Starry, starry night

A creation perspective from a five year old.

The year was
1964 and the place was the island of Guam. I remember lying on the grass in my backyard, staring at the immense night sky with boyhood eyes of wonder feeling quite diminutive and insignificant on this tiny island in the middle of a huge ocean under an incomprehensibly larger ocean of space. Even at five years old, I knew instinctively that there had to be a reason and a purpose behind this star-filled panorama. It was plain to me that something or someone must have created this awesome universe.

In the interim 50 years, I’ve managed to fill in some of the details through studying Physics, searching for elementary particles, exploring quantum effects of photons and reading hundreds of theology and science books. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that belief in God is not only profoundly rational, it is philosophically, historically, theologically, and scientifically viable. As C. S. Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen - not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

Once again I have cause for boyhood wonder as I dissect the Biblical account of creation with a group of fellow explorers on Thursday mornings. As we open this masterfully crafted book called Genesis, we discover that the words therein have withstood the test of time as scientific discoveries continue to validate this 3500 year-old Biblical account of creation. We now know that our universe is comprised of no fewer than 100 billion galaxies each with over 100 billion stars and somehow, we have been assigned a privileged place in time and space where we can effectively explore and discover the cosmos. From this front seat location, we have discovered a universe that has expanded from a finite point in time wherein all matter, energy, space, and time itself came into existence; and we’ve discovered that compared to competing worldviews and ancient cosmogonies, the Genesis creation account squares quite well with current empirical evidence. Both through the stars and the first ten words in Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, God has clearly revealed Himself to everyone, not just to particle physicists and precocious five year olds.

Although the Bible does help us answer some of the “how” questions, it is not a science book. Genesis sets the foundation for a divine meta-narrative that helps us derived, contingent, created beings answer the “why” questions. While witnessing the vibrantly hued foliage in New England last week, I could have fixated on the chlorophyll deprivation of the leaves or calculated the axial tilt of the sun, but chose instead to enjoy the sheer beauty of creation while meditating on the meaning and purpose of life. Of course, being a true geek, I also thought about my upcoming lesson on the merism of “land” and “sky” and how God had prepared the earth for His covenant people as part of His redemptive plan, but that’s another story.

I then began thinking of a profound paradox: How could God be both transcendent from His creation and yet, immanent with His creation? As a rule, I’ve found that scientists, and yes, fallen people of all stripes are more comfortable with God’s transcendence than His immanence. However, as we’ve discovered in Genesis, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a personal God who has made us in His image and like it or not, we all have a personal relationship with Him. The most important question you will ever answer is, what is the basis of your relationship with Him? Is it one of mercy or one of wrath? Thankfully, mercy and wrath met at a cross some 2000 years ago so that we could become reconciled to a holy God.

While lying on that remote island some 50 years ago, I did get one thing wrong; I was not insignificant. In fact, the same God who created everything loved me enough to die for me. This is good news indeed.