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Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Landing on Another World

I can hardly imagine the nervousness at NASA today, as the rover Curiosity is due to land on Mars late tonight.

I grew up devouring science fiction. I’ve always been fascinated by space travel. The idea that we could create machines that escape our planet, land on another one, and ship back data is still breathtaking to me.

But, as with all Mars or Moon landings, this is no slam dunk. A LOT has to go right to get Curiosity (intact) onto the surface. One of my brothers is an engineer with a firm that designs parachutes for these space adventures. This is high-risk, complex stuff.

The drive to visit another world, and the technological brilliance required to design a way to “Make it so!” (gratuitous Star Trek reference for Jean-Luc Picard fans) is one of the curiously amazing things about how we, as humans, are created.

But it shouldn’t surprise us. We were created by a God who conceived and brought into being an entire universe (0.00001% of which we barely understand), and this Creator was perfectly capable of visiting us, on this Earth, in a form to which we could relate.

Curiosity may fail to land safely on Mars, or it may fail to function properly. Jesus, however, did not fail. It looked like a catastrophic crash when He was impaled on a cross, but that death had a purpose (the redemption of His people), and His rising from the dead and current reign over heaven and earth validated His identity as Savior and Lord.

If your idea of God is a Being incapable of intervening in His own creation, incapable of communicating with His finite creatures, incapable of providing redemption and forgiveness to sinners…well, then, to quote a book title from a few decades ago, Your God is Too Small.

It is a small but still amazing thing that we little humans can reach out to another world. Let it serve as a snapshot of a far greater visit to our world.

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Grass and Galaxies

The evil in this world – and the influence of evil people – can seem overwhelming at times. Even for those who say they don’t believe in evil.

This morning, I read in Psalm 37:1-2, “Do not fret because of evildoers, do not be envious of wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.”

In other words, we really do get things way out of perspective.

Click on this picture, and just marvel for a moment.

Evil people and their schemes are here for a moment – a blink of an eye – and then gone. They oppose God, but with all the effectiveness of a gnat taking on a bulldozer. A bulldozer the size of Texas.

But even that analogy is inadequate. When we look at the Andromeda galaxy, we see thousands upon endless thousands of stars, sprinkled in orderly array – no, stunningly beautiful array – across breathtaking light years of space. And this is just one of countless millions of galaxies.

Our amazingly powerful sun is only one of billions of stars scattered across creation; our intricate planet a glorious but tiny speck. And our lifespans? A mere breath.

Yes, it is easy to fret because of evildoers. But every rebel against God will wither away. Whom do we oppose? A mythical figure from the pages of a regressive book? No – we try to stand against the God who designed every astonishing thing that surrounds us, who is perfectly capable of communicating with his feeble creatures, and who is fully intent on dispensing justice in His universe. He is present and all-knowing. What? – He can make a galaxy and a planet and a human and a flower and a cell and an atom and somehow can’t figure out how to reach down to earth and be involved in our everyday lives?

Of course, the unbeliever must take a huge leap of faith and just believe that all of it “happened,” and with that dogma in place must fret continually – in a world which began in randomness and ends in meaninglessness, there can be no ultimate justice, no hope beyond this fading life, no rest. Though isn’t it curious that even the God-denier has moral impulses and yearns for justice? Perhaps just as astonishingly wonderful as gazing at the galaxies, is gazing within our our souls to find the fingerprints of a moral and personal God. The God so vigorously denied is the One who made us in His image.

Let’s regain perspective. Read verses 7-11 of the same psalm. Evil is real. God, however, is surpassingly great. Rest in the Lord.

Photo: GALEX, JPL/CalTech, NASA via Astronomy Picture of Day

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Idle Idols

There are many words that can be used to describe God. Passive is not one of them.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

Psalm 147:2-6


Every single page of Scripture repudiates the notion that the true and living God is passive and uninvolved. It is safe to say that if the god you worship is idle, then it is also an idol. And who would want to worship a god that was too lazy to even give names to the stars? Even we can do that (albeit badly at times).

You are vulnerable, lonely, needy. Turn to the One who is active, powerful, and caring. He even knows you by name.

(Image credit: Hubble/NASA)

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Lift up Your Eyes

This is one of my favorite space pictures, taken, I believe, by the Hubble telescope, and revealing what is actually present in a seemingly blank patch of sky.

Galaxies

Galaxy upon galaxy, each with millions of stars. All dancing and whirling in the vastness of space in an intricate pattern, displaying their beauty in accordance with physical laws and forces we’ve barely begun to understand.

The Earth itself, a tiny drop in the seemingly boundless sea of this universe, is so amazingly and wisely fashioned as to support a myriad of life forms, some of which are still undiscovered, all living and multiplying in an environment so brilliantly well-designed that our best efforts could never come close to reproducing anything like it. And beyond the range of the finest microscopes we can design, the wonders of DNA are barely being unwrapped.

With the application of all of our creative powers, and our best designs, we simply uncover…far greater creative power, and astonishing design that utterly exceeds any of our feeble efforts.

Wherever we look, we are surrounded by wonders. And I don’t believe we can attribute it to blind chance. That, in fact, would be false worship. Lifting up our eyes and opening them should bring about humble awe, not proud self-sufficiency.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2.

“The universe” cannot help you. But the One who made the universe, and who made you – your help comes from Him.

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M-65. Fabulous!

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Billions and Billions and…

It’s an awfully big universe.

This is just a piece. The full picture is here. That’s a lot of galaxies!

And, of course, that’s just one corner of the visible universe.

Absolutely mind-boggling…

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Seeing Saturn

New Saturn images, sent via return space-mail from Cassini.

Unbelievable!

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