I was sat in Church on Sunday morning and Tony, the elderly gentleman who was preaching gave a fantastic talk based on the start of the book of Hebrews.
My post today is not related to that preach. Rather, it is related to an attribute of God that Tony mentioned that struck me quite profoundly. The attribute is, ‘upholder’ or, ‘sustainer’.
In Bill Bryson’s incredibly thought provoking and accessible book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bryson opens his book with this,
Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn’t easy, I know.
In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize.To begin with, for you to be here now trillions
of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you.
It’s an arrangement so specialised and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once.
For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft,
cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally
underappreciated state known as existence. Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle.
Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic level. For all their devoted attention,
your atoms don’t actually care about you indeed, don’t even know that you are there. They don’t even know that they are there.
They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themselves alive.(It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time,
you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.)
Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a single overarching impulse: to keep you you.
The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting-fleeting indeed.
Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes past,
or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will shut you down, silently disassemble,
and go off to be other things. And that’s it for you. Still, you may rejoice that it happens at all.Generally speaking in the universe it doesn’t, so far as we can tell.
This is decidedly odd because the atoms that so liberally and congenially flock together to form living things
on Earth are exactly the same atoms that decline to do it elsewhere.
Interesting huh? It’s so true as well. Having said this, I think he neglects to make inference to a predominant world view that adds so much light to this (frankly) bleak sounding reality.
I’m sure you can guess what I am talking about but, i’ll gladly spell it out for the sake of absolute clarity. I’m making reference to a sustainer God.
The link, as you’ve probably figured out, is that, there is room in a secular understanding of particle physics, for an unknown force to bind these atoms together.
Obviously, the secular view would wish to not attribute these unknowns to a specific intelligence however, I find the bible contains information that directly relates to this notion.
As far back as David, the bible contains pointers to this being true.
In Psalm 54, David is hiding away and is engaged with some pretty deep soul searching in a desperate place. He writes the following beautiful musing,
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. (verse 4).
Here, David finds himself certain in the notion that it is God who upholds him. It’s important to note here that when David says, ‘sustains’ he means that thoroughly. David was in a place where he relied entirely on God’s provision. With no certain access to food, shelter and water, he had to trust that God would sustain him. This is why I find the psalm’s example to be so striking!
In Hebrews, the writer begins to reflect on who Christ is and emphasises Christ’s divinity. In and amongst this, the writer tells us that,
‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.’
Paul, in his letter to the church in Colosse, writes of the preeminence of Christ. He writes the following telling line,
And He [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)
The Bible is littered with references to God being not only, creator but also, sustainer.
A lot of people argue that a secular, scientific worldview contradicts a faith driven world view entirely. This argument is one of the reasons I feel so inspired when I spot little bridges between the gaps. As most of you know, I was very much of the ‘secular’ persuasion for a good portion of my life. And so, when I spot these bridges of understanding between the old world view I used to hold so close and the new world view I value even more, I feel excited. I get excited because, it is my deepest belief that there are evidences for God embedded in the most contradictory of ideas about this universe and how it operates.
I’m not out to convince those of a secular disposition on my perspective i’m just pointing out that, where you might find gaps in which you have to accept an unknown, the bible suggests that the unknown is God.
In a debate where neither side can prove their perspective is correct, we must, as logical and rational people, examine the evidence. I always base my assumptions and conclusions on the argument that presents to me the most compelling of evidences.