What a Wonderful World

Earth from Space
Our Wonderful World from space

I am very aware that we live in a world full of suffering, hardship and poverty. Yet there is hope, there is room for optimism. We live in a truly wonderful world. I have a passion to eliminate poverty and so there is a tendency to be pessimistic about a world with almost insurmountable problems. And yet when I look at God’s creation and understand that He has a plan for this world, hope and optimism bubble up. I declare myself an optimist with dreams of a better future, but with my feet realistically standing in the present. 

The created world

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

There are billions of stars in our own galaxy, and there are billions of galaxies in the universe. In astronomical terms, the Earth is a tiny planet revolving round a fairly average star in an immense universe. We could feel tiny and insignificant. But if the Earth was all there was to creation, we still live in a huge world. If we could walk around the equator, for 24 hours every day, it would take about a year to complete the circumference of the Earth.

And so we are tiny compared with the Earth, and the Earth is minuscule in the universe. Yet each human body is vast compared with one of the trillions of cells of which are made. But even a human cell is still immense compared with a subatomic particle. If one of these particles could think, it couldn’t imagine that there could be anything past the scale of a human body!

The earth is a truly beautiful and varied place. From dark ocean depths to snow-covered mountains; from deserts to rain-forests; from the fjords of Norway to the plains of Asia; from the denseness of the earth’s core to the thinness of the upper atmosphere; we could not imagine a more varied place to call our home.

There is beauty everywhere we look. Whether we inspect the wings of a butterfly or feast our eyes on a glorious mountain range; whether we experience the power of tropical storm or gaze at the ever-changing shapes of the clouds; whether we look through a microscope at the wonders of a human cell or peer through binoculars at an eagle plunging down to catch its prey; the beauty all around is overwhelming.

Appreciating our wonderful world.

Consider 2 things from our everyday lives; music and colour.


It's a Wonderful World (album)
It’s a Wonderful World (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The human ear and brain are well-equipped to extract beauty from the sounds we hear. In the early days, mankind would have heard the whistle of the wind in the trees, the high-pitched crack of a twig breaking, the low-pitched roar of thunder and the steady rhythm of a heartbeat. As musical instruments were developed, sound became more than just an aid to survival, it became a form of pleasure.

We recognise the different frequencies of sound waves as notes which we have put on a scale. When there is more than one of these frequencies audible at any one time, they can be discordant and painful to the ear (or brain). But if two or more of these sound waves work together, so that their peaks and troughs coincide at regular intervals, then the result is pleasing and produces harmony.

But our appreciation of listening to sounds does not stop at recognising pitches and harmony. The Human brain is capable of recognising that certain sequences of notes and harmonies produce a melody. I never cease to be amazed at the number of different melodies that are possible. Not any sequence of notes produces a melody and yet there must be thousands, if not millions of different melodies composed by men and women.


The colours of a rainbow, so pretty in the sky

In the same way that sound reaches our ears through waves of pressure in the air, we can view objects because of reflected light bouncing off the surface and reaching our eyes. Light also acts like a wave but with incredibly high frequencies (millions of millions of pulses per second).

If we could only see in black and white, our eyes would just be measuring the intensity, or the strength of the light. As the frequency of the light wave varies, the eye and brain recognise the colours of the rainbow from blue to red. White light consists of all the colours of the rainbow, but when that light strikes an object, some of the colours are absorbed and some are reflected. But like our appreciation of sound, we can recognise different combinations of red, green and blue so that in all we can appreciate a million or so distinct colours.

When we gaze at a beautiful landscape, our brain takes in the varying shapes and colours and is able to appreciate the beauty of the whole. If we reduced the landscape to a digital photograph, we would be looking at millions of “pixels” with each pixel capable of 4 million different colours. Yet when we look at the photograph, or better still the actual view, we instantly recognise the beauty that our eyes and brains see.

We need to be able to see and recognise different sounds in order to survive on this planet as human beings. But we would be able to function quite satisfactorily if we could only see in black and white. We do not need music to survive. But music and colour are two of God’s gifts to us to enable us to really appreciate the wonderful world in which we live.


But the “world” is more than the planet we live on. When we say, “What a wonderful world” we must include the whole of humanity as a part of the world. But this needs to be the subject of a later article …

I see trees and green, red roses too,
I see ’em bloom for me and for you,
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, clouds of white,
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights,
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colours of a rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
Are also on the faces of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands, saying “How do you do?”
They’re really saying, “I love you”.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow,
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know,
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Songwriters: Robert Thiele and  George David Weiss

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

2 thoughts on “What a Wonderful World”

  1. Dear George, I have just had the most amazing morning. Free from acute pain in my hip after nearly 2 years I have been giving praise to God. Words and language can connect us as human beings or break us down….Your words connected with me in the most powerful of ways when I opened your email 2day Wednesday 8 August 2012 and read your article. I would like to help you in your mission to eliminate poverty. Best regards. Tia, Barnehurst, Kent.


  2. Wonderful article .. Yes, it is a beautiful world.This morning I was walking in Dorset & enjoying the hills & the fields.Glorious.How glorious is our God !!


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