Monday, November 22, 2010

The Brilliant, the Blind, and the Believer

On an interview with 60 Minutes last night, genomic pioneer Craig Venter said he didn’t believe in God, because he thinks “the universe is far more wonderful than just assuming it was made by some higher power.”   

Hmm. Random chance explosions are pretty clever. 

But he also admitted, in the same breath, that cells “are software-driven machines and that software is DNA, and that truly the secret of life is writing software is pretty miraculous.” (Italics mine) Perhaps miraculous wasn’t what he meant to say, or perhaps, he simply couldn’t stop himself from using a word typically meant to describe something that transcends the laws of nature, something that often involves a supernatural power or agency.

In either case, I find it mind-boggling that brilliant people like Venter can look at the spectacular wonders of the universe, be they cell or supernova, and put more confidence in some unknown, unseen, and undiscovered natural act rather than in a Creator. Way before the telescope, the naked-eye psalmist couldn’t help but sing, “The heavens declare Thy glory, O God.”

Ever since fourth grade when I received a Wonder Book of the universe, I have been fascinated with space. And so it was with great anticipation that I finally went to the local planetarium for one of its Friday night shows. After viewing Jupiter through the observatory telescope, we entered the science center. Expecting to see walls lined with photos of nebula, or planets, or solar flares, or something celestial, we were astounded to be greeted with displays of Star Wars scenes and science fiction movies. 

Not a NASA photo in sight. Not a lunar landing. Not a bit of wondrous reality.

How are our kids going to know the difference between a Hollywood set and reality? The ensuing light show was equally drab. As if aware of this, the presenter ended the show by treating us to a roller coaster ride through the universe. This consisted of a graphic spiral twirling at a dizzying speed through black space. And all the previously bored kids oohed and ahhed.

My interpretation of the whole experience was that kids weren’t expected to appreciate the marvels of creation for what they are; that they needed to be entertained rather than taught. I say rubbish. We need nothing more to dazzle them with than the truth. And that truth points to the miraculous, even if you are a brilliant, atheistic scientist.

Maybe we all could benefit from a refresher in wonder. How about buying a book of NASA photos for Christmas or bundling up in a lawn chair some night and soaking in the celestial marvel, and wonder, and awe that is intended for our great pleasure of the One who made it.

But now ask the beasts and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind?—Job 12: 7-10

1 comment:

  1. Go, Marcia! Can't tell you how I will be forever grateful that I used to wake my kids in the middle of the night, wrap them in blankets and find a place without much light pollution just to watch meteor showers or other celestial occurances. They remember those adventures and as we lay in the back of our station wagon watching, we would have long, wondrous conversations. Thank you for this brilliant post!

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