George Orwell once suggested that if one wants to write great prose, the first sentence needs to be compelling. Neil deGrasse Tyson certainly met that standard with a stunning opening sentence in his book ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY:
“In the beginning, nearly fourteen billion years ago, all the space and all the matter and all the energy of the known universe was contained in a volume less than one-trillionth the size of the period that ends this sentence.”
Not only did he, rather brilliantly, begin his account of creation with the first three words of the Bible, but he managed, in only forty words, to communicate a picture of the universe that is beyond rational comprehension. How can the average human being – or any human being – grasp the scale of the universe, either at its microscopic beginning or its massive current reality?
I, for one, don’t find the latest discoveries of science to be any easier to comprehend or believe than the biblical story many of us grew up with. Occasionally someone will say to me, “I really want to be a person of faith, but the concept of God just seems unbelievable.” Indeed! But maybe it is time for us to admit that the idea of creation itself is beyond the reach of our faculties of reason and imagination. And what if, as I said in a recent sermon, these mind-blowing stories are really the same: “In the beginning…God created light, and there was a Big Bang as the universe exploded into existence.”
I have never been one who needed all the stories of the Bible to be literally true in order for the Bible to bear witness to the Truth that can be transforming in the life of a human being. Beginning with the story of Adam and Eve, and continuing through the struggles of the post-resurrection disciples, the Bible is primarily a story about us and our attempts to live fully and hopefully in the midst of mysteries, both joyous and tragic, that lie beyond our comprehension. But if the universe began as a microscopic speck of energy one trillionth the size of the period that ends this sentence, the whole story of creation is a miracle the scale of which makes anything plausible. It is a miracle I call God.
Rev. Don Underwood