Sound is no trivial matter to the scientists or the faithful

You’ve probably heard the age-old question posed that, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

I heard that mentioned on two different occasions recently and it caused me to start thinking (I know, this seems a trivial matter, but if it really was so trivial, why does it keep cropping up? I know, I should probably have been thinking all along and some people may have been wondering all along, “What IS he thinking?”)

My understanding of physics is limited, but hearing pertains to the eardrum. When sound waves are generated, it doesn’t matter whether there is anything like an eardrum for them to bounce off of. To say that falling trees don’t make a sound if no one is present would lead one to conclude that when the last person leaves the room, the clock stops making the tick-tock sound people have been hearing all day.

Falling trees make creaking and whooshing sounds as they fall that warn animals to get out of the way (Aha. There could be something in the forest to hear the sound even if it isn’t human — animals have ears too, ya know.). God may not have designed trees make their sound specifically for that purpose; it may just be a benefit of the natural laws he set in place.

That being said, sounds do happen for a reason. They are caused rather than merely being the effect of a hearing device. While the ticking of a clock was originally made by the ratcheting action of cogs as they released pressure on a spring, I have an electric clock that ticks, possibly by design because people expect that sound from a clock with hands and a pendulum.

God sent his word out for a purpose, which will be accomplished (Isaiah 55:10-13). Even creation “speaks” of God’s greatness in such a way as to cause those who are open to hearing God to seek him more diligently (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:19-20; Acts 1726-27; Matthew 13:3-23, especially verse 9).

Sound is no trivial matter to physicists or the hard of hearing. God’s word also should be no trivial matter. Our saving faith comes by hearing God’s word and we are to not merely listen to the word, we’re to do what it says, which is proof that we actually heard it (Romans 10:17; James 1:22-25; 2:14-24). Our actions also are one way God’s word speaks to others. You just don’t know who might have ears to hear and/or eyes to see your good life and be attracted to God by them (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:11-12). The greatest glory anyone can bring to God is to cause someone else to glorify him by their own good deeds in doing what he created them to do (John 17:4-5; Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 25:14-30).

Do you have ears to hear the sounds God is making to draw you unto himself?


Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at

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