Is Faith a Law of the Universe?
by Cherri-Ann Farquharson
In science and in nature, a law may be thought of as a descriptive generalization about how some aspect of the natural world behaves as deduced from observations. If a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present, it may then be classified as a law. Laws, therefore, reflect our understanding of the relationships which govern our reality. They are discovered rather than invented as we gain a better understanding of our reality.
The laws of physics
Paul Priest describes the discovery of the laws of physics in a piece in Adventist Today:
Kepler was the first scientist to formulate laws describing the motion of the planets. Kepler’s laws were replaced by Newton’s laws. Newton’s laws in turn shaped Einstein’s theories. This does not mean that Kepler’s or Newton’s laws were wrong. Kepler’s laws still describe the motion of the planets. We still use Newton’s physics to calculate the launch of a rocket. Neither Kepler’s nor Newton’s laws were wrong in an absolute sense. Newton’s law of gravity contains Kepler’s laws as a special case. In science the new law that replaces the old often contains some truth of the old law. Think of Kepler’s law as a first approximation, and Newton’s laws as a second approximation, and Einstein’s theory of gravitation as a third, in the same way that a flat earth is a first approximation, a spherical earth a second and an oblate spheroid earth a third.”
Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hypothesizes that mathematics, the language used by physicists to express the natural laws, does not just describe the universe; it is the universe. We are part of a mathematical structure. This mathematical structure is wonderfully more complicated than a hexagon, a multiplication table or even the multidimensional symmetries that describe modern particle physics. Dr. Tegmark says that “Everything in our world is purely mathematical – including you.”—which explains why mathematics so ably describes the cosmos.
In his famous book A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking asks a question that this purely mathematical description of our world fails to answer, that is: “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?”
The law of attraction
In an essay entitled “A Skeptic’s Take on the Law of Attraction,” author Lance Baker describes how positive or negative thoughts have a direct impact on our reality. While he admits that the law of attraction is kind of weird and can get your “woo meter into the red zone,” he very much believes that positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes, negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes, and sometimes you don’t quite know how you got there.
A simple example is trying to avoid sugar by repeating the mantra, “Don’t eat sugar, Don’t eat sugar,” at regular intervals throughout the day. In so doing, you spend your entire day thinking about sugar, thereby reinforcing the power that sugar has on your mind and body. You end up seeing sugary foods everywhere you go!
Baker’s alternative mantra is, “I make healthy choices and my body feels strong and vibrant.” With this as your guiding thought, you train your conscious and subconscious mind, says Baker. It positions you to create the life you want rather than simply reacting to life.
Persons who practice this law clearly and continuously state, visualize, and otherwise keep in the front of their minds what they want. They express their desires as though their goal is something they already have, as seen in Baker’s example. By being mindful of this law in your daily life, you reinforce in your conscious and subconscious mind the things that you want for your life.
I believe the law of attraction harmonizes beautifully with what we Christians think of as faith.
Faith and prayer
In describing how our prayer life ought to be, 1 John 5:14 calls us to be bold when we come into God’s presence. Ask freely according to His will, says John, and be confident that He is listening. John caps it off with this courageous statement:
And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (vs 15).
It almost sounds that if we are confident that He is listening, and that our request is according to His will, then we know that what we have asked for is as good as ours.
But wait: this is not to say that God wants us to have a vending machine type of relationship with Him where we come only when we need something, and we automatically get what we ask for. What the Bible continuously posits, and the life of Christ displays, is that God wants a relationship with us. A relationship where God places His laws into our heart and our minds as described in Hebrews chapter 10. A relationship where we can come into alignment with God’s will for us, thereby fueling our confidence in approaching Him. Because Christ has sacrificed on our behalf, because God desires to have a covenant relationship with us, we can approach God confidently. The Message Bible expresses it this way,
So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps His word (Hebrews 10:22-23).
