise their God-given rationality in creatively "fusing together common elements from various apparently diverse experiences"2 to bring into view new patterns of order.
2. The biblical God is perfectly free in all of His creative activity, hence reality is contingent. Reality possesses regularities and patterns, as its Maker is rational, but these regularities and patterns cannot be predicted a priori, as He is free; they must be discovered by examination. Therefore communicati6n with physical reality by observation, experiment, and dialogue (in the human-centered disciplines) is a necessity for all the cultural disciplines (I would argue even mathematics has grown when related to the understanding of physical phenomena.)
emerge relatively unchanged under wide geographical and cultural shifts.'
These presuppositions, and others taken from a biblical philosophical-religious base, provide a framework that can integrate and unify the many components that make up the spectrum of human disciplines that explore physical reality. The effect of these presuppositions and the communication between neighboring disciplines jointly results in the disciplines being united to form a cultural continuum, rather than each discipline existing independent of all other human activities. Such unity is ultimately based upon the notion that the universe is a cosmos, not a chaos; for human beings, in all their creative efforts, act as if some order exists both in the medium they are using and in the portion of reality they are attempting to portray. Even those artists who base their work upon random patterns have tacitly accepted some notion of order, for randomness can be defined only in the context of some notion of order. It is in terms of the biblical doctrine of God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, that we are guaranteed the existence of cosmos, not of chaos.
All human disciplines are most creative when actively
communicating both with a many-faceted physical reality
and with a philosophical-religious framework that acts as
a common base to undergird all human activitiy.
3. Honesty, an ethical dimension, is necessary for the well-being and healthy growth of any human discipline. Ethical statements must come from outside of any science as they are not falsifiable by experience (Popper's Criteria). If you say, as an example, that it is wrong to bear false witness, you say something that cannot be proved or disproved by experiential facts.' Ultimately ethical imperatives emerge from a philosophical-religious tradition to which society is committed.
4. God has deeply embedded beauty in all His creation and has given human beings the ability to respond to that beauty. Therefore aesthetic considerations are an important component of all human disciplines. A key element in such considerations is the finding of unit in variety, which as Coleridge noted 4 is central to the concept of beauty. This is illustrated by the creative role that invariance principles play in art and science. An invariance principle postulates that some observable quantity will maintain its shape or form as it undergoes some type of transformation. As an example of such a principle, regularity of shape or pattern is responsible for the same shape or pattern being observed when a specific rotation or translation of the object occurs. This is why many flowers, animals, as well as paintings appear beautiful to a human observer; it is also of great use to the physicist in working out crystal structures. But the human sciences utilize the invariance concept as well; anthropologists look for basic components of human nature that remain the same under geographical and cultural shifts. For example, the basic human need for love and forgiveness, or the need for esteem
Biblical religion, which as Stanley L. Jaki has argued' is responsible for the birth of modern science, has also long provided inspiration to the written and visual arts (indeed the literary form of the Bible is artistically of the highest caliber). it is therefore ideally suited to the role of being a source of insights that can integrate and bind all the disciplines of man into one cultural continuum. indeed such a continuum is but one manifestation of the unity of God's creation.
Finally I stress again that this model is based upon the biblical concept that communication is central to the creative activity of God and the human race. The Judaeo-Christian religion at its very heart stresses that "no man is an island" and that human beings needs companionship even when engaged in creative activity. And companionship is deeply rooted in undistorted communication. In this context science has been shown to be an activity done in conjunction with others, a community activity. 7 In other fields, artists, writers, those engaged in the humanities, and religious worshippers are often thought of as acting in isolation during their creative moments, but even here community with other members of their disciplines plays a role at some point in their development as creative contributors and participators. Community, grounded in mutual communication, is thus seen to be another way in which God unifies all His creation.
Science in Christian Perspective
OVERVIEW UNITY IN CREATION
Department of Chemistry
Sioux Center, Iowa
From: JASA 35 (March 1983): 18-19.
When I first became interested in writing about unity in creation, I thought that there would be general agreement among Christians on the subject. But since The Unity in Creation appeared I have not been so sure of that agreement. Perhaps this symposium brings some questions out into the open.
Cook assumes that unity exists and that unity can be seen in biology and in physics. For him, the Christian position is that ". . . the order in creation speaks of the Creator in a unified voice." Leegwater seems to say that unity is to be accepted on faith and that such unity cannot be confirmed by our scientific work. Manweiler accepts unification only if man himself is part of the unity in view. Murphy presents two unities, one represented by the existence of fundamental structures and interactions, the other by the harmonious interaction of complex entities. He says that these two unities are one, even as the one God exists in three persons. In Neidhardt's somewhat different approach he looks at the same unity as the other authors, but in terms of two-way communications between God and creation and between disciplines. Vander Vennen holds that diversity exists, but that there is still harmony and therefore ultimately there is unity. All men can "do" science, but Christians, who know that all creation is under God, will because of that knowledge sometimes do better science.
