Today: Sunday, May 31, 2020

Science & the 'God-shaped hole'    (1/6/2013 1)

It was Christmas day, and the children were opening presents with great enthusiasm, tearing the wrapping paper off one mysterious box after another. Finally, when everything had been opened, the 7-year-old pounced on the new Lego kit and began to build with intense concentration.

But it wasn’t long before the familiar cry went up: ‘There’s a piece missing!’

Every year, this reminds that there really is a ‘piece missing’ in our human nature – a kind of empty space in our humanity that can’t be filled, not even by the best human relationships.

As one of the Old Testament writers puts it:

“He has set eternity in the human heart…” (Ecclesiastes [OT] chapter 3, verse 11).

And as St Augustine said a little less poetically, ‘Humanity has an innate desire for the infinite.’ In other words, humans long to know the greater, eternal truth.

Interestingly, there is scientific evidence that people really do have a God-shaped hole inside of them, just waiting to be filled, according to the lead story in the March 17 2012 issue of New Scientist magazine.

The article says that “A natural propensity to look for agents in the world around us is part of the building blocks for beliefs in gods. Once coupled with some other cognitive tendencies, such as the search for purpose, they make children highly susceptible to religion.”

The author cites studies showing that “purpose-based explanations of natural objects” are attractive in childhood and beyond, and that children under 10 naturally embrace creation explanations – even if their parents and teachers are secular evolutionists. One study shows that the Creator view is not ‘outgrown’ but “must be forcibly tamped down through formal education”.

Perhaps this echoes what Jesus himself meant when he said:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew [NT] chapter 18, verse 3)

Paul, one of the great preachers of the early church (and a writer of much of the New Testament) encountered this hunger for the divine when he visited Athens. The people there recognized a huge number of ‘gods’ — but even then they were not fulfilled, and so built an altar ‘To an Unknown God’. And starting from there, Paul proclaimed Jesus Christ to them as the ‘Unknown God’ they were actually looking for. (see Acts 17 )

Even today, most people realise that — no matter how much knowledge we acquire — there is yet more to be known; we easily recognise that, no matter how much success we have in life, how much we amass in terms of material goods, we are never completely fulfilled by it.

The missing Lego piece was eventually located in the cat’s bed, and a crisis was averted. But have you still got ’a piece missing’? You can never truly fill that sense of something missing until you find it in the One who fills all in all – Jesus Christ.

Pray: Lord, is it you I’ve been looking for? Amen.

Listen: The song ‘God-Shaped Hole’ by Plumb, from the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’ (read the lyric)

Think about: Do you ever feel as if you can’t quite reach fulfilment? That a new pair of shoes, or a great football score, or a good night out, last only so long… and then you need ‘topping up’ with some more? Are you always looking for a way to feel complete and fulfilled? Could that be the God-shaped hole inside of you?

Read: An extract from the New Scientist article.

Challenge: Ask God to fill that hole inside of you.

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