The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Listening to the universe

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another;
one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language...
their sound has gone out into all lands,
and their message to the ends of the earth. (Psalm 19:1-4)

• The universe flared into being in a "big bang" 15 billion years ago — not enough time, scientists say, for anything as complex as a human being to evolve by random processes. For such order to emerge, the universe had to have been finely tuned, aiming at life from the beginning.

• The universe continues to expand from the big bang. If the expansion was moving 1 trillionth of 1 trillionth of 1 trillionth of 1 percent slower it would have collapsed back on itself in a massive black hole. Had it expanded that much faster, there would be only dust. It moves exactly at the rate for stars and planets to form.

• In a vacuum, where all energy and matter have been removed, particles spontaneously emerge. Christian tradition affirms that God creates ex nihilo, out of nothing, which "is almost the exact phrase for discussing what we know about the universe from the standpoint of physics," says physicist Brian Swimme.

• Every second the sun transforms 4 million tons of itself into light. All life on earth depends on the sun's gigantic giveaway. If the universe is a revelation of God, this reveals a basic truth about creation its Creator — without generosity, without love, there is no life.


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