February 17, 2016

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

by Eric Davis

Screen-Shot-2013-11-01-at-4.22.50-PMThe big bang. Call me crazy, but it does not appear to me that explosions end in great order and design. As a young teenager (guess the moral direction of this story) we used to place these things called M80s into various apparatuses. Then, we would proceed to light the fuse of the M80s, run, witness extraordinary carnage, laugh, and then repeat (do not try this at home).

And there is something I noticed from those several years of pyro-depravity experimentations: the apparatus into which the M80 was placed never proceeded from a state of less order and design to more. It was quite the opposite. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that impersonal big bangs never caused extraordinary order.

For this reason, the impersonal Big Bang theory has been confusing as an explanation for the existence of the universe. Things like the intense orderliness, organization, and design within the universe seem contrary. Now, I understand that the Big Bang theory is significantly more complex than depraved teenagers and M80s and there are intellectually brilliant individuals who believe in the theory. Even so, the wonder of things like our solar system, galaxy, and universe seem to defy an impersonal theory of explosion. And even more, Scripture presents a far more plausible explanation; that all things came into being through the eternally existing Lord Jesus Christ (Gen. 1:1, John 1:3, Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:2).

Consider with me for a moment some of the extraordinary glories of God in our universe:

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17

en.wikipedia.org

Earth. Among other things, it’s a planet at the perfect location, density, rotation, temperature, and distance from the sun to harbor life. It is about 25,000 miles around with a mass of 6 x 1024 kg (or about 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 lbs). And, as God revealed many centuries B.C., the earth hangs on nothing (Job 26:7). How an object that heavy hangs on nothing still baffles me. And while it hangs on nothing, our earth spins at 1000 miles per hour (while the moon moves at about 0.6 miles per second around the earth, never flinging away). While it spins, the earth is also moving around the sun at about 18 miles per second. Every second, our earth has traveled another 18 miles. Did you feel it? Did you feel it that time? So, in a year, we have made the 584 million mile trip around the sun. You may not travel to the next state, but, every year, you make a 584 million mile trip around the sun (tell that to your frequent flyer carrier). Every year, again and again. And the earth never flings off into oblivion. It always stays its course and maintains the perfect distance, rotation, and velocity. We could also talk about how the earth tilts back and forth while it spins at 1000 mph and moving at 18 miles per second, helping to keep the seasons in check. Impersonal explosions can’t do that.

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).

Planets2013.svg

en.wikipedia.org

The sun. With a circumference of about 7 million miles, if the sun was a hallow shell, you could fit about 1.3 million earths inside of it. At the surface, our sun is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and at the center, a tad warmer, at around 28,000,000 degrees. How does it stay that warm? To what is it plugged in? Who pays its electric bill? And, like Earth, it too hangs on nothing. All the while light from the sun is constantly emanating, moving at about 186,000 miles per second.

Now, our sun is the star in our solar system, but, only one of somewhere between 200-400 billion other stars in our Milky Way galaxy, in addition to an estimated 100 billion planets.

milkyway_apod

universetoday.com

Our solar system. Made up of the sun, eight planets, and, among other things, over 3000 known comets blasting around. Now, while our earth cruises at 18 miles per second (and rotates and the moon spins around us), our entire solar system also moves, but much faster. Our sun, together with the eight planets and everything else, bolts throughout our Milky Way galaxy at about 130 miles per second. And it’s not moving randomly, but making an orbit around the center of our galaxy. Despite moving at 130 miles per second, it will still take us about 225 million years to do one lap around the Milky Way. And all the while, us, the moon, earth, the other seven planets, and the sun—it all remains in calm harmony. That’s a lot of plates to spin. And, again, something an impersonal explosion could not produce.

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).

Starsinthesky

en.wikipedia.org

Our galaxy. The solar system is sort of like the street on which we live, while the galaxy is the town. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, about 100,000 light years across. That means that light travelling at 186,000 miles per second takes 100,000 years to make it across our galaxy. Even so, it is small compared to, for example, the M87 galaxy, which is about one million light years across. But, can something as huge as our galaxy move? With our solar system and the 200-400 billion other stars in it, the Milky Way scoots throughout the universe at about 370 miles per second. So, as we spin at 1000 mph, move around the sun at 18 miles per second, and tilt back and forth on earth, we are also moving, with the solar system, at 130 miles per second through the Milky Way, while we (and 200-400 billion other stars) bolt throughout the universe at 370 miles per second. And we eat, sleep, rest, and enjoy a cool summer breeze.

“The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).

