The Universe and God: which is easier to explain?

[From the archives.]

I heard a space scientist on the radio last week. He was saying that in space there is no up or down or left or right. One star appears to be right next to another, he explained, but they might really be hundreds – perhaps thousands – of light years apart. And in relation to one another, neither is higher or lower than the other. He said our vocabulary for spatial relations here on earth is inadequate to the task of understanding the spaces between the stars.

He tries to explain this to his students by telling them to see themselves here on earth and view the stars out there as being all around them, to look up at the stars above them and know that in the universe the relations between bodies is vast and wonderful.

It was that look up part that got me. In one sentence he was saying that there is no up or down, then he says he tells his student to look up at the stars above them. Even a scientist who has been studying the issue his entire career cannot find the words to explain what he means.

It’s like he was mimicking Paul trying to explain the nature of God …

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33.)

… and God’s love for us.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19.)

Unsearchable … beyond tracing out … surpassing knowledge.

You think explaining the universe is hard? Try explaining God.

***

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9 Responses to The Universe and God: which is easier to explain?

  1. Pingback: The Universe and God: which is easier to explain? – Tim’s Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another | Talmidimblogging

  2. Rick says:

    Several weeks ago, in the midst of interesting times, I looked up at the clouds set in perhaps the bluest sky I had seen for awhile, and I said out loud: I believe. Now, whenever I see clouds, I affirm I believe. Feeds my soul…

    As years go by I am much more comfortable with what I cannot explain; I am quite content to say I believe.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    In one sentence he was saying that there is no up or down, then he says he tells his student to look up at the stars above them. Even a scientist who has been studying the issue his entire career cannot find the words to explain what he means.

    When you’re standing on a planetary surface looking at the sky, the stars DO appear to be up above you.

    You think explaining the universe is hard? Try explaining God.

    Hasn’t stopped them from trying.
    The Perfectly-Parsed, Utterly-Correct Theology that Has God All Figured Out.

    • Tim says:

      We do tend to use the frame of reference we find ourselves in. It’s when we fail to recognize that another person’s frame of reference exists that we get into trouble, both theologically and cosmologically.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Related to this is my reaction to the Rush Limbaugh definition of planet (published in one of his books): “Liberal-speak for ‘World’.”

        My reaction (as an Old School SF litfan):
        * If you see a landscape, it’s a World. If you see a globe, it’s a Planet.
        * If you’re on the surface looking up at the sky, it’s a World. If you’re in the sky looking down on it, it’s a Planet.
        * The dividing line is when the horizon starts to curve into a sphere. Straight horizon = World, curved/spherical horizon = Planet.

  4. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    I think it’s good to ponder both the natural world and God — it keeps us humble and reminds us that our language is inadequate and finite, as the “look up” example shows!

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