In Preaching Today, Matt Woodley writes about the astronomer Allan Sandage, who was hailed as “the most influential astronomer” of the 20th century. For six decades, Dr. Sandage played a key role in increasing our understanding of the universe and determining the Hubble Constant, which describes the universe’s expansion. He was awarded the Crafoord Prize, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for astronomy. Prior to his death in 2010 at the age of 84, Sandage had also quietly but boldly confessed his faith in Christ.
But Sandage’s journey to belief wasn’t quick or easy. As a boy he was “almost a practicing atheist” who was nevertheless nagged by the mysteries of space. Early in his career, he was convinced that science, without reference to a Creator, could explain everything about the universe. In his own words, Sandage believed that “Reality was the equations. Reality was the interconnection of the laws of physics.”
But as his knowledge of the universe increased, Sandage slowly opened his mind to faith in God. He recounts the story of a science writers’ conference when he was struck “for the first time” by the “intricacies of the human body,” not to mention the entire universe. He started to question if life could really have happened by pure chance. At the age of 50 he said, “A door opened and I gradually went through it with a different view of things…Faith means you have to go all the way, accept Christianity totally or reject it totally.” Sandage totally embraced faith in Christ.
As he continued to explore the universe and write scientific papers, Sandage never saw any conflict between his faith and science. He claimed that his conversion was helped along by Christians who were also scientists. They showed him that “it was possible to do science and have a faith [in Christ].” He argued, “It was my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science…If there is a God, he must be true both to science and [Christianity].”
Of course, Dr. Sandage was right. Truth does not contradict truth, so the “scientific fingerprints” of the Creator can be found throughout the created order. This is why a person who sincerely looks for truth, as Sandage did, will see that God does exist. He or she will learn, as Paul put it, “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20). Scientific seekers will see what King David saw when he gazed into space: “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.”
Keep the SON in your eyes!