Posted in creation, discernment, God, paul, southern lights

What do Aurora Australis, Romans 1, and Apostle Paul have in common?

By Elizabeth Prata*

In Romans 1, the famous passage in which Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit describes the pagans’ reaction to experiencing the God of Creation, begins in verse 18.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

How does this play out, exactly? How are His invisible attributes seen and known? How is it that what can be known about God is made plain to people whose minds are darkened?

I was watching a very excellent documentary called “Antarctica: A Year On Ice”. It follows the people who live and work through a year’s cycle at the various scientific stations on the most remote and brutal continent on the planet. The continent is staffed with about 1100 people at various international stations up and down the Antarctic coast. The largest is the United States’ McMurdo Station. In most documentaries, they show the scientists working. Penguins, climate change, volcanic action, geology…but this documentary features the people who staff the stations in support of the scientists’ work. The regular folks.

The documentary further features the many hundreds of regular people who both work there during the summer, and who “winter over.” They man the store, staff the fire station, fix tractors, cook the meals, wash the dishes, take inventory of all the equipment, etc. When the last plane out at the end of summer leaves, they stay. Thus, the wintering over experience is unique to only a few individuals each year, as the full swell of 1100 during summer dwindles to only about 200 souls spread out among 30 scientific stations during winter in the Antarctic.

Living where there is no hope of departure for 6 months, in brutally cold and windy conditions, in darkness as the sun disappears below the horizon, with only a few dozen people around you…is something that only a few are allowed to experience.

Screen shot from “Antarctica: A Year On Ice”. Aurora Australis

Interestingly most of the people who “winter over” in the Antarctic love it. The landscape under the moon has a stark and glowing beauty. There is an astounding resplendence in the sky that only a few people are privileged ever to see. The stars, planets, Milky Way, moon, and of course the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) dance across the sky in majestic processions, all the time, for there is no sun to hide their glories.

Now here comes the Romans 1 passage lived out among a Gentile. One of the workers described her experience seeing all this for the first time. Here is what she said:

I was out on the sea ice, and all of a sudden comes rolling these waves and waves of green like fairy dust. Giant curtains of fairy dust, just kind of undulating over me. It filled the whole sky and moved in waves across the sky. And I thought this is either what it looks like when aliens are about to abduct you…lol, because this is the green stuff coming down and you feel like you can reach up and touch it. Or if you are a person who believes in heaven, maybe this is what you see in heaven. I’m not sure.

 

But it was really an emotional, life-changing experience for me. I found myself, not believing I’d done it, when I’d figured out where my body position was, I was actually on my knees crying. That’s how beautiful it was to me.

She sounds like every other person who had an encounter with the Living God. She didn’t directly meet the Living God like John, Paul, Isaiah, or Ezekiel did, but she experienced His power through His creation. When you do, you grope for words. You fall on your face. She had a mental reaction and a physical reaction.

First, you notice she described her experience in supernatural terms. It was either aliens, and in context it was clear she was joking, or it was God (“heaven”). Here she was more serious. The blinded mind does see and know of the Living God when they perceive His qualities through His creation, and her description was exhibit A in this process.

She lives and works with scientists in a place that only exists to perpetuate science and to discover scientific reasons for the way the planet is and how it works. All her conversations with people on McMurdo are founded from that basis. That is why they are there in the first place. Yet when she encountered the creation power of the Living God, her first thought was heaven. She did not say “Wow the Big Bang all those billions of years ago manifested itself in perfectly organized ions that traveled over millions of miles in a beautiful display!” She said “heaven” … and who lives in heaven? God.

Secondly, you notice her physical reaction. She was so overwhelmed with glory of His creative power she became insensate. She didn’t know if she was ‘in the body or out of her body’. She had to ‘come to’ and when she did, noticed she had fallen to her knees. Do we fall on our knees when we detect a scientific principle at work? Are we so awed by the process of pasteurization that we cry tears of joy on our knees? Maybe Louis Pasteur did, but anyone else? No.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.  (2 Corinthians 12:2)

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:28b)

screen shot from the documentary. McMurdo station under southern lights

In the Bible men and women fell down when they experienced the direct glory and power of the LORD. Peter fell to his knees when Jesus brought all the fish to the boat, for example. Isaiah fell down in his vision seeing the heavenly throne room. However, people also fell down when they encountered the near-glory of God, experiencing the things sent from heaven. John fell down at the angel’s feet. Cornelius fell down at Peter’s feet. Saul Saul, he fell down when the light from heaven shone around him. The difference as the Romans verse reminds us, is that we are not to worship the creation, not angels nor light nor other men, which are all created. We are not to worship southern lights or the sun or birds of the air nor creeping things.

