The Pistol Star and the Power of God
Meditations on Science, Sight and Divine Splendor
I thank God for the mind-boggling discoveries of science. It is as though a blind servant should keep bringing gorgeous jewels to the table. Not that scientists are all blind. Or that any of them is totally blind. If they were, I would probably have died of polio or smallpox by now. I would not have electric light, refrigeration, word processing, a combustion engine in my car, instant news on the radio, or flights to Winnipeg (not to mention Mars). Scientists are not dumb and not blind—entirely.
But what word shall I use to describe the eye or the heart that could discover the Pistol Star and not worship God? Or even mention God. Let me catch my breath. There are two breathtaking things in the paper this morning. One is the discovery of the largest star ever known. The other is the absence of God. Both of these marvels take my breath away.
The article begins,
Try to imagine a star so big that it would fill all of the solar system within the orbit of Earth, which is 93 million miles from the sun. A star so turbulent that its eruptions would spread a cloud of gases spanning four light-years. The distance from the sun to the nearest star [about 24,000,000,000,000 miles]. A star so powerful that it glows with the energy of 10 million suns, making it the brightest star ever observed in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Actually, a star so big and bright should be unimaginable, according to some theories of star formation. But here it is, near the center of the Milky Way. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 8, 1997, p. A4)
Jesus loved the Psalms and believed them to be the word of God. So I do not doubt that he looked into the night sky and worshipped, “I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established” (Psalm 8:3).
But there is no mention of God in the report of the scientists. There is no worship. Among the “theories of star formation” being exploded by the Pistol Star is one that will stand unshaken. In fact, it is not just a theory but a revealed truth: Stars are “the work of thy fingers.” Stars are God’s fingerwork. This is what Jesus believed. This is true.
Therefore, when I read that scientists have discovered a new star that is 10 million times more powerful than the sun that warms my face from 93 million miles away, and holds the earth in orbit, and burns (in its cooler spots) at 6,000 degrees Centigrade, I see the fingers of God in a new way, and I am moved to tremble, and to fall on my face in silence before the greatness of God. And as I come back to some degree of composure, the absence of God in this report stuns me. Is there any other word but “blindness” to describe this? Jesus would say, “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament declares the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). Not to see the glory of God in the Pistol Star is to be blind.
Open your eyes. Pray that God would give you eyes to see. Jesus spoke of those who “hearing do not hear” and “seeing do not see.” Pray that you would not be among that number. The cosmos exists to help you know God, the Maker. And the main message is that he is very great and that we are very small. We need to feel this greatness. We need to be able to say, “You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like you” (2 Samuel 7:22). “You who have done great things; O God, who is like you?” (Psalm 71:19). “What god is great like our God?” (Psalm 77:13). “For you are great and do wondrous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10). “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty” (Revelation 15:3). “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised” (Psalm 48:1). “Bless the Lord O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty” (Psalm 104:1).
©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org