(5-27-08) One of the problems with having an engineering-oriented science education is, as the saying goes, I know just enough to be dangerous. This was brought home to me recently by the confluence of two events. About mid-way through another reading of The Fingerprint of God, a book on biblical cosmology by astronomer Hugh Ross, the Phoenix landed on Mars. I posted a pair of images, courtesy of NASA, in a this post.
In his book, Dr. Ross tries to build a scientific case for the intelligent design of the universe with the God of the Bible as its Creator. Whether he succeeds or not I shall never know, because I am not able to unscramble his assertions about the history of cosmology and astro-physics. On the other hand, I have no reasonable basis on account of my Christian faith or my scant training in physics to say Ross is off the track. After stating,
Again we see that a personal, transcendent Creator must have brought the universe into existence. A personal, transcendent Creator must have designed the universe. A personal, transcendent Creator must have designed life.
Ross says in a footnote,
My use of the word must here is in the context of a practical certainty, i.e., overwhelming likelihood, as opposed to absolute certainty. Human investigation can never yield absolute proof for anything, but it can yield practical proof.
Indeed. But I digress.
One of the scientific purposes of the Mars probe is to look for signs of life. This could get interesting, since our earth-bound minds may have a bit of difficulty wrapping around the existence of another life-bearing planet in our solar system. I have to wonder how far we can productively push the envelope of our ability to analyze and comprehend. Little green men, forsooth!
The image above appeared as the Astronomy Picture of the Day on March 18, 2008, and is the kind of thing that never fails to turn my mind towards my Maker. The astronomy notes for the image say, “An eerie blue glow and ominous columns of dark dust highlight M78 and other bright reflection nebula in the constellation of Orion. M78 is about 5 light-years across and visible through a small telescope. M78 appears above only as it was 1600 years ago, however, because that is how long it takes light to go from there to here.” It is what it looked like in the year 408, These were the years of the Monks, Vandals, and Visigoths. Could this be considered time travel?
This image and the next are representative of what is being done with images of the heavens, including the use of artificial color to enhance understanding of the image.
Today, I reflected on and pontificated a bit on the role astronomy plays in my ruminations on God’s redemptive history as reflected in the heavens. Adding to the meager thoughts expressed in that article, is the thought that there are probably two levels of information conveyed by observation of the cosmos. I share the first level with the shepherd of ages past who looked at the starry heavens above, thinking thoughts that were probably essentially the same as my thoughts as I looked at the image of the Virgo Cluster produced by high-tech telescope. He and I would both be drawn to thoughts of the Maker who painted the heavens with all those “stars.” That’s the essential level.
As far as the second level goes, the understanding of astrophysics, it must be just the icing of the cake. It cannot make me a better man or go far beyond the religious instincts triggered by the shepherd on the hill in ancient times. Perhaps it is a lot more significant to our understanding of science than of beginnings.
In my post Mountains of Creation, I ponder a great image that looks back about 6,500 light-years and wonder if I am just spinning my mental wheels trying to glean meaning from it. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” –Psalm 139:6.
Another image from APOD prompted this post on stargazing.
The Hubble Space Telescope was recently upgraded and a new class of images is showing up on-line, like this one of Stephen’s Quintet. We are starting a study of the Creation accounts in Genesis at church, and images like this may help us understand what God wants us to know about Him.
I’m in danger of getting serious about this stuff. I am posting a series of articles with the “bang” tag. Take a look at this post and click on “bang” at the bottom of the post to see the other articles.