Written by Steven Liechty
"The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders." - Psalm 65:8-13
Really? The whole earth?
According to the Pew Research Center, 2.4% of Americans are atheists. Does that mean they are less prone to wonder at God's wonders?
Not necessarily. As a guest on Oprah's "Super Soul Sunday," atheist Diana Nyad described herself as "not a God person but a person who is deeply in awe" (watch her conversation with O here). Oprah, to her credit, suggests Nyad is much closer to God than she thinks.
So before we get glum about the rise of godlessness unraveling the moral and spiritual fabric of America and all that, let's give atheists-in-awe their props. They may not affirm the existence of a divine presence, but they are nevertheless people of faith.
For one thing, to conclude that this wondrous creation, including intelligent, sentient, creative, personal beings like us, is the result of unintelligent, blind, impersonal chemicals interacting at random takes far more faith than I'm capable of. For another thing, atheists are not immune to praise-like moments of "Wow!" that require an awareness of something larger than oneself.
So what if the experience of being in awe is the common ground for believers and unbelievers? What if being full of wonder is what really matters? Could that be part of what makes us wonder-full to God?
I wonder what will cause you to wonder today. Will your heart sing praises at the great glories of nature or be moved by the small everyday kindnesses of human beings? Or both? In any case, indulge your capacity for awe. It's what unites us all. And it makes God smile.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.