Last year, many Christians – including me – were very excited by a new TV miniseries entitled “The Bible.” That miniseries retold the great stories of our faith through modern eyes. Another retelling of some fantastic stories is taking place in another new TV miniseries entitled “Cosmos.” And I am equally as excited about this series as I was about “The Bible” last year.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
(Psalm 24:1-2 NIV)
“Cosmos” is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and it is an update of a similar series by Carl Sagan from a few decades ago. I know many people of faith have very strong feelings against Carl Sagan’s work and things related to it, so let me say this up front:
The more I watch “Cosmos,” the more I am convinced that Christians should actively support scientific findings. Responding to science out of fear does no one any good at all. The universe is a big place – which makes the love of God all the more powerful.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
(Psalm 24:3-4 NIV)
When we think about the universe and our place in it, we must resist the urge to make ourselves important. Humans have done this for centuries; we have considered our own needs and desires to be of primary importance, over against the needs of other species of plants and animals. Yet I am, as Tara likes to remind me, an omnivore; I am generally in favor of our place at the top of the food chain. One of the major themes of “Cosmos” (at least thus far) is to emphasize that we human beings are not, in fact, the most important thing in the universe. After all, the universe is rather large – unfathomably so.
They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
(Psalm 24:5-6 NIV)
So what is faith in God all about, then? Is it about satisfying our deepest needs and desires? Is it about living a fulfilled life and being assured of eternal happiness? Is it about receiving blessing and vindication? Or, perhaps, is it about seeking the face of God?
“Cosmos” makes some very strong statements: that the universe operates according to measurable, predictable laws, and that the history of these laws can be accurately traced back billions of years, long before humanity ever existed. I believe these statements. I do not consider them to be in contradiction with authentic biblical faith. The achievements of the scientific community should be appreciated, applauded, and respected by people of faith. We can marvel at the wonder of the cosmos, the vastness of creation, and the beauty of God’s love for humanity in the midst of such an immense universe. We can see all truth as a means through which we can seek the face of God. Is not God incredibly majestic and beautiful since he is Lord of such an amazing creation? Is not Christ’s sacrifice for our sake amazingly powerful since “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-20)?
Friends, do not be afraid of science. Learn all you can. Listen before you speak. Approach truth with an open mind. And discuss matters of faith with respect and vigor – and with confidence that God is still God.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
(Psalm 24:9-10 NIV)