John Calvin on Science as God's Gift

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God works both inside and outside of the Church every single day in countless ways. As followers of Jesus here in our booming city of Seattle, it is imperative that we really understand this reality. Yes, Jesus is the head of the Church (Col. 1:18) and gave his life for the Church, but that doesn't mean for one moment that our neighbor's work at Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Costco, Microsoft, and so on doesn't matter in God's eyes. Far far from it! Here, in the Institutes, Calvin is calling the Church to celebrate and express deep gratitude for God's "common graces" all around us! 

 

"Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God's excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slightest esteem, we condemn and reproach of the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on the subject without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how preeminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God? Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws and all the useful arts. Those men whom Scripture (1 Cor. 2:15) calls “natural men“ or, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things. Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was the spoiled of it’s true good."

 

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.2.15.