The vastness of time and space and the insignificance of humanity


(Christy Hemphill) #1

Continuing the discussion from This website has been really helpful but I would be very thankful for answers to specific questions:

@AndrewF asks

How might you be fueled or even inspired to faith in the face of the vastness of time and space in spite of our seeming insignificance? This is a small thing here but I would love to hear about how others might view such a matter.


(Albert Leo) #2

Andrew, you are absolutely WRONG in the second sentence of the quote above–it is a HUGE thing. Some 3,000 years ago, when it appeared that the entire Universe consisted of a known patch of Earth as its center, the psalmist asked (8:4-6): _“What is Man that thow art mindful of him?”_Even then, when humans were at the obvious center of the Universe, thoughtful minds wondered if they were of any fundamental purpose–there were so many more powerful forces to be reckoned with in Nature. The psalmist advised the people of that day to accept it on Faith that our Creator DOES care about us–that we DO matter. And now science has provided us with evidence (e.g. Hubble photos of ‘dark field’) that shows us that our earthly home is a mere speck revolving around an average star, which is one of a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which is only one of a hundred billion galaxies. You can’t get any more insignificant than that!

That is what the New Athiests claim: “Evidence overwhelming; case closed! Only fools, blinded by unreasoning Faith could continue to maintain that humans amount to anything–that they were created with a purpose.” Well, I am one human who is happy join with other scientists–e.g. Deborah Haarsma, president of BioLogos–in believing that the God who created us is every bit as loving as He is powerful. Just as certain axioms are necessary to make sense of geometry, this is a 'given’ to make sense of Christian Faith.

Andrew, most people think that Einstein had perhaps the most gifted mind of the past couple of centuries. Although he would never profess any religion, he was what could be called a Deist–he reveled in the opportunity to unravel the mysteries of Nature–to ‘know what goes on in the Mind of God’. One of his interesting observations: 'God is subtle; never malicious.’ Because He is subtle, we will always have to take some of His Truths as a matter of Faith rather than Reason.
Al Leo


(Larry Bunce) #3

Our human imagination can picture not only how to get our next meal, but can envision a universe where we are mere specks of dust on a rock orbiting a tiny ball of fire. This image may be good for keeping our ego under control, but we must not allow it to belittle the value and importance of a single human life.
We do not live on a cosmic scale, or even on a terrestrial scale. We live in relation to those around us, where the absence of one individual will be deeply felt by those remaining. Learning the size and nature of the universe has not changed its effect on us. A vast thermonuclear reaction 93 million miles away from us lights a pleasant sunny day and warms our cheek when it is cold. Similar reactions, millions of light years away, provide a soft twinkling glow on a starry night.
We can still marvel at God’s creativity and goodness as demonstrated by His creation even if we have learned a little about the way He created it.


#4

Nail on the head in my opinion. Thou art mindful of us. We can’t fathom why, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are significant to Him.

We are so not insignificant, that the Creator of everything, left the comfort and intimacy of being with the Father to come to earth (not as royalty that He is) and to serve us, and eventually die for us. I would say the entire universe is insignificant with regards to humans in that sense. Its like owning 1000 acres of land (vast) full of animals and a mansion, and you would sell it all to save you sons life if it came to it. Regardless of the vastness of your land and complexity of your animals, what is the most significant thing there?


(Bill Wald) #5

I have never been impressed with “Soooooooo (big, long, old, tiny)” arguments. Seeing the Grand Canyon did not impress me, It was to deep make out much of anything at the bottom. Watching other tourists was more interesting.

I have always been interested in astronomy but seeing a “flat screen” sky with Mars near Venus is meaningless to me because I reject the validity as astrology.


(Victor) #6

Homer wrote that the sky was bronze. The Egyptians painted the sky tan and the Sun red. They ran around in the desert without hats or shirts, evidently not burned by the Sun. No one seemed to notice a blue sky until it gradually changed perhaps 2000 years ago.

William Gladstone, the prime minister of England was an expert on classical texts. He noticed that Homer mentioned the wine-dark seas, wine-colored oxen and green honey. Xenophanes wrote the rainbow only had three colors: purple, green-yellow and red. Empedocles, Democritus and the Pythagoreans thought that only the colors black, red and yellow existed. Pliny, Quintilian and Cicero wrote that until Alexander’s era, the Greeks only painted with four colors. Gladstone thought maybe all Greeks were color blind.

Lazarus Geiger studied the ancient references to colors. He claimed that over the centuries languages developed a color sense in the sequence black and white; red; yellow; green and lastly blue.

Later, Brent Berlin and Paul Kay noticed that languages evolved as they began to discern colors in the sequence black and white; red; green; yellow and lastly blue.

The rovers on Mars have a small sundial with colored sections. They use these to calibrate camera colors. On Mars, rock colors are different than the same rocks on Earth. Why? The sky is loaded with fine iron-rust dust. The colors that cameras actually detect under the brown Martian sky are shifted in the direction of Greek colors a few millennia ago.

The glory of the Biblical creation is that it is visible. We can see all the way back to the creation era with telescopes. All atoms keep shifting their spectral colors throughout cosmic history. The earliest atoms ticked at tiny fractions of the frequencies of modern atoms. The orbits also move outward as billions of galaxies become spreading things: Hebrew noun raqia. What we see is change, not time. During the biblical era, common people did not imagine invisible time. They used the changes they observed to record when aspectually. Their clocks and calendars were not for measuring time, which had no existence in aspectual languages. They were adjusted to fit the observed changes in nature. The changes the Bible records are the ones we see. Change and time are historically opposite ways of seeing reality. The Bible was written during the age of change, before philosophers divided a day into tiny bits of time.

Victor


(Christy Hemphill) #7

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