Ocean Sky from Alex Cherney on Vimeo.

The earth has a transparent atmosphere. We’re not always shrouded in clouds. We don’t have rings around our planet to obscure our view.

The sun is placed in the galactic arm so that we’re not crowded by other stars but have a clear view of the universe.

And this planet, in this place, is populated with a species that can look to the night sky and wonder. The species is intelligent enough to create better and better instruments to look deeper and deeper into that night sky.

And a religion gained ascendance among that species which understood that the creation was not the same thing as the Creator and therefore exploration isn’t blasphemy but worship. This religion teaches that the Creator is rational and reasonable and so the creation is too and therefore can be understood.

Our view of the beautiful universe is no accident.

I loved Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl by ND Wilson. His premise is that the entire created order is a story, a spoken word. We all have roles to play. In this video he hits at that in a concrete way. What is stuff made of? In the end, when we’ve zoomed in far enough, basically nothing. That’s because it is spoken by God. But it is real and tangible because God isn’t a liar.

Psalms chapter 19 verse 1

King James 1611 Version

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

"

It deals with a game that [Theodore] Roosevelt and I used to play at Sagamore Hill. After an evening of talk, perhaps about the fringes of knowledge, or some new possibility of climbing inside the minds and senses of animals, we would go out on the lawn, where we took turns at an amusing little astronomical rite. We searched until we found, with or without glasses, the faint, heavenly spot of light-mist beyond the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus, when one or the other of us would then recite:

That is the Spiral Galaxy of Andromeda.
It is as large as our Milky Way.
It is one of a hundred million galaxies.
It is 750,000 light-years away.
It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.

After an interval Colonel Roosevelt would grin at me and say: ‘Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.’

"
– William Beebe, The Book of Naturalists, 1944 (via Futility Closet)

Eden In A Corner Of My Mind

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed…A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon…The name of the second river is the Gihon…And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. - Genesis chapter 2

Now I’m not foolish enough to hop up and down and say they found Eden, but the thought did sit quietly in a corner of my mind when I read this article. The Tigris and Euphrates go north from the Persian Gulf near Iran and Iraq. After Adam and Eve were evicted, an angel stood guard at the entry of the garden. That would have lasted till the garden was destroyed in the Noah’s flood. The garden was the place where humanity began. I have long thought that the garden of Eden must have been in the Persian Gulf based on the rivers referenced. We don’t know where Pishon and Gihon are but the names of the Tigris and Euphrates haven’t changed since Moses wrote so it must be that Eden was associated with them. I think it is unlikely that we’ll ever find evidence of the garden at the bottom of the Persian Gulf but this is something interesting to consider.

Since Hawking’s explanation is a bit too drab and nospecific for bedtime  reading I’ve decided to take the elements of materialism and shape them  into a purportedly accurate, though mythic, narrative. This is what our  culture has been missing for far too long—a creation story for young  atheistic materialists. - Joe Carter (click the image for the full article, which is great)

Since Hawking’s explanation is a bit too drab and nospecific for bedtime reading I’ve decided to take the elements of materialism and shape them into a purportedly accurate, though mythic, narrative. This is what our culture has been missing for far too long—a creation story for young atheistic materialists. - Joe Carter (click the image for the full article, which is great)

The World Creations Stories Create

Read this link about Norse myths. Well, read the first paragraph. Okay, don’t go to the link, read it here:

The Norse believed that the universe emerged from an empty, yawning gulf separating worlds made of ice and fire, respectively, inhabited only by a mysterious, hermaphroditic being named Ymir, who became the mother and father of the race of the jotuns, chaotic nature spirits that would later be the enemies of the Norse gods. Eventually, another being, Buri, came into existence, and his grandchildren, Vili, Ve and Odin, decided to create the world and fill it with life. But unlike the Judeo-Christian conception of God, the Norse deities could not create substance out of nothing, so Odin and his brothers did the only sensible thing – they murdered Ymir and made the world out of his body and the sky out of his skull. Ymir’s blood became the sea, his bones and teeth became rocks and mountains, and his brains the clouds.

The act of sacrifice gave great power to the three brothers, and they proceeded to give life and intelligence to human beings.

So what? I mean this is only a myth, right? The Norse didn’t really believe it, did they? Here’s how Mental Floss summed this up: “The outlook of the Norsemen, who often saw the world as a cruel and unforgiving place, was surely influenced by the fact that they lived in a universe made possible only by death.” Absolutely. Creation myths matter. They form or inform how you interpret and understand the universe. Was the world create by two beings wrestling? Then life as a struggle should be expected. Good will get the upper hand at times and then evil will. Is the world a lie, an illusion? Then the ultimate good is to overcome the lie and understand that nothing is real. Truth is almost impossible to come by. Did the world get created by nothing exploding and life happen by accident? You get the idea.

However, what if the creation myth ((The term ‘myth’ needn’t mean that something isn’t true. There are scraps of truth in a lot of different creation stories. It just refers to the stories that explain things to us.)) tells us about a God who created the world on purpose? Who isn’t part of the universe but isn’t distant from it either? What if this God did it in an orderly fashion and proclaimed it good when he was finished? What should we expect life in that universe to be like? Orderly or chaotic? An impenetrable mystery or a wonder to explore? And in that universe humanity is created especially to be like this God in some ways. How then should humans treat each other? As one of a variety of other species or with care? Creation myths matter. A lot.

A friend of mine is Norwegian and she once told me how thankful she was that Christianity came to Norway because her people were so brutal without it. Understanding the world as a Christian does elevates humanity. People are God’s image bearers and he cares for them so much that he not only speaks to them, but he sent his only Son to die in order to reconcile them to himself. With that view of humanity you’re not free to go and enslave them or hack them up indiscriminately.

Okay, now go back and read the rest of the stories in that link and think about the Vikings and their reputation. Or watch The Thirteenth Warrior. Nah, don’t. It was a lame film. Read Michael Crichton’s book Eaters of the Dead. Crichton was good at research.