Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by John Howard Farmer

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Authority: Professor vs God

The late British scientist Stephen Hawking (1942-2018), millionaire, author, physicist and cosmologist of Cambridge, England, gave us a new math theory in which he pronounced that the universe was spontaneously brought into play. Thus, he said, it makes God unnecessary.


Please note: While once this was just his speculative theory, he now knows the truth.

Well, I dare put the question out there for all of us to consider. Is God unnecessary to you? This is not meant to be a philosophical question. I thought on this beautiful, after-storm, day to explore again one of the great truths put forth by the Bible, in Psalm Eight:

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (NRSV)

Hawking’s writings will be (perhaps already are) required reading for any number of our college-age youth. Be sure that before we dispatch them off to university, have them read the Bible. It will introduce them to the God who created all that there is.. . Science will never be able to hoist such a claim.

Perhaps you can read this Psalm together. Talk about the words, the recognition therein and then head out of doors at night. Find a dark spot, preferably on a moon swept night. Acquaint them with the sights and sounds, the smells of an evening out of doors here in our delightful tidal basin of the Northern Neck.

Perhaps this Psalm was to be sung. Like most of the others it was also memorized by the faithful for use in corporate worship. “The sense of God’s presence of what the psalmist is so profoundly conscious in his own spiritual life is that which gives its glory and its meaning to the natural world. Nature is full of God; nature is the theatre of his glory. All admiration of nature in a rightly tuned heart is a confession of that glory. To the psalmist, then, a poem about nature is a God appreciation poem. For all who would honor the Lord God of heaven, every university natural science course should be the same, a God appreciation course,” Woodrow Michael Kroll.

Let’s review an outline of Psalm 8:1-2. The Excellence of God’s name. God’s name, indicating his person and character, is far worthier of praise, than even his heavenly creation.

“From the mouths of babes” indicates the innocence of praising God. In Matthew 21:16 Jesus makes a historical reference for praising the name of God. Young David (the Psalmist) makes reference to himself as a youth when he received the strength to still the avenger (1 Samuel 17).

Verses 3-8. The shepherd psalmist pondered the heavens. Keeping a watchful eye on one’s flock at night gives one time to consider what’s above. David notes the vastness of the sky, the uniqueness of the sun, the moon and the twinkle of stars. Some of our youth have never been long out-of-doors at dark of night. Have them to look up, to listen, to count; to observe from horizon to horizon (North, South, East and West). David pondered who we are in relationship to a God who spans the sky the sea, all of creation, yet still trifles with us (mere mortals). It is a “wow” moment!

God’s graciousness to us, the best of his creation, identifies the human race as preeminent of all of his creation. Share with our youth just how precious they are to you. Tell them how you have dreams and hopes for their tomorrows. Tell them how proud you will be to leave this earth in their hands when God calls you beyond the vastness of the sky.

Share with your audience how important it is that they assume responsibility for nature. Talk about how that you expect them to care for the things of God’s creation long after we’re all gone from this earthly scene. Let them know how warm and comforting it will be for them to take their children out of doors and show them the vastness of God and how granddad, how grandmother, mom and or dad, went “once upon a time with them.”

Verse nine sums it all up. God’s graciousness toward us is worthy of our continual praise.

Professor Stephen Hawking gave me new fuel with which to apologize to my God.

Only God could have so wondrously made us. I owe him my praise, my abiding gratitude, my eternal salvation.

Make no mistake about: God is necessary in my life.