The World has a Design, Which Points to a Designer.
I’m in Kathmandu, Nepal as I write this blog. In Asia, it seems most everyone believes in some notion of a God. The veil into the spiritual realm is thin here. Hardly anyone questions the existence of gods, and spirits. Yet back at home and when I travel in Western countries, there are still a multitude of people who question God’s existence. Wilderness ministry, if done intentionally, can help people take this first step toward belief in Christ: to first believe that God exists. One first has to believe God exists to then grasp the problem of sin and the good news of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. So let’s discuss God’s existence for a moment.
Just Look at the Stars
C.S. Lewis once addressed an audience of atheists with a gentle challenge:
If the solar system was brought about by an accident collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. IF so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.
It is reasonable to believe that there is a reason or purpose for the way God designed the earth.
A Legendary Baseball Story
See if you can tell me the “purpose” behind this story. On August 19, 1951, the St. Louis Browns baseball team was playing against the powerhouse Detroit Tigers. In the first inning of game two, as lead off hitter Frank Saucier was about to get set up in the batter’s box, the coach called Frank into the dug out and sent out a pinch hitter in his place. A pinch hitter for the first batter? That’s unheard of.
As the crowd watched, out of the dugout came a 3’7″ man named Eddie Gaedel. He had traded clothes with the 9 year old bat boy and went out to the plate to start off the inning. The Home plate umpire initially challenged this move, but when the St. Louis manager, Zach Taylor produced a copy of Gaedel’s signed contract–paying him $100 per game, the umpire relented.
Why did the coach do this. What was his purpose? Such a curious strategy. What advantage did he think he would have by leading off with a really short batter?
The Detroit pitcher Bob Cain initially attempted to throw a strike, but with Gaedel’s strike zone measuring about two inches high, it was impossible to throw him a strike. So they walked him. Once Eddie got on first base, the coach sent out a pinch runner to run in his place.
The purpose behind this brilliant strategic move was to get a guy on first base who could score the first run. And it worked, but in the end the Tigers won the game. It was a great try.
This story points out that there is usually an obvious reason for why people do things if you look closely enough. And when we look at the world, we can also see the purposes behind the way God created it. Our intricately designed world points to an infinitely creative Designer.
An Ancient Shepherd’s Jazzy Beat
David was a shepherd boy who spent scads of time in the wilderness. The Psalms are a collection of jazzy beats that he wrote down in his own ancient style. And many of his songs explore this theme: God exists, and the design and glory of creation points directly to his character. Here is one of his most memorable rhymes from Psalm 19:
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
- Next time you are out with a group, ask them to look closely at what they see in the wilderness and see if they can come up with some purpose statements. How are things connected? How does the wilderness work? What are the relationships between the earth, animals, people, etc.?
- Tell your group the story of Eddie Gaedel and ask them if they can guess the “purpose” behind the coach’s decision to have him be the lead off hitter?
- Send your group off for a quiet time with Psalm 19 and a few reflection questions that explore how the wilderness itself sings loudly that God exists.
- Then make it personal and ask people to be vulnerable and share some reasons why they believe God or exists, or a few reasons why they doubt that he exists.