But those who encounter a direct power from God through the creation react. This reaction is from a conscience which knows what they are seeing is from God and that He exists. This is what the Romans verses mean.

When Apostle Paul witnessed, he always began in the synagogue when giving the Gospel to Jews, reasoning from the scriptures. (Acts 17:2-3). With the Gentiles though, he always started with creation. He did this with the Lycaonians (Acts 14:6, 15) and the Greeks (Acts 17:22–31). Paul started with Creation and God’s attribute as Creator, and he exhorted Gentile listeners to see what can be seen in nature as the evidence for this.

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry. (Romans 11:13)

That is because they know the truth. They know God has created all, but they suppress it. Knowing but suppressing, understanding but denying, is an ongoing mental and emotional struggle inside each and every Gentile. It takes energy to suppress the truth that manifests itself in unwanted forms, such as falling to one’s knees, becoming insensate, or crying. The question is, what will they do with the information afterwards?

That’s where we as Christians can bring some more pressure to bear on their internal emotional and physical tension. We are witnesses to the God of creation. Before I was saved I lived unplugged close to the land and on the sea, experiencing the natural world in many ways. It became obvious to me that there IS a God. Nothing of what I was seeing in His creation could have come about through haphazard bangs and solar wind and evolution. So, I knew God is real because I was seeing His invisible attributes. But that is where I became stuck. What now? What does it mean? Who is this God and what does He want from me?

That is where we can be effective in sharing the next step for the questioning pagan. That next step is sharing knowledge of Jesus, sin, and judgment. Paul used but switched their concept of the God of creation to the God of intimate, loving involvement in their lives, a God who demands holiness but provided the way to achieve what we could not.

This essay first appeared on The End Time in 2015

 

Posted in creation, theology

“And he made the stars also” : Think on This…

By Elizabeth Prata

And 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).

The Bible declares there is one God, in three Persons. And that He made everything we see and all that we do not see. He is transcendent, apart from creation, above it, master.

I believe the Bible’s recounting of actual history, that in the beginning was God and that He made the earth, sky, and stars within a six-day period, and then He rested.

Doesn’t that phrase at the end of verse 16 just tickle you as it does me? He made all this, oh, and the stars too.

The Psalmists marveled as well. In Psalm 147:4 we read that not only did God make the stars, He named all of them!

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names

Looking up into the night sky, the Bible’s countless shepherds must have marveled at the milky skyway adorned with stars winking and blinking and twinkling, They must have been in awe.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26).

And not only did He make the stars (almost as a throwaway line) and not only did He name them, but He made them all different to display His glory.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (1 Corinthians 15:41).

We are so separate from the stars. Only a few men and women have gone into space and seen the stars a bit closer than we have on earth. Here they seem like pretty little pebbles, like periwinkles glittering in the wet sand on the beach.

Yet…think of this. The stars aren’t just pretty pebbles glittering in the night sky. Each one has energy. Think of the energy the sun has.

Source APOD

The sun contains seemingly endless energy, flares erupt, coronal mass ejections are hurled into space, emitting tons of radiation and other energy. The sun boils and cycles and is quiet, then erupts again.

They boiling mass of energy is the sun, a star. And He created it. God created ALL the stars, with ALL their energy.

God is more than that energy, greater, and powerful in speaking them all into existence with just a word. All that energy in every star in the universe can’t add up to the energy God has in speaking just one word!

I mentioned this to a friend, and I said isn’t that amazing? She said, No, it’s terrifying.

A God who does that, makes all the stars too, with their energy, is a terrifying God, a holy and powerful God.

I mentioned this to another friend. She said, it is amazing, and you know what is even more amazing? The Bible speaks of salvation being the true miracle, the true demonstration of power and might. His overcoming sin and forgiving and conversions and clean hearts. This is the true miracle power.

