Which brings me to my faith crises. When I contemplate what science is teaching us about the vastness of the universe, I’m confronted with the uncomfortable fact that the God in my head-the one I pray to every night-definitely does not exist. Belief in an intelligent agent who created the cosmos is reasonable enough, but as astrophysicist Hugh Ross noted, “the immensity of the cosmos made me doubt that a Creator of such awesome magnitude had communicated—in words—to mere humans on this tiny speck called Earth.”
But before you call the theology police, let me explain. Consider what astronomy has taught us about creation. William P. Blair, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University, scaled the awesome distances of the universe for “normal” people. He says, “imagine the distance from the earth to the sun (93 million miles, or about 8 light minutes) is compressed to the thickness of a typical sheet of paper. On this scale, the “edge” of the Universe … is not reached until the stack of paper is 31 million miles high.” We don’t know what (or Who) is beyond the universe, but we know it’s expanding at an ever-increasing rate!
Two things occur to me when I consider these staggering distances. First, that image of God in my mind isn’t big enough to create something so incredibly awesome. To paraphrase J. B. Phillips, my God is “too small.” Creation is correcting my theology—if only I will let it.
Why is this so important? A. W. Tozer said that what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us, because our worship of Him and the tenor of our spiritual life cannot rise above our concept of God. Perhaps that’s why we truly trust Him with so little in our lives. When I consider what astrophysics teaches us about creation, and subsequently what kind of Being must be behind it, Isaiah starts to make a whole lot more sense. “Woe is me!” he cries out. “For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King!”
Second, when I consider the size of the universe, it’s hard to imagine why a being who is able to create something of such magnitude would concern himself about creatures so seemingly insignificant as humans. Compared to the universe, earth itself—not to mention individual human beings—is less than a grain of sand. Why would he trouble himself to not only communicate with us, but send his son to die for us? “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers-the moon and stars you set in place, what is man,” asks the Psalmist, “that you are mindful of him?” Truly, who are we that such a Being would communicate with us?
So I’m a little afraid of astrophysics—not because it persuades me towards atheism, but because it challenges the small ideas I have about God.