October 24, 2019

Everything Beautiful

Timothy Standish, Adventist Record

My seven-year-old daughter was totally awake, thanks to jetlag, when she came into my bedroom at around 4:00 am to talk about things like school, scooters, and the long flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. As dawn broke, an otherworldly cackling erupted outside.

“Dad, it’s kookaburras!” she exclaimed. That morning, Australia seemed very close to heaven.

Recently, I had a very different conversation with a theologian colleague, who asked about scientific developments relating to creation. The question launched me into an enthusiastic discourse about DNA’s genetic code, leading my friend’s and others’ eyes to glaze over within 30 seconds. Technical details overwhelmed their ability to appreciate what so thrilled me.

How disappointing that those without a molecular biology background are unlikely to appreciate these marvels! Not that I have special insights elevating me above mere mortals, and I know that other people have profound understandings in whole areas of knowledge that reveal beauty I’d love to be able to see and appreciate.

While academic programs can educate, they can also blind us to other areas.

Some people are more practically equipped, like Tan Bah Chee, my hero when I was a seven-year-old growing up in Penang, Malaysia. I held Tan’s hand as he cared for our garden, showing me the mysteries of plant grafting and other botanical curiosities.

Science opens a thousand wonders to those subjected to the rigor necessary for understanding a small fraction of the creation. Still, the Creator God is infinite, and His creation opens an unending array of marvels. All people can see these, from a seven-year-old hearing kookaburras for the first time to a Malaysian gardener grafting plants or a scientist contemplating overlapping genes and the genetic code.

Everyone can see some of God’s wonders. Talking about our universe, the psalmist wrote:

“There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:3, NKJV).

The Creator God reaches all of humanity through His creation. However, delusions can blind even the most brilliant and educated (Isaiah 66:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:11). My work involves examining arguments and evidence, looking for ways to reach minds blinded by the secular spirit of our age. But we don’t want to simply triumph over those we disagree with; like all Christians, we are called to participate with Christ in opening the eyes of the blind.

Imagine the darkness inhabited by those so deluded that the clear has become opaque and the creation, at which “the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7, NKJV), has collapsed into an unending struggle for survival. Jesus Christ, through whom “all things were made” (John 1:3), is the Light of the World, yet “the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5). However, Jesus provides more than light; He gives “recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18).

Not everyone is going to appreciate the genetic code’s inner secrets, plant grafting, mathematically modelled heavenly movements, ingredient combinations that create delicacies, flower arrangements that captivate eyes, or any number of the other infinite wonders of God's creation. Still, every child of God can take in some of the wonder and share that joy with others. It is the reason why Creation Sabbath this coming October 26, 2019, isn't about complex academic arguments or droning theological debates or obscure biological discoveries. It is about sharing the joy of creation among believers and with our communities.

Doing this, we walk in the footsteps of our Creator, who opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf so that a daughter can share the joy of creation with her father early one Australian morning.

The original version of this commentary was posted by Adventist Record.

Timothy Standish is a staff research scientist at the Geoscience Research Institute in Loma Linda, California, United States.