Gilkey, Langdon. The God of Nature.
Langdon Gilkeys paper considers
two questions: whether natures processes suggest the existence of a God, and
if so, what sort of God. However, he emphasizes that the traces of God that may
be found in nature are not the main source of religious belief; for Christians,
God is encountered primarily in history.
Science, including chaos
theory, provides a picture of reality that combines both order and novelty; the
ascending order can well be described as an order of increasing value.
Reflection on this scientific picture of reality, along with the wider data of
human experience (history) leads to ontology or metaphysics - the effort to
understand the structure of being qua
being. This level of reflection is crucial for both the scientist and the
theologian. For the scientist it provides the rational grounding for science
itself. Metaphysics is crucial for the theologian, since proofs of any sort
for the existence of God are always conditional upon a particular metaphysical
structuring of experience.
Consequently, the aspects of
nature suggested by the sciences must be represented in ontological categories.
Beyond and through the abstractions of the scientific understanding of nature,
natures reality has manifested itself as power,
as spontaneity or life, as order,
and as implying a redemptive principle,
a strange dialectic of sacrifice, purgation, redemption, and rebirth. In nature
each of these appear as vulnerable and ambiguous as well as creative. Each of
these characteristics, therefore, raises a limit question, and thus represents
a trace of God. For example, what is the deeper, more permanent power that
makes possible the transitory appearance of power in nature? God is the name
for that ever-continuing source of power. To know God truly is to know Gods
presence in the power, life, order, and redemptive unity of nature; to know
nature truly is to know its mystery, depth, and ultimate value - to know it as an
image of the sacred.
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