The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
Looking across Yellowstone Lake at the snow capped mountains and seeing the last quarter moon, I am awed by the beauty of creation. I can make myself aware that I am also looking at astronomical phenomenon, as well as viewing history, meteorology, geology, biology, chemistry and physics. And while I can do all of this without any reference to God the Creator, as a believer, the physical cosmos also tells me about the glory of God. Obviously nature has no words to speak of, but the believer hears its voice, and knows the words and understands the revelation (see Psalm 19).
Science views all of this ‘neutrally’ – it sees nothing but the empirical world, whereas for the believer the physical world is a sign pointing to a greater reality and to a Creator. For the believer, the world is not neutral, but is a gift from God to us, not just a thing or things, but a gift that reveals the love of the Giver, and that the Giver of the gift is in fact, Love. It is a gift that we are given to care for and for which we give thanks to the Creator. The physical world speaks of the spiritual world for they are the same reality, and it invites us to see beyond the mirco- and macro empirical worlds which are the limits of science and to see into the infinite and eternal.
(Psalm 65:1, 5-13)
Praise is due to you . . . O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it,
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
Creation and nature are not ‘neutral’ in their relationship to us, for they do proclaim the glory of God. They draw us to God, which is what God created them to do. They all do God’s will naturally, and invite us to do the same. Creation is not indifferent to our knowing God but rather tells us of God’s glory so that we will embrace our Creator. Creation draws us to our Creator – a strange reversal of roles in the world of the Fall, for we were created by God to be the mediator bringing all creation to the Creator.
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23)
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. (Romans 1:19-23)
We can find similar sentiments in the writings of the philosopher Lucretius who died about 50 years before the birth of Christ.
” . . . we are all born from the same celestial seed; all of us have the same father, from which the earth, the mother who feeds us, receives clear drops of rain, producing from them bright wheat and lush trees, and the human race, and the species of beasts, offering up the foods with which all bodies are nourished, to lead a sweet life and generate offspring . . .” (De rerum natura, bk. II, lines 991–97)
More of my photos can be viewed at Cincinnati Zoo 2018-6.