I admit it: I’m a science nerd! By that, I mean I’ve always been fascinated by the natural order of things: plants, astronomy, human body, physics. You name the science, and it draws me in. With exasperation in his voice, my dad used to call me his “Why, why, why kid” (okay, maybe my engineer dad’s voice was tinged with a tad of admiration, too), because I asked endless questions about why things work the way they do. A glance at the magazines to which I subscribe reveals Discover (subtitled, “Science for the Curious”) and Smithsonian (“Éxplore Nature & Science”)—with Quiltmaker thrown in to expand my right-brain. I had to give up my subscriptions to National Geographic, Archaeology, and Science, because I just couldn’t keep up with all the articles.
So, perhaps you can sense my childlike delight anticipating next Monday’s solar eclipse! I purchased three pairs of eclipse sunglasses: one for myself, one for my husband, and one for a friend. I was so excited about my purchase that I donned a pair while at dinner with friends, expecting to generate the same kind of excitement that I felt for this upcoming spectacle. Imagine my disappointment when all five of them looked at me like I was some kind of a nut! Even my further animated attempts to elicit their engagement brought more of a pity from them than the expected buy-in. I sighed and put my glasses away, not really understanding how one can NOT be excited about the solar eclipse!
Okay, sure: the moon is passing between our sun and Earth, creating the solar eclipse, and, yes, there will be 68 total eclipses in the 21st century somewhere on our planet. But, come on! Right here in Idaho, and folks in Southern Idaho get to see a FULL eclipse! I still clearly recall in the summer of 1963 how the sunny skies became slowly darker, until it seemed almost like night in New Jersey. And that was only an 80% eclipse! We set up a cardboard box, with pinholes for the sun to shine onto the back of that box, safe for viewing the eclipse through our viewing port. And, next Monday, Coeur d’Alene will experience a 92% eclipse! Wow! (And, yes, boss, I’ll be working that day, but this lady will make up that time later in the day—I’m not missing this eclipse!)
As disappointed as I was to my friends’ (non-)reaction, a reaction which has surprised me the most over the years is when I’ve marveled at various scientific facts and some people have responded with, “But I thought you were a Christian!” As if my strong faith is counter to scientific fact! Absolutely NOT! I think God has set up an extraordinary world, and perhaps giggles with delight as we discover pieces of His creation!
19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; 20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. Proverbs 3:19-20
Discover and National Geographic have articles telling about myths from around the world which have been used by people to explain eclipses. They range from dragons and gods devouring the sun or moon to leaders conjuring up its disappearance and reappearance as ways to show their power. But, I really like the National Geographic’s telling of the Navajo explanation of eclipses:
The Navajo regard the cosmic order of the universe as being all about balance, [Nancy Maryboy] said. “Something like an eclipse is just part of nature’s law. You pause to acknowledge that that time is special, [and] you reflect on the cosmic order.”… A person who looks at the sun goes out of balance with the universe, leading to problems down the road.
I guess that sense of cosmic balance is how I’ve always perceived God’s perfect universe. He has created an amazing world, full of infinitesimal detail and self-sustaining evolution that is beyond full comprehension.
In Job 37, Elihu is tired of hearing Job’s complaining about God and the lack of adequate explanation provided by three wise men about why Job is being treated poorly by God. Elihu waits patiently for them to finish their talking, and then finally speaks with some frustration:
14 “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. 15 Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?… 21 Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean.
20 Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? 21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds in the sky…. 23 God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, 24 for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens…. 28 And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”
And, as Pastor Craig has been teaching us, that “fear” can also be interpreted as “awe” and “respect.”
Job 37:5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding….
I pray you take time on Monday, August 21st to safely view the solar eclipse and consider part of the truly awesome world that God has created.
By the way, in Coeur d’Alene, we can start viewing the solar eclipse at 9:13am, reaching maximum (92%) at 10:28am, and returning back to normal sun by 11:47am. And, for you other science nerds out there, you may also be interested in putting a reminder on your calendar for the next lunar eclipse here on January 31st from 2:51am-8:08am, with the maximum blood moon (magnitude 1.32) at 5:29am.
Thank you, God, for creating an amazing world!
– Emily Rogers