Hunt for Dark Matter
Video by Luke Groskin (2015)
Watch the Full Episode

Physicists’ search for Dark Matter reminds us that there are many things we don’t quite understand in the cosmos. We might see patterns and design but we are not always sure of the cause. Pastors might emphasize how physicists’ faith in Dark Matter parallels Christians’ faith in God. Just as physicists’ question, doubt, and search, knowing that something out there is working that we cannot see, so also Christians can question, doubt, and search, knowing that God is out there working even when we cannot see God. In the same way, just as physicists’ exploration of the universe does not inhibit or lessen their faith or love of the field, so Christians’ exploration of their faith does not inhibit or lessen their faith or love of God.

“If they’re successful, the researchers may not only solve some of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics but affirm their faith in the nature of dark matter.”

– Luke Groskin

What to Consider

  • Have you ever had a question that drives you into deeper and deeper questioning? Something that you just cannot stop pursuing? What was (or is) it and how did you pursue an answer?
  • How can Dark Matter, an unseen yet pervasive force in the universe, be a metaphor for the work of God in our world?
  • What is the role of faith in science versus the role of faith in Christianity? How is its role  the same? How is it different?

How to Go Deeper

  • Read Job 28 and explore the search for wisdom that is ultimately found in the “fear of the Lord” (v. 28). Share a time when you questioned and pursued answers that were difficult to find. Make comparisons to the hunt for Dark Matter and the search for wisdom.
  • Read John 20:24-29, the story of how Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus until he saw the risen Lord. Use physicists’ search for Dark Matter as a parallel story of how doubt haunts us as we search for something which we want to believe is true.
  • Read Romans 8:18-27. Use the search for Dark Matter as a metaphor for the Christian hope and yearning for the day when “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21 NRSV). Just as the scientists in this video hope for something they have not seen but have faith exists, so also Christians hope “with patience” for “the redemption of our bodies,” even when we cannot see that hope (Romans 8:23-25 NRSV).

Relevant Scriptures

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

Related Research

“Why Does Dark Matter Really Matter?”

“In the Dark about Dark Matter?”

“How Does Dark Energy Drive the Universe?”

“Neil deGrasse Tyson: Don’t Believe the Dark Matter Hype”

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About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

7 Comments

  1. Reed Metcalf February 15, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    It is interesting to see a glimpse of epistemological overlap between science and faith. I don’t think it lasts long–as soon as science receives new or contradictory evidence, the thing pursued by faith will change–but I think there is still a good parallel to be drawn between the faith in dark matter and the Christian faith. Even a classic Christian apologetic metaphor is used by one of the LUX scientists: “You cannot see the wind, but you can see its effects.” While they apply this to dark matter and we apply it to the Triune God, even this brief parallel is both insightful and welcome to come to a more generous dialogue on the epistemological limits of both science and faith.

  2. JarrodCraw May 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I think that it’s good to have such engagement with science and their seeking w/o seeing. I wonder, however, what the implications will be should we ‘discern’ dark matter. How many will look to this as another way to ‘explain away’ God? I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t wonder and question, but I just think that we need to be wary.

  3. aidenkang May 25, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    The smartest person in the world, at best, can know about 5% of the universe. The rest is dark matter & dark energy, which comprises a little over 95% of the universe. The fact that we know almost nothing about this 95% should lead us to humility, & even if we do discover what dark matter & dark energy are, there will probably be something behind it, which will have us scratching our heads for awhile.

  4. marymact@gmail.com August 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Great point that even science requires faith. So often we assume that everything regarding science is totally factual and 100% certain/ known.

    • matt@ncstudycenter.org August 24, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Good observation, this helpfully gets at the fact that even science involves presuppositions/non-empirical assumptions

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