The High Cost of Denying the Obvious, Part 2
We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.…If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.
—John O’Keefe, a NASA astronomer1—
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
—Maltbie D. Babcock2—
Part 1 is available here.
The apostle Paul was on his first missionary journey when, in Lystra, God used him to heal a man who had been unable to walk since birth. At Paul’s command the man “leaped and walked” (Acts 14:10). Immediately, the people assumed Paul and Barnabas were gods and took steps to worship them.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
Later Paul would write to the Christians at Rome that “since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [all people, but especially those who habitually practice ungodliness] are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Paul went on to say that the ungodly claim to be wise but demonstrate their foolishness by worshiping the creation rather than God, the Creator, the true source of all they deify in their minds.
Paul’s words of warning and instruction in both these instances remind us of David’s poetic words in Psalm 19. Centuries before Paul, David wrote,
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
Just what are some of the things nature tells us about God and God’s desire for humanity?
First, God exists. There really is a supreme, omnipotent being who is responsible for the world and everything in it. Look around you. Consider creation in all its stunning beauty and splendor. While countless wonders exist in nature, think about those that have been called the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.3 Descriptions of these typically do not give God credit as Creator or Designer.4 Still, failing to acknowledge Him, or at least the possibility He exists, is to be totally blind to overwhelming evidence. Mark it down: Those who choose not to see are the most blind among us.5
The biggest miracle of all is life. Biologist Edwin Conklin once said, “The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in printing shop.”6 The ordered world we see around us compels us to conclude that an omnipotent, personal, purposeful force is its source. This leads us to the second point.
Second, God is a God of precision and order. Nature is not chaotic but meaningful. It also is balanced; and, in the many instances in which it needs to be precise to sustain life, it is just that.
In his excellent book The Case for a Creator, journalist and atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel reports on numerous interviews he had with world-class scholars about evidence for a Creator. One of these scholars was Robin Collins, PhD. Strobel describes Collins as “an articulate, physics-trained philosopher who has done his own original research on the issue [of precision in the universe]. I especially liked his reputation—he was known as being careful and conservative in his calculations, unwilling to make judgments that exceed the bounds of the data.”7 Collins serves as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.8
In Strobel’s interview with Collins, the professor stated, “Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic to attribute this to mere chance or to claim that it needs no explanation. The dials are set too precisely to have been a random accident.”9
The areas in which precision has been noted include gravity, the nature of the earth’s atmosphere, the presence and amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, the distance of the earth from the sun, the magnetic field of the earth, and the tilt of the earth’s axis, to name just a few.10,11
The microscopic world likewise has God’s “fingerprints” all over it. In explaining to his employees why he believed in the God of the Bible, Christian businessman Robert Laidlaw12 (1885-1971) wrote of how an astronomer reached an erroneous conclusion about the Creator from observing the universe. His quest, however, finally led him to the truth.
What does God care about this little world of ours compared with the vastness of the mighty universe?
Think of our own solar system, with the planet Neptune 30 times as far away from the sun as Earth, so that it takes 164 Earth years to make 1 Neptune year, and beyond this, suns with planets revolving around them as our solar system revolves around the sun! Of what importance can Earth be to God, and of how much less importance can man be?
So said the astronomer as the faith of his youth fled—this is what the telescope had done for him. The vastness of the heavens had robbed him of faith in his mother’s God, for how long could God trouble Himself with man, who is smaller than a grain of sand in comparison?
But his thirst for knowledge would not let him rest. The heavens were available for study only at night; how should the free hours of the day be spent? Why not a microscope? And lo! Worlds were opened at his feet—worlds as wonderful as those above, and slowly his faith came back. Yes, the God who could attend to such minute details as to make a drop of ditch water throb with miniature life, was sure to be interested in man, the highest form of His creation.13,14
Speaking of human beings, we move to the next point.
Third, God made human beings distinctive and special. Humanity is clearly superior to plant and animal life. For example, no sense of moral order exists in the plant or animal kingdoms, yet it clearly does among people. Humanity also is uniquely creative. Consider, for example, the arts. While it’s true animals build and produce, they do so according to their instincts. They do not have imaginations as do members of the human race. Other qualities set people apart from the rest creation as well, things such as human appreciation of beauty, the practice among humans of wearing jewelry and ornate clothing, and language.
Here’s a story that highlights the uniqueness of humanity. A teacher instructed her students to list the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. After giving them enough time, she told them to pass their papers forward. One student, however, expressed frustration. “There are so many!” she said. “It’s been hard to decide which ones to include.” The teacher asked to see the student’s paper and discovered she had written,
1. the ability to see
2. to hear
3. to touch
4. to smell
5. to taste
6. to laugh
7. to love15
While many animals have some of these attributes, only human beings have them all, and only humans can appreciate them.
The uniqueness of human beings implies strongly that we should work to preserve and defend human life. This is a matter of utmost seriousness. People are God’s highest creation, so He cares deeply about how they are treated. Our culture’s reluctance and even refusal to protect the most vulnerable among us truly is appalling. Often the refusal to defend life is based on shallow reasons like convenience or political expediency. 16,17,18,19,20 God will not overlook these actions but will judge them if we as a people do not repent.21
Fourth, God gives man the resources to live and to improve his conditions, but He does not do everything for him. God expects men and women to work to sustain themselves. He wants them to improve their lives and to thrive through productive work (see Gen. 1:28; Ex. 20:9; Deut. 8:18; Prov. 6:6-11).
Fifth, this implies that every person is accountable to God. Humanity’s sense of morality or right and wrong also says people are accountable to Him (see Rom. 2:12-16). So does death (see Heb. 9:27).
Once Daniel Webster was asked what the most profound thought was that ever had crossed his mind. Webster replied, “My accountability to God.”22 Thomas Jefferson demonstrated similar wisdom when he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”23 These words are inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.
God’s eternality and wisdom are but two additional divine attributes to which creation testifies.24 The truth is that we can learn a great deal about God just from the natural world, if we only will be observant and open. Furthermore, it is critical that we be receptive to everything creation teaches us. Why? Because the price for ignoring these lessons is heavy indeed. This issue has eternal implications.
While the observations we have made are helpful, we actually need to be even more specific. Next time we will look closely at some of the things God has revealed through nature about sexuality, family relationships, marriage, and the social order. Stay tuned.
Part 3 is available here.
A discussion guide for this post is available here.
Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For Further Reading:
Evidence for God’s Existence by Sue Bohlin
3The Seven Natural Wonders of the World are
- the Grand Canyon,
- the Great Barrier Reef in northeast Australia,
- the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Mount Everest,
- the northern and southern lights or the Aurora,
- Mexico’s Parícutin Volcano, and
- Victoria Falls in southern Africa.
7Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 128.
15adapted from Ray Comfort, How to Know God Exists, (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007), 29.