The Cosmos Retains Preaching: My Religion After Forty Years at NASA

The Cosmos Keeps Preaching: My Faith After Forty Years at NASA

Have you ever ever landed nice seats at a live performance, present, or sporting occasion seats proper down entrance, close to the middle of the motion? Thats very a lot how I take into consideration my place as an worker at NASAs Goddard Area Flight Heart over the previous forty years (now retired), a profession spent aiding within the improvement and testing of satellite tv for pc management facilities and directing the operation of assorted scientific missions.

As one who had joyfully studied physics and astronomy in faculty, I landed an enviable front-row seat to observe (and take part in) the technological advances in aerospace engineering and the expansion of the scientific disciplines I so love. The truth is, my final 25 years had been spent serving to to handle science operations on the celebrated Hubble Area Telescope program.

Astronomical Progress Spurt

Throughout my tenure at Goddard, satellite-borne telescopes efficiently peered above the filtering and blurring results of earths environment for the primary time. Ebook publishers have frankly been busy ever since, rewriting and revising astronomy textbooks for all grade ranges, as recent discoveries now happen nearly each semester.


The Hubble mission alone has contributed immensely to our understanding of the cosmos. Who knew, as an example, that the universe was not solely increasing, however accelerating? Who foresaw the immense morphological selection and complexity of planetary nebulae (see embedded images) faint, disk-like objects named by William Herschel upon discovering them in his telescope greater than 200 years in the past? Who may fathom that true planets round different stars are so commonplace that many could be detected by means of the periodic dimming of their stars when these transiting exoplanets go in entrance of them? Who additionally knew that supermassive black holes occupy the facilities of practically each sizeable galaxy?

All these insights and lots of extra had been dropped at textbooks by means of strong observational proof collected by Hubble. Observe-on investigations and much more discoveries at the moment are being made by NASAs James Webb Area Telescope.

Written Throughout the Sky

To those that have ears to listen to, these wonders all marvelously verify the reality given us in Psalm 19:12:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
     and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Everyday pours out speech,
     and evening to nighttime reveals information.

Certainly, many superb attributes of God at the moment are loudly and profoundly declared to us nightly from various area telescopes and floor observatories all world wide. Among the many qualities demonstrably proclaimed are his mental genius, his countless creativity, his everlasting energy, his beautiful, lovely, and purposeful craftsmanship, and his divine nature (see Romans 1:20).

The deeper you look and the extra you hear, his genius, creativity, energy, and sweetness solely develop into clearer.

Equally marvelous, it’s undeniably the case that the deeper you look and the extra you hear, his genius, creativity, energy, and sweetness solely develop into clearer. Why is the universe increasing? We dont know however he does! Scientists attribute it to one thing they name darkish vitality darkish as a result of its unknown.

Planetary nebulae at the moment are understood to be stars within the loss of life throes of existence actually throwing off parts of their outer layers in response to collapsing and rebounding materials at their cores. How do the dimensions, mass, and spin of those dying stars dictate the situation and form of the layers expelled? We dont know!

Why do exoplanet programs look so totally different from our photo voltaic system? We dont know! Many have Jupiter-sized planets very near their stars or Neptune-sized icy our bodies farther away. Why dont all sizeable galaxies have supermassive black holes at their facilities? We dont know! Our giant and delightful celestial neighbor, the Triangulum Galaxy, Messier 33, apparently doesn’t.

Unimaginably Advanced

Ah, however these are the straightforward questions. How our space-time, matter-energy universe truly works at its most simple degree will get as infinitely deep and superb as a graph of the Mandelbrot set. Why, even the lowly proton itself the constructing block of each atom has now been described as essentially the most sophisticated factor that you could possibly probably think about. . . . The truth is, you cant even think about how sophisticated it’s. The proton is seemingly a quantum-mechanical object that exists as a haze of chances a sea of transient gluons, quarks, and antiquarks in some sense indeterminate till an interplay with it, or observing it, causes it to take a concrete kind.

Along with darkish vitality, there may be proof for the existence of an unknown sort of matter that’s gravitationally controlling the members of the (proton-based!) periodic desk of parts that we at the least acknowledge, if not perceive. Like darkish vitality, it’s merely referred to as darkish matter since we dont know what it’s both. Between the 2 darkish vitality and darkish matter the usual mannequin of the cosmos accepted by most astronomers right now admittedly cant account for about 95 p.c of what it postulates is on the market.

And simply how quantum fields and particles work together on the most minute scale (if one may even outline such) does have cosmic implications, like whether or not the universe will increase eternally or finally collapse upon itself. For this reason cosmologists and astrophysicists examine phenomena like colliding neutron stars and black holes. Their velocities and energies reveal truths in regards to the nature of matter and antimatter which are extraordinarily tough to discern even utilizing our strongest particle colliders. Thus, it doesn’t matter what nook of the universe you study, the character and operation of the processes concerned are inevitably extra beautiful and sophisticated than first realized.


