These beautiful days of fall that we’ve been having lately here in the woods of east Texas make it almost inevitable that we reflect upon the glory of God as shown in his creation.
And that reminds me of an incident in the life of Dr. Louis Pasteur, the famous French scientist from whose name we get the term “pasteurized milk.” Pasteur was a devout Catholic in the middle of 19th century France when most scientists were atheists or at least agnostics. One day, someone brought him a small planetarium which was a novelty in those days. It was mechanized, so could be wound up with a key and it would go into action. First, a candle was lit in a bulb in the center of the toy; the candle represented the sun. Then, when the thing began its operation, the various planets, each at the end of a wire, made their way around the sun in the various orbits, and the little ball representing earth even had a moon that constantly orbited the earth. Pasteur watched it delightedly, and then thought to himself: there is someone I want to show this to. So he invited over to his home one of his atheist colleagues whose forte was astronomy.
Pasteur invited him into his study where the planetarium rested on a table; he had lit the candle representing the sun beforehand. Then he invited his guest to come closer, extinguished the other lights in the room, and activated the little mechanism. The astronomer, who had never seen a planetarium before, was both delighted and intrigued by the little machine. “That’s very clever!” he exclaimed; “who made it?” That was the question that Pasteur had been waiting for. He answered very quietly, “No one.” Whereupon his guest began to respond, “Don’t be ridiculous! Of course somebody made this! It didn’t just happen all by itself.” But then, he realized that he was falling right into the hands of his believing colleague, so he stopped in midsentence. I don’t think he was still an atheist when he left Pasteur’s study that day. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.