Sermon in the University Church of St. Peter Heidelberg, 9 May 2010
Text: Psalm 19
“The heavens are telling the glory of God!” Christian Fürchtegott Gellert and Ludwig van Beethoven have made Psalm 19 into one of the best known spiritual hymns in our culture, even beyond the walls of the church. “The heavens are telling the glory of God, day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” The order of creation with its rhythms of day and night praises the creator. No surprise that so-called natural theology could arrive at the idea that God was the “perfect watchmaker”! Yet is this creation psalm actually praising God because the psalmist is convinced God has created a perfect piece of machinery?
We “enlightened” people, who are continually being informed (and alarmed) about events around the globe, are not the first ones to be aware the world is anything but a smoothly- functioning machine. The Blind Watchmaker is the title Richard Dawkins gave to one of his books, which did not attack Christian faith quite as aggressively and was not quite as ideological as his bestseller, The God Delusion. Yet regardless of what natural theology and the new atheism come up with, God is neither a blind nor a sighted watchmaker. And creation is not a perfect machine, nor can we make the claim it is a paradise.