This is a guest post from Ryan Hastman. Ryan is a lifetime attender of North Pointe, works for the University of Alberta and is a self-confessed astronomy geek. He has two sons and is already instilling in them a love of the stars.
Here is a small sample:
1. We know about a star that spins 9650 times per minute (One Of The Strangest Pulsars Ever Discovered).
2. A star made almost entirely of diamonds, 10 billion trillion trillion carats worth (Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds).
3. We have found vast, global sized oceans of liquid water on more than one moon in our solar system (Vast Global Ocean Lies Under The Surface Of Saturn’s Moon).
And I could go on. I often do!
IN AWE OF THE HEAVENS’ GLORY
The Universe that God made is simply stunning.
For as long as humans have walked this earth, we have looked up with our eyes to the heavens with awe. The Psalmist’s eloquence on this still stands:
Psalm 19: 1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
As with the rest of Creation, we humans are just now beginning to discover the depths of what we don’t know about the universe. As recently as July 2015, we hadn’t even seen the surface of all of the classical planets here in our neighborhood. (Side note: I wonder if God counts Pluto as an official planet?)
SCIENCE AND CHRISTIAN PARENTS
It’s hard to be a father and a Christian and a lover of space and not think about how all of these pieces fit together. Sometimes, as a Christian, revelations about the physical world we live in can be uncomfortable. In my opinion, that is OK. So the universe may be vastly larger than we ever imagined. So it has at least the appearance of great age. What about all of our Sunday school lessons? What about the Bible, doesn’t it say that mankind is 6,000 years old? What will I say to my kids?
Billy Graham, writing on the topic, said:
“I don’t think that there’s any conflict at all between science today and the scriptures. I think that we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we’ve tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren’t meant to say, I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. … whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.” Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, 1997. p. 72-74
WHAT ARE THE KNOWN UNKNOWNS?
Do we know more, much more, today than at any other time in human history? Certainly yes. Do we know everything? Not even close. In my opinion, we haven’t even begun to answer the “known unknowns”. We have only gotten a glimpse at just how many, perhaps unlimited, unknown-unknowns there are. But almost everything about our faith is a mystery. The nature of God is not something that we will ever understand.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
We haven’t even begun to grasp the scale and mystery (and beauty) of Creation.
TWO CHOICES ABOUT THE UNIVERSE
In my opinion we have two choices:
we can either deny our latest discovered knowledge, clinging to a classical belief that the great mysteries have been solved, or
we can choose to step out in faith again, that as hard as it is to reconcile our vision of God and His universe, that His creation can handle our doubt, our wonder and our awe.
God’s people and His physical creation are connected as one. He has also embedded in us a drive to understand more about His universe, to seek knowledge and beauty in His Creation.
SEEING THE BEAUTY OF CREATION
To a musician, imagining life without a full range of sound: duration, pitch, dynamics and expressive techniques would seem boring and empty. We use these words to try to describe sounds, things that cannot really be fully described. To an artist, colors, shapes and hues bring meaning to life. Why do we even see them? To physicians, the body’s ability to heal itself may be described as supernatural. To a botanist, a geologist, a musician or an artist, the Creation brings unfathomable beauty that we cannot ever fully grasp.
In every field of human knowledge, the Creation is mysterious and stunning. But nothing inspires me like astronomy and the study of our Universe.
Think of the big questions we all want to know about anything: Who, what, when, and how?
When it comes to God and faith, I can’t answer all of my boys’ questions now, and I definitely won’t be able to answer them in the future.
When it comes to the big questions, the “how”, or “why” of Creation, I have no problem admitting that these are questions of faith. We don’t know “how” but we are learning, and we don’t know “why” but we have faith in the answers He has given us.
So I don’t fear the day that my boys will explore the questions of “what” and “when”? Maybe we don’t yet know the true age of the cosmos. But I think we’re getting pretty close to knowing. I don’t think it’s a matter of salvation or theology either way. Based on how human knowledge has evolved over time, both figures may be wrong.
FAITH AND MYSTERY
I am going to teach my children that their faith should be strong enough to co-exist with mystery. After all, our God is.
I’m going to tell my boys to look up at the stars, to welcome human discovery, and to ask away – live in a state of constant awe and wonder. God can handle it. And I have a feeling that our comprehension of the mystery and scale of His Creation is only just beginning. I can’t wait.
Note: December 14 is the peak of the Geminid meteor shower, one of the best meteor showers for observing. Go outside at night in the days before and after to get a great show!
For more on politics, the Oilers and space, follow Ryan on Twitter at @RyanHastman
APPLICATION: Are you a stargazer? An astronomy lover? Got questions about Creation? Please leave a comment for Ryan below. Thank you.
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