“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19-20).
The notion that there exists a two-fold revelation about God’s actions and about God Himself – namely nature and the Scriptures – is as St. Paul revealed in his Letter to the Romans an ancient and biblical idea. We can study the natural world to learn about God, and in that sense scientists are every bit as much interpreters of God’s revelation as are theologians preachers. All are endeavoring to reveal the truth which God contains in His created universe and reveals through it.
When I read James Watson’s book, DNA: THE SECRET OF LIFE, I was struck by the fact that if DNA is anything like Watson and others think it is, then it too is a written record of what God has been doing in and through His chosen human creatures. It is another record of our past and of the mixing of genes that has occurred for as long as humans have been sexually reproducing. It is in that sense another scripture which has now been opened to our reading and understanding through the human genome project. Watson suggests in a chapter at the end of the book that genes in fact tell us who we are. But that is only true if all humans are is an accumulation of past sexual encounters in which genes were exchanged as each new human being was formed. If genes were the only record of our past, we could say, yes that is all we were and all we could ever be. But genes don’t tell the full history of humanity – of inventiveness, of love, of war, of encounters with the divine, of travels, of meaning, of adventures, of encounters with beauty, of successes and failures, of nations and societies, of justice, of artistic genius, of discoveries, of human aspiration and of sin. Genes cannot give a full answer to the question, what does it mean to be human?
The infinite universe of the cosmos and the infinitesimal universe of genes, protein, molecules and sub-atomic particles, both reveal something about our role and relationship to the universe, about us as beings capable of understanding the universe, and about the God who created the universe just so.