People say the cosmos is vast, and therefore we are arrogant to think of ourselves as important. But for heaven’s sake, to what are they comparing the world when they say vast? The universe may seem quite large from our perspective on earth. But that is only a mere sentiment. Without anything to compare it to, the whole universe is neither vast nor large because it is the only of its kind. One might say “wow, this great big universe terrifies me.” Or they might say, “You know, this cozy little universe is just right for me.” Either feeling is nothing but a sentiment, a matter of perspective. Whichever you choose to hold is up to you.
Still, why should a man surrender his dignity to the cosmos? What has the cosmos ever done worthy of praise? The sun may revolve around the earth, but it does not love the earth. The stars may twinkle and shine in brilliant array, dressed in the finest black fabric dotted with diamonds that would make the finest tailor blush, but the tailor still knows this secret: he has a family, and as such he is a creator. The story of the tailor is written in small letters the same story that is writ large on the cosmos. The fact that atomic particles make up the tailor in the same way they make up the stars should not be surprising. That the tailor knows this and the stars do not, that is surprising.
If God does not exist and there is nothing behind the beauty of the universe, if there is nothing in us that is fierce and free, then what difference does the size of the universe matter? It is not a free universe, it is not even a beautiful one. It just is, and that is all. If there is nothing beyond the walls of this universe, then you might as well say we live in a glorified prison. “Yes, but it is large” is no different than saying “the prison now covers half the country.” The size of the prison doesn’t matter, because all the Warden could show the prisoner is miles of long stone corridors and endless barred cells. In fact, the prison would be windowless.
No, man is still unique among all that the universe has to offer. The fact that we are overawed by it’s beauty is proof. The size of the universe says nothing about the inherent dignity of man. As man has always been small compared to the nearest tree or elephant. Should we then say human life is no more important than say, the life of the elephant? I’m afraid that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have become overawed by the world because we quit looking for windows. There’s an elephant in the room, someone needs to open a window and let it out. It’s time for fresh air.
The chance of life happening by unguided processes just once is so small that for it to happen twice or even three times would push the question of God’s existence beyond reasonable doubt and into absolute certainty. If multiple civilizations exist, the question would not be, “did God create us all?” The question would be “Why did God create us all?”
All the discoveries in all the realm of science cannot give us an answer to this question, “Why?” Science can tell us much about the universe, but questions of why are completely out of the question for physicists and psychologists. To find an answer to the question of why you’ll have to turn to metaphysics. Even if everything could be explained, it would not do anything to satisfy the universal longing for a home. You might as well tell an orphan “it’s been confirmed, your family is dead. Nobody loves you.”
Happily, we know that we are not cosmic orphans. Rather, we are the culmination of God’s creativity. In Genesis, we read that God made the world good, but in the day he made human beings it reads, “and God beheld all that he had made, and it was very good.” Very good. That’s you! That’s me. We, all of us, are all special parts of God’s creativity. Far from an afterthought, we are the final product of God’s creativity. In fact, I would be willing to bet that many of our problems are not because we think too much of ourselves, but because we think too little. Listen to what the Psalmist had to say:
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. – Psalm 8:3-8
The beginning of that Psalm starts off, “When I see the heavens…” In other words, the Psalmist David was empathizing with this same sentiment behind this question! These questions can and should blow our minds. Because the response should be cause enough to pause and wonder. What is man that God would really care for him? The Psalmists answer, “You were made a little lower than God. Higher than the animals, lower than God. Royalty and honor are yours!” Every person you have ever met, and will meet, is highly valued-treasured in the mind of God. Let’s praise Him for that.