By: Jim Virkler
Published on 1-8-2019
Successful human activities are said to be well-ordered and systematic. Our post title may imply there are systems which are not well-ordered. Generally, however, systems are ordered or else they do not qualify as systems. We must first introduce the concept of a system. Various definitions of a system may be found, including, “a set of entities that through their interactions, relationships, or dependencies, form a unified whole.” Another definition is similar: A system is “a group of interacting, interrelated, or inter-dependent elements forming a complex whole.” These cerebral definitions may be more difficult to analyze and understand than our intuitive grasp of the term system. Many different spheres can be cited to illustrate the essence of a system.
Even young children have ability to understand rudimentary behavioral systems in their lives. They must rise from bed when called or when the alarm clock rings. They must wash, brush, dress, restore their room to a semblance of order, and proceed to the breakfast table before hopping on the school bus. This exemplifies a simple behavioral pattern. Of course, there are dozens of other categories governing human behavior—systems of social relationships beyond family domestic networks, systems of government and politics ranging from local to national, systems of economics, and systems of infrastructure which preserve our ordered lives, to name a few.
Returning to our example of young children, early in their educational experience they study various subjects, including science. Our focus in this blog is the relationship of science and faith. I have asked my grandchildren several times, “What are you studying in science? Do you like science?” These are leading questions, of course. My own adult children answered the same questions before they entered college and even later!
Science is a study of the physical world, including the workings of its physical systems in various fields of study. Our universe may be described as a system of interacting systems. God is the Creator of the Universe and the Author of its thousands of physical systems. Each system, according to the definitions we offered in our opening paragraph, comprises a unified or complex whole. “Unity” and “complexity” are interesting concepts, especially when applied to the wonders of our physical world. Well-ordered, unified or complex systems are coherent manifestations of the characteristics of our Creator.
In our public, private, or home schools we take advantage of students’ intrinsic curiosity in science and other subjects. In the absence of natural curiosity, teachers are challenged to help create curiosity in their students. In churches we treasure lessons from teachers or pastors who present fascinating working physical systems as demonstrations of God’s work in the physical creation. We speak about the “Theology of Creation.” Our previous post with this title is instructive:
The Book of Job, recognized as the earliest divinely inspired literary work in scripture, is not only a commentary on how Job dealt with a horrific family tragedy, but is also a book of powerful statements about creation events and a record of God’s involvement in shaping the characteristics of our world and its living creatures. This book is a source of information on how the Creator ordered the working systems of our cosmos.
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.