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Who Made the Moon?A Father Explores How Faith and Science Agree
By Sigmund Brouwer
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2008 Sigmund Brouwer
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWho Made the Moon?
Did blind chance know that there was light and what was its refraction, and fit the eyes of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These and other suchlike considerations, always have, and always will prevail with mankind, to believe that there is a being who made all things, who has all things in his power, and who is therefore to be feared. - Isaac Newton
Our family was gathered on the deck on a hot summer evening to listen to the coyotes. Nearly every evening at dusk, one pack would begin howling from the top of a hill to the west, to be answered by another pack from the east.
As the sky darkened, the top of a full moon began to edge over the horizon. It was a moment as wonderful and fragile as dust on butterfly wings. The rest of the moon slowly appeared, with the music of the coyotes as a haunting background symphony, until the silvery disk hung above the hills, so bright that the shadows of the lunar mountains were visible from a quarter million miles across a void, yet seemingly so close that Savannah, who was three, reached toward it and whispered, "Daddy, who made the moon?"
What an instinctive and profound question, embedded in our DNA. Even when we are mere toddlers, the night sky leads us to search for a Creator.
Indeed, who made the moon?
When I listen to the beat of my daughter's heart, a great, quiet love fills me. I do not say this because this sense of love is unique to me. What is incredible is that each of us is given a unique sense of it.
Of all the human loves, I believe this parent-child love can be the purest. I do not love my daughters because of what I can gain but because of what I can give.
How is it that something so invisible is so strong?
Why are we able to share love?
And most of all, where does this love come from?
There is no denying that the night skies speak to us.
Away from the city, away from all that is made by man, surrounding us and dulling our senses, when we stand beneath a clear, dark sky and behold the vastness of the stars, our souls respond like harp strings plucked by an invisible hand. We yearn with a homesickness to be somewhere else, an unknown place as difficult to define as the yearning itself.
Sometimes, in the dark, with my head leaning softly against my daughter's chest, a haunting sadness overcomes me. I hope that she will love me as much as I love her. I hope, too, that I will live until I am old. That I will watch her become a woman. That I will one day hold her son or daughter the way I once held her.
Listening to that heartbeat, I often think of how growing old takes me toward my death. Neither my love for my daughters nor their love for me will be able to turn away that certainty. So will come the day when, perhaps, one of my daughters will lay her head against my chest to listen to the frail thumping of a heart close to its final beat.
This is the human condition. Great sadness along with great joy. The more we love, the more death takes when it inevitably arrives.
How do we deal with this? Why is life so beautiful yet so cruel? Is there a purpose to this?
The Genesis account of Creation resonates so strongly with our souls because it simply and elegantly helps us understand the night sky and the longing that comes with it, giving us the answers to the questions embedded within us.
When Savannah is old enough to read Genesis, it will tell her that God made the moon. As she reads on, she will learn that her sister, her parents, and her future children are more than complicated packages of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and water, doomed to become dust when their life forces are extinguished. Because of the bedrock of Genesis, she, like me, will be able to embrace emotions that are uniquely human. Peace. Hope. Purpose. And from that foundation, the Bible will proceed to answer all of the other major questions of human existence that she will someday have.
Who Made the Moon?
But also awaiting Savannah are answers that disagree with Genesis. Scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins would tell Savannah that God did not make the moon-or anything else. That the universe is random and meaningless. That we are merely assembled stardust. That our lives have no purpose-or hope.
In the introduction to his best-selling and highly publicized book The God Delusion, Dawkins states, "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." I was not. The book does make strong points against the flaws of religious institutions, and it demolishes poor and obviously cherry-picked arguments for the existence of God. But believers could, and perhaps should, do the same.
One of my goals as a parent is to ensure that by the time Savannah faces books like this, she will also be able to see that Dawkins does not have the intellectual honesty to fairly and squarely face the twenty-first century's most compelling argument for the existence of God:
An Atheist Undone
Antony Flew, perhaps the world's most famous atheistic philosopher, would once have also given Savannah an answer similar to that of Dawkins.
Flew made global headlines when, at the age of eighty-one, he publicly renounced his atheism, having concluded that, despite what he had taught, argued, and published for all of his adult life, God does exist. What would cause a man with so much vested in an atheistic worldview to make that stunning reversal? Science.
Who made the moon?
That summer evening on the deck, as the last of the chorus of coyotes faded, it was easy enough to pick up Savannah and whisper back the answer. "God did."
It was an answer she accepted and trusted because it was Daddy's answer.
But almost certainly the day will come when she'll wonder if Daddy's answer is enough.
Chapter TwoThrough Heaven's Gate
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
Amen. - The Apostles' Creed
One of the things I enjoy most about being a daddy is family bedtime. After we read our two girls a story, the lights go off, and my wife, Cindy, and I lie in their beds and tell stories. Each night one of us makes up a tale for the others. After this comes the family tradition of "favorite things." We each describe a favorite event from the day. And last come prayers.
One Monday night, shortly before Olivia's seventh birthday, instead of praying, she began to cry softly. She turned her back to me, and her body trembled. After some gentle questioning, I discovered why: the day before, at Sunday school, she'd been told that to get to heaven, she must love God and invite Jesus into her heart.
From our first prayers with the girls, Cindy and I have talked to them about how God loves us and that part of His love for us is the deep love within our family. We've taught them that Jesus also showed us this kind of love, especially on the cross. And they knew, by now, about heaven too because that's where Grandpa Cova went, and that's where someday we'll be together as a family, forever.
We'd never discussed that God's love and Olivia's own place in heaven were conditional, as presented by that Sunday school teacher. It had not been an issue-in her innocence and her trust in what we taught about God, Olivia had full acceptance and belief already.
