The utter magnificence of God's creation

Today Ingrid and I were completely blown away by the beauty, the majesty, the utter magnificence of God’s creation.

We started our day at Binna Burra in the Lamington National Park in southeast Queensland. It sits high in the mountains (they may not be all that high, but they’re steep), and this morning we had clear views for miles into far away valleys and distant mountains under a spotless blue sky. As we drove down from Binna Burra to enter the Numinbah Valley, we could see the sharp-pointed peak of Wollumbin  (1156 m) or, as Captain Cook named it, Mount Warning. For much of this part of the journey we were driving along an extremely winding road, hugging the steep side of the mountain, with a precipitous drop on one side of the road or the other. In places, amazingly, the mountain dropped away on both sides of the road, and Ingrid (who long long ago studied geology) read the explanatory national park notices and discovered that we were driving along the rim of a shield volcano caldera, the largest in the southern hemisphere. What is a shield volcano, I ask. Wikipedia tells me it is a volcano built almost entirely of lava flows, named for its low profile, resembling a warrior's shield lying on the ground. A caldera is the sides of the volcano that are left after it has exploded or cooled. In this case the volcano's last eruption was  around 23 million years ago, and after the volcano cooled, much of it was eroded over time.

Completely unexpected for us was that we kept finding ourselves driving along or just inside the rim of this volcano, with stunning mountain views, all the way to Murwillumbah in northeast New South Wales and on to Kyogle. It slowly dawned on us that Wollumbin/Mount Warning was the volcanic plug in the middle of this mighty volcano, and that the rims we kept encountering on our drive were the outlines of a volcano, shield or not, that had a diameter of 100 km and that the original volcano was some 2000 m high. Australia must have looked very different back then, long before Aboriginal Australians arrived.

I was overcome by the thought of a Creator whose complex mathematics had resulted in such beauty as the landscape developed and who had given human beings the capacity to appreciate that beauty. I know that some of my friends will question my acceptance of the geologists’ date of 23 million years ago, but to me this just underlines the stupendous grandeur of creation. God lives in eternity. This means he lives outside time, and millions of years are nothing to him. If he chose to create our planet on this timescale, who am I to argue? The older King James Bibles of my youth had Bishop Usher’s date of 4004 BC at the top of the first page of Genesis. I had thought that his datings had long been discredited, but I still hear from time to time a dating of creation to 6000 years ago. To me, the more so in the light of what Ingrid and I saw today, this belittles God and his creation, seeking to reduce it to a scale that is easier for the human mind to grasp. But there is much about our God that the human mind cannot grasp this side of eternity.

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