Christ-centered Excellence | Highlighting the Truth

February 20, 2023

Sleight of hand magic fascinates me. These magicians excel at the art of distraction from a clear, and often simple, truth. They employ elaborate displays of showmanship and misdirection to keep us from seeing what’s right under our noses. When the trick is revealed, we’re left wondering how we missed something so obvious!

Teaching in the sciences at Houghton University reminds me a lot of this kind of magic. It makes my job both easy and difficult. It’s easy because the truth of the “trick” is simple and obvious: Christ is at the center. It’s difficult because so many forces attempt to hide the truth and lead us astray.

Fortunately, no amount of enticement can change the truth. Christ has always been at the center. Everything we study shouts his name (Psalm 19:1-2). God has deliberately made himself clear in creation so that we are without excuse (Romans 1:20). What we study in the sciences reveals God, but it goes even deeper than that. Science itself presupposes God—that is to say, if God did not exist, neither would the sciences. For science to be possible, we need three things: a world for science to act on, minds to examine the world and lawful regularities for minds to describe the world. God clearly shows in Scripture that he created the world (Genesis 1:1, Colossians 1:16-17), made humans with rational minds to examine the world (Genesis 1:26), and upholds the world by his laws so that we may understand and describe it (Genesis 8:22).

Yet, this clear and beautiful arrangement is twisted by a secular culture and our sinful hearts. The culture tries to mar, distort or otherwise hide the image of God in His creation by tempting us with substitutes. This cultural allure is frequently successful because we’re so easily led astray. Our hearts are naturally bent towards rebellion, refusing to see God’s clear presence (Romans 1:18, 21). Instead, we pursue hollow and unfulfilling idols (Jeremiah 2:13) that usurp Christ’s central position (Colossians 3:5-7).

For example, many things in the sciences are aesthetically pleasing, even beautiful, but instead of acknowledging the Artist and glorifying the Creator, we can settle for merely natural explanations. We resort to “survival adaptation” or “sexual selection” in an attempt to explain the beautiful, repeated fractal patterns in ferns and cauliflower or the exquisite symmetries of the Fibonacci sequence in shells, galaxies and birds’ head shapes.

But thanks be to God! Even the boldest attempts to veil God’s glory in Creation will ultimately fall short. The Holy Spirit convicts us and draws us towards him, revealing the truth about God that’s always been there (John 16:7-11). And once you see Him, you wonder how you ever missed Him. Any education that fails to affirm this centrality of Christ is a deficient, second-rate education; to strive for excellence is to put Christ at the center. It’s like trying to fully appreciate a rainbow using only black and white. So, the beauty, delight and privilege of my job is to highlight the truth that we already know in our hearts: Christ is at the center as Lord.

Dr. Ransom Poythress, Associate Professor of Biology, has primary research interests in the area of smooth muscle physiology and additional research interests in the philosophy of science and Biblical apologetics. He oversees research in the Shannon Summer Research Institute, lectures in Science Honors and recently published the book Has Science Made God Unnecessary?