Creation Declares the Glory of God!
“The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.”—PSALM 19:1.
1, 2. (a) Why are humans unable to see God’s glory directly? (b) How do the 24 elders give glory to God?
“YOU are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.” (Exodus 33:20) Thus Jehovah warned Moses. Because humans are made of frail flesh, they cannot withstand viewing God’s glory directly. In a vision, however, the apostle John was given a spectacular view of Jehovah on His glorious throne.—Revelation 4:1-3.
2 Unlike humans, loyal spirit creatures are able to look upon Jehovah’s face. Among them are the “twenty-four elders” in John’s heavenly vision, who represent the 144,000. (Revelation 4:4; 14:1-3) How do they respond to their view of God’s glory? According to Revelation 4:11, they declare: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”
3, 4. (a) Why is faith in God not unscientific? (b) In some cases, what is behind dismissing belief in God?
3 Are you moved to give God glory? The vast majority of mankind are not, some even denying that God exists. For instance, one astronomer wrote: “Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit? . . . A heady prospect. Unfortunately I believe it to be illusory. . . . God is not an explanation.”
4 Scientific research is limited—restricted to what humans can actually observe or study. Otherwise it is mere theory or guesswork. Since “God is a Spirit,” he simply cannot be subjected to direct scientific scrutiny. (John 4:24) It is arrogant, therefore, to dismiss faith in God as unscientific. Scientist Vincent Wigglesworth of Cambridge University observed that the scientific method itself is “a religious approach.” How so? “It rests upon an unquestioning faith that natural phenomena conform to ‘laws of nature.’” So when someone rejects belief in God, is he not simply exchanging one type of faith for another? In some cases, disbelief appears to be a deliberate refusal to face the truth. The psalmist wrote: “The wicked one according to his superciliousness makes no search; all his ideas are: ‘There is no God.’”—Psalm 10:4.
5. Why is disbelief in God inexcusable?
5 Belief in God is not blind faith, however, for there is overwhelming evidence of God’s existence. (Hebrews 11:1) Astronomer Allan Sandage said: “I find it quite improbable that such order [in the universe] came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery, but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.” The apostle Paul told Christians in Rome that God’s “invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they [disbelievers] are inexcusable.” (Romans 1:20) Since “the world’s creation”—particularly since the creation of intelligent human creatures, who could perceive God’s existence—it has been evident that there is a Creator of immense power, a God worthy of devotion. Those who fail to acknowledge God’s glory are thus inexcusable. What evidence, though, does creation provide?
The Universe Declares God’s Glory
6, 7. (a) How do the heavens declare the glory of God? (b) For what purpose have the heavens sent out ‘measuring lines’?
6 Psalm 19:1 answers by saying: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” David discerned that the stars and the planets that shone through “the expanse,” or atmosphere, gave irrefutable proof of the existence of a glorious God. He continues: “One day after another day causes speech to bubble forth, and one night after another night shows forth knowledge.” (Psalm 19:2) Day after day and night after night, the heavens display God’s wisdom and creative power. It is as if speech praising God were ‘bubbling forth’ from the heavens.
7 However, it takes discernment to hear this witness. “There is no speech, and there are no words; no voice on their part is being heard.” Yet, the silent testimony of the heavens is powerful. “Into all the earth their measuring line has gone out, and to the extremity of the productive land their utterances.” (Psalm 19:3, 4) It is as if the heavens sent out ‘measuring lines’ to make sure that their silent witness filled every corner of the earth.
8, 9. What are some outstanding facts regarding the sun?
8 David next describes another wonder of Jehovah’s creation: “In them [the visible heavens] he has set a tent for the sun, and it is like a bridegroom when coming out of his nuptial chamber; it exults as a mighty man does to run in a path. From one extremity of the heavens is its going forth, and its finished circuit is to their other extremities; and there is nothing concealed from its heat.”—Psalm 19:4-6.
9 As stars go, the sun is only medium sized. Yet, it is a remarkable star, dwarfing the planets orbiting it. One source says that it has a mass of “2 billion of billion of billion tons”—99.9 percent of the mass of our solar system! Its gravitational pull allows the earth to orbit at a distance of 93 million miles [150 million km] without drifting away or being sucked in. Only about half a billionth of the sun’s energy reaches our planet, but that is enough to sustain life.
