12. “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork”, David exclaims in Psalm 19. Indeed, they do – who on a clear night, seeing the constellations slowly wheeling through the dark dome of space, does not stand in awe? Or does not feel himself and the Earth under his feet to be insignificant minutiae amidst a majestic pageant? From Antiquity on, thinking men have realized that “the earth, in relation to the distance of the fixed stars, has no appreciable size and must be treated as a mathematical point”(91) For Ptolemy as well as for us, however, this does not compel us to downplay our importance in the totality of being: size and worth are not correlate. A rough diamond is a nothing compared with a heap of pebbles, yet sell it, and you can buy a gravel pit, and still have money to spare. To the contrary an object’s place and station clearly indicate its paramountcy. In Parliament the Speaker may be a small man, but he is not hidden among the backbenchers. If the present-day astronomical world view would have come to the indisputable conclusion that after all the Earth is an unique phenomenon in the Heavens, then there would have been less incentives to renounce its acts and facts. Such a pre-eminence granted, and keeping in mind Russell’s Reminder that after all for a metaphysical bystander the Earth and not the Heavens may be at rest, then the a-centric Universe of the Hoyles and Sagans could be considered as a model at least breaking with Newton’s Copernicanism. For an orthodox reader of the Bible there would be fewer questions with regard to curved space than with regard to the heliocentric vision that demoted our dwelling-place to one of a set of similars. The multiform parameters necessary for the maintenance of the living Earth appear to have been minutely structured and combined for that purpose, the impact of their attunement equalled nowhere in the Solar System’s barrenness. Yet this attunement is taken to be no more than one of a number of lucky throws in a macro-evolutionary roulette. Hence secular science labours with might and main to find extra-tellurian evidence that will reveal life-bearing planets to be a not uncommon occurrence. An Interplanetary Society has dedicated itself to that search, and countless science fiction novels and movies are brain-washing the hoi polloi with this doctrine of space harbouring a diversity of civilizations. For any connotation that the human race is something special and has been assigned a peerless habit in the Heavens – it must, cost what it may, be kept out of mind. It might evoke the teleological spectre that modern man, come of age, wants, and has decided, to lay at rest.
To believe that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, if not literally then at least in meaningful myths, testify to the origins of the reality into which we are born, this, I maintain if not openly then at least implicitly, obliges Christians to acknowledge that the Earth is more than a typical throw-off from a condensing and spinning minor star. There are peculiar people for whom Hebrew is no foreign language, and for whom already more than three millennia the Torah has been Wisdom above all wisdom. To them the ever-changing theories of science are, by comparison, puerile prattle. A 1944 Nobel laureate, I. I. Rabi, born and bred among them, was as a boy accordingly a Tychonian until gentile information told him better things. “Because his family was Orthodox and fundamentalist in its Judaism, Rabi had not known that the earth revolved around the sun until he read it in a library book.”(92)
Indeed: a library book. But astronomy books, misleading as – courtesy of Albert Einstein – their heliocentric illustrations and explanations are, seldom or ever spell out the a-centric concept to which the Copernican revolution has inevitably led. The Earth is now for it no more than a typical pellet of matter somewhere in an out-of-the-way corner of the Universe. How can orthodoxy, whether Jewish or Christian, reasonably harmonize this with an Earth according to the first chapter of the Old Testament already adorned with trees, and flowers, and grass before Sun, Moon, and stars suddenly appeared in the emptiness of the Heavens? 13. A last point: theistic-evolutionist Bible believers have, of course, no difficulty with a Big Bang and endless ages already elapsed before the Creator began biological evolution. with self~reproducing clots acurdling in a glutinous fluid. How do they reconcile the countless years required by such snail-slow processes with the promise of a resurrection of all the dead long returned to dust in the twinkling of an eye when the trumpet shall sound? If God can make that happen, why should or would He have needed many millions of years to get from unicellular creatures to billion-cellular men? If I may believe St. Paul, then He will restore all the dead who ever have lived to life instantly. Or must I, maybe, my thinking illuminated by the light of sciences, reverently understand this as a twinkling of an eye of God, which for us takes five hundred million years?
In a recent article from the skillful hand of Dr. Stephen J. Gould he claims that the fact of evolution is as well established as the revolution of the Earth around the Sun. On the other hand he allowed that absolute certainty has no place in the lexicon of scientists.(93) Now it would be an insult to assume that a scientist of his stature never should have heard about a man called Einstein, according to whom we just as well may vouch for a Sun revolving around the Earth. And this being the case Gould, on his own cognizance, cannot rule out creation.
Accordingly my anti-instant creationist brethren will do well not to exclude the possibility of change of heart becoming necessary for them, since even Gould advises them not to take their present convictions too absolutely. And in case the Sun will be shown indeed to circle the Earth, these brethren will be led, I hope, to realize what Holy Writ really affirms with regard to cosmology as well as with regard to biology.
- The Discarded Image Vindicated Experimentally
- The Bible is Not a Scientific Textbook