Evidently there is agreement that unity in creation is what it is because God is Who He is. Every author-each in his own way-gives special attention to diversity. Concerning the question of reducing this diversity, that is, of explaining one aspect of creation by the laws or structures of another aspect, everyone is at least reluctant to make such a reduction and some categorically deny the possibility of reduction.
My impression is that virtually everyone-others as well as the participants in this symposium-considers the existence of diversity extremely important in any discussion of unity in creation. Some (after the Dutch philosopher Dooyeweerd) speak of modalities of creation; some, of aspects (I find this concept convenient); some, of levels of complexity; some, of disciplines.
These four ways of referring to complexity are not equivalent. In Dooyeweerd, modality has a precise meaning, similar to what non-Dooyeweerdian thinkers less precisely refer to as aspects. The modalities, which when taken together describe created reality, are thought to be arranged hierarchically, with the simplest, the numeric, first, followed by the spatial, through twelve more modalities, ending with the faith modality. Each modality is coherent and is related to the other modalities through the modalities next to it in the scheme. There is significant similarity between this kind of hierarchy and the hierarchy implied in attempts to interpret creation using the level concept. MacKay's ideas on levels-to which Murphy refers-constitute an example of the level approach. For MacKay, a lighted advertising sign can be analyzed on one level in terms of its message and on another level in terms of the physical principles involved in its electric circuits. For the Dooyeweerdian thinker, the linguistic modality must be used in understanding the message of the sign' the economic modality to understand the implications of the advertising, the aesthetic modality to relate the appearance of the sign to its surroundings, several of the first modalities to understand the physics of the circuits, etc. Finally, disciplines are related to modalities, aspects, and levels, but in no case is it a one-to-one relation.
The major points of agreement among the participants are (1) the complete dependence of creation upon God, its Creator; (2) the existence of unity within each aspect; (3) the unity of aspects; (4) the necessity of including man in any discussion of unity (this seems to be a corollary of accepting modalities, aspects, or levels); and (5) the necessity of communal investigation, such as that described by Neidhardt.
Russell Maatman is Professor of Chemistry at Dordt College. Previously he taught at DePauw University and the University of Mississippi, and was a research chemist at the Mobil Oil Company. Heterogeneous catalysis is his principal research area. He has published about 50 technical articles. He also has a strong interest in integrating faith and natural science. Many of his articles in that area have appeared in this journal. He has also written The Bible, Natural Science, and Evolution and The Unity in Creation.
Can we explain to our students the fundamentals of a science so that they will conclude that they learned something they would not have learned from a scientist who is not a Christian?
There are some disagreements among us. No doubt I was not clear enough on some matters in The Unity in Creation. Thus, I certainly agree with Cook's goals relative to his first and third points concerning that book. As for the second point, more needs to be said than space allows. I believe that investigation in the different aspects will continue indefinitely and that we should recognize the possibilities of natural boundaries, boundaries we would not be able to cross. But some lines we think are boundaries might not actually be boundaries. Even so, our experience teaches us that some lines look more and more like natural boundaries as time passes. It may be that the Bible teaches that certain natural boundaries exist.
Although Leegwater makes several points about The Unity in Creation, this is not the place for me to discuss that book. Instead, I shall summarize briefly what I think the Christian position ought to be. God presents Himself to us as a God of order. He also says that creation speaks to us of Him. We examine creation and find that it is orderly. The results of this examination, that is, the results of our scientific endeavor, should not surprise us, since God told us that what He does is orderly. We do not make God subject to the laws of logic; rather, He is faithful and seen to be a Creator Who is orderly, just as He said.
I strongly disagree with Leegwater if he means in his reference to the second law, etc., that our scientific results do not indicate creation to be ordered. It would be interesting if we could explore in more detail than permitted in these short essays the claims he makes concerning classical mechanics, thermodynamics, classical electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, special relativity, and general relativity. Leegwater's idea ". . . that physical entities are individuals of a certain kind," taken from Stafleu, whom he cites, also needs more examination than it has received or can receive here.
What direction might the discussion of unity in creation take at this point? Murphy makes a good case for two unities, and generally the participants seem to accept this idea. Is it not true, however, that our discussion on unity almost always centers on only one of those unities, on how the various aspects are united to each other? Perhaps we discuss too little what it means for unity to exist within an aspect. Thus, it is one thing to say that we are beginning to formulate a Christian position on the environmental problems of a certain region of our country and that such formulation is possible just because we can understand the interplay between the biological, chemical, sociological, economic, etc. events which occur in that region. There is a certain kind of unity in this interplay. It is quite another thing to say that we are beginning to formulate a Christian position on the fundamentals of (say) chemistry, fundamentals that include such things as the laws of thermodynamics and the De Broglie relation. Here the interplay of fundamentals constitutes a second kind of unity.
Are we doing enough work on this second kind of unity? For those of us who teach, can we explain to our students the fundamentals of a science so that the students will conclude that they learned something they would not have learned from a scientist who is not a Christian? Or is this unity of fundamentals neutral, having no particular relation to the Christian faith?