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Reflection July 15, 2018
"Lost and Found in the Cosmos" by Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
As I write this article, I’m trying to prepare the “Theology 101: For the Love of God” series of presentations at Smith Village July 10, July 17, July 24, July 31 - from 10 am until 11 am).
Much of what I’ll attempt to explain has to do with the discipline known as “cosmology.” Cosmology is, ideally, where science and theology intersect. It’s, by far, one of my favorite life- pursuits. I still vividly recall the course on Cosmology that I took in my sophomore year at Quincy University. In a true sense, that course challenged me and changed my life for the better.
Science and religion are not enemies and we make them enemies to our peril. Science helps us understand the world (and universe) in which we live. Religion helps us understand what life and the cosmos mean. Cosmology helps us ponder both of these over-lapping realms.
Science teaches us that the universe in which we live is approximately 13.7 billion years old. That’s really, really, REALLY old. We can, certainly, debate this number but it’s pretty well determined to be a VERY LARGE number.
God began EVERYTHING in what has been termed “The Big Bang.” This idea was first proposed by a Belgian clergyman in the 1920’s. Only since 1965, however, have scientists “proved” the Big Bang.
The moment of creation is staggering. While our Bible attempts to proclaim it in very poetic ways in the two creation accounts of Genesis (yes, there are two different accounts of creation in the opening chapters of Genesis: the first account in Genesis 1:1-2:4, the second account is from Genesis 2:4 and following). These two accounts were never intended to be scientific fact. The accounts proclaim the theological truth that God is the Creator.
Let me quote an account of the moment of creation from a truly wonderful book I read years ago and am currently re-reading, A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson (2002):
“If you wish to build a universe…you will need to gather up everything there is - every last mote and particle of matter between here and the edge of creation - and squeeze it into a spot so infinitesimally compact that it has no dimensions at all. It is known as a singularity…
“It is natural but wrong to visualize the singularity as a kind of pregnant dot hanging in a dark, boundless void. But there is no space, no darkness. The singularity has no ‘around’ around it…We can’t even ask how long it has been there - whether it has just lately popped into being, like a good idea, or whether it has been there forever, quietly awaiting the right moment. Time doesn’t exist. There is no past for it to emerge from.
“And 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 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 (the first) 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.”
I believe without hesitation that God was and is the Source of All Creation. The scope of the universe is mind-boggling. No human mind can truly fathom the expanse of what has been generated from that first moment of creation. Yet in all the vastness of our cosmos, there is no place where God is not present.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV)
There are basically two ways to talk about God. I’ll explore these two ways more fully in the theology talks. One of the ways is to talk about God is in light of the universe God created: elegant, dazzling, absolutely amazing, beyond our feeble words!
Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Interim Pastor
Rev. Millie Myren, Support Minister