It is good to bow down to God, Creator of heavens and earth. It is good to be reminded of His terrifying power. it is good to extol His grace and gentleness in forgiving sinners.

I pray you think on these creation things. I pray you have friends you can and do speak of His creative power, His terrifying power, His forgiving power. Extol Him in all His ways today. He is endlessly wonderful to think of.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NAS)

 

Posted in creation, theology

Following the North Star: a Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

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I lived on a sailboat for two years. We made passage from Maine to the Bahamas and back, twice. For much of the time along the eastern Seaboard, we traveled the Intracoastal Waterway, a series of connected rivers, bays, and sounds that allowed for passage inside the landform instead of the open ocean. Though, we also made overnight passages on the ‘outside’ too.

It was a fun and interesting experience, a different way of living. Vagabonds, unfettered from the workaday concerns and free to dwell neither here nor there. It also taught me much about the natural world, and who I was. I wasn’t saved during those years, and the experience of living in harmony directly IN nature opened my eyes to the fact that there was a God who created all this; the seas currents, lands, skies, and the stars.

The Bahamas is an island country. It is made up of over 700 islands, and likely many more uncounted, strung out from northwest to southeast in the Atlantic starting at mid-Florida and extending down to mid-Cuba. Cuba actually isn’t our nearest ocean neighbor, The Bahamas is. West End is only 44 nautical miles from Boca Raton. To get there by boat, you must cross the Gulf Stream, that mighty mama of ocean currents.

Well, we did, and we enjoyed the ‘blue water’ of the Bahamas for a season, hopping from island to island to sample Bahamian life to learn of their history, and just relax on a boat that looked like it was floating on air, the sea was so clear.

One particular passage stays in my memory. To go from New Providence Island, where Nassau is, to the Abacos, a larger island string just north of New Providence, you cross New Providence Channel (deep water) and head due north. The mariner must leave at dusk in order to make it to the entry into the island string at dawn. This is so you can cross the coral reef channel safely without the sun in one’s eyes. At dawn, the sun will be behind you and you can see the razor sharp coral that if you run over, will slice your boat and you’ll be in the drink before you know it. So, this meant a night passage. This was OK since most of it was over the deep Atlantic.

Having made some night passages before, we were prepared. We left the cozy anchorage at dusk, sliding out from the arm of land that protected us and turned our compass heading due north.

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Seeing the stars over the ocean twinkle and glitter at night is magical. We look up through our sails, through the spreaders. A spreader is a spar on a sailboat used to deflect the shrouds to allow them to better support the mast. Shrouds are the pieces of rigging that extend down from the spreader ends to the deck and help hold up the mast.

As the boat rolls along, we look up through the rigging to see the carpet above us, littered with diamonds, peeking in and out of the cloud cover, or starkly winking at us through clear skies. We notice one particular star, the North Star AKA Polaris. It is at the end of the handle of the constellation known as the Little Dipper. It’s a unique and important star.

The reason Polaris is so important is because the axis of Earth is pointed almost directly at it. During the course of the night, Polaris does not rise or set, but remains in very nearly the same spot above the northern horizon year-round while the other stars circle around it. Space.com

If we put our right spreader tip at the North Star we could maintain a north compass heading. It was fun to navigate by the stars instead of the compass set in the binnacle where the steering wheel was and the technology blinking at the nav table below. Doing this as we rolled along in the night sea allowed for some pretty majestic and pondering thoughts. Where did the stars come from? Why are there so many? Why doesn’t Polaris move? Do the stars know us? Are we just an insect moving along on the earth or the sea as the unfeeling and unknowing stars go their way in the sky, night after night? What a gulf between us!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
(Psalm 8:3-4)

As an ignorant pagan, I was asking the same things that have been asked by others. See, even the ignorant pagan knows there is a God. (Romans 1:18-20). Everyone knows there is God, because God made it plain to us that He exists and that He made everything we see.

Barreling along on a tiny yacht in a big ocean, under an even bigger sky, the night air cooling my skin and the stars brightening by the moment, I looked up…and wondered. If there is a God, how can I know Him? Who am I?

