It is hard for us to grasp how God’s word, his communicated thought, can bring matter into being and manipulate it into whatever shape he chooses. But consider a simple analogy: God’s realm covers the vast universe, but you have a realm, too. It extends through your body. All you need to do is think, “Raise right hand” and your hand raises. Your word – whether spoken or merely thought – has incredible power in your realm! You don’t know how your hand raises; it just does. In your small realm, you have absolute power.2
Similarly, as your hand responds to you, the universe responds to God. He needs only intend something, and it happens. “He spoke,” wrote the psalmist, “and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”3 The author of Hebrews tells us that he sustains “all things by his powerful word.”4 God created, and rules, and redeems by his word.
Just as any artist’s work tells us something about the artist, God’s creation tells us something about him. That is why King David could write, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”5 As with any other artist, we can learn something about him just by looking at his art. If you look at the twisted paintings of Picasso, you will be able to guess some truth about his character. It might not surprise you to learn that Picasso once said, “Every time I change wives, I should bury the last one. That way I’d be rid of them . . .” Though Picasso claimed that God was dead, he was also heard repeating the words, “I am God, I am God.”6 The art reveals the artist.
What can we learn about God from looking at his art – at Creation? We can learn that his wisdom is fathomless and his power unimaginable (Job 28:23–27; Proverbs 3:19). We can get a feel for his glory (Psalm 19:1). We can deduce his love for humans (Psalm 8:3–9). We can get a sense of how deeply he cares for his creation (Isaiah 40:12ff). We can learn that when he does something, he does it well and he does it right. After the refrain, “He said. . . and it was so,” we find repeated the line: “It was good,” “It was good,” and “It was very good.”
Let me give you an example from creation that covers all the truths in the paragraph above: that God cares for us, that he gets it right, that he possesses unimaginable power, and that he is really, really, smart. All the matter God created is composed of four elemental forces – gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force. Those four forces are the material universe; they combine in an endless variety of ways to form everything we see. You – at least the physical part of you – are a complex arrangement of the four forces. So is the chair you are sitting in. So is the 70,000 light-year-wide Eagle Nebula.
Now consider the wisdom and power of God. The respective strengths of the four forces have to be precisely balanced for life to exist. For illustration purposes, we can assign a baseline figure for the strength of each of these forces. The weakest of the forces, gravity, is the most familiar to us. We will assign it a relative strength of 1. The next strongest of the four forces is the weak nuclear force. It holds neutrons together in an atom. To it we assign a relative strength of 1,034. It is that many times stronger than gravity. Then we come to electromagnetism, which is a thousand times stronger than the weak nuclear force. Finally we come to the strong nuclear force, which is a hundred times stronger still, and holds protons together. So, we have gravity, which holds the planets in place, then, at a thousand times stronger, the weak nuclear force, which holds neutrons together. Then there is electromagnetism, which holds your phone or computer together (not to mention you) as you read this. And finally, there is the strong nuclear force, which is a hundred million times stronger than gravity.
The precise balance that exists between the strengths of these forces is crucial to the existence of the universe. If God had made the strength of gravity evenslightly different, a tiny fraction stronger or weaker, stars, planets and people wouldn’t exist. If the weak nuclear force was different by the smallest percentage, the universe would be composed entirely of hydrogen. If electromagnetism was weaker or stronger, chemical bonds could not form; there would be no life as we know it. And we know of at least 25 other perfect balances in creation – ratios that had to be extraordinarily fine-tuned for life to exist. No wonder the great astronomer Fred Hoyle, an atheist himself, said the universe looks suspiciously like a put-up job. And God spoke all this into perfect balance as easily as you think, “Raise my hand,” and it is raised.7
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2 For more on this, see Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: Harper Book, 1998)
6 Os Guiness, The Call (Nashville: Word, 1998)
7 See Charles Edward White, “God by the Numbers,” Christianity Today (March 2006). See also, Paul Davies, The Accidental Universe (Cambridge University Press)