Does it blow your mind that the image you are looking at is 28 million years old?
Well, not the image precisely – that was taken by the hubble telescope just a few years ago – but the moment it captures. The Sombrero Galaxy is 28 million light years from earth. That means it takes 28 million years for the light it emits to reach us. So when the Hubble telescope snaps a picture we’re seeing the galaxy as it was 28 million years ago.
Or what about the galaxy Messier 77, pictured below.
See those red spots? They’re new stars forming. It seems that God may have rested on the seventh day and then gone back to work, for the process of creation is ongoing.
And like me, are you awestruck by the beauty of it all? Look at the brilliant hues and intricate detail of the crab nebula, pictured below.
Apart from the sheer joy these images evoke in me, they also demand humility. We humans like to think that it’s all about us. We even theologise it when we read the bible’s creation stories and declare humanity ther crown of creation.
If there’s one conclusion I draw from these spectacular images it’s that it’s not all about us. God has been at work for 13 billion years bringing the universe to it’s current state. There was a succession of species that roamed the earth and became extinct way before we humans were carved from the dust. There are things happening in the deep recesses of space that are spectacular and we don’t even know about them . It all suggests that God has plans and purposes for the universe that include, but are far bigger than his plans and purposes for humankind. It seems it is all about God.
I’m not suggesting humanity is unimportant, that we are just one of a number of species that will come and go. Scripture suggests we are here to stay, and that we uniquely bear the image of God, and that we have a critical role. But at the end of the day the universe, you, me, we’re all here as part of the grand and broad purposes of our Creator.
It is said that when Abraham Lincoln declared war on the South one of his advisers “Let’s pray that God is on our side.” To which Lincolne replied, “No. Let’s pray that we are on God’s side”. Makes me wonder if Lincoln had spent time gazing at the stars.