August 21, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Awe Struck a Superpower Nerve

Got Awe? Go get some. It’s good.

Millions of viewers of August 21’s solar eclipse were undoubtedly awestruck by the phenomenon. Maybe that’s why many of them came in the first place: to feel something wonderful that is lacking in many of our lives.

Jo Marchant, writing for New Scientist, says that “awesome awe” is an emotion that gives us superpowers. Well, maybe not literally, but “Awe is so powerful it alters your sense of self, connects you with humanity and boosts your mind and body. And there’s a surprising way to get more of it,” he says: explore nature.

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by a stunning view, or gobsmacked by the vastness of the night sky? Have you been transported by soaring music, a grand scientific theory or a charismatic person? If so, you will understand US novelist John Steinbeck’s response to California’s giant redwood trees, which can soar more than a hundred metres towards the sky. “[They] leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always,” he wrote. “From them comes silence and awe.”

Philosophers and writers have long been fascinated by our response to the sublime, but until a few years ago, scientists had barely studied it. Now they are fast realising that Steinbeck was right about its profound effects. Feeling awestruck can dissolve our very sense of self, bringing a host of benefits from lowering stress and boosting creativity to making us nicer people.

It would seem odd to expect evolution to produce a sense of awe. The Stuff Happens Law (aka, natural selection) is only concerned about reproduction. Emotions that bring pleasure, joy, and exuberant satisfaction are not on the to-do list for mutations.

Reactions from viewers of the 1991 eclipse (see video on YouTube) all expressed awe, remarking how insignificant it made them feel in the majestic scheme of the universe. Most of them felt it was pretty lucky our planet is set up for that amazing ‘coincidence’ (see 7/06/17). One guy who had waited 35 years to see one said of the eclipse phenomenon, “It’s a gift of God.”

We have a better way to get awe: Know your Creator! He is the one that set up the sun, moon, and earth just right so that we could have endless delight exploring the wonders he intelligently designed.

Here’s a heads-up announcement: we’re working on an upgrade to the Creation Safaris website. (That’s an additional ministry of Master Plan Association that sponsors Creation-Evolution Headlines). Creation Safaris, an outdoor education ministry, is all about awe! In fact, it uses the word AWE as an acronym for Adventure, Worship and Education. Watch for further news as work progresses. Launch may be in October or November of this year.

 

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