There is a basic idea behind this post: God is revealed through nature. Or, put differently, we could say that the universe tells us something about the One who made it. This statement would be very familiar for most Christians, but it (or a slight variation of it) would also find acceptance amongst a much broader audience than your average disciple of Jesus: Muslims and Jews would also agree with the idea that the universe reveals things to us about the One who made it, and there are many pagans, pantheists, and others who strongly believe that nature reveals something of the Divine to human beings. So in many ways, it’s a pretty broad idea, and one that many from a wide spectrum of belief systems would agree with (which is quite rare when talking about spiritual matters).
In fact, just about the only group of people who would really disagree with this statement are those who don’t believe in any spiritual reality at all (not an insignificant group, of course); it is quite common to hear from athiests that no evidence for the Divine exists in nature. Although such people are in the minority (globally speaking), it is striking to note the percentage of atheists is significantly higher amongst scientists (those who study the natural world most closely) than among the general population. This poses a challenging question: if, as we claim, there is evidence for God in nature, why is it that those who devote their lives to studying the natural world are also those who are least likely to believe in God? Doesn’t this strongly suggest that there isn’t any evidence for God in the world around us?
It would certainly seem so. But then again, perhaps the more significant factor is not how much one studies the universe, but rather which lens we use to study it. Imagine two men were examining a strange artifact deep underwater, and both were asked to write a report on what they found. The first man was able to inspect the object for over an hour, but his goggles were shoddy – blurry, scratched, and dark – and he could barely see. The second man, on the other hand, was only able to analyze the item for five minutes before he had to surface, but his lens was crisp and clear, giving him perfect vision. Who do you think would bring back a more accurate report of what they found?
I would submit that having the right lens is absolutely vital to properly understanding our surroundings. And since the God who created the world is the same God who inspired the writing of the Bible, what better lens could there be than the Bible itself? There is surely evidence for God in the world, but we have to see the world through the lens of the Bible in order to see it clearly.
The quick thinker might quickly criticize this approach. Surely it is circular reasoning for us to say that there is evidence for God in the world, but you have to believe in God first to see that evidence (which, by the way, is exactly what I’m saying). That would mean that you can only see the evidence for God if you already believe in Him! But when you think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. As lion tracks in a savannah bespeak a lion only to someone who has previously seen a lion (and can recognise their tracks), so we are only able to recognise the visible prints of God’s handiwork in the world if we first familiarise ourselves with God himself, through His Word.
So then, what does it mean for a person to see the world through the crisp, clear lens of knowing God? Let me conclude with the words of Martin Luther, because he says it better than I ever could: with the right lens, a person will “see in the smallest and meanest flower God’s omnipotent wisdom and goodness… And properly considered every green tree is lovelier than gold or silver. Surely the contemplation of the whole creation, and especially of the simplest grasses of the fields and the adornment of the earth, proves that our Lord God is an artist like unto none.”