“The sun came up from the ocean, red with the cold sea mist”

January 31st, 2015 in Belief. Tags: , , ,

Sunrise 4

I’ve been away on a short holiday for the last week, at a beautiful spot on the NSW coast. Our holiday unit is right on the beachfront, with views over the Pacific Ocean.

We sleep just inside large glass doors, so we hear the sounds of the surf during the night, and wake as the sun begins to shine over the eastern horizon and small wrens begin to hop across the grass. Watching the sunrise one day this week gave me a few ideas.

From deep red and royal blue to blazing yellow

About 5:30 am, the first hints of the coming sunrise appear. The black sky starts to turn a deep blue, with a faint red glow above the dark clouds that line the horizon.

Sunrise 1

The sky begins to lighten and the waves are visible for the first time. The sun is still hidden, first below the horizon and then behind the thick cloud, but we see a hint of it in the red tinge to the top of the clouds.

Sunrise 2

Then the clouds start to glow bright orange-yellow and the sky in the east begins to glow orange.

Sunrise 3

Finally, about 50 minutes after the show started, the sun slides out from behind the clouds (as shown in the title photo), a blazing yellow-white that the camera struggles to record. You can feel the warmth almost immediately.

Evidence and seeing

It was a fine show of nature that a city dweller used to sleeping in until well after sunrise doesn’t normally get to see. And it set me thinking.

It was obvious the sun was just below the horizon and then behind the cloud, even though I couldn’t see it. The red to orange to yellow glow on the clouds and in the sky could have been due to an atomic bomb or a large fire, but neither explanation was very likely.

The sun couldn’t be seen, but its existence, position and colour could be inferred. Its final appearance in blazing glory was just confirmation of what was clear all along.

Inferring God

I’m not at all suggesting that these observations offer any evidence for the existence of God. This is rather an illustration.

I think God’s existence is a little like the sun on a dark summer morning. He cannot be seen, but the consequences of his existence are readily seen in the universe, humanity, history and human experience. But just as it is best for us that the sun’s fierce power is shaded and at a distance, so is it good for us that God keeps his distance.

But one day, like the sun, he will be seen in blazing glory.

Pictures: Blueys Beach, NSW, Australia, January 30, 2015.
The title is a quote from The Australian Sunrise by James Lister Cuthbertson – I used some poetic licence as the sun is only red for a few moments before it becomes bright yellow, and those few moments were hidden by the clouds.


  1. Awesome pictures. I have often thought on dreary rainy days that the sun is still there even though we can’t see it. Just, I think, as God is still there for us even when bad times come.

  2. It was awesome lying in front of large glass windows and doors and waking up to exactly the view shown – the only difference is that I stood up to take the photos. Most days we were there (7 mornings in all) the sunrise was different- no cloud, or thick cloud so the sun was never seen, or the clouds were above the horizon so the sun appeared and then disappeared again, or the clouds were down to the horizon like in the photos.

    And yes, it was while watching this that I thought of the analogy.

  3. These are beautiful pictures Eric! I hope you enjoyed your holiday. I have so many good memories of relaxing time off in nature. I prefer time off in nature and my wife enjoys time off in a big city so we alternate where we go together. I hope small talk is acceptable on your blog. 🙂

  4. Hi Howie, yes small talk is very acceptable. Blogging is sometimes about deep issues and disagreements, but it can always be about friendship.

    We had a great time thanks, mostly just relaxing. I’m happy in both natural and built environments – provided the built environment is interesting, which most are in some ways.

  5. “I think God’s existence is a little like the sun on a dark summer morning. He cannot be seen, but the consequences of his existence are readily seen in the universe, humanity, history and human experience. But just as it is best for us that the sun’s fierce power is shaded and at a distance, so is it good for us that God keeps his distance.

    But one day, like the sun, he will be seen in blazing glory.”

    At first glance, the analogy is a pretty good one. Perhaps I will share this analogy if I happen to regain my faith. I could imagine a number of situations where it is best for the teacher to allow the student to make their own way.

  6. Hello Terrell, would you mind stating what led you to change your mind and how you identify now?

  7. @ Ignorantia Nescia

    I’ll try to make my story short as possible.

    I never was a strong believer in Christianity (if you count Catholics as Christian). I just called myself Catholic just because that was what my family subscribed to (not much of my family really took it seriously besides the older folk and a few other family members from what I can tell). As I got older I gradually started questioning whether a man named Jesus really walked on water, rose from the dead, and etc. It just seemed ridiculous to me at the time. However, I was sure that there was some sort of God. I sort of believed in some sort of deistic/new age type of God that could account for my conviction that there is a reason for everything. At this point I thought that atheism was out of the question. It seemed really taboo and not a rational position to hold. I thought atheists were insane to not see that there was some sort of God. Despite this, I ran into a cute atheist girl’s Youtube channel and she seemed very reasonable about her beliefs. Her views on racism, abortion, and other matters pretty much lined up with my own. This sort of long list of things I agreed with an atheist on was somewhat surprising to me which sort of made me more open to listen to her views on God. I don’t quite remember her reasons why she didn’t believe and I don’t think she ever really put forth reasons that I know of. At this point I was still not convinced that there probably was no God. However, there were other videos regarding atheism that I began to watch. Specifically, there was an “Atheist Experience” episode on Youtube that finally broke the camel’s back. I don’t remember the argument but it really placed doubt into my mind and I became convinced that I was an atheist. Unfortunately, I was not aware of arguments such as the ontological arguments and contingency arguments for God let alone what philosophy had to offer so perhaps I didn’t have the strongest foundation for my conviction as an atheist. Then again, I didn’t have a strong foundation for my conviction as a theist/deist. Since then I’ve tried to engage with as much material as possible though it is a very slow process. I’m trying to get through the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology at the moment. It’s been three years this spring or summer since I became an atheist but I am still searching to best of my abilities and I do not rule out the possibility of becoming a theist again though I currently argue against that position. Hopefully this gives you some sort of idea of my journey.

  8. Hi Terrell,

    Thanks for sharing that. I feel very remiss – I don’t know if I have ever asked you that question before, and I should have. But I’m glad someone else asked.

    How are you finding the Blackwell Companion?

  9. I can’t really say how the book is at the amount. I literally just started. I’m still reading through chapter 1 but I skimmed through the book before starting to really read it and it seems like it’s gonna be a good read. Very technical and challenging but that’s what I like.

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