THE HEAVENS DECLARE GOD’S GLORY
by Dr. James Dobson
No field of inquiry known to man holds more excitement and fascination for me than the subject of astronomy. The infinite wonders of the universe absolutely boggle the mind. But astronomy is not merely a topic of scientific interest; it has great relevance for my faith as well, reinforcing everything I believe. When I consider the awesome size and scope of God’s universe-operating in perfect order and precision-it helps me believe that the Lord can solve the petty problems I deal with every day. As King David wrote, the heavens declare the glory of God!
This spiritual dimension to the subject of astronomy explains my appreciation for a provocative book, God and the Astronomers. It is written by Dr. Robert Jastrow, a self-confirmed atheist. He is reporting a fascinating change in attitude that is occurring among astronomers and scientists today who are being forced to accept the fact of a creation by God.
Dr. Jastrow reports recent scientific findings that leave no alternative for the scientist but to acknowledge that the universe had a definite beginning; that it has not always existed. That’s an idea which scientists have found very offensive for over a century.
In short, Dr. Jastrow described three major discoveries that point inevitably to the fact of creation. First, the universe is expanding. This is not a new finding; we have known for approximately 50 years that the galaxies are moving farther apart moment by moment. In some cases, they are moving away from us at millions of miles an hour. It is easy to comprehend, therefore, how this understanding confirms the finite nature of the universe. All we must do is run time backward, calculating mathematically where the galaxies would have been in the past. At a definite point in antiquity, they were together. In other words, there was a precise time when all matter was combined in one massive “cosmic egg.” That was the moment of creation.
The second source of evidence for creation relates to a principle known as “entropy.” It means that the energy in the universe is being transferred from a usable form to an unusable form . . . that is to say, it’s being expended. For example, our own sun would not burn forever, even if the universe lasted billions of more years. The sun would eventually burnout. Likewise, the other stars in the universe would also be extinguished. In fact, if time continued indefinitely (which the Bible says won’t happen), the universe would become nothing but a cold and dark place. Now here’s the point: If all the energy in the universe is in the process of winding down, there must have been a time when it was wound up. There had to be a point of creation when energy was at a maximum. Again, by running time backward, we can determine the fact of creation.
But third and most importantly, Dr. Jastrow stated that in 1965, two Bell Laboratory scientists discovered that the earth is bathed in a faint glow of radiation that arrives from every direction of the universe. Wherever they aimed their instruments, they detected this low-level source of energy.
During the last couple of years, it has been shown very conclusively that this radiation has exactly the pattern of wavelengths expected
from a gigantic explosion occurring in antiquity. In other words, the light and heat produced by a great explosion at the moment of creation is still measurable around us at this time.
According to Dr. Jastrow, these three sources of evidence have forced even the most skeptical of scientists to accept the fact that the universe had a definite beginning, as the Bible says, despite their biased resistance to the concept.
Consider these quotes from God and the Astronomers. “Now we see that the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same. The chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment of time in a flash of light and energy.”
Isn’t that an incredible statement, coming from an orthodox scientist and previously convinced atheist? At the end of the book is an even more fascinating statement: “The scientist has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he’s about to conquer the highest peak. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he’s greeted by a band of theologians who’ve been sitting there for centuries.”
Now obviously, I didn’t need the scientists to prove God’s existence for me. It’s not that I have said, “Wow, I’m sure glad to know that God is there,” because I’ve never doubted that fact. But it is thrilling to see the handiwork of the Lord being made undeniably evident, even to the most skeptical and objective observer who has lived by his “faith” in atheism.
I wish I could meet with Dr. Jastrow to discuss the topic of his book. First, I would like to thank him for having the courage to acknowledge the spiritual implications of these findings. Even though his scientific colleagues are aware of the same discoveries, they have not been willing to concede publicly that the biblical account of creation has been accurate from the beginning. Jastrow not only granted that point, but he quoted the Scripture which states, “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands” (Psalm 102:25).
It would also be interesting to say to Dr. Jastrow, “Sir, you have been honest enough to admit that the biblical account of creation is undeniable to the objective scientist. But may I ask you to consider two related questions that must be answered: First, what other scientific truths has the Bible foretold that are now accepted by your colleagues, and second, what new information does the Bible offer that will some day be accepted by the scientific community?”
In other words, I would like to explain to Dr. Jastrow that the matter of creation is not the only topic wherein the Bible should be taken seriously by physicists and astronomers. It was inspired by the Creator of the universe, and He should know something about the laws that govern the heavens. Let’s look at those two questions individually.
