An Encouragement to Christians in the Sciences

March 25, 2024
Monica Vroman

Instruments of Grace

Being a scientist can be lonely. For most people, it is easy to appreciate the beauty of a masterful painting or the skillful twists and turns of a good story. I admire and appreciate the work and expressions of talented right-brained writers, artists, and filmmakers. In my experience, scientists are a little harder to relate to. Maybe it's because of our... still maturing social skills. Maybe because our humor is an acquired taste. Maybe it's because, as I'm often told, we're intimidating. We study subjects that most people perceive as inaccessible and too difficult to grasp. Our work requires math and math is hard to understand, therefore we are hard to understand.

Yet, the Lord has given scientists the skills and training to understand His creation deeply and, if we make an effort, to put His skill on display by explaining to others the wonders of God's creation. We can help people understand the majesty of the created universe, which reflects the majesty of the Creator. We can explain creation to the world in creative ways, such as, if the earth was the size of a golf ball, then the diameter of the Canis Majoris star would be the height of Mt. Everest. Or the number of stars in the observable universe is greater than the number of grains of sand on Earth. Imagine being on a beach and taking a bunch of sand in your hands. How many grains of sand are in your hands? How many grains of sand are on this beach? Think about the length, the width, and even the depth of the layer of sand on this beach. Can your brain grasp the number of grains of sand in it? Now, think about the many thousands, if not millions of beaches in the world. Now, think about the stars. One star is huge and scary. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in the whole world (about 10,000 stars for each grain of sand, to be specific). Advances in technology have also enabled us to count the number of molecules in various substances and helped us discover that the number of molecules in 10 drops of water is in the same ballpark as the number of stars in the universe. Wow!

This mental exercise helps me to meditate on how big God is. He not only created each of these giant, fiery, glorious stars, but He also actively sustains each of their molecules, and all the molecules in the universe, including the molecules we are made of. He is not only powerful enough to create uncountable blazing heavenly bodies with His word, He communicates that He cares even about inanimate objects by telling us that He knows each star by name (Psalm 147:4-5). His knowledge is so vast that He knows and cares about the mundane details of our lives, such as how many hairs we have (Luke 12:7). He is near to us, He knows us, and He cares for us. We are in good hands when we entrust our lives into His wise and loving care.

Reflecting on the Greatness of God

The Bible beautifully describes God’s greatness in many ways, one of my favorites being in Isaiah 40:12: 

"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?"

To help us understand how great God is, He uses overwhelmingly big things, such as waters, heaven, the dust of the earth, mountains, and hills. Things that are big and overwhelming to us are small to Him, so to speak. If He were to have hands, the waters would fit in them.

Why is He telling us how great He is using such visual language, such tangible and relatable comparisons? Isaiah continues...

"Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
    or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
    and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
    and taught him knowledge,
    and showed him the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
    and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
    behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
    nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before him,
    they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness." (Isaiah 40:13-17)

God's purpose for His people is always the same: He wants us to know, to truly, deeply, know that He is wise and powerful. He does not need us or anyone else to help counsel Him or give Him understanding. He knows justice and knowledge and He has better understanding than any other person. He is not scared about all the nations and what the nations are doing and neither should we, because He is sovereign over all creation, He holds the waters in the hollow of His hand and He can weigh the mountains in His scales and we are His children. He will protect us and will work out the evil in the world for good for those who love Him and belong to Him (Romans 8:28, 29).

Encouraging One Another

Man was created to glorify God and we, scientists, can encourage our brothers and sisters to trust our powerful and kind Creator. We can use our understanding of how creation works to magnify the wisdom and power of God.

In Psalm 104, the psalmist describes the wonderful works of God and, at the end, exclaims in verse 24: 

"O Lord, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions."

The Lord's wisdom is on display when we study creation. And, wonder of wonders, He promises to give us His wisdom if we ask for it (James 1). In James chapter 1, we, again see the end goal for asking for wisdom, that, by facing our trials in faith, the Lord would receive glory in our becoming spiritually mature, "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (verse 4) and in our receiving a crown of life (verse 13) which we will lay at His feet (Revelation 4:10-11) because it is a symbol of His work in us, resulting in works which He has ordained ahead of time, that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10). It is His work to save us (Ephesians 2:8, 9) and it is His works that we do in His strength after He saves us (Philippians 2:12, 13).

As scientists we may feel isolated. The Lord, in His wisdom, has built a church with many members, each with unique gifts that we ought to use for building up the church. The church needs the encouragement of every member, no matter how insignificant they think they are. So, I am encouraging you today to put God's glory and wisdom on display. Be an instrument of grace in the lives of your brothers and sisters, encourage and spur them on to love and good deeds. We serve a wise, powerful, and kind Creator who is near and cares about every detail in our lives. We can grow to trust Him more and more each day and we have the privilege of pointing others to Him and encouraging them to grow in trusting Him as well.

Monica Vroman, PhD, is a Visiting Research Professor of Computer Science at The Master’s University.