Polaris doesn’t move. Polaris exists, stays motionless, and all the other stars swirl around it.

Jesus is our pole-star. He never changes, He remains enthroned, while all of creation bows to Him. All our motions, our travels, wanderings, meanderings, eventually bring us all to Him- saved or unsaved. How can I know God, I’d asked? Jesus descended to us. He made Himself known.

He died on the cross and was resurrected as the sacrifice God demanded for sin. I am eternally grateful I know Him and I will meet Him on God’s terms, as a saved sinner, and not on my own sinful terms, as a wandering yachtsman, curious about Him but living in sin and loving it. In that case, I would be destroyed, sent to hell for payment of those sins.

But little did I know on that night, wondering about the sky and Who made it, that I would someday be given grace to be forgiven and enfolded into His kingdom to forever circle around Him, the unchanging, eternal, unique star, the God-Man Jesus.

Posted in creation, theology

The Amazing Natural World

By Elizabeth Prata

We had a dinosaur traveling museum interactive exhibit come to our school. Kids are so fascinated with dinosaurs. He showed them a tooth from a spinosaurus and a megalodon tooth. Lots of oohs and ahhs, lol. Those teeth were huge! The man was very knowledgeable and spoke at the kids’ level and in an encouraging way, too. It was a good event. Continue reading “The Amazing Natural World”

Posted in creation, theology

Sprung fully formed

By Elizabeth Prata

The Creation account in Genesis is a wonder to me and energizing to my faith. It is obvious that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are meant to be a recounting of actual events. These two books are not poetry, though the language is lofty. It is history. The account is a complete one, at least as far as what God wants us to know. There is no place in those chapters for belief in evolution, gap theories, or poetry.

My Bible reading plan this year started with Job and then went to Genesis. It is a plan that brings the reader progressively from the oldest book (Job, then Genesis) to the most recent. (Revelation).

I’ve been mulling the creation account for a while. I enjoyed John MacArthur’s series on it very much a few years back. I’ll link to that series below.

What struck me are a few verses in Genesis 1 and 2-

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:11)

You know that old joke told by secular people, ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’ The answer is, the chicken. Or for the purposes of this essay, not the seed, but the plant.

The plants were created fully formed, with their seeds already in them to propagate to the second generation of flora.

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” (Genesis 1:29).

If someone doesn’t believe this is literal, then they must believe that the author is attributing words to God that He didn’t say. Who would put words in God’s mouth and write them down and then the Spirit inspire men to include them into the canon? Would the Spirit accept words into the canon that God didn’t say…that man made up?

Adam was made fully formed, a fully grown and functioning adult man. He was capable of speech and thought and will. Then God created Eve, another fully functioning adult with thoughts and speech and will.

Satan knew that the earth was created by God complete and functioning from the beginning. He was among the holy angels who shouted for joy when creation was performed. (Job 38:7).

Satan knew that it happened this way. When he invented a false religion for the Greeks, he even included an evil shadow of the true creation story in his pantheon of gods and origin stories. Athena was supposed to have sprung fully formed, and in armor, from her father Zeus’s head.

I affirm in joy the account set before us in Genesis 1 and 2, its true historicity and its wonderful language accurately describing this true event. God spoke, and plants, animals, light, sun, stars; all of it, sprung fully formed from His lips. I pray you have joy in believing this, too.

 

Further reading

John MacArthur sermon series: Genesis: Believe it or Not

Posted in creation, theology

“There is no such thing as transgender”

By Elizabeth Prata

Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. (Genesis 5:2)

Though some people these days (and fewer than we are presented with by the news) claim that there has been some sort of mistake, or that they don’t feel right in their gender, and abuse the medical profession to change that, there’s no such thing as mistakes with God. He made them male and female, period. If a person doesn’t feel right int heir own physiology, there is a mistake with them, not with God.

“You’re either XX or XY. That’s it. … This notion that you are something other than your biology is a cultural construct intended as an assault on God.” John MacArthur

Transgender is a rebellion against God because He made each person as He intended, male or female. Claiming that one wants to switch genders, or that there has been a mistake, is saying God isn’t God, That He is not sovereign, he doesn’t know what He is doing, and it’s OK to make one’s self their own god.

