Worshipping God with science

The writers of the Psalms wrote about stars using the most up to date science of their day. Cutting edge astronomers in Israel in the first millennium BC knew that the stars were created (nothing was known yet about how that might have happened), they had their places, and they (on the whole) kept to those places and danced their set dances every year.

He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.

Psalm 147: 4-5

There is a wealth of hymns and songs that echo this theme but while science has moved on, the language in the songs hasn’t. I’m not suggesting that we do away with the old hymns, or that we use lyrics that might be divisive in a church context, or even that we tie ourselves in knots with technical jargon (I don’t think I could sing about DNA transcription with a straight face!) But what would it look like if we praised God in song for some of the things we have discovered in the last couple of centuries?

Here is an example of a hymn that uses up to date scientific knowledge, written in 1967 when the space race was at its peak.

God, who stretched the spangled heavens,
infinite in time and place,
flung the suns in burning radiance
through the silent fields of space…

We have ventured worlds undreamed of
since the childhood of our race,
known the ecstasy of winging
through untraveled realms of space…

Catherine Arnott Cameron

What would it look like if more writers of worship songs and hymns started to include references to slightly more contemporary science?

6 thoughts on “Worshipping God with science

  1. Helen June 16, 2011 / 12:53 pm

    Oh please write a worship song with a reference to DNA transcription – it would entertain me immensely! Reckon I’d also struggle with the straight face, but I’d enjoy trying.


  2. Ed June 17, 2011 / 1:20 pm

    Just doing science is an act of worship of the Creator – in my tradition referred to as the “intelligible light”. Of course provided one is not a scientist looking for meaning and order while affirming at the same time that it’s all just an unlikely, inconsequential and random co-incidence, and he/she has really no free will and is nothing more than a random mutation of selfish replicators… oops I am getting carried away here…


  3. Gavin June 23, 2011 / 10:53 am

    Chris Tomlin – God of Wonders is a modern example I guess? Not much science directly but the concept of a galaxy is relatively new (last 100 years). Enough so that a few years back a (non-scientist) friend I was speaking to about the song was refusing to sing it as he didn’t want to praise things ‘beyond’ God’s realm of influence. He was understanding the galaxy as the entire universe and hadn’t realised our galaxy is only one galaxy amongst billions in the grand scheme of the universe.


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