Morgan Park

 Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor

11024 S. Bell Avenue 

Chicago, IL 60643


​Reflection May 29, 2016

A Short History of Nearly Everything
Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth

     For this week’s Advance, I’d like to offer a series of quotations from a very special book my beloved Beth bought for me years ago: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It is critically important for all Christians to have a clear understanding of how creation came to be and how it has unfolded over the countless eons since God initiated the cosmos.

     There can be no healthy or sustainable battle between what science teaches and what religion reveals to us. The best we Christians can do is to embrace what science discloses and reflect on those discoveries in light of our enduring faith. Both science and religion add much to our human lives. They are not enemies to each other!

     I believe the following quotations can serve us all as moments of deep reflection (I offer comments in the italics!):


“Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period older than the earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides have been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, starved, stranded, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from delivering its tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result - eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly - in you.” (In other words, it’s amazing for every one of us to be here. And, yes, I believe strongly that God’s hand is in all of this!)


(Describing the Big Bang - 13.17 billion years ago)   

“So from nothing, our universe begins. In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception. In the first lively moment is produced gravity and all the other forces that govern physics. In less than a minute the universe is a million billion miles across and growing fast. There is a lot of heat now, ten billion degrees of it, enough to begin the nuclear reactions that create the lighter elements - principally hydrogen and helium, with a dash of lithium. In three minutes, 98 percent of all the matter there is or ever will be has been produced. We have a universe. It is a place of the most wondrous and gratifying possibility, and beautiful, too. And it was all done in about the time it takes to make a sandwich.

(Our Creator’s amazing creation is beyond our human comprehension.)


“There is absolutely no prospect that any human being will ever visit the edge of our solar system - ever. It is just too far.” (Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand hold me fast. - Psalm 139:7-10)


“Our nearest neighbor in the cosmos, Proxima Centauri, is 4.3 light years away, a sissy skip in galactic terms, but that is still a hundred million times farther than a trip to the moon. To reach it by spaceship would take at least twenty-five thousand years … the average distance between stars (in our galaxy) is 20 million million miles.”


“Nobody knows how many stars there are in the Milky Way (galaxy) - estimates range from 100 billion or so to perhaps 400 billion - and the Milky Way is just one of 140 billion or so other galaxies, many of them even larger than ours.”

(Yet our Loving God knows the exact number of stars in our galaxy and in every other galaxy! --- Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; your are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31)


“Only about 6,000 stars are visible to the naked eye from Earth, and only about 2,000 can be seen from any one spot. With binoculars the number of stars you can see from a single location rises to about 50,000 and with a small two-inch telescope it leaps to 300,000.”

(The Lord determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147: 4)


“About 4.6 billion years ago, a great swirl of gas and dust some 15 billion miles across (from a supernova explosion) accumulated in space where we are now and began to aggregate. Virtually all of it - 99.9 percent of the mass of our solar system - went to make the sun (the remainder went on to form our planet earth and the other planets) ... At this point, about 4.5 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into Earth, blowing out enough material to form a companion sphere, the Moon.” (God made the two great lights - the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night - and the stars. Genesis 1:16)


“In simplest terms, what Einstein’s famous equation (E=mc2) says is that mass and energy have an equivalence. They are two forms of the same thing: energy is liberated matter; matter is energy waiting to happen. Since c2  (the speed of light times itself) is a truly enormous number, what the equation is saying is that there is a huge amount - a really huge amount - of energy bound up in every material thing … You may not feel outstandingly robust, but if you are an average-sized adult, you will contain within your modest frame no less that 7 X 10 18 joules of potential energy - enough to explode with the force of 30 very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point! Everything has this kind of energy trapped within it.”

(When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Psalm 8:3-4)


“Atoms, in sort, are very abundant. They are also fantastically durable. Because they are so long lived, atoms really get around. Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you … Nobody actually knows how long an atom can survive but it is probably about 1035 years - a number so big that even I am happy to express it in notation.”


“Neutrons and protons occupy an atom’s nucleus (its center). The nucleus of an atom is tiny - but fantastically dense, since it contains virtually all the atom’s mass … If an atom were expanded to the size of a cathedral, the nucleus would be only about the size of a fly.”


“We live in a universe whose age we can’t quite compute, surrounded by stars whose distances we don’t altogether know, filled with matter we can’t identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don’t truly understand.”

(For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and  wonderfully made … How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! I try to count them - they are more than the sand … Psalm 139: 13-14, 17-18)