“God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are Holy, Holy; the universe declares Your Majesty and You are Holy, Holy” –lyrics by Steve Hindalong & Marc Byrd of the alternative Christian Rock group The Choir
Now there’s a journey for you–going beyond our galaxy. Yesterday I published a blog post on my other blog titled, “Technology and Our Relationship with God,” that explores our relationship with God and technology. Cyberspace is the ultimate “galaxy” out there for most of us as we can’t actually touch it (other then touching our keyboards or our screens and interacting with whatever show up on the screen), but there is a real galaxy out there, too, every time we look up into the sky, and it’s vastness is beyond human comprehension.
In 2014, a NASA Space Telescope photographed a high-energy x-ray view of what they nicknamed the “Hand of God,” which is actually a pulsar wind nebula. “It’s powered by the leftover, dense core of a star that blew up in a supernova explosion… One of the big mysteries of this object is whether the pulsar particles are interacting with the material in a specific way to make it look like a hand, or if the material is in fact shaped like a hand.” (Quote source here.)
Religion and astronomy may not overlap often, but a new NASA X-ray image captures a celestial object that resembles the “Hand of God.”
The cosmic “Hand of God” photo was produced when a star exploded and ejected an enormous cloud of material, which NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, glimpsed in high-energy X-rays, shown in blue in the photo. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory had imaged the green and red parts previously, using lower-energy X-rays.
“NuSTAR’s unique viewpoint, in seeing the highest-energy X-rays, is showing us well-studied objects and regions in a whole new light,” NuSTAR telescope principal investigator Fiona Harrison, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said in a statement….
The Hand of God is an example of pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon of perceiving familiar shapes in random or vague images. Other common forms of pareidolia include seeing animals or faces in clouds, or the man in the moon. Despite its supernatural appearance, the Hand of God was produced by natural astrophysical phenomena. (Quote source here.)
In our day-to-day interactions with our world, rarely do we think beyond the obvious that we see and experience. Stop for a moment and think about the last time you thought about the universe “out there.” If you’re like me, it is rare, unless you watch or read a lot of science fiction. We get caught up in what is going on in our own lives, and we act accordingly. And even with our technological wonders and devices that can take us to every corner of our world, the vastness of the universe is far beyond our reach or even our thoughts unless we work at places like NASA or Science.com that remind us daily of how infinitesimally tiny and finite we are compared to the universe.
For the non-religious among us, the “Big Bang Theory” of the universe is the most commonly held theory of how the universe was formed. In an article titled, “What is the Big Bang Theory?” by Elizabeth Howell, Canadian journalist and contributor at Science.com, she writes:
The Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with a small singularity, then inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today.
Because current instruments don’t allow astronomers to peer back at the universe’s birth, much of what we understand about the Big Bang Theory comes from mathematical formulas and models. Astronomers can, however, see the “echo” of the expansion through a phenomenon known as the cosmic microwave background.
While the majority of the astronomical community accepts the theory, there are some theorists who have alternative explanations besides the Big Bang—such as eternal inflation or an oscillating universe.
The phrase “Big Bang Theory” has been popular among astrophysicists for decades, but it hit the mainstream in 2007 when a comedy show with the same name premiered on CBS. The show follows the home and academic life of several researchers (including an astrophysicist). (Quote source and complete article available at this link.)
One alternative theory is the Steady State universe. An early rival to the Big Bang theory, Steady State posits continuous creation of matter throughout the universe to explain its apparent expansion. This type of universe would be infinite, with no beginning or end. However, a mountain of evidence found since the mid-1960s indicates that this theory is not correct.
Another alternative is the Eternal Inflation theory. After the Big Bang, the universe expanded rapidly during a brief period called inflation. The Eternal Inflation theory posits that inflation never stopped, and has been going on for an infinite length of time. Somewhere, even now, new universes are coming into existence in a vast complex called the multiverse. Those many universes could have different physical laws.
The Oscillating model of the universe involved an endless series of Big Bangs, followed by Big Crunches that restarted the cycle, endlessly. The modern cyclic model involves colliding “branes” (a “membrane” within a higher-dimensional volume called the “bulk”).
Implications found in quantum gravity and string theory tantalizingly suggest a universe that is in reality nothing like how it appears to human observers. It may actually be a flat hologram projected onto the surface of a sphere, for example. Or it could be a completely digital simulation running in a vast computer. (Quote source here.)
Now before I lose some of you, the “science” theories behind the creation of the universe is only one side of a two-sided issue. I believe in presenting both sides of any story when possible for clarification, so for those of us who believe God is behind the creation of the universe (known as Creationism), I present the other side of this issue.
Creationism is defined as follows (source: Britannica.com):
Creationism is the belief that the universe and the various forms of life were created by God out of nothing (ex nihilo). It is a response to modern evolutionary theory, which explains the emergence and diversity of life without recourse to the doctrine of God or any other divine power. Mainstream scientists generally reject creationism.
Biblical creationists believe that the story told in Genesis of God’s six-day creation of all things is literally correct. Others, such as old-Earth creationists, believe that a creator made all that exists, but they may not hold that the Genesis story is a literal history of that creation. Both types of creationists, however, believe that changes in organisms may involve changes within a species (often understood as the “kind” mentioned in Genesis 1:24) or downward changes such as negative mutations, but they do not believe that any of these changes can lead to the evolution of a lower or simpler species into a higher or more-complex species. Thus, the theory of biological evolution is disputed by all creationists….