10. (a) How does the sun go in and out of its “tent”? (b) How does it run as “a mighty man”?
10 The psalmist speaks of the sun in figurative language, picturing it as “a mighty man” who runs from one horizon to the other during the day and retires at night in “a tent.” When that mighty star dips below the horizon, from earth’s vantage point, it appears to go into “a tent,” as if to rest. In the morning, it seems to burst out, beaming radiantly “like a bridegroom when coming out of his nuptial chamber.” As a shepherd, David knew the extreme cold of night. (Genesis 31:40) He recalled how the sun’s rays would rapidly warm him and the landscape around him. Clearly, it was not exhausted from its “journey” from east to west but was like “a mighty man,” ready to repeat the journey.
The Awesome Stars and Galaxies
11, 12. (a) What is remarkable about the Bible’s linking of stars with grains of sand? (b) Just how vast may the universe be?
11 Without a telescope, David could see only a few thousand stars. However, according to one recent study, the number of stars in the universe visible by means of modern telescopes is 70 sextillion—7 followed by 22 zeros! Jehovah indicated that enormous numbers were involved when he linked the number of stars with “the grains of sand that are on the seashore.”—Genesis 22:17.
12 For years, astronomers observed what was described as “small luminous regions with a nebulous, not resolved appearance.” Scientists presumed that these “spiral nebulae” were objects in our Milky Way galaxy. In 1924, it was discovered that the closest such nebula, Andromeda, was actually a galaxy itself—some two million light years away! Scientists now estimate that there are billions of galaxies, each containing thousands—sometimes billions—of stars. Yet, Jehovah “is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names.”—Psalm 147:4.
13. (a) What is remarkable about constellations? (b) How is it evident that scientists do not know “the statutes of the heavens”?
13 Jehovah asked Job: “Can you tie fast the bonds of the Kimah constellation, or can you loosen the very cords of the Kesil constellation?” (Job 38:31) A constellation is a number of stars that appear to form a distinctive pattern. Although the stars could be huge distances from one another, their relative positions remain fixed from earth’s perspective. Because their positions are so precise, the stars are “helpful guides in navigation, to astronauts in spacecraft orientation, and for star identification.” (The Encyclopedia Americana) Yet, no one fully comprehends “the bonds” that hold the constellations together. Yes, scientists still cannot answer the question posed at Job 38:33: “Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens?”
14. In what way is the distribution of light a mystery?
14 Scientists cannot answer another question posed to Job: “Where, now, is the way by which the light distributes itself?” (Job 38:24) One writer called this inquiry about light “a profoundly modern scientific question.” By way of contrast, some Greek philosophers felt that light emanated from the human eye. In more modern times, scientists have thought that light consists of tiny particles. Others have thought of it as moving in waves. Today, scientists believe that light behaves both as a wave and as a particle. Still, the nature of light and how it “distributes itself” is far from fully understood.
15. Like David, how should we feel when we contemplate the heavens?
15 Contemplating all of this, one cannot help but feel like the psalmist David, who said: “When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have prepared, what is mortal man that you keep him in mind, and the son of earthling man that you take care of him?”—Psalm 8:3, 4.
The Earth and Its Creatures Glorify Jehovah
16, 17. How do creatures in the “watery deeps” praise Jehovah?
16 Psalm 148 enumerates other ways in which creation declares God’s glory. Ps 148 Verse 7 reads: “Praise Jehovah from the earth, you sea monsters and all you watery deeps.” Yes, the “watery deeps” are full of wonders that highlight God’s wisdom and power. The blue whale has an average weight of 120 tons—as much as 30 elephants! Its heart alone weighs over 1,000 pounds [450 kg] and is able to pump some 14,000 pounds [6,400 kg] of blood through its body! Are these mammoth sea monsters slow and clumsy in the water? Hardly. They “zip around the oceans” at impressive speeds, says a report by European Cetacean Bycatch Campaign. Satellite tracking showed that “one animal migrated more than 10,000 miles [16,000 km] in 10 months.”
