The Most Astounding Fact

Don’t Blame it On the Goose

We have all experienced it. The phenomenon of staring wide-eyed at a clear night sky, soaking in the starlight, and reflecting on the brittleness our lives – Moments that can’t be put into words.

Awe. Beauty. Inwardness.

I remember one of the first times I ever prayed. I was 15 years old, and I was drunk.

My friend and I had stayed out late and were walking up and down the beach searching for an adventure. All of the sudden, there came a moment when I was by myself. My friend had ran up the beach a little, and I found myself standing in front of the ocean and underneath the most magnificent night sky I have ever seen.

It felt as if I had been blown backwards into the sand. I was caught off guard. I had been on that beach for at least three hours before I had noticed the radiance of the sky. How was this possible? Was I really so distracted and preoccupied that I missed the heavens? Then came the prayer. I’ll paraphrase, but I’m sure it went something like this:

There has got to be more. Purpose. Meaning. God? Something.

Prayer comes out in many ways. That night it came out in an awakening or a realization of my humanity. I was inwardly expressing an awe for life. At the time, I would not have called this reverent moment prayer. But as I look back, there is nothing else that I can call it.

Begging the Question

The video above is amazing and I love what the narrator Neil deGrasse Tyson has to say. I’m sure he would personally dislike where I’m going with this (even though he is quite elegant and honest about faith), but there is the question which I feel is being begged in this video. I think it is the same question which is begged during the moments we feel when we marvel at the astounding complexity and symmetry of the universe.

Here is the question: Why?

The universe, vast and chaotic, produced us. And here we are. Here we are asking the why questions. These why questions entail a longing for purpose, meaning, value, and freedom. We want to know who we are. We want to know our place. Tyson says himself,

You want to feel connected. You want to feel relevant. You want to feel like you’re a participant.

Consider this: I believe we are connected. I believe we are relevant. And I believe we are participants in an orchestra that is bigger than ourselves. But this connection is not merely to what is physical. We are not just relevant to the material universe. From the center of my being, I believe there is more than meets the eye. There is more than the universe.

We all innately believe at some level there is purpose to life. There is meaning. There is value. There is freedom.

I believe in these things.

But why do I believe in them? Where did they come from?

Is it possible that there is a designer?

Could there be God?

And could that, in fact, be the most astounding fact?