I lay in the thick summer grass under a lone pine on a recent evening, looking upward through the silhouetted needles. It was unusually clear for our local weather, probably due to a recent storm, and once my eyes adjusted, the brighter summer constellations pierced the city light-haze. Fainter stars supplemented the brighter ones to form the constellations– the Swan, the Harp, the Eagle, the Scorpion– each a familiar friend from summers gone by. As I lay admiring the expanse, with its delicate reds, blues, and yellows scattered throughout, I had no choice but to wonder. I had, and have, no choice but to be amazed, realizing I was looking at light unimaginably far away, though seemingly near enough to touch. And it is so big, while I am so small, like a great canvas that encompasses the whole Earth that is made for wonder in its viewers.
And this brings me to the question of what the natural world has to do with faith in Christ. Unless a person has had their heart so shriveled that they have lost their capacity for amazement, for noticing beauty all around them, anyone who takes time to look at the order, complexity, and simplicity of the world all around them cannot help but wonder. Everyone does this– men, women, old, young, moderns, ancients. It used to be called worship, though fewer people think of this activity in those terms than they used to here in the West. As a Christian, when I look up at the night sky, I do not worship the stars. When I look at physical laws, I do not worship Paley’s clockwork. As a Christian, I worship the only thing befitting worship. Worship is a personal, communal activity, so placing the ultimate object of that worship in unthinking matter is utterly foolish. Personal worship ought to point toward a personal Object. The God of Christianity provides the only adequate object of worship for the wonders of nature. God is pre-existing, eternal, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, and infinitely good. Unlike us, He deserves worship. In doing science, then, we should do it for the purpose of exploring this wonderful world, not just for our own utilitarian benefits or to wonder at nature alone, but to glory in the Father of lights who spoke it all into existence in a display of imaginative Creation.
What I am not saying is that this thought is meant as some rigorous piece of scientific evidence for God’s existence. I strongly suspect such specific evidence based on individual theories or laws exists, and think I know what such lines of evidence look like (like here too), but I do not yet have the technical understanding of quantum physics or space-time physics (or practical time in the space of my calendar!) to work through such arguments for God’s existence at the level I’d like to. That takes thorough training in mathematical logic, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of science, making it folly to think because of an article on the internet, one is well-versed enough on a specific scientific argument to fully understand it and its (real or apparent) flaws.
What I am saying is something more basic than that, something for anyone who looks and wonders: we live in a wonderfully miraculous world where elegant simplicity just works when it doesn’t necessarily have to. But it does, and it allows us to probe the very structure of our beautiful reality, inspiring awe in the student of nature. Awe results in praise, and as a Christian, I have the biggest object of praise– not an impersonal clockwork universe, nor an eternal quantum bubble, but a personal, infinite Creator who loved his creation enough to enter it by taking on a physical body and becoming human, to redeem human beings who were made to wonder and worship their Maker and Sustainer. Having fallen into evil and turned away from the very source of Wonder, to “worship and serve created things rather than the Creator,” God’s greatest act of wonder in the physical world was to enter it as the God-man Jesus, saving by grace all who turn from their wicked ways to Him, trusting His death and historical Resurrection alone to bring them back into the proper relationship with such a great and Wondrous God.