THE CREATION WALK INTRODUCTION
Brian Grogan SJ
The Creation Walk is the story of the Universe, a story full of mystery, wonder and awe. It includes the story of our Common Home, Mother Earth, and the story of you and me. Because it is a divine story, appropriate scriptural quotations accompany the scientific account.
The story of the Cosmos has remained unknown until our own time, although it was talked about ever since humans sat around campfires 100,000 years ago and tried to understand where they had come from. Less than 100 years ago, in the 1930’s, astronomers discovered that the Universe is expanding: this enabled them in the 1970’s to work back to the moment when the Universe began, roughly 13.8 billion years ago. Only 50 years ago, in 1969, photos from the Apollo 8 spacecraft showed humans the whole Earth for the first time.
We then are the first generations to know the history of our home and our own remotest origins. The articles that follow will help you to walk through time, from its beginning until today: with the interplay of science and divine revelation, you will learn the extraordinary story of how we came to be where we are today. Knowing how the Universe has unfolded will bring us closer to the Creator, because God is author both of the book of Scripture and the book of Nature.
We are told that God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8). God still walks in the garden we call Earth, our Common Home, and will be with us till the close of this world’s history and beyond. Each successive step described in this series is a divine total surprise and unpredictable, because ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord’ (Isaiah 55:8). When we fear that all will end in catastrophe, the story gives hope of one more unpredictable divine twist whereby ultimately all will be made well.
Note that all ‘facts and figures’ in the series are open to amendment in the light of ongoing scientific exploration. A primary sourcebook is Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry: The Universe Story; from the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, 1992. The Internet provides immense data–sometimes conflicting–on every topic touched on.
‘Wow! What happened next?’ come walk with us through time by visiting our website www.lovingsisterearth.com/creation-walk/
1.The Great Emergence 13.8 billion years ago.
Some 13.8 billion years ago, our Universe flared into existence: we call that moment the Big Bang. Time, space, and energy begin to exist. All that would ever come to be was already there, within the miracle of hydrogen and helium. The Universe expanded and cooled rapidly. Energy condensed into matter.
We belong to one another: We now know that the sacred community of the universe is a single interconnected web of life emanating from the creative energy of God. Before the beginning, 13.8 billion years ago, there was silence. No time, no space… nothing… only God, who is Spirit. ‘The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters’ (Genesis 1:2). Suddenly everything burst forth from a single point—energy erupting with the brilliance of a trillion stars and the combined speed of a million hurricanes. This fireball flared forth in every direction, creating time and space. All the matter that exists now was present then in embryonic form. This means that every particle in the universe is at source connected to all others.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
The Lord is a great God, and a great King above
In whose hands are the depths of the earthand the heights of the mountains.
The sea is God’s, who made it, and the dry land, which divine hands have formed (Psalm 95:4)
‘Wow! What happened next?’
2. One billion years later, galaxies emerged.
Galaxies came forth as billions of stars made of hydrogen and helium. Larger stars in their death throes exploded and become supernovas. As they blasted out into the cosmos, they created in their wombs the heavier elements from which life will emerge.
What are galaxies? We used to think that our Earth had a privileged place at the centre of the Universe, but recent astronomy shows that our solar system is only one among a vast number of others: our planet has been reduced in status to an infinitesimal speck in the galaxy to which we belong, because that galaxy is a vast cloud of one hundred billion stars. And there are more shocks: in the 1930s astronomers found that the nebulae—those small whitish clouds which we can see between the stars—are in fact clouds of galaxies, each one containing a hundred billion suns similar to ours. The majority of these suns are orbited by planets. ‘There are therefore in the universe thousands of billions of billions of billions of planets such as Earth’ – Carlo Rovelli: Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, 2014.
We can’t comprehend such figures, but we can allow ourselves to be amazed at the size of the universe in which our brave little planet finds itself… and be amazed at God who looks after our little home so carefully.
God said to Job: ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)
‘Wow! What happened next?’