Grand Canyon National Park was established on February 26, 1919 – precisely 97 years ago today. One of the most awe-inspiring locations in the United States, if not the world, the Grand Canyon manifests the glory of God.
I can confirm from personal experience that a visitor to the Grand Canyon can hardly go there without sensing that a powerful, brilliant, and bountiful Creator must have made the universe. Photographs and descriptions simply can’t do justice to its magnitude and beauty.
Scottish-American environmentalist John Muir, a prolific proponent of U.S. national parks, expressed similar sentiments. An unconventional Christian who arguably demonstrated pagan tendencies, Muir couldn’t help describing the Grand Canyon as a “Godful” scene:
“It seems a gigantic statement for even Nature to make, all in one mighty stone word. Wildness so Godful, cosmic primeval, bestows a new sense of earth’s beauty and size. … But the colors, the living, rejoicing colors, chanting, morning and evening, in chorus to heaven. Whose brush or pencil, however lovingly inspired, can give us these?”
Time magazine Editor-at-Large Jeffrey Kluger penned an article entitled, “Why There Are No Atheists at the Grand Canyon” on November 27, 2013. He wrote that, “as generations of campers, sailors, hikers and explorers could attest, there’s nothing quite like nature — with its ability to elicit feelings of jaw-dropping awe — to make you contemplate the idea of a higher power.”
Kluger summarized a study in Psychological Science that demonstrated the spiritual impact of experiencing awe. Indeed, seeing images of inspiring scenes from nature inclined people toward religious belief.
“Like it or not, awe trumps empiricism — and like it or not too, we’d probably be a poorer species if it didn’t,” Kluger noted in closing. Recall, this was published in Time, a secular magazine not exactly known as a bastion of Christian thought.
These accounts echo passages from Scripture that affirm God reveals Himself magnificently in creation. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made,” Paul wrote in Romans 1:20 (ESV).
In Psalm 8, King David declared:
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:1,3-4, ESV)
Throughout history, one of the strongest evidences for God has been His own creation. John Muir once described Yosemite, among America’s most famous national parks, as a “temple.” It’s no small irony that while public religion declines in America, we as a nation have increasingly preserved these types of proverbial temples. Some contemporary secularists want to eliminate every reference to God from public life, but the U.S. government has carefully conserved and institutionalized places like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon that so clearly demonstrate God’s glory.