For a couple of months in autumn, two spiders made our front window their home. It was obviously a good home as they looked well fed! I don’t particularly dislike spiders, but did think that they spoiled the view somewhat. One day, therefore, I chopped down their webs, but the next day they were back just as intricate and extensive as ever.
Although they did somewhat dominate the view out of our front window, having them in such a prominent position meant that we could observe their web making skills quite close up. It was quite amazing the way that they managed to build up such intricate, complex structures, and clamber along them, starting from nothing!
This is just one example of the way the world around us can provoke a sense of wonder and awe. Lookup up at a clear dark sky night never fails to amaze me, especially as I think of just how vast the small section of the universe that I’m looking at is. In the first chapter of Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’, Dawkins also talks of the awe and wonder that scientists feel as they study and seek to understand the world. Often scientists use religious language, even talking of ‘God’ as they seek to explain the astounding world in which we live. Dawkins points out however that many of these scientists are not intending to refer to a personal god, such as the God of the Bible. He quotes Einstein, for example, who says
To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflecion, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.
Dawkins is absolutely right to point out that atheistic – or pantheistic – scientists who use religious or ‘god’ language are not speaking in favour of a Christian God, or arguing for his existence. It is wrong of Christians to use their words for such purposes when this is contrary to their real meaning. However, it is also true to say that other scientists – when they ponder the beauty and brilliance of the universe – do see behing it the work of an even more wonderful God. Indeed I’ve met many for whom this is exactly their response.
For me also, when I consider the wonder of our universe I cannot but feel that this could not have come about but for God who chose that it should to come into being and who ultimately is the cause of its existence. I’m not suggesting that this is a proof of God’s existence, but it is an entirely appropriate response.