Monday, 21 December 2015

Uncertainty and Faith - A Christmas thought

These are the notes I used to give the talk at our churches Carols Service last night (20th Dec), Not used word for word, I thought it was worth sharing.

Werner Heisenberg, who is considered by many to be the father of quantum physics, concluded with his principle that there was an uncertainty in the precise values of certain properties of atoms – one of the building blocks of all things.

The Guardian newspaper described it like this:

"It tells us that there is a fuzziness in nature, a fundamental limit to what we can know about the behaviour of quantum particles and, therefore, the smallest scales of nature. Of these scales, the most we can hope for is to calculate probabilities for where things are and how they will behave. Unlike Isaac Newton's clockwork universe, where everything follows clear-cut laws on how to move and prediction is easy if you know the starting conditions, the uncertainty principle enshrines a level of fuzziness into quantum theory."

Tonight we have been celebrating an event which for many is fuzzy, unclear, hard to believe. Angels appearing to people, telling them of the coming to be of things spoken of hundreds of years before, things that many had long forgotten or laid aside as simply dreams or wishful thinking. A king is born.

Consider how Mary must have felt visited by an Angel – Pregnant, without being married! Something which in those days meant that she could be stoned to death – her uncertainties had to be laid at God's feet. How would Joseph react, what about her parents and more importantly how would the village react – who was going to believe her story?

Consider how Joseph must have felt when Mary told him. How can I believe her? What has she done and if he was like any other men who is the father? Uncertainty all the way.

Fortunately God intervened, Joseph also had an angelic visit and was told of the King that Mary carried, and instead of disowning Mary, married her, owned the baby and their uncertainties vanished like mist in the morning.

For all of us, life has uncertainties, I am sure each of us can think of a few. How about what we believe? I am a scientist, an Engineer by training and profession (a degree in applied sciences – engineering) and am a Chartered Engineer. Science and reason were my certainties although I quickly found as I studied that much of science is based on assumptions. There is a fuzziness to it. But I also believe that the Christmas story is true, a fact. God came to us to complete us, to help us live as God would have us live, to enable us to know him and his love for us, to grow better at forgiving and loving each other.

There is a fuzziness to faith since we cannot prove it but have to take a step into the unknown, a step into the uncertainty that often surrounds us as we explore faith. I took that step well over 20 years ago, accepting Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Have you taken it yet? If you have then I hope like me that in spite of the fuzziness that is inevitable with faith that it enriches your lives as it has mine, I hope that it has helped you to be the person God wants you to be and I hope that it has given you a desire to share the Good News of Jesus with everyone.

If you have yet to make that faith step or are wondering what it means to be a follower of Jesus – a Christian – wondering if its about going to church or trying to pray or maybe being a good person or whatever – then let me encourage you to take the step of inviting the grown up Jesus, the saviour that the baby in the manger is, be the centre of your life today, if you need some help figuring that out – fill in one of our Alpha cards or contact me   (if you live near Harlow, if not find an Alpha or explorer course near you). We start that exploration into the fuzziness of faith on Tues evenings in January

In 1973, Werner Heisenberg who was a Christian, gave a speech before accepting the Romano Guardini Prize for his paper "Scientific and Religious Truth." He spoke of the relationship of the two truths.
A famous quote of his : "The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.

Are you ready to explore the glass? The King of Kings is waiting for you there.

Have a Happy Christmas.