I used to be fascinated with science. To me, science contained the mysteries of life—the answers to the universe. This was when I was an atheistic teenager searching for meaning in life. All religion seemed stupid to me though. I would pretentiously quote Karl Marx to myself, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” I would read a popular science journal called Discover from cover to cover. I would pore over every word of an article explaining the beginning of life through the Big Bang Theory. It would leave me with wonder that the universe was so vast and so mysterious. I would feel so small compared to the power and majesty of this universe, and I would feel comfort in knowing some kind of explanation of how I came to exist.
This Calvin and Hobbes comic strip always resonated with me. The vastness of the universe and time seem to dwarf us and question our significance in this world. We all want to feel significant—to believe our life has meaning.
This week, my inner geek perked up because news broke that gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein through mathematics in 1916, were detected for the first time. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space time created by any mass. But currently we can only hope to detect those of humongous masses in the universe. The gravitational waves that were detected were created by the collision of two black holes that had been circling each other closer and closer. Physicists and astronomers liken this detection of gravitational waves to a deaf person gaining the sense of hearing for the first time. Scientists can now giddily tune into the “sounds” of gravitational waves and explore even further into the mysteries of the universe. Completely new data about activities in blackholes, the implosion of stars, and even the beginnings of the universe can now be gathered. Yet this excitement reminds us of the idiom, “The more we know, the more we realise what we don’t know.” Scientifically, it is exciting to open up a whole new world of discovery. Spiritually, we are once again dwarfed by the mystery and vastness of this universe.
In my Theology 201 class right now, we are talking about how God reveals Himself to us. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” God makes Himself and His character known, to all humans throughout all of history, through what He has created. When we look into the night sky, and see millions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy we reside in, we can see God. When we look deep down into the dark depths of the Pacific Ocean, where sunlight cannot penetrate, we can see God. When we look at the beauty and intricacy of butterfly wings we can see God. When we look into the face of a fellow human being, made in the image of God, we can see God. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) God makes Himself known through His creation.
But God’s revelation through the universe cannot lead us to relationship with Him. It cannot lead us into restoration, forgiveness, purpose, or eternal life. Our brokenness gets in the way. We need God’s revelation through the Holy Scriptures to truly know our condition as human beings and to know the only real solution offered to us through the truth of God. John 20:30,31 says, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” We have been left a holy written record so that we might know God, not just abstractly as He reveals himself in creation, but specifically and personally. The idea of God can be very attractive but you cannot relate to and interact with an idea. God is not an idea. God is personal. We can really know Him. Worshipping the idea of God is like having an imaginary girlfriend. There is really no life or joy to be received from an imaginary girlfriend. Worshipping God Himself is to be known, to be guided, to be loved, and to know that He also wants to reveal more and more about His personality and purpose to us.
Be in awe of the God who has made the universe. Be in awe of the God who has power over black holes that collide with each other to create gravitational waves. But more importantly, be in awe of the God who reveals Himself through Jesus Christ, and leaves a holy and trustworthy record of who He is and what He came to do through the Bible. Cherish God’s self revelation through the Holy Scriptures. For in it, we find life and light itself through Jesus Christ. For in Him, we find our significance.