17 The bottle-nosed dolphin normally dives to depths of 150 feet [45 m], but the deepest recorded dive for a dolphin is 1,795 feet [547 m]! How does this mammal survive such a dive? Its heartbeat slows down during the dive, and blood is diverted to the heart, lungs, and brain. Also, its muscles contain a chemical that stores oxygen. Elephant seals and sperm whales can dive to even greater depths. “Instead of fighting the pressure,” says Discover magazine, “they let it collapse their lungs completely.” They store most of the oxygen they need in their muscles. Clearly, these creatures are living testimony to the wisdom of an all-powerful God!
18. How does seawater show Jehovah’s wisdom?
18 Even seawater reflects Jehovah’s wisdom. Says Scientific American: “Every drop of water in the top 100 meters of the ocean contains thousands of free-floating, microscopic flora called phytoplankton.” This “invisible forest” cleans our air by drawing out billions of tons of carbon dioxide. Phytoplankton generates more than half of the oxygen we breathe.
19. How do fire and snow accomplish Jehovah’s will?
19 Psalm 148:8 says: “You fire and hail, snow and thick smoke, you tempestuous wind, accomplishing his word.” Yes, Jehovah also uses the inanimate forces of nature to accomplish his will. Consider fire. In decades past, forest fires were viewed only as destructive. Researchers now believe that fire plays an important ecological role, eliminating old or dying trees, promoting the germination of many seeds, recycling nutrients, and actually reducing the risk of wildfire. Snow is also vital, watering and fertilizing the ground, replenishing rivers, and insulating plants and animals from freezing temperatures.
20. How do mountains and trees benefit mankind?
20 “You mountains and all you hills, you fruit trees and all you cedars,” recounts Psalm 148:9. Majestic mountains are a testimony to Jehovah’s great power. (Psalm 65:6) But they also serve a practical purpose. A report from the Institute of Geography in Bern, Switzerland, says: “All the major rivers in the world have their headwaters in mountains. More than half of humanity relies on the fresh water that accumulates in mountains . . . These ‘water towers’ are crucial to the welfare of humankind.” Even the commonplace tree is a glory to its Maker. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that trees “are important for the well-being of people in all countries . . . Many tree species are of major economic importance as the source of products such as timber, fruits, nuts, resins and gums. Worldwide, 2 billion people depend on wood for cooking and fuel.”
21. Explain how a simple leaf shows evidence of design.
21 Evidence of a wise creator is seen in the very design of a tree. Consider a simple leaf. The outside has a waxy coating that keeps the leaf from drying out. Right under the coating on the upper side is an array of cells containing chloroplasts. These contain chlorophyll, which absorbs light energy. Through a process called photosynthesis, leaves become “food factories.” Water is taken up through the tree’s roots and transported to the leaves by a sophisticated “plumbing system.” Thousands of tiny “valves” (called stomata) on a leaf’s underside open and close, letting in carbon dioxide. Light supplies the energy for water and carbon dioxide to combine and produce carbohydrates. The plant can now feed on the very food it has created. Yet, this “factory” is silent and beautiful. Instead of polluting, it emits oxygen as a by-product!
22, 23. (a) What remarkable abilities do some birds and land animals have? (b) What further questions do we need to consider?
22 “You wild animals and all you domestic animals, you creeping things and winged birds,” says Psalm 148:10. Many land animals and flying creatures display amazing abilities. The Laysan albatross can fly enormous distances (in one case 25,000 miles [40,000 km] in just 90 days). The blackpoll warbler makes the trip from North to South America, staying aloft for over 80 hours nonstop. The camel stores water, not in his hump as commonly thought, but in his digestive system, allowing him to go for long periods without becoming dehydrated. Little wonder, then, that engineers carefully observe the animal kingdom when designing machines and new materials. “If you want to build something that will behave well . . . and fit flawlessly in its environment,” says writer Gail Cleere, “chances are you’ll find a good example somewhere in nature.”
23 Yes, creation truly declares the glory of God! From the starry heavens to plants and animals, each in its own way brings praise to its Creator. But what about us humans? How can we join nature in singing God’s praises?
Do You Remember?
• Why are those who deny God’s existence inexcusable?
• How do the stars and the planets glorify God?
• How do sea and land animals give evidence of a loving Creator?
• How do inanimate forces of nature carry out Jehovah’s will?
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Scientists estimate that the number of observable stars is 70 sextillion!
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Young Laysan albatross