A God of Diversity

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A God of Diversity

Traveling at impressive 64,000 km/h, the space probe Voyager 1 was launched into space 26 years ago to explore the planets of our solar system. After passing by Jupiter and Saturn, completing its initial mission, the probe prepared itself to leave the solar system.

As it approached the 6 billion kilometer mark from Earth, Carl Sagan, the famous Cornell astrophysicist, suggested that NASA turn Voyager’s cameras back and take a last picture of our planet. In that picture, planet Earth appears as a “pale blue dot” – insignificant in the vastness of the known universe. At a first glance, this “speck of dust” suspended in the middle of nowhere seems to have nothing to offer.

However, when you zoom in on planet Earth, it is possible to find beauty, life and diversity. Earth, in fact, is quite singular when compared to the rest of the observable universe. It doesn’t take much time to notice that when God brought this planet into being, He displayed his artistic genius when he created it with a variety of colors, plants, animals and particles, dispensing a deluge of creativity and aesthetic beauty.

The living realm

When we observe the plant kingdom, it’s easy to get lost in the quantity of different species that grow on Earth. There are trees of all shapes and sizes, from the small Bonsai to the 80-meter Sequoia trees. While some are minuscule, other plants have leaves so big it is even difficult to lift them, such as the amazon Coccoloba leaf, considered by some to be the largest dicotyledon leaf in the world, reaching sizes of 2.5 meters in width and 1.44 meters in length.

Furthermore, the variety of flowers, perfumes and colors in the plant world is enough to drive any bee mad. “Why is there so much variety?,” one could ask. God could have created just a few types of trees, plants and flowers. The insects could have been “instructed” to pollinate only a dozen different flower species. But being a God who enjoys diversity, He opted to dream big!

In the animal kingdom, the picture becomes even more extravagant. Scientists cannot come to agreement on how many different animal species there are on the planet. Some estimate 8.7 million, while others speak of 25 million. This multiplicity inspired Charles Darwin to travel around the world looking for an explanation. Accustomed to Britain’s fauna, Darwin was astonished at the variety of species he found in the Americas, especially on the islands of the Galapagos.

The theory of evolution was his attempt to explain why there are so many species and how they came into existence. The hypothesis that new species are generated by mutations in the genetic code, although explaining small changes in organisms, has been considered only a partial solution to the problem. Why is there so much variety? Why are there so many digestive, breathing, positioning and movement mechanisms? A complete answer is still elusive to evolutionary biologists.

Although the theory of evolution may be a proposal that has obtained considerable success among scientists, many are aware of its limitations. Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and great defender of Darwinism, confessed that “evolutionism as a way of seeing the world […] has far greater difficulty with this. For this worldview, there are not really any species, for things have no existence of their own. What we regard as ‘species’ are in fact merely ‘snapshots’ in the great stream of evolution. Everything is just transition and a stage of being passed through, and each individual is merely a fluke, which had the luck to survive because it was ‘more fit’ than the others. This is certainly a short-sighted view of the variety of creation.”[1]

 

Cosmic material

When we turn our attention to the physical world, we became acutely aware that, whether at the microscopic or macroscopic level, multiplicity is ubiquitous. The galaxies observed by astronomers appear in innumerable shapes and sizes, whether they be orphan, gigantic, elliptical, spiral or irregular. Their stars may be dwarf, compact, gigantic, super gigantic, red, blue, dark, made of hydrogen, helium, iron or neutrons, only to mention a few. The nebulae whose photos fill our computer screens may be lightened by emission or reflection. They may be dark, solar, planetary, or composed of whatever was left of supernovae.

On the other side, when physicists turn to the subatomic universe, they discover that matter is not only comprised of one sub-particle, but many, which are subdivided into two groups: the fermions, which constitute matter, and the bosons, which transmit force. Fermions are made up of quarks called up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top; and of leptons, known as electrons, muons, taus, electron neutrinos, muon neutrinos, and tau neutrinos. Bosons, on the other hand, are comprised of photons, gluons, bosons Z, bosons W, and the famous Higgs bosons.

In addition to all these particles, scientists have discovered what they refer to as antimatter, comprised of its antiparticles. For every particle, there is an antiparticle. Whereas a common hydrogen atom is composed of a single proton and electron, an antihydrogen is composed of a positron and a antiproton.

