Cosmology and Nature
The Divine Signature
Monday, June 22, 2020
It seems that for many people accepting the truth of science means rejecting the truth of God. Of course, it’s not an either/or proposition, but the two have been set in opposition for so long we could expect little else. There have been many religious scientists throughout the ages, but their work has often only been appreciated in hindsight. Thankfully, Pope Francis is working to correct that. A growing number of people like author and podcaster Mike McHargue are beginning to articulate how science and faith can be reconciled in our modern age. Here he explains in layperson’s terms how the evolutionary phenomenon we call the “Big Bang” is a reflection of what I would call the Paschal Mystery.
In the beginning, there was a rapid expansion of a Singularity. Around 380,000 years later, there was light. There was also hydrogen and helium and four stable, fundamental forces of physics. Atoms and those forces worked together to birth the first stars from massive clouds of gas, and those stars lived for hundreds of millions of years before they died in explosions that spread their matter across the sky in clouds of gas and dust—now with heavier elements than what existed before.
The forces of physics worked together once again to craft new stars now tightly packed into the first galaxies.
As the cycle repeated, heavier elements formed planets orbiting those stars, emerging from disks of gas and dust like dust bunnies under your bed. In our universe, planets can exist only because a few generations of stars died and were reborn. The rebirth of stellar matter into planets is how our Earth came to be.
This planet, our home, is covered with a film of life unlike any we’ve yet seen anywhere else in the universe. As far as we know today, it is unique. A blue marble floating in the dark.
Earth’s life is fed by a process in which carbon from the air and minerals in the soil are attached together by the energy of photons via photosynthesis in plants. In this process, everything on this planet lives by the constant sacrifice of the nearest star. Every blade of grass, every tree, every bush, every microscopic algae on this planet is a resurrected form of the Sun’s energy. . . .
One day, I will die, and in time my atoms will go back to giving life to something else. Much farther along the arrow of time, our own Sun will explode and spread its essence across the sky. Our Sun’s dust will meet with other stars’ remnants and form new stars and planets of their own. The universe itself exists in an eternal pattern of life, death, and resurrection.
It seems poetically appropriate that the Source of all would have left this divine signature on the fabric of reality. In Jesus, I hope for more than just a God with a face or a uniquely gifted moral teacher. I hope for a resurrection that will one day reach every corner of our universe.
Mike McHargue, Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science (Convergent Books: 2016), 204–205.