Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Soul of the Artist


I have a friend who is quite an accomplished artist.  In fact, one of his paintings (shown above) hangs in the main gallery of the Oklahoma Capitol Building.  He has told me that when you look at a piece of art, you see the soul of the artist.  When I look at a piece of art I often just see the superficial subject and colors.  But an art aficionado would truly see the soul of the artist in things like the intricate technique used to paint the picture, or the subtle use of light and shadow, or the way the artist has created a scene that draws your eyes from one place to another.

As a scientist, I have the privilege of looking at God's work of art, his creative work called the universe, and seeing his soul.  Like the art expert, I may be able to see things in the creation that give me insight into the Artist's soul in a way that the casual observer might not notice.

One aspect of nature that I find fascinating, and that gives insight into God's character is the science of Quantum Mechanics, which describes the universe at about the size of an atom or smaller.  I wrote a short devotional that was originally published in A Faith and Culture Devotional by Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arringtion, entitled "The Strange Small World of Quantum Mechanics" and later republished at Chuck Colson's web site Breakpoint.  I'll let you click on the link above to read the short article, but it's essence is that Quantum Mechanics accurately describes the subatomic world, but is nothing like the macroscopic world that we experience everyday.  Moreover, the strange properties of Quantum Mechanics are actually necessary for a universe like ours that is hospitable for life to exist.

The take-away lesson from this is that God's ways and designs are not the same as ours.  There are so many applications of this simple lesson that I would like to explore in future posts, but they all have a common theme.  The theme is that if you expect God to do things the way you would do them, (1) you will probably be disappointed, (2) you do not understand God.  I find that both Christians and non-believers make this mistake of misunderstanding and underestimating God because they expect his ways to look just like our ways.  This can lead to disappointment with God, distrust of God, or desertion from God.  But I have found that when you look closely at the Artist's soul it tends to lead to a deeper dependence on God.  When you look at the universe created by God do you see it only superficially as a nice picture, or are you looking for more insight to truly see the soul of the Artist?


5 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new blog

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  2. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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  3. So far, I've shared two of your posts on Facebook. Gotta love a particle physicist who can explain things so that even the layman can understand.

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    1. Thanks Jackie. One of my goals is to write about complex subjects in a way that is understandable even to those who would consider themselves not "techies". I'm glad you're following the posts and sharing them with others.

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  4. "The take-away lesson from this is that God's ways and designs are not the same as ours."

    This is a fact statement. How do you know, matter-of-factly, that his ways and designs are not the same as ours?

    "The theme is that if you expect God to do things the way you would do them, (1) you will probably be disappointed, (2) you do not understand God"

    This presumes that you understand God correctly. Jerry Coyne calls this the Sophisticated Theologian™.

    I believe that if you claim to understand God, and another theologian claims to understand God, that both of you would be in perfect harmony. Even a slight variation would mean that one of you was correct and the other was incorrect in some way. How do you know who has the proper understanding?

    For instance, I look closely at Nature and see how it is truly indifferent. It does not appear designed for us (as I address in questions in another post). It appears that you are looking through the rose-colored glasses and apply your conclusions (God is the designer) to the outcome. If you were to follow the evidence where it leads then there should be many more questions you can ask based on the observations in the natural world.

    "I find that both Christians and non-believers make this mistake of misunderstanding and underestimating God because they expect his ways to look just like our ways."

    This feels a bit like the no true scotsman fallacy, where your view is correct and others simply haven't interpreted it correctly. If they only understood like you did, then they would see correctly. Again, what special knowledge do you have that makes it so you do not "misunderstand God"?

    "Like the art expert, I may be able to see things in the creation that give me insight into the Artist's soul in a way that the casual observer might not notice."

    There is hubris in abundance here. Do you believe you have the One True Way™ to interpret God? What makes you more qualified than other scientists who share your knowledge and credentials but do not agree with your outcomes?

    Ultimately: Where is the Subject who can clarify the discrepancies?

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