Here is a five-minute clip I thought answered the question of transgenderism sensitively, but heartbreakingly. When a person switches genders, they obliterate themself. Transgender folks are 19X more likely to commit suicide. If you or someone you know is going through a desired gender switch, or wants to, get them help immediately, and pray fervently for them.

 

Posted in creation, Uncategorized

Spectacular earth as seen in low flying drone photos

The headline hooked me

20 of the Most Spectacular Drone Photographs of 2017

The photos stunned me.

I have always loved the view from above. When I was small, maybe between 6 or 8 years old, we started vacationing on Cape Cod during summers. At some point we ended up in Provincetown. This is a town at the very tip of that arms that curls out into Massachusetts Bay. It’s the end of the Cape. At the elbow is a lighthouse called Wood End.

In one of these vacations, my father paid for a scenic plane ride. Barnstormers with biplanes were popular then and one of them appealed my dad and he and I and my brother went up. I’ll never forget the utter beauty of the scene. The winds were calm and so the Bay was calm too. Vivid blue bay with a curling arm of green dune grass fringed by tan sand until the tip, where the sand trailed off into the ocean like a dream fragment. The short lighthouse was at the elbow, dune grass waving all around it but the lighthouse motionless as a sentinel. One lone man sat nestled against the lighthouse, his back to it and knees drawn up, staring out to sea. It was a serene moment, and the memory of it from above stays with me.

I love photos from above.

So, intrigued, I clicked on My Modern Met’s link of the spectacular drone pics of 2017. With drones becoming a personal item even the layman can use, photos from above are becoming more popular. I looked at the pictures, admiring the loveliness of God’s earth. I love maps, topography, satellite photos, all of it. Drone pics are right up my alley.

The photos display the wonder and variety of earth. If you think about Genesis 1, God made it all inside of a week. It’s astounding to think of His creation from the perspective of a saved person. I can attribute all of it to Him, which is a relief and a joy.

I wonder what God thinks of us as he looks down. We truly are children from His daunting perspective. Even from the perspective of a few hundred feet up, we look like children on a playground.

I hope you enjoy these photos, and there are more at the link. Praise our God for His creaive wonders of earth, plants, seas, flowers, animals, and people. Enjoy His might in upholding it all with a word. Just enjoy the prettiness.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
Psalm 33:6

More at the link

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Posted in creation, Uncategorized

What is ‘earthquake music’?

I came across a lecture to be given last week at University of Southern California Library in a series called Visions and Voices. It grabbed my attention because of my curiosity about the music of the spheres, a concept I’ll explain down below. Here is the blurb for the lecture. To my knowledge, it was not recorded or transcribed so I don’t know the specifics of what was said, though I did email the Lecture people to ask after it.

The earth hums along to its own soundtrack. If only we could listen to it. 

When the ground beneath us shifts, as it is prone to do in Los Angeles, it unleashes enormous quantities of energy as seismic waves. Packing a destructive punch, these waves race through the earth like sound waves through air. In fact, seismic waves bear many remarkable similarities to sound waves. But though we feel them as earthquakes, we can’t hear them; their frequencies are simply too low for the human ear to detect. What if we transposed earthquake waves to an audible frequency? This fascinating event will bring these normally inaudible sounds to life through a panel discussion, scientific demonstrations of how seismic waves affect our built environment, experimental sonification of seismic data, and creative musical interpretations. 

Participants include seismologist Lucy Jones, known to many Angelenos as the longtime public face of earthquake science for the U.S. Geological Survey; composer and USGS geophysicist Andrew Michael (Earthquake Quartet #1); USC Dornsife College earthquake geologist James Dolan; USGS physicist Stephanie Ross; and sound artist DJ /rupture. The discussion will be moderated by Josh Kun of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

I like Dr Lucy Jones. I’ve listened to her explanations regarding earthquakes. I’ve read some of her articles, too. I noticed that the Lecture was to include geophysicist Andrew Michael who is part of something called Earthquake Quartet #1, so I looked that up. His info is located at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). It states in part,

Earthquake Quartet #1 is an outgrowth of a lecture that I have been giving since 1997. This lecture, “The Music of Earthquakes,” mixes performance and lecture, music and science, acoustic instruments and computer generated sounds. A musician controls the source of the sound and the path it travels through their instrument in order to make sound waves that we hear as music. An earthquake is the source of waves that travel along a path through the earth until reaching us as shaking. It is almost as if the earth is a musician and people, including seismologists, are the audience who must try to understand what the music means.

