Text: Ps 19:1-6
About 3000 years ago, king David looked up at the sky and without benefit of the Hubble telescope said: “The heavens declare the glory of God”. It was obvious to David, that God had made the world. He knew it – because of what he saw in creation, and he knew it because of what he read in God’s word. So it is that Psalm 19 spends equal time talking about these two ways that God speaks and through which we may come to know Him.
This first article, taken from verses 1-6 is all about about some of what we can know about God from the ‘book of God’s world’.
Psalm 19: 1-6
“The heavens tell of the glory of God; And their expanse declares the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; (where) their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out into all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them (the heavens) He has placed a tent for the sun, which is like a groom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices like a strong person to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
One name for this line of reasoning is “Natural Revelation”. We call it natural – because nature itself tell us that God exists. We also call it revelation because the wisdom and nature of God may be discerned in His work.
The ‘book of God’s world’ – the universe – cannot account for itself. Matter is not eternal nor is the state in which it is found. The size and scale of the universe hints at just how big God is,
and the fact that people are a part of it, demands that a person is ultimately behind it.
The scriptures makes it clear that all of these things can be known – even by the person who does not have the Bible. Natural revelation cannot answer all of our questions about God, but it does answer some while raising important questions.
The apostle Paul, made this same observation in Romans 1:18-20 when he wrote:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
In other words, our knowledge of God begins within ourselves. It does so, because of all of the things that God has made, people are the closest thing to Him and the most like Him. By contrast, where David began with God’s handwriting in the stars, Paul reasoned from the fingerprints of God upon our souls. But no matter where we start, we end up in the same place, with the God who is there.
This was a starting point for Francis Schaefffer in a series of books – the first of which was entitled…The God who is there”. God exists as opposed to not existing, and that fundamental fact leads to all others.
The first question about the cosmos is “why is there something instead of nothing”. We ask that, because there is nothing within the things themselves or in all of them together, that demands existence. Only the existence of an eternal God and his decision to create, provides that.
It is ironic, that what was obvious to the prophet David and the apostle Paul, is dismissed out of hand by contemporary minds. The no-brainer of one worldview is treated as a non-starter by another.
The cosmological argument points out, that everything within the universe depends upon something else for its existence. What is true for each of the parts is also the whole, for adding one contingent thing to another does not result in self existence (non-contingency). The universe must also depend on something else for its existence, and that something else is by definition, what we call God, or what Aquinas called a first cause – or un-caused cause.
A closer look tells us that the universe is inhospitable to life. As far as we can tell, earth is completely unique. You can’t just drop off on Venus or Mars and expect to live. In fact, scientists have discovered that the odds against the existence of a universe, in its present form and by pure chance are astronomical. Beyond astronomical.
Evidently, the universe is built on a complex set of physical laws and constants. The relationships between these forces, involves infinitesimally specific values. The slightest deviation in any of these and the universe as we know it could not exist, let alone support life.
The strength and ratios of the four basic universal forces must exist. These are the strong and weak nuclear force, electromagnetic force and gravitational force. These must all be exactly as they are for elements, stars, planets and galaxies to exist. The same goes for the cosmological constant, the mass density of the universe and its expansion rate.
When we use the term “one in a million” we mean, that something is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible. But the level of fine-tuning – that we are talking about – ranges from 1 in 1037 (that’s 10 followed by 37 zeroes) to 1 in 10120 (or 10 followed by 120 zeroes). Even the smallest number is impossible to picture.
Astrophysicist Hugh Ross suggests this one to help us do that. Using the lowest estimate of 1 in 10 to the 37th power, the degree of precision for both the strong nuclear force and the expansion rate of the universe, would be like covering North America with dimes. Then piling them up all the way to the moon and repeating the process with a billion North Americas,
and then finding one specific marked dime, blindfolded the first time. Pick any other dime, and the universe that we know and live in ceases to exist.
Which is why Michio Kaku, who is an atheist physicist concludes…
“It’s shocking to find how many of the familiar constants of the universe lie within a very narrow band that makes life possible. If a single one of these accidents were altered, stars would never form, the universe would fly apart, DNA would not exist, life as we know it would be impossible…earth would flip over or freeze, and so on.”
These scientists are only talking about conditions needed for life, not the odds of life itself coming from non-life.
For that we turn to the principle of irreducible complexity. There is no such thing as life existing in small discrete increments. It must arrive fully complex or it is not life at all and cannot survive. All of which means that life from non-life simply did not happen. The survival of the fittest cannot explain the arrival of the fittest, nor has any scientist ever observed life coming from non-life.
No wonder that belief in a creator was self-evident to David. He understood, that something does not come from nothing. That if there really was ‘nothing’ to start with, there would still be nothing. The universe therefore did not create itself and is not eternal.
Not only did the universe not create itself, it also did not create life or human life. Life does not come from non-life, and people do not arise from the non-personal. Life that is personal demands a creator who is a person. Again, no coincidence that the Bible assumes this and never bothers to try and prove it.
Now, because God is a person and has made us in his own image then so are we. It is the reason that we have capacities just like His.
Some of these include…intelligence. We can reason and process information to draw conclusions. We can formulate ideas and imagine things that do not exist. We can handle truth with our minds as our body handles things.
We have volitional ability. We can purpose, and plan and try to make it so. Not only are we able to choose – but our thoughts and decisions are not made by anyone outside of ourselves. We enjoy free will.
We have Moral capacity. God has given us an inherent sense of right and wrong, and it has come with a set of values that are remarkably the same all over the world. We also have a moral sense of obligation to defend what is right and to oppose what is wrong – even to stand for truth and to oppose untruth…just like God.
We enjoy a sense of Aesthetics. We appreciate beauty and even have the ability to create things of beauty, whether in art, poetry, technology and so much more.
We are also like God in that we emotional capacity. We love and hate, are happy and sad, live in fear and are at peace. All of this assures us, that God is a person. He is someone and not a something.
It turns out that an all-mighty God explains where all of the energy in the universe came from. And an all-knowing God is the source of all of the information in the universe, from the periodic table to our DNA. We are in David’s words…fearfully and wonderfully made.
All of this is on display worldwide, both day and night. All of which means that wilful ignorance is self imposed while faith alone gives glory to God.