Do the Heavens Declare the Glory of God?

  • Article
  • 5 pages
  • Level: high school and above

This article from the journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith is based on a sermon given by Owen Gingerich at the First United Methodist Church in Henderson, Kentucky, on April 21, 2013.  Gingerich, an astronomer and historian of science at Harvard University, contrasts a modern understanding of the universe with that of Martin Luther or the Psalmist:

[The sky I saw] was the same sky the Psalmist saw, or Martin Luther saw, but in my twentieth-century understanding, the heavens were far vaster than either of them could have imagined. In both space and time in my mind’s eye, my universe was overwhelmingly different from the heavens they saw and envisioned.

To Gingerich, the heavens still declare the glory of God—in different ways than they might have to people in the past, thanks to our modern understanding—but they declare it nonetheless.  However, he notes that not everyone sees this:

[A total solar eclipse] is one of the most breathtaking views from or on our planet. Yet I doubt that this is enough to sway a skeptic. And perhaps that is how it should be. There is a telling passage in First Kings:

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

The message is in a still, small voice, God’s inspiration, literally the bringing in of the spirit. The glory of the heavens does not knock the skeptic from his perch. It is in the eye of the beholder. For me, the glory of the heavens inspires me to understand the handiwork of the Lord. However, it does not work for everyone.

Click here to access this article from Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.

Click here to access a version of this article from God and Nature Magazine.