Sunday, 25 January 2009

Epiphany : a glimpse of the workings

Sarah suggests a Christmas message should be followed by a thought for Epiphany. Fair cop.

I suppose 'Epiphany' implies 'revelation'. This links with a question posed by Margaret Yee here in Oxford in a series of lectures on Austin Farrer : does theology have anything of value to add to the sum of our (scientific) knowledge? I think many of those who say they 'believe in God' are 'deists' at root : God was around in the beginning, set the created universe going like a gigantic mechanism, and then left us to it, having no more to do with it.

With all the celebration of Darwin that we'll get this year we'll hear plenty of that.

'Epiphany' suggests to me that every little new understanding - even small incremental scientific insights wrung out of vast number-crunching exercises and mind-numbingly tedious data collection (such as Darwin had to engage in before he could see an evolutionary pattern) are, as I found myself proclaiming in an Epiphany address :

"a result of "Aha!" moments — "Eureka!" moments, as God couldn't resist the urge to interfere in our world and give the poor scientist a hint. Rip a little hole in our universe to let the scientist get a deeper glimpse of the workings."

Perhaps 'Epiphany' suggests a subtler and more intuitive understanding of the true process by which truth (including scientific truth) is arrived at. But I don't think that means you can expect to bypass the hard work.