‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone –
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment.
‘Have you journeyed to the springs of the seaor walked in the recesses of the deep?
Job 38:4-7,14,16 (NIV)
‘Do you know?’ God’s challenge to Job’s lack of humility before God stretches across time, space and all creation. The view of the universe that science gives enables us to answer some of the challenge. We weren’t there at the start of it all, yet our studies of the Earth and other planets, along with glimpses of the farthest universe and the hidden depths of the sea, enable us to perceive perhaps more of how God is at work in creation than Job.
This does not mean a modern day Job would be more justified in his lack of humility before God. Scientific investigations, while providing answers as to how the material world is shaped, often raise more questions. And the experience of wonder – that drives science – points beyond the limits of human knowledge towards the God who is behind it all. Wonder stirs us to share in the joy that creation and the angels express in God’s work.
‘Do you know?’ was also Job’s question to God in the face of the unfairness of life. It can be ours too. Answers are not always forthcoming. Yet, small though we feel, in the wonder of creation we catch a glimpse of the God who values it all. The fact that we have such an ability to share God’s joy speaks of value too in the face of life and a cosmos full of questions.
“Lord, you know! All of creation. All of my life. Thank you for the wonder of it all and allowing me to glimpse it with you. When I do not know, help me to place my trust in you. Amen.”
Rev Dr Dave Gregory is Ministry Team Leader at Croxley Green Church and co-ordinator of Messy Church Does Science, and the former President of the Baptist Union. With a background in physics, astronomy and meteorology, he undertook research into clouds in weather forecasting and climate at Imperial College, The Met Office and The European Weather Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts. As Dr Dave he edited “Messy Church Does Science” (BRF, 2017) that aims to help families encounter the wonder of science and God through simple shared science experiments.