From The Attentive Life
Friends (and some not-so-friendly persons) are always emailing stuff that I didn’t ask for and usually don’t want. Most often I just hit delete. But one forwarded message insisted I pull it up. In astonishment I watched “The Power of Ten,” a series of images showing our galaxy from the most distant reaches to one of the tiniest particles of our Earth.
Beginning with images of the Milky Way ten million light-years from the Earth, it moved through space in successive leaps through our solar system to the orbits of the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, to our Earth and the Western Hemisphere, down to the southeastern United States and to Tallahassee, Florida. At Tallahassee it zoomed in to the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, then to a tall oak tree, followed successively by the surface of a leaf measuring one millimeter, to one cell of the leaf at 100 nanometers, to a strip of DNA, down through the atoms that make up the leaf to a single proton, and finally ended with the tiniest particle, a quark measuring 100 atometers.
Awesome! That was the only word that came to mind. I had just seen the world from the tiniest bit out to the edge of our galaxy ten million light years off!
When our granddaughter Christina came by on her way home from high school, I showed her the “Powers of Ten,” and she was as awestruck as I was.
“Do you think we have just had a small glimpse of the way God see things? Close up and distant, all in a moment?” I asked.
“I think so,” she nodded.
Of course, if God is really there (and here), then what took the highest-powered microscopes and telescopes (and the internet) for Christine and me to view for a moment – a reality millions of light-years old – God has had in view totally, instantly, constantly since creation itself exploded into being.
It is a mind- and heart-boggling thought, but not a new one. Centuries ago the writer of Psalm 8 (presumably David the shepherd boy who had spent many nights in the fields looking after sheep and gazing at the stars) wrote:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Christine and I can now see our world in dimensions both tinier and huger than David could have dreamed of. But in the light of the “powers of ten” – the powers of scientific observation – perhaps the question has changed from, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them?” to, “If the universe is so huge, why should we think that God would pay attention to us anyway?”
Many in the generation of Christine’s parents (and grandparents) assume that the picture of God as the Shepherd of our souls and of the stars is a quaint relic of a romantic worldview long ruled out by science.
The great new truth is that the perspective of science has changed. The belief that science rules out God is itself now quaint! And Christine’s peers are part of a generation seeking to know God in a deep and personal way.