Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Are Those Stars?

“Grandpa, are those stars?” queried my 3 ½ year old granddaughter one late fall evening when I carried her out under the dark night sky of our community. The regulations of our residential association insure that dark skies prevail. But our granddaughter’s home neighborhood, well-lit and secure, does not offer the same observing opportunity. Aware of the healthy “early to bed” routine in her household, I realized it was entirely conceivable she had never seen “real” stars. Storybook graphics do not substitute for the real thing.

Young children in Bible times had ample opportunity to savor the magnificent glory of the darkened heavens. The nightly experience of dark skies enabled Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to grasp how difficult it would be to number their descendants by counting stars. God had proposed that idea directly to the patriarchs. He told them their descendants would be more numerous than the stars of heaven and asked them if they could number the stars. Surely they had observed that the darker the skies, the greater the number of stars coming into view. They may have even understood the object lesson to imagine the uncounted myriads of stars present in the heavens even beyond the limits of their dark sky vision.

Abraham was the first patriarch to receive the promise of offspring more numerous than the stars (Genesis 15:5). We could speculate on his trip with son Isaac up to Mount Moriah. Perhaps they camped out under the stars the night before the planned sacrifice. What did they talk about? During our March visit to Israel we stood near, or possibly even at the site of Abraham and Isaac’s faith adventure. Historians think the present day Jerusalem Temple Mount or even Golgatha may be the very spot. Several days earlier we had stood under the stars singing “Joy to the World” at the likely pastoral site of the birth of Christ. We overlooked the currently electricity-lit town of Bethlehem in the distance. The stars were bright as we sang, but how much brighter were they when Jesus was born and the angels sang?

Christian parents should start building a strong science/faith connection for their children at an early age. As they progress through elementary school, middle school, and high school, the opportunity to foster knowledge, appreciation, respect, and even awe for the Creator and His works never wanes. Parents must then also trust instructors at school, in Bible school, and in youth programs to carry out this responsibility. I’ll confess to being an idealist in this regard. Fostering interest in and awareness of the scientific principles operating in the physical and biological world is, indeed, difficult work. The effort, however, has wide-ranging and long-lasting benefit, because it calls attention to God, the Creator.