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Friday, April 26, 2013

C. S. Lewis on the goodness of creation

C. S. Lewis, in his Reflections on the Psalms, notes that the goodness of God's creation should not be understood solely for what it does for the good of humans. He writes, about Psalm 104, one of the finest nature poems ever written:

[This Jewish poem, and the Jews that used it in worship,] embraces things that are no use to man. In the great Psalm especially devoted to Nature, from which I have just quoted . . . we have not only the useful cattle, the cheering vine, and the nourishing corn. We have springs where the wild asses quench their thirst (11), fir trees for the storks (17), hill country for the wild goats and “conies” (perhaps marmots, 18), finally even the lions (21); and even with a glance far out to sea, where no Jew willingly went, the great whales playing, enjoying themselves (26). (The parentheses are references to the verses in Psalm 104.) 

The Kindle citation is: Lewis, C. S. (1964-10-07). Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book) (pp. 83-84). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Lewis said it well. Psalm 104 describes not only living things that were of great importance to the ancient Jews, but it also praises the diversity of God's creation, specifically mentioning aspects of that creation that advanced the interests of non-human animals, including some that the Jews would rarely or never be associated with.

Lewis didn't refer to it, but I'll quote part of that Psalm: 
24 Yahweh, how many are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
25 There is the sea, great and wide,
in which are innumerable living things,
both small and large animals. (World English Bible, public domain)

Lewis, nor the Psalmist, knew about some of the remarkable discoveries in astronomy, over the last couple of decades. Surely galaxies, stars, and planets that humans have yet to discover, even from long range, also show forth the goodness and glory of God's creation! But they aren't useful to us now, and won't be for the forseeable future. Did Eris, a dwarf planet in our own solar system, which was not even discovered until 2005, ever do anything good for you? How about the Horologium Supercluster, which is about 700 million light years away? But they, too, are part of the good creation that God brought into being.

Thanks for reading!


atlibertytosay said...

Actually, Eris may have done something useful. Just as Jupiter apparently does.

In the the documentary Privileged Planet they make the assertion that the Earth's precise position in our solar system allows it to be protected because of other planets' positions related to the sun (preventing certain cosmic radiation) ... by gravity - possibly steering some objects as they we orbit through meteor fields etc etc … by providing navigation ... By providing seasonal data ... By providing horoscope data ( however useful or generic or sinful its use may be).

There are 3 galaxies visible to the naked eye.

There's no telling what other galaxies have contributed as we have gone through time.

After all … they were very close together at the big bang … maybe possibly … they interacted for the most infinitesimal moment with our galaxy.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay.

As to Eris, possibly it does have an important effect on the earth. However, it's a lot less massive, and a lot further away than Jupiter.

No, there's no telling about the galaxies, but, again, I'd be surprised if it would make any difference to us if some very distant galaxy had never existed.

God's good creation was good, in that it gave glory to God, rather than that it was all good for us, I believe. (Some of it certainly IS good for us, of course!)