God and Nature
Prophet: A person who believes he has spoken with God and as a result becomes, and often, as it seems, God’s voice itself among men.
Scientist: A person who sets out to gain a greater understanding of Nature and becomes thereby a voice, if not the voice, of Nature among men.
Men once looked upon nature as something to be looked through or just overlooked while they directed their looks to something else, usually to things of the spirit, and, if they were religious, to God. The men who led and held sway for thousands of years were the so-called prophets, —Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad and countless others.
But now things are different. Men look with their eyes wide open to nature, don’t try to go beyond it, look to understand nature, as well as their own place in nature. The men who do the most looking are scientists, don’t think of themselves as prophets, don’t pretend to know the answers to the ultimate questions.
They are rather like the natural philosophers of old, recalling their roots in ancient Greece. Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Hubble, and countless others, are scientists.
One might say that the prophets are of the past, the scientists of the present and future. In the ancient world prophets held sway. In our world, the scientists do.
And there is a conflict arising from these two ways of seeing. In spite of Bin Laden of the camp of the prophets having been crushed by Obama of the camp of the scientists, the struggle between the two camps continues.
In fact there’s a civil war raging right now between those who fashion their lives from a careful reading of the prophets and those who fashion their lives from what they’ve learned about nature and human nature from the scientists.
The prophets, the few that may remain, go on speaking of their first hand encounters with God but few are paying attention and listening.
On the other hand the scientists, now numbering in the millions, continue to write up their own first hand encounters with nature and hundreds of millions of us are paying attention and listening. And our lives are enriched thereby, as much or more so than at an earlier time when the lives of our forebears were similarly enriched by the words of the prophets.