"A Five Stop Bus Tour of Reality" --

The Grandeur, Warmth, and Delight of the Christian Worldview

"When God is seen clearly, theology starts dancing..."

Second Stop--The Universe

  1. Totally derivative and created out of nothing
    By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Heb 11.3)

    This is what God the LORD says -- he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: (Is 42.5)

    But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. (Jer 10.12)

  2. Created by deliberate acts of speech--spoken into existence:
    "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Rev 4.11)

    By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. (Ps 33.6)

    Implication: we can talk about it meaningfully and we can paraphrase it in science!

  3. Sustained by speaking -
    The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Heb 1.3)
  4. Trivial by comparison!
    Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? (Is 40.12)

    Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. (Is 40.15)

    (Implication: Sagan says 'all that wasted space'; God looks at the dust in His hand and says 'Huh?')

  5. A delight to Him--a thing of beauty:
    I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind. (Prov 3.27ff)

    God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Gen 1.31)

    May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works -- (Ps 104.31)

    "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone -- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38.4)

  6. It's a gift to the Son!
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Col 1.15-16)
  7. Created for us to marvel at:
    Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. (Ps 111.2)

    He has caused his wonders to be remembered; (Ps 111.4)

    I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. (Ps 77.12)

  8. "Orderly, but still Open"
    "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (Gen 8.22)

    This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar -- the LORD Almighty is his name: "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me." (Jer 31.35)

    The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: "This is what the LORD says: `If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant -- and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me -- can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. (Jer 33.19)

    This is what the LORD says: `If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.'" (Jer 33.25f)

    He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. (Job 9.10)

    For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect -- if that were possible. (Mt 24.24)

    When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: (Luke 19.37)

    Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (Jn 14.11)

    The Death of the Machine: In The Matter Myth, two distinguished physicists--Paul Davies and John Gribbon-- describe a situation, first in a chapter called "The Death of Materialism", and at the end of the book in an observation about Ryle's 'ghost in the machine' :

    "Quantum physics undermines materialism because it reveals that matter has far less 'substance' than we might believe." (p.14)

    "Thus the rigid determinism of Newton's clockwork Universe evaporates, to be replaced by a world in which the future is open..." (p. 15)

    "There is no doubt that the Newtonian world view, with its doctrine of materialism and the clockwork universe, has contributed immensely to the advance of science...But there is equally no doubt that it has also contributed in large part to alienating human beings from the Universe they inhabit...People feel a sense of helplessness; they are merely 'cogs' in a machine that will lumber on regardless of their feelings and actions. Many people has rejected scientific values because they regard materialism as a sterile and bleak philosophy, which reduces human beings to automatons and leaves no room for free will and creativity. These people can take heart: materialism is dead." (p. 13)

    "Today, on the brink of the twenty-first century, we can see that Ryle was right to dismiss the notion of the ghost in the machine--not because there is no ghost, but because there is no machine." (p.308)

    His omni-presence: "where can I go from your Spirit?" (Ps 139)
  9. Finite, temporary, and troubled...
    "Finite but unbounded" - the example of uninterrupted walking around the earth "Behold, I will create a new heavens and a new earth The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Is 65.17)

    That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3.11-12)

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away (Rev 21.1)

    "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Gen 3.17ff)

    The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies . (Rom 8.19ff)

    The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Is 11.6ff)

  10. Only part of it is visible to us (currently)
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Col 1.15f)

    When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6.15ff)

    As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, "Strike these people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, "This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for." And he led them to Samaria. After they entered the city, Elisha said, "LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see." Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. (2 Kings 6.20f)

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3.2f)

    Visions - "I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know -- God knows. And I know that this man -- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows -- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." (2 Cor 12)

    A constant refrain - "He opened their eyes..."

  11. Interconnected -- all impacts all (for good or ill)

    1. Example: Gravitational attraction between ALL things - "if I created a tennis ball right here, right now..."

    2. The Dynamics of the Body:
      "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. " (I Cor 12.21ff)
    3. The Dynamics of the Inheritance-Line (e.g. Adam, Christ, Abraham, David):
      "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. " (Rom 5.19)
    4. The Dynamics of family:
      "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. " (Deut 5.9)

      "Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not abhor an Egyptian, because you lived as an alien in his country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD. " (Deut 23.7)"

      As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, (Rom 11.28)

      And you say, `If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. (Matt 23.30)

      "But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things...He keeps my laws and follows my decrees. He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. "Yet you ask, `Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. (Ezek 18)

    5. The Dynamics of "Fixed" laws:
      "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man's wife;no one who touches her will go unpunished." (Prov 6.27)
    6. The agent/universe connection:
      "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of yourbrow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Gen 3.17ff)

      The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. (Gen 9.2)

  12. Inhabited by other centers of awareness:

    1. Angels--He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Col 1.15f)

    2. People - conscious beings

    3. Animals - "On the threshold of Personhood..."

  13. Teeming with Life

    1. Life is in the blood:
      "because the life of every creature is its blood. " (Lev 17.14)
    2. The breath of life:
      "And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground -- everything that has the breath of life in it -- I give every green plant for food." (Gen 1.30)

      the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen 2.7)

      This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. (Ezek 37.5)

    3. [Plants are not considered as 'alive' in this sense in the bible:
      "Woe to him who says to wood, `Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, `Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in " (Hab 2.19)
      They are generally pictured as the food-source for all of life:
      Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground -- everything that has the breath of life in it -- I give every green plant for food." Gen 1.29f and "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate -- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart." (Psalm 104.14f)]
      (Implication: respiration/combustion as the energy-intake system allows us to outrun 2nd law of thermo.)

    4. Self-identity and Self-directedness:
      Paramecia, for example, can apparently learn, remember, and exhibit adaptive responses such as avoidance and habituation which involve movement performed by coordinated actions ('metachronal waves') of hundreds of hair-like appendages called cilia"
    5. Life is driven to replicate itself -- "be fruitful and multiply...according to their kinds..."

    6. Dependence on God:
      The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. How many are your works, O LORD!In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number --living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. (Ps 104)
  14. "Given over to us"
    The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man. (Ps 115.16)

    Give them a message for their masters and say, `This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him. (Jer 27.4)

    God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1.28)

    But wow do we blame-shift!

    "A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD." (Prov 19.3)...

    Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. (Is 8.19)

    And don't forget the paradigm case of blame-shifting: Gen 3!

  15. The Universe tells us something about Him--the Variety, Sensuality, Musicality of the Creation
    There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. (I Cor 15.40)

    Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. (Gen 2.1)

    There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (I Cor 12.4)

    The heavens declare the glory of God; (Ps 19.2)

    For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom 1.19-20)

    Such 'unnecessary' variety: cinnamon, scarlet, a gentle breeze, an unfolding sunset, the feel of cool water, the sound of a harp, warmth of a fire, the tang of mustard, the loyalty of a pet, the smell of fresh clover, the looks of lovers, honeysuckle, the smile of an infant, the sound of gentle rain on a hot summer day, red-ringlet hair, the clarity of the stars, the brooding of the ocean, a laugh, tears at reunions, wildflowers, the touch of silk, full moons in the Fall, cool marble floors, a trumpet sound, the Song of Solomon!

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