Scientific Hypothesis & Christian Hope

Scientific Hypothesis & Christian Hope (written for myself mostly)…

Scientific hypothesis

There are several ways one can state a hypothesis, one that you can test and easily refute. Here is an example:

If plants are watered with a 10% detergent solution, their growth will be negatively affected. This hypothesis can also be stated in an "If, then" format. An alternate hypothesis might be: Plant growth will be unaffected by water with a 10% detergent solution.

Scientists are using scientific models/hypothesis (lots of maths) trying to predict for us the future course of the coronavirus outbreak.

Their hypothesis is in effect an educated guess about what will happen to us from observations of the growth of the coronavirus in Italy. Scientists think our country is about two weeks behind Italy. The results of the hypothesis/experiment/modelling will be known to us two weeks’ from now. We will know then if it “worked”.

The chief medical officer and the chief scientific officer have stood next to the Prime Minister and a sign which says “stay at home”.

In our present case the nation’s chief scientific officer’s hypothesis (or model) is:

“By all of us staying at home, the outbreaks of coronavirus in the UK, will be contained to such an extent that the NHS will cope…”

 

Christian hope

At a time when people may have trouble finding reasons to hope, Christians who trust in God’s love are encouraged by St Peter to "give to anyone who asks an account of the hope that is in [them]" (1 Peter 3:15). Our hope comes from faith, and we must root our lives in faith.

Even if by definition hope refers to the future, biblical hope is rooted in the present, in God’s eternal today. God who is present with us through our present crisis is our hope. God loves us, he can do nothing else, and God continues to seek us, even when we have strayed from him.

God calls us to live in relationship with him through a covenant. The Hebrew words are hesed and emeth (e.g. Exodus 34:6; Psalm 25:10; 40:10-11; 85:10) and they mean  "steadfast love" and "faithfulness." God who is overflowing goodness and kindness wants to take care of his people. God will never abandon those he has called to enter into fellowship with him.

Living in a covenantal relationship with God our thinking moves from the selfish “I” to the generous “we”. Just as God shows justice, peace, solidarity and compassion to us, so we love our neighbour in the same way.

Our covenantal relationship with God, as in a marriage, is “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health”. Loving God first leads us into the second greatest commandment. By doing “the right thing”, we live out neighbourly love, the common good.

In the bible, this hope is often expressed by the notion of promise. When God enters into contact with human beings, he offers us the promise of greater life. Life in its fulness. In the story of Abraham, God says to Abraham: "I will bless you, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).

A promise is a dynamic reality that opens new possibilities for human life. It looks toward the future, but it is rooted in a relationship with the God who speaks to each one of us in the here and now, who calls us to make specific choices in our life, particularly to our families and those we encounter. The seeds of the future are found in our present relationship with God.

This rootedness in the present is made even stronger with the coming of Christ Jesus. In him, says St Paul, all God’s promises are already a reality (2 Corinthians 1:20). Jesus the risen Christ is with us today. Christ is our eternal hope. "I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

A wonderful verse which lays this out is Romans 5.5: “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us".

Far from being a simple wish for the future with no guarantee that it will come about, Christian hope is the presence of divine love in person, the Holy Spirit.

God gifts us with the Holy Spirit when we die to self, confessing our utter need of Christ’s death on the cross for us, and live to serve our Lord. The Holy Spirit is the comforter; hope for our present age.

Impelled by the Spirit of Christ, believers live in deep solidarity with humanity cut off from its roots in God. Writing to the Christians of Rome, St Paul speaks of the longing of creation and compares this suffering to the pangs of childbirth. Then he continues, "We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly" (Romans 8:18-23).

Our faith is not a privilege that takes us out of the world; we "groan" with the world, especially now we see so much suffering and anxiety around us across the world, sharing its pain, but we live this situation in hope, knowing that, in Christ, "the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8).

And when we die, our hope does not disappoint us. In death all our hopes our fulfilled. “Then I’ll know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13.12).

 

Prayer… for when “the fever of life is over”

 

Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life,

until the shades lengthen and the evening comes

and the busy world is hushed,

the fever of life is over

and our work is done.

Then, Lord, in your mercy

grant us safe lodging, a holy rest

and peace at the last;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

attributed to Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

 

Grant, O God, that admidst all the discouragements, difficulties and dangers, distress and darkness of this mortal life, I may depend on thy mercy, and on this build my hopes, as on a sure foundation. Let thine infinite mercy in Christ Jesus deliver me from despair, both now and at the hour of death.

Thomas Wilson (1663-1755)

 

1/ All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
Only good and only true.
God unknown,

he alone
calls my heart to be His own.

 

2/ Pride of man and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust:
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power,

hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

 

3/ God’s great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendour, light and life attend Him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore

from His store
newborn worlds rise and adore.

 

4/ Daily doth th’Almighty giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow.
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand

at His hand;
joy doth wait on His command.

 

5/ Still from man to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ His Son.
Christ doth call

one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.

Robert Bridges 1844-1930

based on the German of Joachim Neander 1650-1680


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