A Christian Theory of Everything
Physicists and cosmologists are ever in search of what they call 'a theory of everything,' or a T.O.E., a hypothesis that is all-encompassing in its explanatory power, a theory that can account for both the sub-atomic world of particle physics and the galactic expanse of supernovae and black holes.
Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, is the author of a fascinating book entitled, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999). Greene argues that 'for the first time in the history of physics we . . . have a framework with the capacity to explain every fundamental feature upon which the universe is constructed' (p. 16). Scientists call it "string theory". The idea is that everything in the universe at its most microscopic level consists of combinations of vibrating strings. According to Greene, "string theory provides a single explanatory framework capable of encompassing all forces and all matter" (p. 15).
The problem isn't that Greene and others have gone too far in making this claim. The problem is they haven't gone nearly far enough! Greene is clearly drawn to this theory because strings make sense of physical reality in all its manifold dimensions. But what makes sense of strings? Why do they exist? Scientists may well be correct about the capacity of strings 'to explain every fundamental feature upon which the universe is constructed.' But why strings? If they explain all forces and all matter, what explains them? What accounts for the shape they take and the functions they serve? God does!
My theory is that everything, what Greene refers to as ?all forces and all matter,? exists for the glory of God or for the manifestation of divine beauty. Let me emphasize again that everything from quarks to quasars, from butterflies to baseballs, were created and are sustained so that you and I might delight in the display of divine glory. Only humans are fashioned in the image of God. We alone have been endowed with the capacity to glorify him by rejoicing in the beauty of his creative handiwork and relishing the splendor of his self-revelation in the person of his Son.
But why did God choose to create? Certainly not from the anguish born of need, as if creation might supply God what he lacked. God didn't take inventory and suddenly realize there was a shortage that only you and I could fill up. So what prompted God to act?
The source of God's creative energy was the joy of infinite and eternal abundance! God chose to create from the endless and self-replenishing overflow of delight in himself. That needs to be said again. God chose to create from the endless and self-replenishing overflow of delight in himself.
We must recognize that God delights infinitely in his own eternal beauty. When God the Father beholds himself in the Son he is immeasurably happy. He gazes at the Son and sees a perfect reflection of his own holiness. The Father rejoices in the beauty of the Son and Spirit, and the Son revels in the beauty of the Spirit and Father, and the Spirit delights in that of the Father and Son. God is his own fan club! This benevolent fullness of divine delight overflows in creation so that we might joyfully share, to God's eternal glory, in God's admiration of himself.
God created us so that the joy he has in himself might be ours. God doesn't simply think about himself or talk to himself. He enjoys himself! He celebrates with infinite and eternal intensity the beauty of who he is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we've been created to join the party!
Nothing is more important than understanding this truth. Not simply important for your intellectual development or to satisfy your theological curiosity or to overcome apathy in your soul, but crucial for the quality of your existence now and in the age to come.
If this T.O.E. is true, we can hardly expect to experience the abundant life of which Jesus spoke (John 10:10) if we persist in ignorance of God's creative design and how it touches every fiber and fabric of our being.
To relish and rejoice in the beauty of God alone accounts for why we exist. It's also the solution to our struggle with sin. Enjoying God is the catalyst for substantive and lasting change. And enjoying God is the soul's sole satisfaction, with which no rival pleasure can hope to compete. Glorifying God by enjoying him forever. It's the Christian Theory of Everything.