"The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me."Continue...I mention this because after checking out the Gates with what seemed like the rest of the American population on Saturday, Denise and I went to the A.M.N.H., the highlight of which was the Hayden sphere (pictured above). If there is something more capable of imparting an impression of how both enormous and infintessimal our Universe is, I'd like to know. An explanation of how it works can be found here. The closest proximation to the experience on the web I can find is this. Start by clicking on the quarks, click outside the box and just keep going, and going, and going...
Now, 17th century astronomy couldn't have begun to fathom the kind of data I encountered in the Hayden sphere. So if even the science of his day terrified Pascal, shouldn't our fear be even greater? Not necessarily.
"A young woman was sitting in the audience as the lecturer laid out the endless range of galaxies, the infinite depth of black holes, the mystery of dark matter, and the comparative insignificance of that blue dot - planet earth. Suddenly she exclaimed, 'That frightens me!' When Professor Torrance heard this exclamation, his response was, 'Don't be afraid. That's how much God loves you'"(p.15)!That quote is just one more example of a well-formed Christian imagination catching up with science, to the benefit of both. Similarly, Karl Barth said the following:
"It is by Him, Jesus Christ, and for Him and to Him, that the universe is created as a theatre for God's dealings with man and man's dealings with God" (p. 94).The bigger the stage, the greater the drama. The larger the Universe is, it follows that God must be larger still... and that he must have humbled himself across even greater expanses in order to meet us.
Before the big bang occured, at least 13 billion of the measurements we call "years" ago, there was nothing materially human about God. But there is now. This God who was without us, at that time (if "that" can even be called "time") made an utterly free decision to never be God without us again. God freely chose to consign himself to the very human nature that we each inhabit, and that's what made the big bang so loud. It was the sound of love.
Gerald asked me in comments below what the Gospel is. I think the Gospel is this decision. This decision means that God is so utterly for us, that He consigned himself to our nature forever. Anguish, cruelty, even death could not stop the force of this decision. In one sentence?
"The doctrine of the divine election of grace is the sum of the Gospel" (p. 10).But better yet is this said with neither tongue in cheek nor fingers crossed.