12 January 2010

Backyard Landscaping (connections 2)

How I came Upon Chunks of the Canadian Shield in Jenison

In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Roughly 13.7 billion years later, I did some landscaping in my backyard.

It struck me, as Shan and I were helping Elijah pick out some neat rocks from our rockpile, just how connected we are with God's creative story.

The small pile of rocks in my driveway came from a mound of sediment left over from the last glacier to grind it's way south about 11,000 years ago.  When the glacial ice retreated, it left the newly formed Great Lakes, as well as the glacial till that covers most of the Upper Midwest.

This glacial till was ground and scraped off of some exposed bedrock up north, probably somewhere between Lake Superior and the Hudson Bay.

The exposed bedrock came from the remnants of the Canadian Shield, part of the North American craton that was formed by plate tectonics about 1 billion years ago.

The oldest rock formations on this North American craton, an area relatively untouched by fault lines and other major geologic events, has been dated to nearly 4 billion years ago.  The Earth itself isn't much older than that, so these rocks may have been present when the Earth and the rest of our Solar System cooled enough to separate the planets and our Sun from the collapsing molecular cloud surrounding and forming it.

These molecular clouds, also called stellar nurseries, provide the correct conditions for the formation of matter as we know it.  If we can imagine a molecular cloud as a balloon, we can begin to understand how stars and planets form.  If we have inflated a balloon outside on a hot day, the higher temperature will provide the molecules within the balloon with enough energy to keep the balloon inflated.  If we take that same balloon, and place it into a freezer, the temperature will drop, and we will notice a drastic change in the size of the balloon.  It will appear to have deflated, though it will have the same amount of matter inside it.

When the molecular cloud shrinks, the material has to go somewhere.  Because even molecules have gravity, some will be pulled together.  If this happens over and over again, eventually we will end up with stars, and other solid bodies that have pulled themselves together by their own gravitational force.

So the material that eventually made it's way into the rock pile on my driveway was at one time floating around inside a molecular cloud, a molecular cloud very similar to countless other molecular clouds that were, at one point, the only things found in the entire universe.

And then,

13.7 billion years ago, give or take,

God spoke.  His words set in motion a series of events that would eventually lead to me shoveling rocks in my driveway and putting them in my backyard.

You see, we tend to read Genesis with the mostly unconscious thought that it happened a long time ago. We treat it like history, as if those stories happened somewhere else.  As if now, today, those stories don't mean much. We distance ourselves from the creation story. But in the process, we distance ourselves from the Creator, and His Creation. When we read Genesis like we read any history text, the words remain rather dry and unimportant to us.  We need to understand that we are connected to Genesis, and the rest of God's story, just as closely as we are connected to our house, to our community, to our families.

The Battle of Gettysburg takes up quite a bit of space in textbooks and historical works.  We can study the battle, the commanders, the soldiers, the equipment used, the weather, the terrain, the social circumstances around the battle.  We can analyze, in excruciating detail, nearly every single second of the battle, what was done, what was said, what happened and why it happened.  We can memorize every single detail about the battle.

But we remain disconnected to that knowledge until we actually visit the battlefield.  We can stand on Cemetery Ridge.  We can climb Little Round Top.  We can walk where General Pickett walked, and be amazed he even made it as far as he did.  And only when we glimpse the personal view of the battlefield will we begin to understand everything we know.

History did not happen in a textbook. It happened on this planet, in a real and very physical place. The Bible is no different. It happened here, on this planet. In this solar system, within the Milky Way galaxy, within our universe.

And it all started with God speaking.


jj

2 comments:

ab said...

Hey, thanks for writing this. I love it!

The Wingnut said...

Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate it!

jj