God’s Book of Nature
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For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.—Romans 1:19–201
Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? Why, heaven and earth shout to you: “God made me!”—Saint Augustine (354–430)
The most obvious proof we have that a divine Creator exists is the world and universe around us, the visible, natural creation.
Doctor Robert A. Millikan was a renowned American scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics. One evening, at a banquet held in his honor, a young journalist approached him and said, “Dr. Millikan, although you are undoubtedly a brilliant scientist, a great physicist, I’ve heard rumor that you still cling to the old-fashioned concept of a Creator, that you actually believe in God! Is this true?”
Millikan paused for a moment and then produced an elaborate gold pocket-watch from his vest and said, “Just as behind this watch there had to be an intelligent designer and watchmaker, so behind the intricate precision and timing of this great universe there had to be a great Creator!”
The Bible, the holy book of three faiths, tells us, “Since the creation of the world, the invisible things of God—His eternal power and divine nature—are clearly seen, being understood by the visible things that He has made.”2 In other words, the existence of an invisible Creator is manifest or made evident by the wonderful world which He has created, His creation, the things which we can see. The greatest credentials of the Creator are the marvelous things He has made!
The sea, the sky, the mountains, the valleys, the trees, the flowers, they’re all telling us something. When you gaze into the heavens on a clear night, beholding the stars, planets, and wonders of the cosmos, it’s all crying out, “There is a God! Look at the wonders He has made.” The Bible says:
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”3 God’s entire creation is a constant testimony of not only His existence, power, and majesty, but also of His love, concern, and care for us in giving us such a beautiful world to live in.—Adapted from “In Search of Truth,” by The Family International
The visible world is like a map pointing to heaven.... We learn to see the Creator by contemplating the beauty of his creatures. In this world the goodness, wisdom and almighty power of God shine forth. And the human intellect... can discover the Artist’s hand in the wonderful works which He has made. Reason can know God through the Book of Nature.—Pope John Paul II
I’ve found that looking out on God’s creation is almost like looking on His face, to see how He has so marvelously, wonderfully created all of this for our good and our benefit in His love. Just as the Scripture says, all of this proves His existence. It says that the unbelievers and rejecters are without excuse, because the things which are seen are proof of God who is unseen.4
That Scripture was always a blessing to me, because it shows that people can really know God through His creation, that His creation proves His existence. That’s why the Devil had to cook up evolution, to try to destroy faith in God. Since the greatest proof of God’s existence is His creation, the Devil through Darwin cooked up the scheme that “God didn’t create the world; it just evolved by itself.” That is one of the most diabolical doctrines ever perpetrated, because it was really hard for people not to believe in God when they’d consider the evidence of His creation. But when Darwin came along and explained it all away, that “God didn’t create it after all,” he gave them the excuse they needed to dismiss creation.
Having the supposedly greatest scientist of the world explain it all away in their textbooks, to them it makes sense.—Especially when they have no real faith and weren’t brought up in the Bible and don’t know God’s answers. So to them it sounds like a logical, reasonable answer to the existence of the world and the universe. “It just happened.” The thought that creation just created itself is about as ridiculous as you could get!—David Brandt Berg
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.—Job 12:7–105
God has graciously provided us with two sources of information: in the Bible and in nature. How can we more effectively combine what we learn from our studies of the Bible and nature? How can we more effectively love God and love each other? What principles will help us achieve all of these goals? Of course, for the most important things in life—for learning about God and how He wants us to live and love—the Bible is more important. But we don’t have to make an either-or choice, and by using both sources of information, our understanding of total reality (spiritual plus physical) can be more complete and accurate. How can we use God’s revelations with wisdom? A good way to think is illustrated in Psalm 19, where an appreciation of God’s dual revelations in nature (“the heavens declare the glory of God”) and scripture (“the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul, ... giving joy to the heart”) inspires a personal dedication: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”—Craig Rusbult
The creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite and the most abundant furnishings. Everything in it tells us of God.—John Calvin
Nature is the art of God.—Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1635
The book of nature is a fine and large piece of tapestry rolled up, which we are not able to see all at once, but must be content to wait for the discovery of its beauty, and symmetry, little by little, as it gradually comes to be more and more unfolded, or displayed.—Robert Boyle (1627–1691)
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.—George Washington Carver
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.—Martin Luther
He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name.—Amos 4:136
C. S. Lewis describes a childhood encounter with a miniature garden that his brother had made in a tin box. He describes the sense of longing, the experience of what he called joy, though fleeting, which was profound and real. Though he didn’t know what to call it then, Lewis was gradually awakened to the power and role of beauty, an influence he would employ to great effect in his writings.
Similarly, John Calvin reminded the world that God has given his creatures two books: the book of nature and the word of God. For the Christian, they are not equal in authority or revelatory power, and yet it is a serious neglect to focus on one at the exclusion of the other.
In today’s world, many are sincerely inspired by nature. They love long walks, visits to the country, and absorbing the beauties of the world around. They often make nature an end in itself. They celebrate its magnificence, but are left to see it all as a random outcome of chance and necessity. Some Christians, through neglect, do much the same thing. …
The psalmist, the Celts, and many others across the centuries learned to see God’s hand in nature and to celebrate God’s goodness and provision from it. Take a few moments today to look at the birds, contemplate the trees, enjoy a walk, and smell the flowers. Perhaps you may just experience a glimmer of God’s glory, too.—Stuart McAllister
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.—Psalm 19:1–47
Published on Anchor March 2015. Read by Debra Lee.