In a biblical prayer meditation on her YouTube channel, Pastor Taneshia Kerr interprets the familiar Psalm 1 not as advice, but as a promise. Instead of following wicked friends, traveling the road of sinners, and sitting around with the disrespectful, the Psalmist notes that blessed people love the Lord’s instructions and rehearse them. You will recognize Baker’s notion of affirming that what we want we already have in verse 3:
I am a tree planted by a flowing stream that never runs dry. My fruit ripens in its time. My leaves never fade. No matter what I do, I succeed.
Pastor Kerr’s meditation takes us through a series of prayerful reflections on these words. This passage promises that we are connected to all the resources we need, and whatever we do shall prosper. We affirm our desire for spiritual success by confidently repeating this promise.
The Bible has many promises stated in this affirmative, I-already-have-it way. We keep God’s will for our lives front of mind by affirming these promises, thereby manifesting our best selves. How would your prayer life change if you were to claim His promises—not in theory but boldly and confidently?
A law of faith?
Hebrews 11 is well-known for its reminder that faith gives substance to or makes real the things that we hope for. Faith provides evidence or makes tangible the things we cannot yet see. The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Again, like Psalm 1:3, the author of Hebrews insists that what we focus on becomes our reality.
However this holds true whether the things we hope for are good or not. If we focus on the bad, the challenges, the things that could go wrong, the sugar we do not wish to eat, that is where we are placing our faith and that is what will manifest in our lives. If it is indeed true that where you consistently focus reflects what you have faith in, then the law of attraction may be described as an approximation of faith.
What would you manifest in your life if you truly breathed faith into your prayers?
There are people who are not a part of a faith community such as ours, but who are making use of this law and manifesting the life of their dreams.
Sadly, many of us believers scapegoat God in our prayers: rather than exercising our faith, we are timid and uncertain. So when we do not get our desires, we proclaim that it wasn’t God’s will anyway.
I am not saying that everything we want we will get—nor that everything we want we should get. The process of aligning our purpose in life to God’s will takes time, deliberate effort, and practice. What I have experienced is that when I have a desire that is not in alignment with God’s will, I know it. It feels different. I feel like I am pushing against the grain. But as I build a relationship with Him, more and more He guides me.
In light of such revelations on faith and promises in God’s Word, it shouldn’t surprise us that when the disciples asked Jesus why their prayer wasn’t answered, Jesus replies,
“Because you don’t seriously believe God…The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle” (Matthew 17:20).
Have you heard this saying? “Don’t tell God how big your problems are. Tell your problems how big your God is.” Do we really believe and live like we know how big our God is? Let me suggest, based on this, these principles:
- Allow your faith to make real the things that you hope for. Through faith allow your senses to see, taste, touch, hear, and feel the things that you desire. Claim His promises and declare them as though they are already yours. You may choose to keep a prayer journal, repeat affirmations from the Bible, create a vision board, or practice visualizations.
- Acknowledge the might and graciousness and love and care of the One you’re praying to. When praying, don’t focus on the problems and the yearnings. Focus on the end product, on the utterly extravagant things God may do because we have faith. In your heart and in your prayers, begin to praise Him in advance for what He will do, and is doing. Visualize and live it like it already exists!
- Think about your prayer requests. Rather than focusing on the current situation, look at the fulfilment of your request through the lens of faith. Think about what it will feel like when that request is answered. What do your surroundings look like when that request is fulfilled? Is it cool, warm, are you out in nature or in the comfort of your home? What are you wearing? What do you smell? What do you hear? Whom will you share it with? How will they react in being happy for you? Make the facial expression you will have as you praise God for what He has done.
Like Baker says, thinking this way may raise your “woo meter into the red zone.” But it appears to me that it is both biblical and a law of the universe: what we have faith in (a particular natural or scientific phenomenon) is more likely to become our reality (occur if certain conditions are present). So faith may, if we are in God’s will, be classified as a law of the universe, just like the laws of motion that guide our interactions with objects in the universe.
To answer Stephen Hawking’s question: I believe that it is the God of faith who breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for those equations to describe.
Cherri-Ann Farquharson is a fourth generation Adventist who grew up in Montego-Bay, Jamaica. She has graduate and undergraduate degrees in physics from The University of the West Indies. She serves the Caribbean Community as a sustainable energy practitioner and is passionate about inspiring the next generation.