And that means creational theology is good for you.
It turns out, awe is good for you. And one of the best ways to experience awe is to have a good long look at the world around you.
That’s the argument of T. Ryan Byerly in his Psyche article, “Why natural beauty drops the jay and lifts the spirit” (17 February 2021). He explains, “Psychological research increasingly reveals that experiences of awe in nature can boost both our feeling of connectedness to others and also a sense of spiritual fulfilment. What’s more, this work illuminates how all of us, whether religious or not, can actively harness the power of natural experiences to improve these dimensions of our lives. A key fulcrum in the story connecting nature, transformation and spirituality is the emotion of awe.”
Awe “is a powerful emotion, typically experienced in the presence of something great or vast.” When we’re in awe, our jaw drops, we feel stunned, and we become enraptured with a sense of transcendence. And this is good for you.
Which means that creational theology is good for you, because it’s all about “great or vast” things like God and seeing them in new, surprising, and awesome ways.
Mr. Byerly sees awe as a product of evolution, but that view doesn’t change the value of such experiences. And when we have awesome experiences with others, social bonds are strengthened, community is enhanced, and we tend to get over our self-centeredness, at least for a time.
To get to awe, though, you have to be patient and become absorbed in what you’re viewing. Focus on details of the environment; meditate; resist distractions; and focus, focus, focus. The more you practice such attention to awe-inspiring objects, the more awe you will experience, and the more that will affect your spiritual life in positive ways. Seeing such things makes us feel small, but not insignificant. Rather, it has the effect of connect us with transcendence – we believers would say, God.