X-RayFlare-BlackHole-MilkyWay-20140105

en.wikipedia.org

And let’s not forget that there are an estimated 200 billion other galaxies out there in the observable universe. How many stars? Estimates vary, but most agree that there are at least one with 20 zeroes after it. “He counts the number of stars; He gives names to all of them” (Ps. 147:4). And I always get a kick out of the brevity God gives to his creation thereof: “the stars also” (Gen. 1:16).

Finally, there are these things called black holes. These “holes,” for lack of a better term, are sort of like the real Bermuda Triangles of the universe: if you or a planet or anything could get near one, you would be pulled in never to emerge. They are so powerful, that not even light moving at 186,000 miles per second can “get out,” hence the name. Theoretically, as you were “in” there, the experience of “there” would defy all sensory experiences you have ever had. It’s thought that they can do things like change time, though, admittedly, much remains unknown about these astronomical beasts. Perhaps this is God simply enjoying himself.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:3-4).

“Praise the LORD!…Praise him, sun and moon, praise him all you shining stars!” (Ps. 148:1, 3).

Eric Davis

Posts Twitter

Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Pingback: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God | A disciple's study()

  • David Doupe

    Thanks for some perspective on the design and complexity of the universe our great God has made.

    • Eric Davis

      Amen, David!

  • Corey Fleig

    Preach it! In the last 2 years I forced myself to listen to all the debates on premier.org.uk concerning naturalistic evolution. In all cases, it struck me that unbelieving scientists insisted on the big bang theory despite evidence to the contrary. Their tenacity in holding on to their beliefs was indeed remarkable, considering the fact that their faith in science was resolute despite verifiable and repeatable testing, eye witness testimony, etc.

    If we could make the case for creation in such a manner that the science guy was faced with irrefutable and insurmountable testimony, he would simply descend into ad hominem attacks. Why? a refusal to admit personal sin. That’s all its ever been about.

    • Eric Davis

      Indeed, Corey. An unregenerate evolutionist (as I was for many years) is not one merely for intellectual reasons as we know from Rom. 1:18-23.

  • tovlogos

    Cheers brother.
    ““Praise the LORD!…Praise him, sun and moon, praise him all you shining stars!” (Ps. 148:1)
    The logic is a thing of beauty. like a classical piece of music.
    The few evolutionists I have spoken to in the last few years have
    given up on trying to make sense of the “missing links” i.e., transitional types, probably because in a world with so many species, it should be littered with transitional types in every backyard — but they are not there. Many embrace “Cosmology”; yet with the same lack of logic.
    Many won’t hear you; but to the true believer, it’s fascinating, humbling.

    • Eric Davis

      It sure is fascinating and humbling, brother. Though we know that it is the word of the cross which saves through the power of the Spirit, let us also do what we can to responsibly demonstrate to evolutionists the folly of their argument.

      • tovlogos

        Amen.

  • Adam

    I am reading a book right now where a physicists attempts to harmonize the physics of Big Bang cosmology with Genesis 1. While it is a very interesting read, the complexity and orderly nature of the physics confirms even more so the existence of God. This much I do know, that whatever the physics of the universe says, God wants us to look at the creation of His universe from the perspective of 24 hour days. I am also listening to an audio book by Stephen Hawking on the creation of the universe and you would be surprised how much metaphysics are intertwined with the laws of natural physics. Not surprised! It’s unfortunate that Hawking and others cannot make, or better, refuse to make the connection back to God but will allow for the possibility for some form of “alien” intervention!

    • Eric Davis

      Great point, Adam. I, too, have chatted with some who would adamantly insist that aliens brought life here before they ever conceded to the truth of Scripture. And let’s pray for Mr. Hawking. What a powerful mind God has given him. May he bow the knee to his Creator.

      What book is that you are reading?

      • Adam

        It’s called Genesis And The Big Bang by Gerald Schroeder. He is a Jewish physicist, In the book he often makes references to the Torah and commentaries by ancient rabbis and their view of the creation of the universe. It’s an interesting perspective. The 24 hour days are to be interpreted literally from God’s perspective but because of where we stand and how information stretches as it travels through space we read the information differently. It’s all connected with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. As I said – interesting, But I will rest in the Biblical record and understand that God wants me to look at His universe from the 24 hr perspective both from His vantage point and mine, regardless of what the laws of physics say.

        • 4Commencefiring4

          His is a very interesting look at the question. His first (?) book, “The Science of God”, is a detailed look at the particular words Genesis uses, and his understanding of them is limited to what ancient commentators said they meant, ages before modern science came along, and the physics he applies (he’s a PhD from MIT, so he’s no dummy) is peer-reviewed science. Very fascinating consideration of the whole matter.

