The Awesomeness of the Universe…

“CHRISTIANITY, the belief that a God created a universe 13.79 billion yrs old, 93 billion light years in diameter, consisting of over 200 billion galaxies, each containing an average of 200 billion stars, only to have a personal relationship with you”

It was a tweet meant to mock the Christian belief in an awesome God who is caring and knowable. In response there were many like “A Spirit living in the material world…” @Mikie33474558 who replied to @Caring Atheist:

If you could build a universe would you not do so? If you were the only one in the vastness of space. Who would you have a relationship with?

I don’t fault The Caring Atheist for being bewildered by what he thinks is a belittling idea of the Creator’s capacity to create something so magnificent and also want a relationship with something The Caring Atheist thinks is not (you). It seems such an underwhelming purpose of the universe if you reduce the universe to transactional materialism as atheists are apt to do, and further reduce the worth of personhood as atheists are want to do. After all, who are we to God that He would think of us at all?  But this is the secret treasure of the gospel.

The Caring Atheist, without knowing it, was only echoing what the Psalmist sang in Psalm 8:

When I consider your heavens,  the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message:

Why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look our way?

It is the right question: the Psalmist considers the creation that engenders awe – the heavens, the moon and the stars – in order to consider something else that arouses awe – how God would be “mindful” and “caring” of humanity. The Caring Atheist considers the awesomeness of the universe but cannot grasp the awesomeness of a God who would want a personal relationship with you… or with him.

We all start off there I suppose: bewildered and without capacity to grasp the Creator God of the Universe… but it is God’s grace to be able to see the connection between the awesomeness of the Creator with the awesomeness of His love. 

The Awesomeness of the Universe and the Intimacy of God

Pekka Sinervo PhD, recognizes this and shares his insights about the late (great) cosmologist and atheist Stephen Hawking portrayed in the movie “The Theory of Everything”.  As great a thinker as Hawking was, there is something lamentable about not being able to “think” his way into the mind of the Creator who made Stephen for Himself.

“[The movie] starts with a very young cosmologist Stephen Hawking meeting an equally young humanities scholar Jane Wilde. Hawking, as we quickly learn, is at best agnostic about the existence of God, whereas Jane is certain in her faith that there is indeed a God.

For those who have been asleep for the last 50 years, or shun popular science, Stephen Hawking is considered one of most serious minds of the 20th and 21st century. He made some of the most important discoveries about gravity since Einstein. He discovered that black holes – celestial vacuum cleaners gobbling up anything that might stray near them – also give off radiation. He found that a black hole may even blow up.

Tragically, Stephen Hawking was struck as a young man with ALS, a disease that progressively destroyed his nervous system. The movie “The Theory of Everything” follows Stephen and Jane, first falling in love, then Stephen finding his scientific calling – a search for the how and why of our universe – even while physically crippled, then Jane searching for comfort in her religion. It ends with their divorce.

[The movie] depicted both Jane and Stephen’s search for, and relationship with God. Stephen turned from agnosticism to atheism and perhaps back again. Jane remained steadfast in her beliefs, hoping that Stephen would someday have to accept God’s existence.”

Credit to Alvin Oommen for putting me on to the tweet of The Caring Atheist.


About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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