But on this night, in the dark, our little girl wept, because she'd been thinking about the unspoken implication of her Sunday school lesson-the threat of what would happen if she didn't properly love God or invite Jesus into her heart. Since noon the day before, she'd been silently struggling with this fear. She didn't know how to "invite Jesus into her heart." Neither did she know, as she eventually confessed, if she could love God in the same way that she loved Mommy or Daddy, because she couldn't see Him.
For the first time, our little girl was afraid she might not go to heaven, and then she'd be lost to Mommy and Daddy and wouldn't be part of our family forever.
Olivia and I shared the same fear but from opposite perspectives. In her future were school, the Internet, newspapers, and magazines-unless I was prepared to insulate her completely, outside of our household her faith would be challenged at every turn between that evening and adulthood.
I desperately wish to see my daughters in heaven. Our family love is so strong that I pray for it to remain unbroken for eternity. I cannot imagine a future horror of eternally grieving that they are in hell, however you perceive it, away from the presence of God.
Since becoming a father, any headline that describes a lost or kidnapped child punches me with great emotional force. What if one of my daughters was lost, kidnapped? How could I get through a single minute, let alone through the dark of the first night, then the next and the next, until, God willing, our family was whole again?
How could I deal with losing one of my girls for eternity?
In contrast, how much rejoicing once found!
Yes, one of the joys of faith is the sense of purpose it gives during our earthly lives. But another is holding tight to the promises of the Apostles' Creed, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting, holding tight to the promise that Jesus gave His followers: "In My Father's house are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you."
But that night, at prayer time, our little girl had her doubts. She was genuinely afraid she might not go to that place. Yet Daddy was more afraid, because he knew he could not force her to choose faith when she became old enough to be responsible for her choice. He also knew that as his little girl grew older, she would encounter more doubts, much more difficult as obstacles to that faith.
What will be out there to encourage her to doubt a Christian worldview? Here's a list of recent titles that show a propagandistic attack on Christianity, all published by mainstream publishers:
The God Delusion American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
In an article describing this trend, Rabbi Daniel Lapin points out that, with thirty similar titles, "there are more of these books for sale at your local large book store warning against the perils of fervent Christianity than those warning against the perils of fervent Islam." He added that "considerably more intellectual energy is being pumped into the propaganda campaign against Christianity than was ever delivered to the anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving campaigns."
But the printed page is not the only factor.
In a less tumultuous time, there were only three major news networks, along with the kings of print media such as the New York Times. All stood in splendid isolation, lighthouses, each seen by tens of millions. Then, competition became intense to reach the top and to have a voice, with a culling process largely based on talent, perseverance, and ambition. Continued credibility was one of the factors necessary to get and remain there. A voice of authority had authority. But the voices were still few.
Today, on the other hand, the voices are manifold. Our children live among podcasts, web logs, and Internet rumors. Where once stood a few lighthouses, high and mighty, now stand millions, of various sizes, all claiming to represent truth. No wonder it's more difficult to find a safe harbor in the glare of the lights.
Yes, it is more democratic to allow all of these voices a chance. But other than in major outlets, the culling does not take place. An opinion on the conflict in the Mideast, for example, can be offered by anyone, regardless of education and knowledge about the complex issues. Instead of the uninformed opinion stopping at the barbershop door, it reaches the world.
Andrew Keen, in his book The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy, writes, "Millions and millions of exuberant monkeys ... are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity." He calls it a "pajama army" and accuses it of spreading gossip and scandal.
Unlike the major media outlets, this army faces no checks and balances.
Do they have a right to be heard? Sure. Should you trust everything you hear from them and, by extension, allow your children to accept it? Only if it also doesn't matter to you whether the surgeon holding the scalpel above your child has earned the right to be in the hospital. Authority must be earned.
My point is simple: the primary responsibility for helping children judge truth must begin at home, before they start their journeys through a digital forest of mediocrity. This is especially true when it comes to science and faith, where the shadows of extremists on both sides threaten to hide the light of truth in the center.
The Most Important Question
I believe there is nothing more important to ask than the question Olivia faced and wept over, even though she was not yet seven years old: what is your eternal destination?
Searching for answers often begins with an either/or foundation. We live in either (a) a godless universe or (b) a created universe, wherein God made the moon and our souls have meaning.
Genesis is accurate. Or a lie.
Does God exist? Or not? Every thing else is colored by the answer you choose. Even deciding not to answer is an answer. And how you understand this is the light for the rest of your experiences and questions. Perhaps C. S. Lewis said it best: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else."
But no matter how much spiritual peace and purpose a parent finds through a worldview based on the foundation that God exists and loves His creation, faith is the one gift a loving parent cannot force on a child. After a certain point, we cannot pilot our children's lives. But if we know where the safe harbor is, we must shine a beacon to draw our children toward it.
Finding the Right Light
When my little girl had been on a dark, stormy sea, worried about heaven, she'd trusted me enough to be her lighthouse. We are all drawn to beacons of light.
Not all lights, as you well know, are trustworthy. Seafaring history contains hundreds of stories of shipwrecks caused by scavengers using false beacons to lure navigators into treacherous rocks. The deception worked for two reasons. First, the very darkness around the beacons made it impossible to see if the light could be trusted. Second, the beacons were offered when the ships' captains were most desperate.
Our children, in their most terrible moments of doubt, are just as vulnerable to deceptive beacons. They, much less than adults, lack the skill and wisdom to discern false arguments. The result: "for the gullible and credulous, it is the confidence with which something is said that persuades rather than the evidence offered in its support."
Excerpted from Who Made the Moon? by Sigmund Brouwer Copyright © 2008 by Sigmund Brouwer. Excerpted by permission.
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