Friday, June 9, 2017

How Large Is Too Large?

When it comes to dinosaurs, “longest” and “heaviest” keep changing.

At what point will the public in general, and Christians in particular, reach the point of incredulity?

In 1907, the longest complete dinosaur on record was a 27-meter- long (89 ft.) 
Diplodocus discovered in Wyoming and displayed in Pittsburghs Carnegie Natural History Museum.

Over the past 110 years, much larger beasts have been unearthed around the world.

The new heavy-weight champions were discovered in Argentina. Like the Diplodocus, the fossil records are nearly complete. Argentinosaurus huinculensis is an astounding 39.7 meters long (130 ft.) and is estimated to have weighed 96.4 metric tons.

Much larger discoveries could be ahead. And new technologies may speed their discovery.

So, what happens when the scientific community announces the discovery of a dinosaur whose jaw is large enough to snap Argentinosaurus in two?

The problem isn’t what the Bible teaches. God very well could have created beasts twenty times larger than we’ve discovered to date. What we can’t do is wait—wait, that is, to stretch our own imagination—and then gently start stretching the imaginations of others.

In our lifetime, Diplodocus will continue looking smaller and smaller in comparison with the largest beasts known to have roamed the earth eons ago.  

So, how do we stretch the imagination?

1. Let’s indulge in plenty of good humor. Blaise Pascal said: “Nothing produces laughter more than a surprising disproportion between that which one expects and that which one sees.” Indeed!

2. Let’s continually cultivate humility. When new scientific announcements are made, we may want to say, “Who knew? Isn’t this fascinating? I can’t wait to learn more.” As well, we may want to add, “Imagine what we might discover in a few more years.”

3. Let’s pay attention to meta trends. The changing size of the largest known dinosaurs is one thing. The measurable size of the universe is another. True, we won’t ever reach the point of incredulity. Let’s not assume, however, that the same goes for everyone else. 

4. Let’s remind the public that these meta trends shouldn’t be seen as challenges, including challenges to the Christian faith. Newly established facts always stand atop a wealth of previous scientific findings. 

5. Let’s remind the Christian public that these trends shouldn’t be seen as threats to God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, Christianity, or the Church. Instead, let’s keep reaffirming that nothing—absolutely nothing—is too big for God to create.

Scriptures that stretch the imagination include this personal favorite from Isaiah 40. How good that we can thank God daily for his infinite greatness.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

    and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,
    and weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.