Occasionally you hear someone say something like “It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger.” Usually inspired by looking out over a mountain range, or flying above the country high enough to see the patchwork of fields and farms below. There are accounts of divers coming in close contact with a great whale, immense, enormously intimidating, yet floating lightly and calmly as the diver draws near for a few seconds. One might get it looking up into the night sky at the myriads of stars and wondering what it is like to travel among them as so few human beings have done.
In reality, no one has actually “traveled among the stars.” Not yet.
Astronomers are now convinced there are twenty galaxies within two and a half million light years; there may be a billion galaxies within photographic range of the 200-inch Mount Palomar telescope. Yet everything we see while standing on Earth is in ONE galaxy.
“Light travels at a constant, finite speed of 186,000 mi/sec. A traveler, moving at the speed of light, would circumnavigate the equator approximately 7.5 times in one second. The light-year is a measure of distance, not time. It is the total distance that a beam of light, moving in a straight line, travels in one year. To obtain an idea of the size of a light-year, take the circumference of the earth (24,900 miles), lay it out in a straight line, multiply the length of the line by 7.5 (the corresponding distance is one light-second), then place 31.6 million similar lines end to end. The resulting distance is almost 6 trillion (6,000,000,000,000) miles! ” (NASA)
Hard to comprehend, isn’t it?
A couple of years ago Charles (Chuck) Swindoll posted a devotional on his “Insight for Living” web page. He gives this example of the universe a scientist suggested to him to help put things in perspective according to our “earthly” standards:
To grasp the scene, imagine a perfectly smooth glass pavement on which the finest speck can be seen.
Then shrink our sun from 865,000 miles in diameter to only two feet . . . and place the ball on the pavement to represent the sun. Step off 82 paces (about two feet per pace), and to represent proportionately the first planet, Mercury, put down a tiny mustard seed.
Take 60 steps more, and for Venus put an ordinary BB.
Mark 78 more steps . . . put down a green pea representing earth.
Step off 108 paces from there, and for Mars put down a pinhead.
Sprinkle around some fine dust for the asteroids, then take 788 steps more. For Jupiter, place an orange on the glass at that spot.
After 934 more steps, put down a golf ball for Saturn.
Now it gets really involved. Mark 2,086 steps more, and for Uranus . . . a marble.
Another 2,322 steps from there you arrive at Neptune. Let a cherry represent Neptune.
This will take two and a half miles, and we haven’t even discussed Pluto! If we swing completely around, we have a smooth glass surface five miles in diameter, yet just a tiny fraction of the heavens—excluding Pluto. On this surface, five miles across, we have only a seed, BB, pea, pinhead, some dust, an orange, golf ball, a marble, and a cherry. Guess how far we’d have to go on the same scale before we could put down another two-foot ball to represent the nearest star (like our sun). Come on, guess. Seven hundred paces? Two thousand steps more? Four thousand four hundred feet? No, you’re way off.
We’d have to go 6,720 miles before we could arrive at that star. Miles, not feet. And that’s just the first star among millions. In one galaxy among perhaps thousands, maybe billions.
And all of it in perpetual motion . . . perfectly synchronized . . . the most accurate timepiece known to man.
Phenomenal isn’t the word for it.
No God? All by chance? Whom are you kidding? Listen carefully to the truth:
They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:19–20 NLT)
The boggled mind lends to the bended knee.