Majesty In The Skies

Written By Victor Stanley Jr.

Theology & Culture

In a story titled On the Hunt for a Sprite on a Midsummer’s Night New York Times contributor Sandra Blakeslee writes about sprites. Sprites are described as “majestic emanations of light that flash for an instant high above the thunderheads, appearing in the shapes of red glowing jellyfish, carrots, angels, broccoli, or mandrake roots with blue dangly tendrils.”[1] Sprites “are huge — tens of miles wide and 30 miles from top to bottom,” and only last for a few milliseconds, which makes them difficult to observe, they were discovered in 1989 after one was captured on video; prior to this there had been numerous stories of sprites from pilots, but scientists did not give them much credibility.

Very little is known about sprites, why they occur, and what effect they have on the atmosphere. Dr. Steven A. Cummer, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, is quoted as saying, “Sprites are simply something interesting and unexpected that nature does; They are spectacular and kind of amazing, but how, or even if, they affect the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere remains an open question.” Many people known as ‘citizen scientists,’ which are essentially lay scientists, send photos in to Dr. Cummer’s multicenter project called Phocal, which stands for Physical Origins of Coupling to the Upper Atmosphere by Lightning; this assists in the research into sprites.

Scripture says that man can clearly know that God exists because his power has been revealed, and is evident even in nature. The beauty and magnificence of the universe seems to be the work of a creator, and its order and function beg for a designer, namely God. Paul states this in Romans:

“[19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV).

Interestingly enough, sprites are a very recent discovery and little is known about them, but scientists and even regular citizens thirst after knowledge about them. They speak of the beauty of sprites, and the awe-inspiring displays of light they cause. The naturalist worldview sees sprites as simply a result of random processes that, by chance, result in what they call sprites. However, the biblical worldview sees sprites as a wonderful display of the majesty and power of an immanent God. God questioned Job by saying “[4] “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. [5] Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:4-5 ESV). Throughout the rest of that passage God goes on to speak of his creating the universe and ordering all that is in it, even speaking of storms, which are the very weather event from which sprites originate, saying:

“[25] Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, [26] to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, [27] to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?” (Job 38:25-27 ESV).

While naturalistic scientists and the secular world* attribute nature’s processes and actions to happenstance, as Christians we know that the striking and extraordinary phenomena of nature are due to a wonderful and omnipotent God.

[1] All quotes, unless noted, are taken from: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/science/on-the-hunt-for-a-sprite-on-a-midsummers-night.html?ref=science&_r=1

*I do not know the religious or philosophical beliefs of the scientists mentioned in the New York Times article referenced throughout this post.

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