  • Eric Van Dyken

    Thanks for this simple and awe-inspiring reminder. It’s fun to ponder some of the macro and also micro complexities of God’s wonderful creation.

    Consider the complexity and number of chemical reactions occurring within one cell of the human body, and consider that the human body contains an estimated 100 trillion cells. These cells are specialized and work together in the form of organs. Skin cells die constantly and are replaced with other skin cells, not liver cells, yet both carry the same genetic code. And all of this complexity and interwoven cooperation arises from a single cell that splits and specializes in ways that boggle the mind. Simply explaining how this arises by the passage of much time is not a satisfactory answer to me. Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made by our all-wise and all-powerful Creator.

    Another thought that always occurs to me in light of evolutionary theory: Why do people appreciate beauty? And not just beauty in a mate, which may be explained by evolutionary theory as advantageous for the passing on of genetic information, but beauty in general, such as a stunning sunset or a calm lake of deep blue ringed by trees? What evolutionary advantage is there associated with the intense pleasure we derive from observing beauty? Unless the aurora borealis signals to me that food, water, or a mate is nearby and available, I see no [evolutionary] reason why I should stop to marvel. Does the moose stop its browsing in the meadow to gaze in wonder at such a sight? Does it call its young over and train them in the practice of the appreciation of beauty?

    And still another question: Why do we reproduce sexually? More basic creatures reproduce asexually, and can hence multiply themselves quickly and prolifically. If creatures proceeded from less complex to more complex through a long series of beneficial mutations, how was it beneficial for the first sexual creature to have to find a mate to pass on its genetic information? Is it believable that as primitive amoebas were busy splitting and splitting over and over, that two of these simultaneously mutated a similar ability/abnormality/need to pass along genetic information sexually with a mate, and then they “found” each other, and then they successfully completed this exchange/process? And their offspring (singular or plural?) somehow had a competitive advantage over the (presumably) millions, billions, or trillions of creatures around them that were still just splitting themselves? Doesn’t compute for me.

    • Jason

      As the devil’s advocate I would say you did answer your beauty question. Within the evolutionary paradigm all “beauty” would have to be explained as an appreciation for things that grant us a survival advantage. Perhaps some would argue that the appreciation itself serves as a mental health advantage, though I don’t know that I’ve ever read that argument before.

      To add to your reproduction question: Even if they could find another with the same mutation, the development would dramatically reduced the likelihood of any further evolution.

      The mutations, instead of being extremely likely to be copied now only have a chance of being passed on and then a chance of a chance in the next generation. Aside from extreme inbreeding, deviation from the “norm” becomes very difficult (not even including all the anti-tampering mechanisms most organisms have in their cell reproduction systems).

      • Eric Van Dyken

        Hi Jason,
        Thanks for the interaction.
        Specifically how does beauty or appreciation of abstract beauty “grant us a survival advantage”? I grant that generally an evolutionist would likely reply that it would grant an advantage, but I offer that they would have concluded that by a necessary inference of their worldview, not by science or rational thought. What about appreciation of a particular painting? How could that possibly grant me a survival advantage, particularly in light of the fact that human appreciation for beauty varies greatly (hence the phrase: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”)? Imagine that I can’t stand a particular painting, but someone else is infatuated with it. Who has the survival advantage? In order to believe the mental health argument, I would have to conclude that at some point in time some pre-human species began to abstractly appreciate beauty, leading to a happy and mentally healthy being that somehow had a greater chance of survival and passed this along (is there a gene for beauty appreciation) to its offspring. Can we assume that apes (told to be our ancestors) have such a thing as mental health? Is there such a thing as a schizophrenic ape? I’m not prepared to believe that a pre-human species of some sort had a significantly greater chance of survival because it one day took a liking to a shiny stone or a nicely shaped tree. I’m also not clear how that being could translate that into genetic information and pass that trait down to its offspring.
        I find it interesting to ponder, which brings up a related question: Why are humans uniquely philosophical, and what evolutionary process explains our longing to understand and assign meaning in life? Also fun to think about: How is it that humans display such love (not universally, mind you) and altruistic behavior and are uniquely moral creatures despite the need for the fittest to survive? How did we develop that desire to help others, even to our own detriment, and often with not even any communal benefit (read: near or close communal benefit leading to survivability of a clan)?
        Thanks again for pondering with me.

        • Jason

          All the questions of “in what way” most things offer an advantage can only be answered with speculation. I imagine some things thrown around being that some colors may, in some distant past, have been related to specific plants that were food (or a dislike for a color that was poisonous) or that it relates to favorable weather or environs. etc… I guess we can at least admire the creativity.