Beginning in the late 20th century, many creationists advocated a view known as intelligent design. This view, which claimed to draw from modern science, was a contemporary interpretation of the argument from design for the existence of God as set forth by the Anglican clergyman William Paley (1743–1805). Intelligent design is not accepted by all creationists, however, because many of its proponents leave open the identity and nature of the “intelligent designer” of the universe, rather than equating it with the God of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Today most creationists in the United States favor the elimination of evolution from the public school curriculum or at least the teaching of creationism alongside evolution as an equally legitimate scientific theory. (Quote source and more information is available here.)
As stated above, many scientists do not believe in Creationism; however, there is a large number of scientists both past and present who do believe in Creationism, and some of them are listed on Creation.com which represents Creation Ministries International (CMI), a worldwide ministry “that exists to support the effective proclamation of the Gospel by providing credible answers that affirm the reliability of the Bible, in particular its Genesis history.” They also publish Creation Magazine, the world’s most widely read magazine on the creation/evolution controversy, as well as the Journal of Creation. (Quote source here.)
The “Institute for Creation Research,” established in 1970, is also “a leader in scientific research within the context of biblical creation. Founded by Dr. Henry Morris in 1970, the institute exists to conduct scientific research within the realms of origins and Earth history, and then to educate the public both formally and informally through graduate and professional training programs, through conferences and seminars around the country, and through books, magazines, and media presentations” (Quote course here.)
The other area mentioned above is known as “Intelligent Design,” and it “refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” (quote source here.) Intelligent Design differs from Creationism as stated below:
The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. Intelligent design starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what inferences can be drawn from that evidence. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design does not claim that modern biology can identify whether the intelligent cause detected through science is supernatural. (Quote source here.)
RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. (Quote source here.)
Regarding Creation, they state the following:
We believe that the physical universe, the realm of nature, is the visible creation of God. It declares God’s existence and gives a trustworthy revelation of God’s character and purpose. In Scripture, God declares that through His creation all humanity recognizes His existence, power, glory, and wisdom. An honest study of nature – its physical, biological, and social aspects – can prove useful in a person’s search for truth. Properly understood, God’s Word (Scripture) and God’s world (nature), as two revelations (one verbal, one physical) from the same God, will never contradict each other. (Quote source here).
One of the foundational truths of the Bible is that God is the Creator of all that is. One of the many passages to proclaim God as Creator is Isaiah 40:28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” All three Persons of the Trinity were involved in the creation of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Acts 17:24; Hebrews 1:2).
A creator is one who makes something new. People can “create” art projects, musical compositions, and physical structures; however, they always have something to work with. They begin with preexisting matter and form it in new ways. Even music and other intellectual creations have rhythms, rhymes, notes, instruments, and artistic mediums that provide structure and offer possibilities. What is commonly called “creativity” is more akin to synthesis. God had no such raw materials to work with. When we say that God is the Creator, we mean that He is truly creative, in a category all by Himself, because He started with nothing (Colossians 1:16).
Genesis 1:1 says that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That means that, before Genesis 1:1, there existed no heavens and no earth. God spoke them into being (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9). “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11; cf. Revelation 10:6). He is God. He is not limited by our understanding, nor by time, space, or matter. As the Creator, God is the all-wise originator and designer of all things: “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all” (Psalm 104:24).
When God created the heavens and the earth, He did so by speaking it into existence. When He created the things that filled the earth and the sky, He spoke them into being (Genesis 1:11–16). But when He created human beings, He did something different. He took some clay that He had already made and formed a man. Then He breathed His own life into that man, and “man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). When He created the first woman, Eve, He also used that which He had already made. He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and took a rib from his side and formed a woman (Genesis 2:21).
God is the Designer and Craftsman of everything in the universe, and He created human beings a step above all the rest. By breathing His own life into that man, He created the man and woman “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). That means that human beings are more like God than any other created thing. We have an eternal spirit, just as God has. We can reason, choose good or evil, and love. We have emotions, intellect, and the power and desire to create things ourselves. God desires to have fellowship with us (Genesis 3:8–9; Jeremiah 29:12). He does not seek fellowship with dogs, dolphins, or trees. They have life, but not God’s life. And when He came to earth to save us, He came in the form of a man (Philippians 2:5–8; Luke 1:35).
When we say that God is the Creator, we mean that no one created Him and that God alone is THE Creator. Satan cannot create; he can only pervert what God creates. People cannot truly create, because we must start with something that has already been created. Everything originated from God (Jeremiah 10:16; James 1:17; Revelation 10:6). Because He created everything, everything is His (Exodus 19:5; Psalm 50:12). As human beings, we are also His, and He has the right to rule over us. He gives us freedom to choose Him or reject Him, but consequences come with either choice. The wise person bows before the Creator and willingly submits himself or herself to the only One who truly knows how we are made (Psalm 78:39; 103:14; Romans 9:20). (Quote source here.)
I’ll end this post with the words from Colossians 1:16-17: For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things . . .
And in Him . . .
All things . . .
Hold together . . . .
YouTube Video: “God of Wonders” by Third Day: