Scientists study various parts of creation, but since our knowledge of creation by this 21st century is so vast, at least compared to what it once was, it has become convenient to split our study of it into disciplines. As convenient as these divisions are in taming the enormous amount of knowledge, scientia, we have about the universe, the splitting of creation into bits makes its beautiful integrity less obvious. In this writing, I hope to reclaim a sense of this most wondrous fabric of the universe by examining how the various parts relate to one another and in that relationship how creation reflects its Trinitarian Creator we call God.
Each specialty in science studies a slice of creation, and in each one, we see how the whole made from its parts is more than their simple sum, because of the relationship that exists among them! What is less obvious is that this pattern occurs in every other science and just like a nested Russian doll, one layer can fit inside the other. Unlike the nested Russian doll, however, the synergy of coming together produces something new: what is made from the union of the parts has different and more complex properties as well as a potential for providing the building blocks for the next level. Some people call the coming together of the parts holons, to emphasize that the whole is not equal to, but greater than the sum of its parts.
In the coming months, I would like to take you on a “guided tour” through various levels of our universe. Some of these will be familiar to you, depending on where you have spent your life looking at creation; others will be unfamiliar, even at first perhaps uncomfortable. Don’t stress…be curious about the unity and the relationships. Don’t get distracted by the plurality of dialects within the various subdisciplines used to describe this integrative process. It is all the same process of community reflecting the Trinity as it produces more than a simple addition of the original parts.
What are these various levels? How many are there? Today’s blog begins with a simple catalogue, not necessarily complete, of various types of scientists and what they study:
- Particle physicists study particles of the smallest types, like quarks, and how they combine to form the nuclei of atoms.
- Chemists study atoms and how they form smaller molecules by their interactions.
- Biochemists study larger biomolecules and chemical cycles that occur in organelles and cells.
- Histologists study how whole cells operate and how they come together to make tissues.
- Anatomists and physiologists study how tissues make up the organs which make up the systems in the body, and how they operate.
- Microbiologists study how the smallest living creatures live, move and are alive.
- Zoologists and botanists study not only organisms in their entirety, but collectives of organisms, like herds, as well.
- Ecologists study relationships within local ecosystems and regional biomes.
- Meteorologists study short-term weather patterns; oceanographers, the composition, life in and currents of the oceans; geologists, how rock emerges from the mantle, is transformed by weather and pressure, and then subtends back into the mantle. Each studies the Earth as a whole.
- Climate scientists study the rhythms of long-term weather patterns on Earth, and how these rhythms are affected by the rhythms of the solar system.
- Astronomers study the solar system itself and galaxies, even clusters of galaxies.
- Cosmologists study the universe: its beginning and how it has evolved and is evolving.
In the coming monthly installments of the blog, I propose a guided tour of what synergies and interactions a scientist might see within his/her specific discipline, but not necessarily in the above order. My hope is that we will all begin to see more clearly just how close God is to us, at every level of the universe, no matter where we are! We may even understand more deeply how where we are informs us about Whose we are, and how what we do in our own communities reflects God’s own Self too. All aboard!