The other day, my wife, kids and I were driving around New Orleans looking for houses. As we were driving, one of my daughters said, ‘Dad, if we find out there’s no other smart life in the universe, why did God make it so big? We’re studying that in science now.’
Before I could answer, my other daughter came to the rescue. She said, ‘Can I answer?’ ‘Sure!’ I said.
I picked up a pen from the car floor and a newspaper to scribble these answers down.
She continued, ‘The universe is like sooo mysterious, just like God; and He did that to keep us really super curious and amazed and like wow cuz we can never figure it all out. It’s just too crazy!’
Then my wife chimed in, ‘I think it’s all a sign of God’s power, how awesome His power is when we look at the smallest details through the microscope; God’s love is in the details. And just think, if there is other life out there Jesus’ death and resurrection would have touched them because it touched every living creature anywhere in the whole universe; and all from our tiny earth.’
My other daughter exclaimed, ‘We just used a microscope in science yesterday!’
After being taken in by this whirl of wonder, I added my 2 cents, ‘I’ve always said when I teach that when I think about the hugeness of the universe, I think of the hugeness of God’s love; how lavish He must be; how way over the top! It’s like when someone wants to show another person how much they love them, they do something really huge and big and dramatic and costly. Then the other person really really knows they are loved. That’s what God did when He decided to make the universe — he went waaay over the top!’
Then as we drove along in silence for a bit I had a quiet insight sparked by this conversation, that I also jotted down in outline.
I recalled a documentary I watched years back on the development of human life from conception to birth. I remember vividly the video journey into the micro-world of our beginnings. This is what I wrote,
Anyone who could dare dismissively describe the human zygote as a “blob of tissue” has never peered into the majestic cathedral of the staggeringly complex, self-organizing unity that is the human person in the beginning. But, because of science, now we know and now we see. To think that God conceived in an eternal dream of that indescribably elegant design before the world’s foundation and, like a small child (here I speak by a playful analogy!), must have excitedly anticipated the day we would at last be able to see the astounding details of that design, and turn with the thrill of unexpected surprise to laud Him in wonder.
I long to re-infuse our present culturally toxic boredom with my children’s wonder, awe and giddy astonishment over the infinite beauty and unspeakable dignity of human life at its inception. It may be the only escape we have left from the banal efficiency of an evil program that destroys humanity with astonishing efficiency at its most fragile and powerless moment.
As Hannah Arendt put it, such monstrous evils always retain the potential to become “terrifyingly normal.”
Let’s work anew for a new normal…