There are, among the new Millennial’s, liberal Christians, and spiritual but unaffiliated, trends that seek to find God in nature, that the outdoors, that nature is their church. They mingle faith with environmentalism, and salvation with conservation in ways that are simply incorrect. They confuse one very important precept…
God reveals himself through creation, but he is not revealed as his creation.
To claim that God can be known in his creation is akin to saying the artist exists, at least in part in his artwork. Now while it is true the artist places a great deal of his emotion and passion and creative energy into his creation, it is only waxing poetic to claim you can ever know the artist in his creation.
We only glimpse aspects of Gods creative power and see hints of his design work, but nothing in nature reveals God. God is revealed in only two ways, through the knowledge of Jesus Christ and through the word of God in the Bible.
Let me put it this way… Entomologists can identify the spider by looking only at the web, and once the spider is identified they can then detail the behavior of the spider. But only because they first know the spider through direct observation. A spider that is unknown will leave a web that reveals very little of the Spider, until we know the spider directly. So it is with God. We can look at Creation and detail who God is, but only because we first knew God through the Bible and to Christians, through Jesus Christ. To cultures without this prior knowledge nature only reveals mysteries or in the case of atheism, it reveals only abstract clues. Therefore to know God nature is an imperfect, flawed teacher. This is not to say God created something that was imperfect but rather nature, like Man was subject to the fall and is thus in a state needing redemption. To look at nature and claim to know God is like looking at a sinner and claiming to know Gods grace.
In truth, to those who make such claims they are looking for easy answers. They do not want to meet god in a church or through the Bible because they do not really wish to be confronted with Gods glory at all. Nature, even the wildest parts of it is tame and welcoming by comparison. God does not exist within a lightening bolt, nor does he hurl them willy-nilly down upon mortals so the lightening bolt tells us very little of God. God is the vast, bubbling cauldron from which all the energy of the cosmos emerges, creating stars by the billions, condensing them into stardust, forging them down from giant solar giants ever smaller, tighter until at last the bolt of lightening is thrust from the clouds. There is a certain pagan quality to this, a sort of animistic ideal but make no mistake, God is not abstract, he is intelligent.