A few weeks ago our family drove into L.A. to visit the Museum of Natural History, and the Griffith Observatory. Set high on a hill, a few of the observatory’s outdoor visitors stand inside its concrete walls, wait for the sun to set, hold hands, and admire the view below. Our mission, though, was to set our sights on something a little higher. Making our way up to the roof, we endured the long line of those who wanted their turn at the high tech telescope. The kids, excited to see anything from space, waited expectantly 45 minutes for their 30 second turn. I too, was looking forward to seeing whatever it was the astronomers were studying that evening, and as we got closer to the front of the line, we found out that it was a distant star cluster. A scientist, fully clad in a white lab coat could be heard explaining what we would be looking at, to watch our step climbing the stairs to the lens, and how many light years away this cluster really is. Only a handful of people left ahead of us, and another 50 people or so behind, and the man starts telling us theoretically how stars are born. I didn’t really listen to the entire lecture of how this particular star cluster came to be, because it was enough work keeping an eye on four little children in the darkness and throngs of people. Also, there were a lot of elements off of the element chart being flung around in conversation; how they converged back hundreds of kajillion trillion years ago. We did hear “really what it comes down to is radiation.”
This is where my listening, and brilliant, if i must say so myself, 8 year old turns to grin up at me and says, “mom, well where did the radiation come from?”
“I know, right?” My eyebrows go up, and I respond to her crooked smirk with a smirk of my own. You see, my children have been taught evolution like anyone else’s kids, just taught as a theory, not fact.
“I’m gonna ask him,” my daughter responds, and her hand shoots up in the air faster than any NASA sponsored aircraft.
Smiling, but cynical, I look down at her and say, “Ok, but he’s going to say they don’t know.”
In the next moment Mr. Lab-coat is upon us, leans down, balances both hands on his knees, looks into her face and says expectantly, “Yes, young lady…”
“Where did the radiation come from?” she squeaks out confidently.
He gave her a blank stare, and opened his mouth a tad. Nothing came out.
What she didn’t realize, is that Mr. Lab-coat had been walking the line, theorizing and hypothesizing, as well as having spoken with a few others since he had jolted the critical thinking muscle in her brain. He had apparently not understood her question.
“The radiation…from the beginning…where did it come from?” She sweetly tried again.
He stood immediately up, looked straight into my face for either one of two reasons. First, he could have been looking for apparent help with translation, or second, to telepathically chastise me for questioning a worldview that has been master-planned; taught to the gullible at such early ages, shunning anyone who has the guts to oppose, and becoming very rare for any child to question it’s validity. What, as a mother, was I thinking? I could see the possible judgement flicker in his eyes.
I lean over to help poor Mr. Scientist with his long telescope line of teeming, unappreciative masses. I decide that since science prides itself on asking the hard questions, hypothesizing, and deciphering through the evidence, that it was probably the former, with only a small fraction of the latter.
“You had been explaining, a few moments ago..” I helped him, “That the stars were made by radiation. She just wants to know where the original radiation came from…you know, before any of the stars were ‘made’…”
“Oh. We’re not rightly sure.” He answered honestly.
I had to interject. I couldn’t leave well enough alone. As open-minded, and as unassuming as I could be at that moment I said, “So before the stars, before there was anything, you’re not sure what there was in space then? Except radiation?”
Recovering from our interruption, Mr. Labcoat projects his voice again, reassuming his role, and tells those in line, within hearing, that some “elements are eternal”; hydrogen, carbon, and apparently whatever spontaneously combusts within radiation to make star clusters “has always been, and always will.”
So lets get this straight. In my Christian worldview: In the beginning…the most intelligent, and wise God.
In the secular scientific worldview: In the beginning…gas
We did get to see the cluster under the incredibly massive telescope that evening. I had hoped after the long line to have said it was worth the time. I was disappointed how blurry, and pixel-y the image was through the single lens. No matter. I know the God who made it.
What was not disappointing though, was the view. My beautiful, inquisitive 8 year old daughter reaches for my hand, and lands her chocolate-colored gaze on my face. She gets that look in her eyes, the one that makes her seem far away somehow, and introspective. She sighs, and then lovingly says, “I’m so glad that we know the God of the universe, the One who made all the star clusters, and can talk with Him whenever we want to. It bums me out mom, to know that other people don’t have that.”
I know, baby girl, me too.