Sagan’s Empty Universe (Psalm 8:3)

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place, (Psalm 8:3)

The English teacher in me rebels at the idea of attempting to pen a devotion drawn from a sentence fragment or rather a dependent clause of a longer sentence. The man who bought a rural property partly because of how cool the stars looked on a clear night, however, cannot pass over this verse or subordinate it to anything else.

Years ago, astronomer and atheist Carl Sagan made a household name for himself by taking the untrained on amazing tours of the cosmos and by pronouncing “billions” in a funny way. When Sagan looked at the stars, he saw something too huge, too complex, too old, too amazing to have been created by any God or god. Curiously, he apparently thought it so huge, complex, old, and amazing to have sort of poofed into existence, created by no one and nothing.

Before Galileo, people looked into the stars and said “Wow!” When Galileo began to see moons orbiting Jupiter and rings on Saturn, the “Wow” simply grew louder. Gradually, the size and shape of the universe has begun to emerge more clearly to human eyes leaving us saying “Wow” all the more clearly.

The difference between David, lying out among a field of sheep, gazing up into the heavens and an astronomer today looking at the light of galaxies inconceivably far from us is not as profound as it might seem. Both views of the universe hinge not on size and arrangement but on the question of origin. For David as for me, the universe, no matter how complex, is the work of God’s fingers. Anything else–light years and Big Bangs, nebulae and dark matter–is only a matter of detail.

When I consider the heavens, I consider them to be the work of the God who created me. Suddenly, everything else that crosses my mind subordinates itself to that Creator.