Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dark Matter



Let whoever is wise pay attention to these things…
               — Psalm 107:43

A few days ago while out for a little trail run I listened to the OnBeing podcast of Krista Tippett interviewing cosmologist Dr. Lisa Randall. Randall is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. She has a gift for explaining very complex scientific principles and theories so that ordinary people like me can grasp these incomprehensible concepts. 

It was interesting to hear Randall talk about her theory of dark matter and its interplay with ordinary matter. Dark matter is a hypothetical substance that is believed by most astronomers to account for around five-sixths of the matter in the universe. Although it has not been directly observed, its existence and properties are inferred from its various gravitational effects. She believes dark matter is all around us, even moving through us at all times. Yet because our senses can’t detect dark matter we are completely unaware of it. Dark matter doesn’t emit or interact with light so we don’t see it. Neither can we smell, taste, or feel it. Yet most scientist believe it is just as real and ever present as we are, as real as all these physical realities I’m sensing as I run. The cool breeze on my face, the winter-bare trees, the soft dirt beneath my feet, butterflies, water, clouds, the hawks flying overhead.

Dark matter makes up a significant part of our world and our universe but the majority of us humans are oblivious to it. Randall and other physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists have opened their minds to the reality of dark matter. Through their openness to the unseen they are discovering what has been here all along.

As a Christ-follower I couldn’t help but see the analogy of dark matter to the Holy Spirit. We can’t prove the existence of the Holy Spirit but for those of us who believe, his presence is all around us, even moving through us and within us. Like dark matter, the vast majority of humanity is oblivious to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in our world but for those of us who have opened our minds he is the reality of all things seen and unseen.

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