Seeing Stars and Seeing God

These words found in Romans 1:20-23 are worth meditating upon.

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.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

The passage counsels that God’s eternal power and divine nature can be clearly seen in what has been made. So, how do we understand the many people who see all that has been created and suggest that it simply came to be out of nothing. Take for example the newborn star, Herbig-Haro 46/471 which has only recently been detected.2 Since light from this star takes approximately 1400 years to arrive on earth, astronomers are now observing events that occurred around 600 AD. The enormity of the distances and the incredible explosive power of a star coming into existence inspires awe. Yet, to whom or what will we ascribe this power and awe? Is this evidence of God’s eternal power and divine nature or simply the universe continuing its birthing process? Will we recognize an eternal God or postulate an eternal universe? Which is the more likely to be eternal, matter or God?

These are legitimate questions and it is necessary to ponder upon them to come up with answers that satisfy. I think upon these questions to ensure that I continue to agree with previous conclusions. I must also consider my motives for looking in one direction or the other as I answer such questions. Why would I rather believe in an eternal and impersonal universe than an eternal and personal God? What difficult consequences might I be seeking to avoid? Given the nature of the universe, which is more likely to be eternal, matter or God? Indeed, it would seem that God would be just the kind of being that one would expect to be eternal. Yet each of us must meditate upon these things for we have been given the ability and the freedom to come to conclusions on this ourselves. Others will come to different conclusions but I must meditate, reflect, and draw conclusions that will then influence the way I live. For my part, I have found that I can agree with C. S. Lewis when he said, “I felt in my bones that this universe does not explain itself.”3

2 This research was presented in a paper entitled “ALMA Observations of the HH 46/47 Molecular Outflow” by Héctor Arce et al, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal;

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