I’m reading a fascinating book by Chet Raymo called The Soul of the Night. Although the book was first published some twenty-five years ago, it’s a must read for those who enjoy wrestling with the connection between science and faith. Chet, who is a poet trapped in the body of a scientist, is understandably captivated by “this thing called life that dances on the surface of creation like an abiding flame.”
His warm, inviting collection of essays explores the micro and the macro of Creation. On one hand, he probes the galaxies which are “arrayed in knots and streamers across light-years, across billions of light-years, like motes of dust dancing in window light.” On the other hand, Chet describes how turning over a rock disturbs “a thousand animals” which “scuttle out of sight.” Writing of this unseen micro world, he says, “I scratch my eyelid and disturb a nation of mites. With every step I topple microscopic forests.”
Whether writing of the macro or the micro, when Chet puts Creation under the microscope it’s easy to experience a sort of “spiritual vertigo.” What he finds is almost too unbelievable for the human mind to fully comprehend. Take the Tardigrada. Never heard of them? Me neither. There are more than 900 species of this mite-sized animal. When I say “mite-sized,” I’m talking about the fact that 25,000 of them can fit into the space of a 1-liter Coke bottle. In spite of their microscopic size, these complex creatures are amazingly sturdy. Not only can Tardigrada’s be found in your backyard, they live in hot springs and the Himalayas; in rain forests and the deepest ocean. Their lifespan can approach 100 years and, if that wasn’t astonishing enough, these animals can survive without water for a full decade. I think it’s sad that far too many people today know more about the latest antics of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears than they do these wonders of creation. But I digress. Regarding outer space, here’s one of the most intriguing bits of scientific research Chet reports: the galaxies are moving apart.
Why is that noteworthy? He observes, “If the galaxies are flying apart, then they must have once been together.” As Chet explains, if, using the well-known laws of physics, we were to rewind the movie of history, we’d find that all of the galaxies once shared a common starting point – a big bang of energy – which flung them outward.
What’s more, he notes this burst of energy created the host of galaxies and the basic elements in one, majestic millisecond. Or, as the Bible puts it, God spoke the heavens and the earth into existence; He put the moon and the stars in their place.
Looking to expand your horizons? Want to get a fresh view of the God who formed countless, magnificent galaxies with nothing more than His infinite imagination? Then get his book. While you’re at it, set aside the TV for an evening, setup a back yard telescope, and feast your eyes.