Thursday, January 3, 2008

POINT: God is Big.

Here's a quote from Richard Dawkins that I agree with. Well, for the first sentence only, the second two sentences are wrong. But it's a start. I'll quote him and then give 2500-year-old evidence that his second two sentences are wrong:

First, Dawkins:
“The universe is genuinely mysterious, grand, beautiful, awe-inspiring. The kinds of views of the universe which religious people have traditionally embraced have been puny, pathetic, and measly in comparison to the way the universe actually is. The universe presented by organized religions is a poky little medieval universe, and extremely limited.”

Counterpoint, from Isaiah:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the sky with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of Yahweh, or being his counselor has taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and shown to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance: Behold, he takes up the isles as a very little thing. ... Have you not known? have yet not heard? has it not been told you from the beginning? have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants of it are as grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing; who makes the judges of the earth as vanity. ... To whom then will you liken me, that I should be equal to him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these, who brings out their host by number; he calls them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power, not one is lacking.

A bigger universe makes the God who created it more impressive, not less, and makes Isaiah 40 more poignant, not less. Don't get so hung up on cosmological details like the poetic "sits above the circle of the earth" phrase that you miss the fundamental implication here: God's universe is big, and he is even bigger.

(For further discussion of the immensity of the universe, see Days 1 and 2 in the series on the left sidebar.)

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