Evening lights

I was returning from Rome recently and flying back to my home town of Turin in northern Italy. It was evening and as we flew in as I glanced out of the plane across the huge plateau that forms northern Italy.

Italia-dal-cielo

The lights just made me marvel. Perhaps it was the range of lights that I could see extending for many, many miles that struck me. Or perhaps it was seeing the range of colours in the white house lights, the yellow street lights and the red lights on buildings. There were the different shades too – some streets look as you might expect with bright lights but other lights are covered from above so you can’t see them at all, you can only see their effect. It looks like the street is just illuminated with a strange glow – it was lovely to see the black countryside illuminated by a road that seemed to be on fire.

And then to think that at the turn of the 20th century, even the thought of seeing such a spectacle would have been impossible. Not even kings had the power to see what we can all so easily just take for granted these days. And as I thought about this, I moved from the beauty of man-made order, to the beauty of the earth as seen from space. The colours, the vibrancy of the planet which stands out amidst the darkness and teems with life – wow, surely this too is the handiwork of another intelligent being.

Edgar Mitchell, the American astronaut, returning to earth from the moon when asked on his experiences said this,

Instead of an intellectual search, there was suddenly a very deep gut feeling that something was different. It occurred when looking at Earth and seeing this blue-and-white planet floating there, and knowing it was orbiting the Sun, seeing the Sun, seeing it set in the background of the very deep black and velvety cosmos, seeing – rather, knowing for sure – that there was a purposefulness of flow, of energy, of time, of space in the cosmos … that suddenly was a nonrational way of understanding that had been beyond my previous experience.

The majesty. The wonder. It all struck him. Truly there is design, truly there is order, truly there is beauty, he concluded. But surely that only makes sense if truly there is a Designer, truly there is an Orderer, truly there is an Artist.

The beautiful lights in the northern Italian plateau displayed clearly to me the intelligence of man. Does not the beauty of the earth and the brightness of the stars also shine out the intelligence of a Creator?

Paul Chatfield

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