The dictionary definition for the word “sustain” is, “to keep in existence; maintain or prolong.” Physicists have been attempting to understand what sustains the universe since the time of Isaac Newton (1643-1727). Newton’s classical physics worked well to help provide an idea of how things were put together until physicists in the 20th century developed “modern physics.”

In the new modern physics, which is supported by the theories of quantum mechanics and relativity, some new insight has been gained about how things fundamentally work and what holds them together. Recently physicists have expended much effort on developing “string” theories. These vibrating string theories assume additional dimensions of space inside tiny fundamental particles. These additional dimensions are beyond those dimensions that the average person can comprehend like height, width, length and time. As of now there is no experimental evidence for string theories, but it is possible a string theory could be corroborated by a powerful particle accelerator experiment in the distant future. At least that is the hope of the physicists.

The image below is a representation of a heirarchy of particle sizes including the theroretical size of strings and indicates just how much smaller strings are thought to be compared to the more familiar electrons and quarks. This size is way below the capability of man to scientifically discern.

So, the average Christian of today can generally understand that matter consists of tiny atoms that are made up of smaller particles called electrons, protons and neutrons. We can accept that there is an equivalency between matter and energy (E=mc²). We can believe that scientific experiments indicate that the particles of the atom are also made up of even smaller particles, and that these particles are moving exactly as required in order to make up every physical thing in the universe.

But, does the mundane knowledge of the layman or the sophisticated knowledge of the physicists provide any practical information for mankind’s understanding of what is sustaining the universe? That is, are physicists really getting close to an understanding of what holds the universe together? If string theory is correct and physicists were to understand that theory to the same degree as they understand the basic structure of atoms and molecules, would they know what keeps all of these particles and strings in motion? I suggest that they would likely be just as much in the dark about what  sustains the universe as they are now. I think we can all agree that if these particles stopped moving (spinning, rotating, vibrating…) everything in the universe would disintegrate into nothingness.

Can the Bible help us with this puzzle? Let’s see what God’s Word tells us regarding this subject:

1. In Hebrews 1:1-3a we read, In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (NIV)

In these verses from the book of Hebrews we learn that Christ has made all things, and he made the universe. Therefore, as Creator he would have complete knowlege about how the universe is put togther. We also learn that he is sustaining all things by his powerful Word. Christ is the one keeping the most fundamental particles in the universe moving as required, whether they are vibrating strings or something else.

2. In Colossians 1:15-16 we read, He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NIV)

This is confirmation of the fact that in Christ all things are held together.

3. In Romans 11:33-36 we read, Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

We can conclude that Christ is more powerful than anything mankind can or will ever be able to deliver. What man will learn in the future, here on earth, about how the universe is sustained is totally controlled by the will of God. While God undoubtedly has no problem with scientific research, perhaps he has given us what we really need to know about his creating and sustaining power in Psalm 33:9. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood firm. (NIV)

Indeed, to God be the glory!

J.D. Mitchell

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