          The same creativity comes into play when discussing the “missing links”. In what way would an ancient reptile benefit from having a collar bone that is better suited for flapping wings than rotating shoulders or hollow bones that are light enough for flight?

          Now obviously the “finished product”, if the hypothesis is to be believed, is a flying predecessor for birds, but a dinosaur that is awaiting the remaining mutations to fly (which, of course, is absurd wording, because it implies that there is a “goal” to mutations when there would be none) and who’s arms are now less valuable for their original function and/or bones that are more frail seems to be at a fairly serious disadvantage to its competition. To hold to the tenants of this hypothesis the one most likely to die is the one we’re told to believe had such an extreme advantage that everything else dies off instead.

          The altruism question is by far the most painful though. With all the talk of “being good for goodness sake” (a humanist Christmas ad) and jabs about how “I’m better than you because I don’t need some invisible friend to force me to be nice” are double-minded enough to drive a guy like me crazy.

          If we’re to believe that every desire a human has is based on some genetically ingrained survival advantage than the conclusion is that the ideal specimen of human nature is the one that is only “nice” to people so far as it benefits their own reproductive capabilities. With that worldview, a “jerk who gets away with it” is far superior to the anyone who is “good for goodness sake”. In fact, if atheistic evolution is true, only the weak are ultimately anything but selfish.

          It’s not really surprising that a worldview that began as a means of explaining away God concludes with the assumption that selfishness is a virtue, but it still is shocking how many people don’t realize how contradictory their own beliefs about them being “good people” actually are with their beliefs about what a “good” person ought to be.

  • Pingback: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God | The Cripplegate | Prisoner of Christ()

  • Jason

    “the apparatus into which the M80 was placed never proceeded from a state of less order and design to more”

    Did you give it a week? Check what it did in a parallel universe? 😛

    Great article. Unfortunately, the argument will always be the same “Given enough opportunity even the statistically impossible becomes possible.” As for me, I’ll stick with the eye witness account.

  • Pingback: 6-String Salvo, February 19, 2016 – Mike Lee()

  • Pingback: The Daily Discovery (February 19, 2016) - Entreating Favor()

  • 4Commencefiring4

    There’s a story about the great mathematician, John Von Newmann. A research assistant at the university was perplexed over why a certain math problem seemed to flummox the graduate math students, and he came to Von Neumann to describe it:

    Two trains, 100 miles apart, head for each other on a single track, one at 40 mph eastbound, the other at 60 mph westbound. An amazing bumblebee that flies 300 mph begins at the nose of one, flies toward the other, instantly reversing course when it reaches the opposite train. Back and forth, with each trip shorter, until the trains collide. Asked to determine the total distance the insect travels, the students found the calculations impossible. Von Neumann, however, instantly gets the obvious answer, 300 miles.

    “It’s strange, professor, but the students all try to calculate the infinite series and just give up.”

    “Strange?”, the genius replies. “That’s how I did it.”

    Perhaps we’re getting sidetracked with details to the point where we can’t see that maybe–just maybe–Genesis is actually describing, in very rudimentary terms, the Big Bang. “That’s how I did it”, in short. God created something from nothing; that’s what the BB theory says happened. The Earth was without form and void. For how long? Genesis doesn’t say. But for a time, our planet–and likely the universe–had no definitive order. It was in the early stages of formation and cooling. But He directed it all. It was anything but random explosions and debris scattering in all directions and just landing in the right order. Not at all. There was a Conductor.

    There was a “beginning”, and the BB says that, too. Science used to think that the universe had always existed, but then it was found to be expanding out in all directions. In light of that, science was compelled to agree with Genesis that it once was much smaller and began at some time. There’s actually a lot of commonality.

    We get hung up on the “six days”, but–as we now know–time itself is a function of our frame of reference. A three-hour ball game (watched from the stands) would take much less time to someone watching it from the nearest star. Same game. How many planets make one trip around the sun in a year? All of them, because we define a “year” as the time it takes to circle the sun. But if you compared notes with someone living on Neptune, you’d find his “year” to be much longer than yours. Watches worn by space shuttle crews traveling at 20,000 mph around the planet ticked slower than our watches back here on terra firma. Not by much, but some.

    This doesn’t argue that all forms of life started out in a more primitive form; not at all. But if you tilt your head in a certain way, you might see that Genesis could be a very brief and rudimentary description of what science has now found. We shouldn’t expect God to exhaustively describe, in just a few dozen verses, what man, in thousands of books and after years of research, is still discovering.

  • Pingback: Comandante en Jefe | El Evangelio Segun Jesucristo()