by Ruth Bancewicz
I recently got together with some scientists and theologians to study part of Job. The final few chapters (38-42) of this book are a description of God’s role in creating and sustaining the universe and everything in it: the Sun and stars, Earth and sea, weather and wild animals. Stars move in their courses, weather changes and animals behave in their different ways. We didn’t make any of these things ourselves  and we have very little control over them, even with today’s scientific knowledge.
But are we any less awe-struck because we now understand how some of these processes work? If so, how can we identify with the impact this passage must have had on people in the ancient Near East? What things on our planet or further out in the universe seem vast, powerful, fearful and awe-inspiring to us today? If Job was written today should it use different examples: natural processes we still don’t understand?
The overwhelming answer I received from the scientists around me was ‘No’. Thunder and lightening does not stop being impressive when you have studied physics. Being caught in a storm in the middle of the Atlantic is equally awe-inspiring, and can even scarier if you understand the forces behind it and the consequences for your boat. There are still places where we feel small and vulnerable in a world of hugely powerful forces.
In a more positive vein, certain things may be understood by scientists but finding them out for yourself can be also an awe-inspiring experience. The geological time scale, the size of the universe, the beautiful photographs from the Hubble telescope and the incredible detail of the cell were all named as good places to start.
When it comes to thinking about the size of our solar system…
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