“It is a profound mistake to imagine that Christianity ever intended to dissipate the bewilderment and even the terror, the sense of our own nothingness, which come upon us when we think about the nature of things. It comes to intensify them. Without such sensations there is no religion. Many a man, brought up in the glib profession of some shallow form of Christianity, who comes through reading Astronomy to realize for the first time how majestically indifferent most reality is to man, and who perhaps abandons his religion on that account, may at that moment be having his first genuinely religious experience.”
–C.S. Lewis, Miracles
I recently watched an awesome YouTube video by Louie Giglio. It was several years old, and it covered a familiar topic, but it definitely made me think. The topic was around the enormity of the universe. Many of us have seen this played out in one form or another. Somebody will present something that illustrates the fact that earth is microscopic when shown on relative scales (first, relative to the sun, then relative to the Milky Way, then other galaxies, etc). I always think of the opening sequence in the movie “Contact” with Jodie Foster. One of the messages in that movie is that we should perhaps consider that humans are not alone in the universe. In one scene Jodie Foster’s character, Ellie, asks a philosophical question,
“…what’s the point of a universe so vast if we’re the only ones in it? It’d just be such a … waste of space.”
I have to admit that the question is interesting, and for most of my life I have found it rather appealing. There is so much about the universe we have yet to discover. Maybe there is other life out there. If there is life on another distant planet, I don’t believe that it says anything about God other than He has so much love, it can extend to “galaxies far, far away.” But what if the null hypothesis is true? What if earth is the only planet that can sustain life? What if the miracles that God extended to first create, and now protect, our precious home are unique to us? If that’s true, one may still curiously wonder about the ever-expanding size of the “known” universe.
What if the size is itself something God intended for us to ponder. If asked to illustrate the “size” of God, I wonder if any poet could generate sufficient words to describe it. I wonder if any artist could paint a picture that truly captures it. I imagine I would struggle to conceive of the perfect representation. But maybe the inventions that God helped humans create to explore the stars were His way of helping us visualize the only place that could appropriately illustrate such an awesome God. Maybe He wants us to understand His enormity by helping us conceptualize our minuteness.
God, I am amazed and awed at how powerful and huge you are. Thank you for giving us a beautiful and safe planet. Thank you for giving us the education and understanding to find ways to gaze upon the rest of your home, your universe. Words cannot adequately describe its beauty and magnificence. But lacking the means to absorb it, help us just rest within it. Help us feel your power and feel the safety that you offer through your love.