Amazing Works of Creation
When we reflect on wonderful works of creation, our thoughts often turn to beautiful creatures like hummingbirds and butterflies. Most people do not think firstly about such issues as the electromagnetic spectrum of energy including x-rays, visible light and radiowaves. One great scientist who saw the beauty of creation in such phenomena was James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879). He was a physicist, the first professor of experimental physics at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. Over the main entrance to the building, this physicist directed that Psalm 111:2 be carved in Latin: Magna opera Domini, exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.” The English translation is “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” (ESV) When he studied these physical phenomena, Maxwell saw that they had been wonderfully designed and created by God. According to the Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists (2002) Maxwell’s summary of electromagnetism in the form of field equations is “an achievement equalled only by that of Newton and Einstein in mechanicsl” (p. 246)
Many influential scientists have carried out research in the Cavendish Laboratory. Some like James Watson and Francis Crick of DNA fame, did not reflect on God except to deny His existence. However, when the old Cavendish building was replaced by a modern building in 1973, Andrew Briggs, a graduate student in physics, suggested that the new building bear the same biblical inscription, this time in English over the main entrance. An appropriate committee approved, and so it is that the words “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all that have pleasure therein.” (16th century Coverdale translation). The legacy of great Christian physicists is apparent to all.
The take home message for us is that all nature, all creation, bears testimony to the work of God and is therefore commended to us for study. Only a few people are so interested in science that they make it a life career. Others derive vicarious pleasure in science by following reports of new discoveries. I, for example, find it interesting to see pictures of the landscapes on distant planets and moons. They seem more real when one can view an actual picture. Of course, planetary science and the study of deep space also testify to God’s majesty and power, and are worthy of study.
There are lots of people in our society however who claim to have no interest in science. Most of them are actually fooling themselves about their lack of interest. Are they interested in human health? Are they interested in beautiful gardens, majestic scenery, good or bad weather conditions, the physics of sports, or the physics of sound yielding amazing music? All these phenomena bear the hallmarks of God’s wisdom and design. How can Christians not be interested? As James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated so long ago, even our amazing technologies are possible only because God created the physical forces to work the way they do. Andrew Briggs, so influential at the Cavendish Laboratory, later became professor of nanotechnology at Oxford University. Even very small phenomena bear testimony to the work of the Creator!
Another famous Christian, Raymond Damadien (1936-2022) inventor of the MRI, gave glory to God who designed the forces under which atoms, depending upon their environment, spin at different rates in a strong electromagnetic field. Although many contemporary scientists declared that an MRI type device could not be made to work, Dr. Damadian proved them wrong.
Col. Jeffrey N. Williams is one astronaut who attributed what he saw from the International Space Station (ISS) to the wonderful works of God. For example, in his book Work of His Hands: a View of God’s Creation from Space (2010) Col. Williams reflected on the words of Job 26:7. “Earth is a ball in the vastness of space. It is one thing to know that academically, quite another to view it. God really does suspend the Earth on nothing.” (p. 47) He continues on the next page: “A later verse in Job gives an accurate description of what we call the terminator – the line that divides day and night on the surface of the planet. ‘[God] has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.’ (26:10) Orbiting the earth every 90 minutes, the ISS passes over the terminator twice in that time. The terminator cannot be seen on the ground, but becomes very obvious from orbit.”
What does all this mean for Christians who have talents and interests other than science? Can one still enjoy amazing aspects of the creation? Of course! The first step is to observe your environment, maybe do some thinking and research, giving glory to God whose provisions in nature are reliable and understandable. These insights will enrich your life.
Of course, it is important to evaluate the interpretation of scientific information. Those who interpret observations from nature in terms of matter and processes alone, typically come to false conclusions. As a consumer of information on nature or anything else, the Christian needs to be discerning in his sources. The scientists discussed above, for example, all viewed nature through a biblical lens. That was their joy.
Subscribe to Dialogue