By Rich Berube
CSS Associate Chaplain
For some Christians, an incongruity is apparent between the modern explorations, discoveries and lessons of science on the one hand, and some of the tenets of our Faith tradition on the other (evolution set against literal creationism).
It does seem a bold proclamation for modern man to profess a belief in One God, the Father Almighty, Creator of all things visible and invisible, in light of what science is telling us about this creation, and how that knowledge can bemuse us. This primary and most inclusive of our Faith tenets remains unfathomable in its breadth and its profound mystery. Yet a wonderful sense of deliverance comes from the acknowledgment contained therein: that quite beyond my limited strengths and evident flaws, and beyond the dazzlements of science, I can know that in the end it is the Creator, not me – nor science – that orders and moves all things. I am just a worker on the ground, not the chief in command. I can entrust the best of my efforts to a Father who in His own time and wisdom will see them through.
Further, we proclaim a Faith in Christ the Son, as well as in the Holy Spirit. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) teaches that Christ, the Son of God, is inclusive of, and yet distinct from, the Father (who is distinct from but inclusive of the Holy Spirit). All three Persons are intimately bound in a vibrant, active and loving relationship of oneness!
Perhaps there we can discern vital possibilities about relationship and community. All of life, we believe, is interconnected, and in our relations with one another, we reflect in a small way the oneness of the Trinity. Any attempts at explaining the Trinitarian nature of God remains very abstract and elusive for us, of course, as this kind of mystery always will.
Yet “Faith seeks understanding,” so we look around us to grasp a little better.
The awesome wonder of the creation and its Author is affirmed in so many ways – if I observe and listen carefully. All of it becomes ever more intriguing for me as I consider the once unimaginable discoveries that science is making about our universe, and its astounding development and manifestations.
It is spellbinding to gaze at the skies on a clear night, and consider some of what modern astronomy is revealing to us.
Recent discoveries made through the deployments of the Hubble and Gaia space telescopes attest to the vastness of the observable universe: that our own average-sized single galaxy has as many as 400 billion stars. Our Milky Way is only one of over two trillion galaxies estimated to exist in the observable universe (considered to be a mere 200 billion only a few weeks ago); this universe continues to expand in a cosmic dance of inter-relatedness. Only four or five years ago, the estimated time since the “Big Bang” was 11.8 billion years, and since then, our astronomers have added two billion years to that estimate. In fact, space is so vast that some of the light I see in the night sky with my naked eye (travelling at 300,000 kilometres per second) comes from stars that disappeared long ago!
As marvelous as space is, our own little terrestrial surrounding is nearly as impressive. Science is revealing an entire world of subatomic particles bound together by astonishing energies and patterns of relationships.
Confronted by this kind of knowledge, the simple notions of energy, time, and space are somehow obliterated for me, and the idea of eternity becomes a little more accessible – and God's absolute might and majesty a little more wondrous!
Springing from this is also my recognition of the amazing providential nature of God in this creation; the realization that this grand design is dynamic and continuing, and that through Christ and the Holy Spirit, God remains present in our lives, involving us in guiding His creation towards its perfection.
I am reminded of the lovely quote from the French Philosopher Jean-Baptiste Lacordaire who said: “All I know of tomorrow is that Providence will rise before the sun.”
God's creative presence among us – and through us – continues to play out; that even as the night falls, there is a promise of a tomorrow already graced by hope and fulfillment.