What if the natural laws of science are not unchangeable?

One of the hallmarks of modern science is the assumption that the ways things work today is the way they have always worked.

In other words, E have always equaled mc2  even if we didn’t know until the last hundred years. Light, of course, has always traveled at 299,792,458 meters per second… and so and so on.

Yet, what if this is a false view of the world?

What if the natural laws of science are not unchangeable? What if the things that work today didn’t always work that way? And what if they were destine to change at some point the future? What if, and here’s the linchpin, the Bible gives us positive answers to these questions?

Now, do I have your attention? =P

Here’s the deal, I was reading a post by Skye Jethani today on this topic when something just clicked inside me. It made sense that perhaps, just perhaps, the natural laws of science were changed long ago and will one day be changed again…

Think about it this way: A crucial part of the Christian faith is an understanding that the world in which we live is not the same one created and called “good” by God the Father. Instead, while He created the heavens and the earth on which we live, the world has become damaged goods through the rebellion of humanity and our desire to run things our way.

Furthermore, Christianity also states that at some point in the future the world in which we live will be changed. The Age to Come will descent upon history and the world will be renewed with all sin, death, and evil purged from our lives and the elements that surround us. The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was a forbearer to this whole scale renewal of all of creation even as our changed lives today hint at the coming Age.

Here’s how Skye describes the concept:

“The Apostle Paul tells us that when Jesus rose from the grave his body was transformed, and that this transformation represents the change that awaits all who will be resurrected (1 Cor 15:42-49). This transformed body of Jesus is clearly evident in the Gospel accounts. While Jesus was still recognized as himself (he still ate breakfast and retained the wounds of his crucifixion), he could now appear and disappear, move through walls, and ascend into the air. It was Jesus’ body that was raised, but this same body was utterly changed into something different than it was. Notice, however, that Scripture does not say Jesus received a new body, because a new body could not rightly be called a resurrection but rather a reincarnation. Orthodox Christian belief based upon the Gospels affirms that it was his same body, raised and transformed. It was truly resurrection.

“Why is this important? It’s important because in Christ’s resurrection we are offered a glimpse of the re-creation that awaits all things. Paul says that we who belong to Christ will also experience a transforming resurrection like his (1 Cor 15), and that all of creation is anxiously awaiting our resurrection because then “the creation itself also will will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Scripture teaches that a day will come when the cosmos itself will be utterly transformed in a manner similar to the transformation witnessed in Jesus’ resurrection. This liberated cosmos will no longer be corrupted by death or decay. The curse of sin will be no more. An argument can be made that the very physical principles of the universe we now grasp through science will be replaced with a new set of governing laws, just as Jesus’ resurrected body seemed governed by laws unfamiliar to our common experience.

“This cosmic transformation is what both Peter and John refer to when they speak of a “new heaven and new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). The Greek word “new” in these text is not neo, which means “new in substance,” but rather the word kainon, meaning “new in quality.” A misreading of these two texts has led many Christians to the false belief that God will throw away this cosmos and start over with a new one. That is not the case. Our God does not make mistakes, nor does he replace. Our God restores. John and Peter use the word kainon because they are speaking of a transformation of the cosmos so radical that it will seem like a new world–just as Jesus resurrected body behaved so differently it might be mistaken for a replacement body, when in fact it was his same body transformed.

“The best analogy I can think of for what Scripture says about the future is carbon. (Keep in mind this is just a metaphor, and like all metaphors it fails when stretched too far.) Carbon is a polymorphic element meaning it exists naturally as two very different substances: graphite and diamond. Both are chemically identical; they are both pure carbon. But diamonds and graphite share nothing in common in appearance or behavior due to their structural differences. In graphite the carbon atoms form sheets of bonds resulting in a substance that is opaque, brittle, and weak. Diamonds, however, are comprised of carbon atoms in a tetrahedral structure creating a crystal that is translucent and harder than any substance on earth.

“Like carbon could our universe by polymorphic? In the age to come, might this same universe with the same substance be structurally transformed in a manner that utterly changes its qualities down to its governing laws of physics? If so, then the science of this age will cease and a new science will be required to understand the remade creation that was inaugurated with Jesus’ resurrection. The idea intrigues me and seems consistent with what we know from Christ’s resurrection.”

Wow! Talk about a paradigm shift!

If the world in which we live is going to change when Jesus comes again, and if the world has already changed (i.e. when Adam and Eve left the Garden), then the science itself is extremely limited in what it can actually tell us. In returning to Skye’s article:

“Just as science cannot possibly explain the qualities and laws of the new heaven and new earth, neither can it peer back before the Fall to the universe that existed at the beginning of time. And while scientific discoveries have provided hints at the origins of the cosmos, and even the origins of our species, how are we to know how these clues reconcile with an earlier permutation of the cosmos that we have no ability to access? Our greatest scientific minds use complex mathematics to prove theories about time, space, gravity, and even String Theory. But if mathematics itself is subject to change, then what? In other words, we have no way of knowing what we do not know.”

Interesting concepts to ponder… very, very interesting indeed… 😕

3 thoughts on “What if the natural laws of science are not unchangeable?”

  1. Thanks for the heads up on that article by Skye Jethani! I am going over to read it.

    I remember many years ago I wondered what it would be like to float into the massive white fluffy cloud of eternity. I assumed that I would only be a spirit and I would exist in some form of ecstatic melded communion with the stuff of God.

    Then God started showing me through the Bible that the eternity we will live in is real and physical in some way!

    I have often pondered what exactly is meant by “new heavens and new earth.” Does that mean that it all goes away and is replaced by something entirely different?

    Skye shows himself to be a kindred heart when he explores the idea that the “new heavens and earth” very well may be this same heavens and earth “made new” again. Re-perfected.

    🙂

    1. Thanks Jon for the kind comments. =)

      Interestingly enough I was chatting with some friends last night about the new heavens and earth. Specifically we were studying Isaiah 60 and noticed that the language is similar to that of Revelation 21. Both also have the same basic understanding of the future, namely that God comes down from ‘heaven’ (wherever that is) and dwells among His people here on earth. Awesome stuff. 🙂

      By the way, have you read “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright? If not, I would definitely recommend it as Wright explores the some of the same questions are you asking about the new heaven and earth. My review of the book can be found here with more details as to what the book is about.

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