Thousands of years ago, the Bible’s authors wrote about an approaching eternity when time would be no more. How could they possibly dream up a time without time? Yet in this century Albert Einstein has shown that time is relative to motion, rather than being an absolute entity. In fact, it’s now believed that “black holes” exist in the universe wherein matter is so tightly packed that the weight of the earth would be condensed into the volume of a teaspoon. Under these circumstances, it is hypothesized that time completely stops. Then in 1965, Roger Penrose proved that space and time can have an end point.
Here you have an example where biblical authors, writing two or three thousand years ago, postulated a situation that is now accepted by the brightest thinkers of the 2Oth century. There are many similar examples of scientific insight in God’s Word. It is obvious that the prophets, apostles and other writers of the Bible received their information from the Great Designer when they offered those incredible truths.
Concerning the second issue (biblical facts which scientists will later “discover”), many examples also exist. One of the critical questions in astronomy today involves whether or not the galaxies will continue to expand forever. Differences of opinion exist as to whether there is
enough mass in the universe to draw them back together in another gigantic explosion of matter and radiation. Some scientists, including Dr. Jastrow, believe the galaxies will continue to expand indefinitely. He stated, “The facts indicate that the universe will expand forever.
According to the available evidence, the end will come in darkness.” We know from the biblical account that Jastrow is wrong in this instance. He could end the speculation by merely consulting the Scriptures.
Isaiah 34:4 states, “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved.” That means that all the planets, stars and galaxies will be melted together. “And the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. And all their host shall fall down as a leaf falleth off the vine and as the falling fig from the fig tree” Obviously, all matter will be congealed, making way for a new heaven and a new earth.
This event is confirmed in Revelation 6:14: “And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” That prophecy excites me because it reveals that the universe is controlled by God. It is not careening down the road to dark oblivion with no designer, no planner, no creator and no prime mover who is responsible for it all. Everything is in God’s hands and He knows where we’re going. Because of that, He knows where I’m going and where my family is going. That is the most reassuring news I can imagine.
Perhaps you are beginning to understand why I find the subject of science to be so stimulating to my faith. We are, clearly, examining the handiwork of an infinite God when we investigate the laws of physics and biology. Consider the vastness of space. We can now see approximately 15 billion light years in all directions from the earth, yet there is no “thinning out” of galaxies even at the “edge of our vision.” But creation is also infinite as we go downward into the atomic and sub-atomic particles. Instead of finding the “basic” building block from which everything is made, we discover even smaller particles . . . electrons, neutrons and protons. When those tiny units are examined we find 150 even smaller particles . . . gravitons and photons and quarks. We will never get to the bottom of this well, because knowledge, like the God who created it, is infinite. King David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” If he had known the complexity of chemistry he would have said, “The atoms also declare the glory of God!”
Let me conclude with the words of Dr. Stephen Hawking, a 37-year-old astronomer and physicist who is considered to be the greatest thinker since Einstein. Unfortunately, he is stricken with a slowly deteriorating neuromuscular disease. Dr. Hawking sits in a wheelchair, unable to move his arms or legs. He can speak only with the greatest effort, sounding as though he had spoken volumes in order to utter a few words.
But trapped within this diseased body is the sharpest intellect living today. In describing what it has been like to experience this terminal illness, Dr. Hawking said that he was bored with his profession and his life before he was stricken. He had no real interest, no motives, no purpose, no reason to live. Since becoming ill, however, his entire perspective changed.
“When one’s expectations (for life) are reduced to zero,” he said, “one really appreciates everything one does have.” When you expect nothing, it is exciting merely to observe the beauty of a tree or sunrise. Being alive is a privilege for someone who awaits the approach of death. Everything that God made becomes more meaningful and significant.”
Dr. Hawking’s observation has relevance for 2Oth-century America. A portion of the depression that is rampant at this time, especially
among women in the Western world, occurs because we are led to expect 72 years of bliss. Our level of expectation for life is so high that
nothing in reality can possibly measure up to it; there’s always a gap between life as it is and life as it ought to be. Instead of saying, “Lord, what-ever You give me I accept with appreciation,” we demand a four-bedroom house, perfect health, children with no problems, and an
absence of frustration. When we can’t have these benefits, we feel cheated and shortchanged.
The Apostle Paul proposed a better way: “For I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger,
plenty or want; for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (Philippians 4:11-13, TLB).
There are countless lessons for everyday living to be drawn from astronomy and other physical sciences, because truth is unity. If we had all the answers to all questions and all problems, there wouldn’t be any contradiction between science and faith; God is the author of both.
The Bible says that mankind has not even considered the fantastic experiences that God has prepared for us on the other side. I’ve seen just enough of the universe to believe that promise and want to follow this Lord wherever He leads. Will you join me?
(The above material was published by FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, 1987)
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