The reader may wonder why such massive things,—indeed,
accounting for 99% of the total mass of the universe,—are described as
'nothing.' This lecturer's private vocabulary uses 'nothing'
interchangeably for 'dark matter and dark energy.' It's not that he's a
skeptic who expects the underground observatories searching for these
things to come up empty. Rather he holds to an 'inertial' theory of
word-meanings, according to which if a locale (empty space) was at one
time described as containing 'nothing,' then the word 'nothing' may
properly still be used to identify the contents of that locale, even if
it has been discovered in the interim that the locale is not empty.
(Don't expect that to make sense; we're talking with atheists here,
So we have the atheist standard of evaluation. It is mass/energy.
What is big and imposing is important, what is small is insignificant.
Let's try a few test cases:
Of the two, which is more important?
___a baby or
The atheist answer: A boxcar.
Of the two, which is more impressive?
___a hummingbird or
___a wind-carved Saharan sand-dune
The atheist answer, the sand-dune.
Of the two in peril, which is more worth saving?
___an eight-year-old-child or
The atheist answer, the elephant, of course.
Which of the two is more admirable:
____an angel or
____a shipping container
Since the angel lacks mass, and mass equals
significance, the shipping container wins out.
Here in Maine, the Pine Tree State, I would imagine the biomass
locked up in pine trees, which are more plentiful, exceeds that found in
humans, who are less plentiful here. But which are more interesting,
even lovable perhaps? And watch out for dirt and rocks, strong
contenders to win the mass race. Do even the atheists themselves follow
through on their scheme of valuation as a self-consistent way of thinking?
Suppose an evil genie proposed a trade: the substitution of a burlap
sack filled with dirt of an equivalent mass, for your loved ones. Who
would accept this as an even trade? If a dump-truck were to pull up,
offering an entire truck-load of clean fill in exchange for my cat, what
would be the difficulty in saying 'no'? If mass is the standard of
value, to whom is it important, and why?
As hardly needs to be stressed, Christianity is premised on the
denial of these assumptions:
"Child of God! Pray on. God's people are more dear to
him than our children can be to us. He regards them with more
complacency than all the shining orbs of that starry firmament. They
were bought at a price higher than would purchase the dead matter of
ten thousand worlds. He cares more for his humblest, weakest child,
than for all the crowned heads and great ones of earth, and takes a
deeper interest in the daily fortunes of a pious cottage than in the
fall and rise of kingdoms." (Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel,
Kindle location 4211).
The God who became incarnate in a baby in a manger is not impressed
by size or scale, "It's not easy to wrap your hands around a God who is
evident in all of creation, who when asked for a name says, 'I AM.'. .
.This is the God who creates the universe but chooses to be born in
a manger. . .We have a God who enters the world through smallness —
a baby refugee, a homeless rabbi, the lilies and the sparrows." (The
Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, p. 305).
But a newborn babe is not weighty enough for the atheists. The God
who became incarnate in an infant small enough to take up in your arms
cannot be any very important God, they aver. He would have to weigh like
maybe 23 tons before he'd be big enough to deserve their notice! This atheist argument is familiar in a wide assemblage of variations,
though its implausibility is its most striking feature. We are
to surmise that God, at any rate, evaluates things strictly based on
mass, though no one else does. Therefore God cannot have created this
world, most of whose mass is not made up of human beings, nor even of
visible matter. And variants of this argument spot-light the off-center
location of our solar system: our earth is a pale blue dot in the
middle of nowhere. God, if He exists, must choose what is big, central, and
imposing, we are told. If our solar system and its little earth are not
massive, central and imposing, then God cannot possibly have chosen this world to
become incarnate, because it is just too unimportant. Maybe a central
address would leave us zapped with cosmic rays, but it would still be
Does God think like this? There is no evidence, in His revelation to man, that He does.
There is considerable evidence that, to His way of thinking, it's
just the other way around. As a corollary, must we assume that God just
adores Stalinist architecture, even though no one else does? Or do
even the atheists like Stalinist architecture? And besides the earth is not so much tiny as it is right-sized. If the
earth were so huge as to inspire the atheists' admiration, gravity
would be such a powerfully inhibiting force that we would grovel
along like earth-worms. They would hold the Olympics, and the champions would
be those who managed to leap three vertical inches, if indeed their
circulatory system could function. But no bother, the atheists would be
Fortunately we do not have to base our expectations of how God thinks
on how atheists think, because God has left us a body of revelation
illustrating some of His thought patterns. Let us examine one test case. He
chooses David, from tending sheep, over his brothers. Why? Is David bigger
than this brothers, or the smallest of the lot?: