Review from Yesterday’s post
We began considering the glory of God in what is called “general revelation” by specifically considering the implications of Psalm 19:1. We noted that this is the beginning of what will hopefully be a larger series of posts featuring a verse by verse unfolding of Psalm 19:1-6. We spent time yesterday looking closely at a translation of the Hebrew text of Psalm 19:1 and reflected on how a few of the discoveries made in the field of astronomy confirm in detail the general revelation spoken of in Psalm 19:1. Today we continue from where we left off and want to reflect further on the structure and size of the universe through Psalm 19:1. Again the aim of these posts will be to behold the glory of God through the general revelation of Psalm 19:1-6.
The ramifications of Psalm 19:1 and recent discoveries of the cosmos
In this section of the post I mainly want to depict some of the latest photographs of the cosmos to help the reader to drink in all that David is writing in Psalm 19:1. Quotes from Astronomers and some brief explanation in the photographs will serve to help the reader understand the vastness of the universe to which David is referring in Psalm 19:1.
The structure of the universe
The picture above what is called “the Hubble Deep Field”. For months the Hubble Space Telescope was trained on a supposedly “empty” portion of space, and what resulted was a series of photographs revealing thousands of never-before-seen galaxies. That was in the late nineties. Twenty years later we have discovered that these galaxies compose much larger structures called “clusters”, and that clusters compose even larger structures called “super-clusters” – stretching hundreds of millions and even several billion light years across. Let the reader recall that one light-year is approximately six trillion miles in length. It would require one of the now retired fleet of Space Shuttles well over 25,000 years to travel one light year! Now when you multiply those distances by several million or billions of light years, you come up with an unimaginable size for the universe!
Astronomer Jason Lisle writes regarding the amazing structure of our universe in terms of its organization: The Milky Way (our galaxy) belongs to a cluster of a few galaxies called “The Local Group”. Some clusters are much larger than this. The Virgo cluster has about 2,000 galaxies. Clusters of galaxies are organized into even larger superclusters-clusters of clusters. Superclusters show organization on the largest scales we can currently observe; they form an intricate web of strings and voids throughout the visible universe.” (Taking Back Astronomy, The Heavens Declare Creation. Master Books. Page 21.)
The size of the universe
A typical cluster of galaxies
Astronomer Tim Hardwick writes concerning the size of the universe: “Yet the distance to the edge of the observable universe is 47 billion light years, not 13.8, because the space between objects is actually expanding.” (Science Uncovered – Wonders of the Universe, page 102). What Hardwick describes is the immense size of our visible universe. As we mentioned earlier, one light-year measures the distance in which light travels at 670 million miles per hour in one year – that distance being roughly six trillion miles. A light-year is difficult to fathom, let alone the cosmic scales at which we view our universe. It is estimated that our “known universe” (what we can see with the most powerful telescopes) represent 1% of what is actually out there! The Smithsonian’s comprehensive book “Universe – The Definitive Visual Guide” makes this statement on page 22: “Cosmologists may never determine exactly how big the universe is. It could be infinite. Alternatively, it might have a finite volume, but even a finite universe would have no center or boundaries and would curve in on itself. So, paradoxically, an object traveling off in one direction would eventually reappear in the opposite direction…the universe is bewilderingly big.”
Closing thoughts and life applications on Psalm 19:1 and God’s General revelation in astronomy
Today’s post aimed to begin thinking about God’s general revelation in astronomy as understood in light of Psalm 19:1. The question that is sometimes asked is: why is the universe so big? The only answer that can help us make sense of the immensity of the universe is that it takes that much space and matter to even begin the process of telling us how glorious God is! We discover that unless God is the answer to the question, we cannot truly answer why the Cosmos is so enormous. This is why the special revelation of the Bible is necessary in order for us to appreciate the meaning and purpose of the universe in relationship to God who created it. Science tells us how the universe functions and what it is made of (and even at that scientific disciplines like Astronomy will quickly tell you we only understand a fraction of what is out there).
As we study disciplines such as astronomy, we ought to at some point be overwhelmed by the beauty, immensity and complexity of the cosmos. The glory of God is bigger than us, and bigger than the universe. It is God’s chalkboard upon which He is telling us about Himself. May you and I be blown away by this God and praise Him for the fact that He sent Jesus to reveal to us Who He is and a Bible that tells us how we can know Him by grace alone through faith alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
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