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Synopsis of Man – a Little Lower Than Angels
Friends, the first half of the following message is from a sermon preached by a man I loved dearly, my father-in-law, dr. Lee g. Davy; in 1978 at moorings Presbyterian church in Naples, Florida. “Pop” as we called him, was a Doctor of Organic Chemistry and a scientist of some renown in the field of chemistry.
Where I use the word “i” in this message I speak for him as I will deliver the message as he wrote his notes….. In the first person.
I would like to share an experience with you. In early 1960’s astronomers, using the 200 ft telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, discovered an object in the distant reaches of the universe which looked like a star but was not like any star previously known. It was therefore called a quasar. The exact nature of quasars are not yet known, buy the first one discovered was observed to be six billion light years distant from the earth. The discovery attracted much attention in the scientific press. What impress me was not the distance as much as the time involved…….
The light which we now receive from the first known quasar has been traveling for six billion years before it reaches us. To my mind this was observational evidence that god was creatively active at least six billion years ago. I believe him to be eternal, but here was observational evidence of an object which he created at least six billion years ago.
Six billions years is so far beyond our experience that we can not visualize it. In an attempt to do so it occurred to me to ask myself the following question. What would be the life span of hypothetical creatures whom I might create? If it’s life span stood in the same relation to me…… As the my life span stands to six billion years ?
I was in my fifties then, and I chose fifty for my age which made the arithmetic simpler. So I calculated the life span of such creatures standing in the same relation to fifty years as one hundred years stands to six billion years. The answer is Less than 20 seconds ! Did that answer startle you ? It did me.
It suggests that such creatures could in no way understand time as we understand it. It could in no way understand my purposes, nor my conception of power, or righteousness, or love,……… or in fact anything one might name. Nor could it intimidate me in any way. If some annoying demand arose from it, I would need only wait less than half a minute and the demand would cease.
Of course, this line of thought may suggest to you as it did to me, that we stand…. Time-wise…. A similar relationship to God. Except that god is eternal rather than merely six billion years old. But we are limited, finite —- where he is unlimited and infinite. Our ideas about time, power, righteousness, love, God’s purpose….. must be infinitesimal compared to him. And we echo the words of the Psalmist: “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” But…… The psalmist continued, “Yet thou hast made him little lower than the angels, and dost crown him with honor and glory. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all things under his feet.”
In the this century we know how truly the psalmist spoke three thousand years ago. Mankind now has dominion even over inter-Planetary space. The certainty that our wills are free is never stronger. But, to many, god, if he exists, is the distant creator, somewhere out there, with little interest and even less control in human affairs. They say: “God has created the limitless universe. He must be incomprehensibly powerful, surely he can not be interested in any person’s petty affairs.”
Let us look deeper into the matter. Consider gravity in the universe. It is this gravitational force which brings about the formation of stars and galaxies from the gas and dust in space. It is gravity that brought about the formation of solar system and maintains the planet’s revolution around the sun. It is gravitational force which holds on earth’s atmosphere which makes life possible and sustains our lives. .
I have in my hand a tiny piece of toilet paper, surely a trivial thing. I hold it up, release it, and it will flutter to the floor. The law of gravity applies not only to the massive events of nature, but also to the most trivial things. I am reminded of Luke’s record of the Christ’s words at the sermon on the mount: “Fear not, for the very hairs of your head are numbered.”
Lets consider yet another aspect of gravitational force. I place a coin, a quarter, on the top of my head. It lies there. It does not become weightless. It has the weight of a coin because my body conducts the earth”s gravitational field. In fact our bodies are saturated by gravitational fields.
Consider next, radio frequencies. It is a fact that literally thousands of radio frequency signals are present in the room in which you sit at this very moment. We need only to equip ourselves with suitable apparatus to detect them, or as we say, to receive them.
I speak not only of man-made signals, radio and television signals, but every bolt of lightning that creates radio frequency signals …… We call it static The sun actually emits radio frequency, as does the planet Jupiter, and the stars, and Novas and Super-Novas. We are continually bathed in radio frequency fields.
I imagine you have owned a portable radio you may have noticed that when your body came between the portable radio and the station to which you were listening the signal strength was not affected. In other words, your body is transparent to and conducts radio frequencies. Thus our bodies are saturated, not only by gravitational fields, but also by radio frequency fields.
Normally we take all this for granted and become indifferent to it because we know no other condition. I mention it today because it seems clear to me that there is nothing mystical or eerie or un-natural about any of this. Likewise it seems to me neither mystical nor eerie nor unnatural that god’s love — and indeed his personality — saturates the universe m as surely as his other influences.
And his universe includes each one of us….. Each of us surrenders himself to sleep nightly. We have done so since we were born. But what keeps us breathing, what keeps our hearts beating, what maintains our lives while we sleep ? Some call it the laws of nature. And, that it is just “natural” for us to sleep and to awaken. I believe that the truth goes much deeper than that. I believe that the “laws of nature” ….are merely mankind’s perception of god’s universal activity. After all, the universe existed for a long time beyond our comprehension, and therefore, beyond mankind’s discovery the….. “laws of nature”.
I see the so called “laws of nature” as some of the arrangements which God made in order to create his universe, including you and me. Those arrangements include many of which mankind is ignorant, and may remain ignorant forever. We usually take them for granted, but they are real, and necessary for us to function as living beings.
The time that we have is a gift from God….. who determines when we are to be born and when we are to die. Our talents come so obviously from him that we speak of them as “gifts” and talented people as being “gifted”. We use our time and our talents to accumulate whatever financial means that we possess. Therefore they are likewise …..given to us by God. What compels God to give us these gifts ? We need only to think of his eternity and the brief span of our lives to be certain that it is not we who compel him.
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