I am not a scientist, philosopher, or a theologian, but I consider nature to be one of the more compelling proofs of God. My faith falters with regularity, but never while standing before an ocean, a mountain, or a sunset’s dynamic beauty. That anything is pleasing to our eyes suggests to me that “all this” was created to delight. What would be the purpose in all the world’s beauty if none of us creatures had sight or the capacity to appreciate the aesthetics of what we’re seeing?
Some say that science killed God. I am not of that opinion. The more I grasp of science, especially chemistry and biology, the more all of the mechanisms and organisms of life look created to me. Science complements my faith.
However, I do think modern comforts do their best to erase any evidence of God. It is easy for my faith to feel frail on the subway or walking along a sidewalk between skyscrapers. However, one step into nature, and I find the obviousness of God’s reality laughably convincing.
Civilization is quite convenient, but it’s also misleading and chronically distracting. I believe God is everywhere, but I’ve yet to find him at the mall or on an escalator. At the foot of a mountain, however, I have a very different perspective. When I slow down and unplug myself from modern inventions, I am better able to comprehend God’s omnipresence. My faith flourishes.
It makes sense to me that I should more easily encounter God in nature. Cities are monuments to mankind. They are teeming with what human hands have wrought—the dreams made real of mortal minds. It is easy for me to feel self-sufficient on the elevator ride up to my state-of-the-art apartment. But should I find myself standing in a vast forest or desert, I suspect humanity would suddenly seem much less important.
It’s easy to become arrogant in the safety of one’s own home. But for a dose of humbling perspective, you need only remember that you cannot beckon the sun or tell the snowstorm to stand down. Neither the waves nor the rains will obey your commands. You can’t count the stars in the sky or all the grains of sand—not alone, and not in your life’s span.
I don’t mean to suggest that cities are inherently evil or that we must flee them as Christians. However, I also feel no lifelong commitment to New York’s subway system. I simply need to have regular encounters with God’s handiwork—something or somewhere no human hands have altered.
I want to behold a sunrise or stand at the foot of a mountain. Let me be humbled by a hummingbird’s agility or stunned by a tempest’s power. I want to ponder an ocean’s infinite horizon or the intricacies of a flower.
To me, nature seems like the notes God left behind to remind us of him. They’re his hallmarks—his messages. Something as simple as a flower’s petal or as small as a one-celled organism suggests a master designer’s creative vision.
I do enjoy the comforts and conveniences of the city, but I also don’t want to live a life that’s lived without trees. I need to smell, feel, and hear natural things. I want to walk along the beach or through unblemished snow. I want to stare at a star-filled sky or listen to a free bird’s song.
The magnitude, beauty, wildness, and sometimes danger of nature are all invitations to believe in a power greater than my own. And when I feel connected to the natural world, I also sense my link to the maker of it all.