The excerpt above has a sample of the music. How interesting!!

That led me to explore more and I learned about sonification, which was also mentioned in the excerpt of the Visions & Voices Lecture at USC. This is a link to an absolutely fascinating 7-minute interview on how, with today’s technology, scientists are turning data into sound (sonification). Take a listen to data that plots median income in Manhattan turned into a song. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt of the article and interview below:

How do you turn a pie chart into sound? That was the problem faced by NASA scientists who found challenges with conveying data to astronauts who were unable to process it because of movement and sight issues in space. But where visuals failed, sound showed its practicality. 

Ears were found to detect patterns in places where even visuals failed, according to Bruce Walker, director of Georgia Tech’s Sonification Lab, who worked on that initial project when the field was just getting started in the early ’90s. Data sonification is now a full fledged academic field, with a growing number of daily uses. Brian Foo, an application developer for the New York Public Library Labs, is pushing it to new boundaries…

The clip does provide audible sounds for data that are usually visually presented on a pie chart. It’s fascinating. What does data sound like? Listen and you will hear a sample. Meanwhile here is one definition of what sonifcation is

Data sonification means representing data as non-speech sound.  The basic principles are similar to visualization, but where visualizations use elements such as lines, shapes, and colours, sonification relies on sound properties such as volume, pitch, and rhythm.

source

The original premise above was the lecture with earthquake and geophysical specialists who say that seismic waves are similar to musical waves (sound waves) and thus the earth possesses a music all its own. This reminded me of the Music of the Spheres, Musica Universalis, an ancient philosophical notion. I wrote about it in a multi-part essay here. The following is an excerpt.

This is My Father’s World is a hymn written sometime in the 1800s by Maltbie Babcock, a preacher in upstate New York. It was published after his death in 1901, and set to music by Frank L. Sheppard. It references Psalm 104; Psalm 24; Acts 4:24; Acts 4.

If you ever heard the hymn “This Is My Father’s World” there is a lyric in the first stanza that mentions the “music of the spheres”. Hymnary.org explains the hymn’s lyric in context-

 The text is a confession of faith and trust, a testimony that all creation around us is the handiwork of our Father, who made the creation (st. 1), charged us to take good care of it (st. 2), and continues to exercise his kingship over it … The phrase “music of the spheres” in stanza 1 refers to the ancient belief that the planets made music or harmony as they revolved in the universe. 

Pythagoras, Plato, Kepler, Bohr, and Pastor Babcock all brushed up against the same order and harmony in creation in math, astronomy, and music, and each of these people throughout the centuries reacted to the divine knowledge of this creation differently, just as Romans 1 said they would. Some saw harmony and order in creation and worshiped it, while others saw harmony and order in creation and worshiped the Creator.

Musica Universalis is the Latin term for the Pythagorean philosophy called Music of the Spheres. Pythagoras initially developed the thought that the planets made music. This notion is not as far off as it sounds- Pythagoras was really on to string theory.

Does the earth make music? Does the universe make its own music? How can we “sonify” the inherent order and harmony of the created universe? Can we tune in to it? As RC Sproul said in his online class Recovering the Beauty of the Arts,

His word of order triumphed over the chaotic abyss present in Genesis 1:2. Any example of creation points to His majestic artistry.

The orderliness of God in His majesty, set to music, or, extracting the inherent music within His harmonious order. Either way, both are interesting notions.

Now wait a minute, did I read that above correctly? The NY Public Library has labs? Now I’m off to explore THAT rabbit trail! Happy earth listening!

Posted in creation, encouragement, God, universe

How big is the universe? How small is the smallest known object?

A friend sent me a link to a video where the scale of the universe is compared. We start with human size and drill down to the smallest known length/size, which is a string of String Theory.

NOVA – Official Website | A Sense of Scale: String Theory says of a string,

The strings of string theory are unimaginably small. Your average string, if it exists, is about 10-33 centimeters long. That’s a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter. If an atom were magnified to the size of the solar system, a string would be the size of a tree.

