This semester I've been taking three classes: astronomy, astronomy lab, and English 1A.
One thing I've really been enjoying about my astronomy class is the continually growing sense of the insignificance of the human race. I love it!
My professor gave a really fascinating example of the immensity of the universe last class. He told us to hold out our hand and look at a thumbnail. Then, imagine that you cut it into a million pieces. Each millionth of a thumbnail is the equivalent of a picture of a deep space sky...of hundreds of galaxies. Galaxies, not stars. Galaxies have up to a hundred billion stars in them. This picture, I repeat, was a millionth of a thumbnail sized piece of sky.
(My professor holds that with such a number of galaxies there has GOT to be at least one planet with extraterrestrials on it. )
The week before we learned about the dangerous places in the universe. oooooooh!! First there are the stars. To us they're small, but in reality they're huge!! Our Sun, which is also a star, is actually on the lower range of star masses. Stars work through nuclear fusion; they come in different colors according to their temperature. Usually the bigger, hotter stars are blue; the smaller, cooler stars are red. The biggest ones collapse and explode in something called supernovae. The smaller ones cast off their outer layers, which are made of different elements, in planetary nebulae, leaving the core behind as a corpse called a white dwarf (which is what will happen to our sun in supposedly five billion years.) They're hotter than anything we can ever dream of -- I think I've read somewhere that the hottest temperature miners measured was 300-some. That is absolutely NOTHING in comparison with the thousand degrees absolute temperature of the stars. And they're HUGE!!! Hundreds of times the size of the sun!
Second there are the black holes. They're unbelievable! They form from supernovae; they are the cores of the planets that gravity has compressed so much that the..whatsitcalled...the escape velocity would be greater than the speed of light. Nothing is greater than the speed of light; therefore nothing can escape. Black holes are literally a rip in the fabric of space and time...and they are thousands of times the size of the sun. And -- get this -- astronomers think there is one lurking in the Milky Way Galaxy. Although, we're not in danger of being sucked in, because black holes aren't dangerous until you are really close -- and we're not. They suck in stuff in an accretion disk --as it pulls stuff in they become stretched out around the black hole, revolving faster and faster, giving out energy in the form of radiation, until it gets sucked into the black hole.
Then there is the immensity of the universe. The universe is expanding, and scientists can neither hypothesize nor theorize a limit. Humankind is gloriously insignificant.
Here's why that excites me. First off, you are all familiar with both the heights and depths of humanity. The awe-inspiring ideals - love, courage, hope, kindness, gentleness, humility. We have truly been endowed by our Creator with an amazing, almost limitless array of minds. But we're still just a planet in the midst of a galaxy, of countless galaxies. Our Einsteins, our Dostoevskys, our Tolkiens, our Sayers, and we're still nothing. Does what I'm trying to say make sense? We're great (thanks to what God has done for us and given us) but there are things far greater, far more powerful than we -- and beyond being exciting they are also ample evidence for the Creator.
Which brings me to the one thing that really, REALLY irritates me about my class. I've got a splendid professor -- he's unassuming, well-read, knowledgeable, kind, and in short, a terrific man.But he believes in evolution. All the science of astronomy is built on this theory of evolution. It drives me crazy! I don't believe in evolution; for me it is "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."The problem is, I know nothing of "celestial" evolution. Terrestrial, fine, I know enough to be able to offer some sort of rebuttal but the stars...I have no idea...and I refuse to believe the evolutionary theory because this class, evolutionary though it may be, has still only served to cement my love for my King and His Creation. So, though I know naught of the evolution of the stars I do know they didn't evolve, neither do they take billions of years to form, live, and die.
Doubtless some of those reading will think this is stupidity. Perhaps...yet what I believe is partly based on faith. I know that the Bible is right in the matter of celestial evolution because the Bible has proven right in everything I know for fact and everything I know from experience or personality or understanding or emotions.
I am His and He is mine.