A Poetic Response to the Science vs. Faith Debate

salt-mine-nuclear-waste-asse-germany-salt-mine_23157_600x450Often, artistic expression has a way of driving to the point better than logical and deductive reasoning can.  After we have become tired with all the arguments, discussions, and reasoning, a poem has the ability to blow open the truth of the matter.  Some of us are still hanging out in the foamy eddies, bobbing to the ripples of the Creation Debate of last week and pondering the interaction of science and faith.  Follow the journey of this poem to its end, and see if it doesn’t express the truth of the Christian experience:

Surely there is a mine for silver,
And a place for gold that they refine.
Iron is taken out of the earth,
And copper is smelted from the ore.

Man puts an end to darkness
And searches out to the farthest limit
The ore in gloom and deep darkness.
He opens shafts in a valley away from where anyone lives;
They are forgotten by travelers;
They hang in the air, far away from mankind;
They swing to and fro.

As for the earth, out of it comes bread,
But underneath it is turned up as by fire.
Its stones are the place of sapphires,
And it has dust of gold.

That path no bird of prey knows,
and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.
The proud beasts have not trodden it;
the lion has not passed over it.

Man puts his hand to the flinty rock
And overturns mountains by the roots.
He cuts out channels in the rocks,
And his eye sees every precious thing.
He dams up the streams so that they do not trickle,
And the thing that is hidden he brings out to light.

“But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?”

Man does not know its worth,
And it is not found in the land of the living.
The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

It cannot be bought for gold,
And silver cannot be weighed as its price.
It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
In precious onyx or sapphire.
Gold and glass cannot equal it,
Nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
The price of wisdom is above pearls.
The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
Nor can it be valued in pure gold.

“From where, then, does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?”

It is hidden from the eyes of all living
and concealed from the birds of the air.
Abaddon and Death say,
‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.
For he looks to the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
When he gave to the wind its weight
and apportioned the waters by measure,
when he made a decree for the rain
and a way for the lightning of the thunder,
then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out.

And he said to man,
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.”

The poem describes the drive of men to discovery the most precious resources of the earth.  They search into the deepest caverns, overturn every mountain, dig into the depths of the earth seeking out the most valuable things this world can offer up.  However, in the thirst for discovery, there is one thing we will never be able to dig up whether figuratively or literally.  No science lab, no mining cave, no philosopher with chalk in hand, no scientist with microscopes will ever be able to discover the most valuable of all resources: wisdom.

Where has it been hidden?  Where can it be uncovered?  Man can search out the very depths of the ocean, explore the heights of Everest, and still he will be puzzled.  Where is it kept?  Where has it been hidden?  Perhaps if he looks deeper into the map of the human genome or pushes further in his discoveries of the universe, then he shall find it?

The author realizes that God himself knows where wisdom is kept.  The startling reality is that wisdom is not like the commodities of earth.  It cannot be excavated, discovered or obtained.  No, wisdom is found in a relationship.  Wisdom, the thing we search for above every other precious thing, is found in a relationship with God–where we fear the Lord, and we repent of sin.

By the way, that poem is actually quite old.  I lifted it from Job 28!

(photo credit)

Published by Chad C. Ashby

Instructor of Literature, Math, and Theology at Greenville Classical Academy Greenville, SC

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