Why is the university so diverse? Did it need to get so complicated? All this variety hints of a super-intelligence behind everything. Only a God with unlimited knowledge and wisdom could create such a complex universe as ours. Four hundred years ago, the great physicist Sir Isaac Newton declared that “no variation in this arises from blind metaphysical necessity, which must be the same always and everywhere. All the diversity of created things, each in its place and time, could only have arisen from the ideas and the will of a necessarily existing being.”[2]

But intelligence isn’t the only thing we can infer from nature. The Creator has a heightened taste for beauty. Look at the quantity of colors observed on any given day. Our eyes can distinguish up to 10 million different colors, from the green variations in leaves to the different colored nuances created by sunbeams as they penetrate our atmosphere.

All this diversity provokes in us what Albert Einstein once referred to as “rapturous amazement.”[3] It is a feeling of finitude when confronted with the sheer richness of the universe. Once more, evolutionism is unable to explain our appreciation of colors, beauty and grandeur. Our admiration of the beautiful and artistic finds its reason only in a Creator who, by making us into his likeness, gave human beings the capacity and the pleasure of perception.

As Warren W. Wiersbe well noticed, “whether we study invisible microscopic life, visible plant and animal life, human life, or the myriad of things that have no life, the diversity in creation is amazing. God could have made a drab colorless world, one season everywhere, only one variety of each plant and animal, cookie-cutter humans, no musical sounds, and a few minimal kinds of food—but He did not.”[4]

 

Portraits of Omnipotence

Throughout creation, we can observe that God is extravagant in what He does. He overflows in beauty, diversity and greatness. The grandeur of his plans can be perceived even by the way he interacts with humanity. When multiplying the bread and fish, Jesus did not do it only for the twelve disciples. No! He preferred to feed a whole multitude of at least five thousand men, perhaps even twelve thousand, if women and children are counted (Matthew 14:21)!

When he chose to walk on water, he did not do it to cross the slim Jordan river. Jesus decided to walk through the extensive lake of Gennesaret (also known as the sea of Galilee) in the worst moment: in the middle of a storm! The disciples were so frightened by what they saw that they thought he was a ghost (v. 26). When he went to see Lazarus, Jesus did not heal him from far away. No! He waited until his friend was dead, waited three additional days, and only resurrected him when the whole multitude was near enough to witness that incontestable miracle (John 11:1-46).

From what we read in the Bible, it doesn’t take long to notice that God is not ashamed of being who He is. God doesn’t suffer from shyness or low self-esteem. Much to the contrary! When he comes down on Earth, David describes Him shaking the foundations of the mountains (Psalm 18:7-8) and covering the skies with darkness and thick dark rain clouds (v. 11-12). When He speaks, God thunders down from heaven with hailstones and coals of fire (v. 13). His appearances always leave human beings in a state of astonishment.

But what does this all mean? In the first place, God doesn’t dream small. His plans are much greater than what we can fathom. This implies that when we are praying to Him, we are not referring to someone limited as human beings usually are, capable of only devising one or a few alternatives. This God of diversity can come down and answer our prayers in the most diverse way possible, leaving us, in most cases, bewildered. When we least expect it, He can change us into someone we never dreamed of becoming!

Secondly, since He created the Universe with such beauty, we understand that He is a great admirer of art, music and human creativity. God delights in receiving our thanks, adoration and devotion through music, painting or other artistic expressions.

Lastly, living in a universe full of variety implies that we must love and respect those who think, act, and behave differently from us. Although Satan strives to use our differences in order to create racial barriers, or as an excuse for moral relativism, God wants us to look at our differences as an invitation for dialogue and mutual learning. By doing this, Christianity acknowledges that God is the Creator.

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Notes:

[1] Christoph C. Schönborn, Chance or Purpose? (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2007), p. 60

[2] Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999), p. 942.

[3] Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science”, Ideas and Opinions (Nova Iorque, NY: Crown Publishers, 1954), p. 38.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (2004). Be exultant (1st ed., p. 54). Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries.

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About the author

Glauber S. Araujo

Glauber S. Araujo is a PhD student in systematic theology at Universidad Adventista del Plata. He holds a master's degree in Sciences of Religion and works as editor at Casa Publicadora Brasileira. Passionate about Physics and Astronomy, he enjoys reading and writing about the intersections between science and religion.