Seen and unseen
Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Several years ago, I thought about buying a microscope. After all, I’d spent the first part of my life peering at tiny, invisible-to-the-naked-eye things. My wife is fond of telling the stories of her students who look — for the first time — into a microscope at a drop of pond water they’ve brought to school and find algae (plants) and protozoans (animals) like amoebas, paramecium and ciliates.
The first microscopes used light to create the images and I remember when electron microscopes were introduced using a stream of electrons to create images. The optical microscopes can magnify an image up to 1000 times; electron microscope can magnify an image up to 2 million times. Now, we can “see” objects the size of half a hydrogen atom.
It all began 4,000 years ago with primitive lenses, and the Greeks had water-filled lenses during the 5th century B.C. In the 13th century, the microscopes were magnifying glasses and eyeglasses. The earliest compound microscope were created in Europe in the 17th Century by Zacharias Janssen or Hans Lippershey in the Netherlands or Cornelius Drebbel in London or Galileo in Italy. Galileo called his the “occhiolino” or “little eye.” Giovanni Faber called it a “microscope.”
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” (Hebrews 11)
And “what we can’t see” also extends upward into the heavens, but maybe we’ll talk about telescopes another time. The truth is we “see” a rather narrow band of our existence; there is so much more we can’t see because it’s so small or because it’s too far away. But the writer of Hebrews is talking about something neither small nor far away; God is both larger and closer than we can imagine, and he’s one of the things “we can’t see.”
The Bible talks about an invisible world; it’s all around us, yet we can’t see it. It’s larger than anything we experience, yet we can’t see it. It’s closer than anything we experience, yet we can’t see it. It’s more important than anything we experience, yet we can’t see it. It’s the fundamental fact of existence,” yet we can’t see it. It’s the “firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living,” yet we can’t see it.
“It’s our handle on what we can’t see;” yet we can’t see it. And as Bobby Bowden once said, “It’s more real than anything we can see;” yet we can’t see it. And here’s the secret (don’t tell anybody), by faith, we can “see” it!