Then the scale increases to compare larger objects, and ends with both the known universe’s size and the estimated universe’s size.

It is estimated that the diameter of the observable universe is about 28.5 gigaparsecs (93 billion light-years, 8.8×1026 metres or 5.5×1023 miles), putting the edge of the observable universe at about 46.5 billion light-years away. (Source)

God is bigger than all that.

The reason the video is fascinating is because of the comparison. It makes more sense to compare objects to determine relative size. If I’d have written “The observable universe is 28.5 gigaparsecs” you’d have gone, “hunh?!” But seeing the sizes of known things and pondering their sizes is easier and more productive when you have a known to latch an unknown onto.

Now, when I was a non-saved person, I’d have eagerly learned these facts about the scale of the universe. It is mystifying and wondrous to see the sizes of these things, a string to a neutrino to a DNA strand to a molecule to… and so on. But just knowing the facts for the sake of knowing them is self-glorifying.

The key for the saved person is making the comparison. God is not only bigger than all that, He MADE all that. In six days. There’s the difference.

When we compare everything to Christ things begin to assume a supernatural element which awes and fascinates.

When Paul preached to the Gentiles, he always began with creation. Gentiles didn’t know or care about the Hebrew scriptures, but every Gentile who walked the earth knew that an earth existed. Who made it? In Acts 14:14-15, the Gentiles thought Paul and Barnabas were gods. Paul told them in Lystra:

Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 

In Athens, Paul said,

For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:23-25)

It is so sweet to meditate on creation balanced against the immensity of the fact that our God made it. And His attributes are just as immense, infinite, actually. His love and mercy and omniscience and power and grace…

Posted in creation, God, valley of vision

Hovering over chaos, order came to birth: Valley of Vision

My morning devotional includes reading one prayer from the phenomenal book “Valley of Vision.” These are Puritan prayers, collected and compiled by grand subject. Today’s was “The Spirit’s Work”. For me, these prayers are utterly moving, piercing, and beautiful with a lyricism of writing and a stirring of the soul that is unmatched, except by the Bible. Here is today’s, and I comment at the end:

The Spirit’s Work (from The Valley of Vision)

O God the Holy Spirit,
Thou who dost proceed from the Father and the Son,
have mercy on me.

When thou didst first hover over chaos,
order came to birth,
beauty robed the world, fruitfulness sprang forth.
Move, I pray thee, upon my disordered heart;
Take away the infirmities of unruly desires
and hateful lusts;

Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief;
Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth;
Make it fragrant as the garden of paradise,
rich with every goodly fruit,
beautiful with heavenly grace,
radiant with rays of divine light.

Fulfil in me the glory of thy divine offices;
Be my comforter, light, guide, sanctifier;
Take of the things of Christ and show them to my soul;
Through thee may I daily learn more of his love,
grace, compassion, faithfulness, beauty;
Lead me to the cross and show me his wounds,
the hateful nature of evil, the power of Satan;

May I there see my sins as
the nails that transfixed him,
the cords that bound him,
the thorns that tore him,
the sword that pierced him.

Help me to find in his death the reality
and immensity of his love.
Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth
in his, ‘It is finished’.

Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of
atonement achieved, expiation completed,
satisfaction made, guilt done away,
my debt paid, my sins forgiven,
my person redeemed, my soul saved,
hell vanquished, heaven opened,
eternity made mine.

O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons.
Write them upon my heart, that my walk be
sin-loathing, sin-fleeing, Christ-loving;
And suffer no devil’s device to beguile
or deceive me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I read the line that says,

When thou didst first hover over chaos, order came to birth, beauty robed the world, fruitfulness sprang forth.

It brought to mind a metaphor. When all three Persons of the Triune God were intimately involved with the earth’s creation, it made me think of a metaphor of how the Triune God is intimately involved in similar work to hover over us, order coming to birth, beauty robing our soul, and fruitfulness springing forth. He creates out of the formless void of our disordered heart peace, calm, rest, fruitfulness. All three Persons of the Triune God are involved in creating in us an interior world of light.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3)

May the perfect and loving God who created earth and soul, bring you truth and comfort today. Let the Light of His love and Word illuminate your soul.