Atheism, the Invisibility of God, and ‘Young Sheldon’

The first episode of the third season of CBS’s Young Sheldon is titled “Quirky Eggheads and Texas Snow Globes.” The show is a spinoff of The Big Bang Theory that was created by anti-Christian Chuck Lorre.

In the Young Sheldon episode, Sheldon’s mother is concerned about her genius son’s mental condition. It seems that one of Sheldon’s mentors was committed to a psychiatric hospital for mental insanity.

In an attempt to talk with him about her concerns, she took him on a drive and asked him questions about whether or not he saw things that other people don’t, and if he ever felt paranoid, and ended the conversation by telling him that he can confide in her about anything. Sheldon listened to all of this and thought that his mother has finally just lost it and purchased a book on mental health himself.

A few days later, after awkward interactions between both of them, Sheldon found his mother awake in the middle of the night and they started a conversation where it was revealed that they both thought the other had mental problems. Sheldon was highly insulted that his mother thought that he might have problems: “You talk to an invisible man in the sky who grants wishes. If anyone’s mental, it’s you.” (Newsbusters)

Here’s how the conversation went:

Sheldon: You think I have mental problems?

Mom: Well, not problems. I’m just worried about your future, and when I see you moving … subatomic particles around in the air, that makes…

Sheldon: Subatomic particles are real! You talk to an invisible man in the sky who grants wishes. If anyone’s mental, it’s you.

God is invisible to us (John 1:18; 1 Tim. 1:17). There are times, however, when He showed Himself.

  • So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved” (Gen. 32:30).
  • Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent (Ex. 33:11).
  • [T]hey will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of this people, for Thou, O Lord, art seen eye to eye, while Thy cloud stands over them; and Thou dost go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night (Num. 14:14).
  • Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank (Ex. 24:9-11).
  • In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:1-6).

There’s much more to the topic of God’s invisibility, but it is false to assume that God cannot manifest Himself in many ways.

There are many things Sheldon relies on that are invisible, for example, reason, logic, morality, love, magnetism, thought, gravity, and the new scientific craze dark matter.

The March 8, 2008 issue of New Scientist magazine published articles on “dark matter” and “dark energy.”1 We learn that 22 percent of the cosmos “seems to be made of invisible dark matter, whose extra gravity helps to bind stars together in galaxies, and galaxies together in clusters.” It seems quite scientific, doesn’t it, although it does sound a bit like the Force in Star Wars. Here comes the kicker: “While we have seen dark matter’s effects in space, no one has actually detected a particle of the stuff.”

Even with all this ambiguity, cosmologists still believe that “dark matter is a vital ingredient of the universe.” Without dark matter’s unseen and unproven “extra gravitational glue, galaxies would not form quickly enough, nor form the galaxy clusters and superclusters we observe today.” Get this: “Even though no one has yet detected a particle of the stuff, new results are automatically interpreted according to the tenets of dark matter.” Sometimes there is too little dark matter, and sometimes there is too little of the enigmatic stuff.

Scientists believe in something they have never seen or measured. They are sure it exists (with some equivocation) and that it binds the universe together. If dark matter didn’t exist, so the claim goes, the cosmos would fly apart. I can anticipate the response: “Of course, at this moment in time scientists can’t offer empirical evidence for the existence of dark matter, but we’re sure that someday we will.”

“While we have seen dark matter’s effects in space, no one has actually detected a particle of the stuff.” They have seen effects in space that scientists are attributing to an unseen force they call dark matter. Scientists are willing to build a scientific system on the “effects” of an unseen entity they call “dark matter.”

When someone asks me to account for an “invisible God,” I can say the following:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:1–4).

The effects of God’s work in the universe are present everywhere, and yet “dark matter” atheists would rather reject these in-your-face effects and put their faith in an impersonal cosmic binding agent that no one has ever seen. Of course, the atheist is still in a bind on the issue of dark matter since if he ever finds a particle, he will have to account for where it came from.

Proponents of dark matter will say that they are being very scientific. They’ve put forth a theory based on what they claim to know about the universe. Someday they hope to prove the theory with empirical data. Of course, a theist can say the same thing. One day we’ll all meet the Source behind the effects of the cosmos. I dare say that even then some will say that it’s not enough evidence.

  1. Stuart Clark, “Cosmic enlightenment,” New Scientist (March 8, 2008), 19–31. []
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