When I was a child, we were taught in science class that the atom was the smallest particle of matter that exists in the universe. Likewise we were taught the biggest thing that exists, the infinite thing, was the universe. The universe, we were told, was infinite and comprised all that is. Space had no end and yet it was literally nothing. Space was a void.
But today on shows like Nova’s Fabric of the Universe and Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole I am learning that the leading cosmologists on the planet are challenging what was assumed to be true in the past. We all know by now that atoms aren’t the smallest particles in the universe. And physicist Brian Greene, in the Nova show explains that our universe might be one of multiple universes. Space is likely not a void and is probably filled with dark matter. And physicists like Alexander Kashlinsky, in Morgan Freeman’s show, suggest that the universe indeed might have an edge – an end (due to the fact that observable objects appear to be moving in a pattern that support this theory versus simply moving out as if there are in an endless void). What might be beyond our universe? Other universes (which may operate on completely different principles from our own).
And while considering what the physicists are telling us, we now have a vehicle on Mars, the size of an SUV, exploring the planet remotely.
I raise all this just as examples of how our knowledge of where we are, of God’s creation, is still likely in its infancy. Every generation wants to feel we know most of what is knowable. But somehow I suspect our descendants (even our children and grandchildren) might learn much more in their lifetimes than we can only start to imagine today.
An equal challenge, which I think is more and more common today (especially among folks who do not actively practice a faith), is to think that faith itself might be as outmoded as much as our previous scientific assumptions. And there is a certain logic, if you are just looking at it on paper, to think that if humans in the past were wrong about their scientific assumptions that they were equally wrong about faith as well.
But the problem with such logic is that it is comparing, not apples with oranges but more like comparing apples with music. Human beings might have had (and still have) much to learn about what God created but we have extensive experience on our dealings with one another and our experiences of God. In the course of human history, no matter the culture, humans have experienced life as being much more than themselves. They experience a consciousness beyond themselves. And we have yet to run into any culture of human beings that have not worshiped – someone (or more often someones). As Christians, we distinctively believe that this Spirit is not many but One, is what can unify us, and is best know in and through the person of Jesus Christ. The odds of this, to someone trying to work it out as a math problem, may seem astronomical. But our collective experiences speak volumes. There is a reason why Christianity is the most common faith on the planet. There is a reason why the faith continues to grow in most of the world. People experience their Creator through our common faith. And we innately know, we sense, that what we experience in this world and observe in this universe (and maybe beyond) did not occur at random. We would never expect, for example, for our Mars Rover to come across a pocket watch on the red planet (simply being there by random occurrence). And each of us are intricately more complex than a pocket watch.
In the beginning God created the heavens (note the plural!) and the earth. And we are still just beginning to learn what that means. Yet, in all that we learn, we can be assured that we are here with a purpose, that God loves us (not just as individuals but as a people), has gone the ultimate distance for us, and that we are on a sure course that will go well and beyond what we can ever measure as human beings.
Let us marvel at what science tells us of God’s creation. Let us learn more and more. And let our common faith give us purpose and meaning in this great and grand universe as we live our lives. And let us be glad that we live in times such as these.
What do you think?
Until next time,