Heavenly Calling Card

God truly seems to thrill on this heavenly complexity. We discover quite a lot of locations in his phrase the place he makes use of the heavens to set forth the extent of his information, energy, and would possibly.

  • Psalm 96:5: All of the gods of the peoples are nugatory idols, however the Lord made the heavens.
  • Psalm 147:45: He determines the variety of the celebs; he provides to all of them their names. Nice is our Lord, and plentiful in energy; his understanding is past measure.
  • Isaiah 40:2526: To whom then will you examine me, that I needs to be like him? says the Holy One. Carry up your eyes on excessive and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by quantity, calling all of them by title; by the greatness of his would possibly and since he’s robust in energy, not one is lacking.
  • Isaiah 55:9: Because the heavens are greater than the earth, so are my methods greater than your methods and my ideas than your ideas.

You would possibly say that, in some sense, our Lord makes use of the heavens as his calling card.

You would possibly say that, in some sense, our Lord makes use of the heavens as his calling card.


In that case accepted, what would possibly the title on his calling card be? Nicely, he revealed one to Moses on the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) the good Jewish tetragrammaton, the 4 letters YHWH, variously translated as I’m what I’m, I’m that I’m, or most easily, I’m. He’s the last word actuality, the one underlying all existence. As a result of he purposed to take action, he commanded the cosmos into existence from nothing (Psalm 33:69; 148:35; Hebrews 11:3).

What makes extra sense than an infinite being designing a universe thats each infinitely revealing and confounding? Certainly, the extra intently you take a look at the universe, the extra it appears to be like unsearchably advanced, mysterious, and beautiful (Psalm 145:3).

NUMBER 1/137

Even secular scientists wax theological after they uncover elements of the underlying arithmetic of the universe that defy rationalization. The good physicists Richard Feynman, Paul Dirac, and Wolfgang Pauli all felt this manner in regards to the unusual, dimensionless #1/137 that almost completely defines one thing referred to as the fine-structure or electron-photon coupling fixed. Feynman wrote,

It has been a thriller ever because it was found . . . and all good theoretical physicists put this quantity up on their wall and fear about it. Instantly you wish to know the place this quantity for a coupling comes from. . . . No one is aware of. . . . You would possibly say the hand of God wrote that quantity, and we dont know the way He pushed his pencil.


Certainly, for as a lot as we dont find out about how the universe truly works, astronomers now acknowledge (some reluctantly) that the basic values of issues just like the ratio of the electromagnetic drive to gravity and the worth of Einsteins cosmological fixed (which represents the vitality density of area) couldn’t be even minutely totally different from their measured values or the universe as we all know it will not be capable of operate. The previous worth have to be actual by one half in 1040, and the latter by at the least one half in 1090 (Stephen C. Meyer, Return of the God Speculation, 142, 152).

For context, the estimated variety of subatomic particles in the entire universe is on the order of 1080. Think about attempting to be so actual that you could possibly confidently depend all the subatomic particles within the universe plus or minus one after which someway be ten billion instances extra correct nonetheless! That is the extent of precision within the physics that underpins actuality.


Commenting on these constants and lots of comparable ones that look like exquisitely fine-tuned to supply an orderly universe, the well-known astrophysicist Stephen Hawking famous, The exceptional reality is that the values of those numbers appear to have been very finely adjusted to make attainable the event of life (Return of the God Speculation, 141).

Certainly, over the past a number of a long time, there was a demonstrable shift from the assumption that life-bearing planets like ours have to be commonplace within the cosmos, to the scientific realization that had been extra probably uncommon, or probably even distinctive. This isn’t solely as a result of our atoms are fine-tuned to carry collectively correctly, however as a result of the unlikely circumstances of humanitys placement in a spiral galaxy, round a comparatively quiet star of the suitable shade, on the proper distance from it, held secure by a big moon, on a planet with enough mass to carry an environment and water, having the suitable environment, having a protecting magnetic area, and so forth, all multiply collectively as improbabilities to yield one thing practically not possible.

Considering such info, British physicist and writer, Paul Davies, wrote: The actually superb factor will not be that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, however that the complete universe is balanced on a knife-edge. You see, even if you happen to dismiss mankind as only a mere hiccup within the nice scheme of issues, the very fact stays that the complete universe appears unreasonably suited to the existence of life virtually contrived you would possibly say a put-up job (Supply).

This postulate truly has a scientific title, the Anthropic Precept, which principally states that the universe exists in a manner that it permits observers to come back into existence. Whereas nuanced and nonetheless debated, one model of the precept, espoused by the person who coined the time period black gap (John Wheeler), suggests on the premise of quantum mechanics that the universe as a situation of its existence have to be noticed. Coupled with the brand new understanding that every proton within the universe someway requires the interplay with one other particle or an observer to dictate its final properties, this makes the entire concept each extra plausible and extra unfathomable. To me, these qualities fantastically describe the Lord himself.

Truthfully, my religion can also be strengthened understanding that God, who constructed such scientific conundrums into creation and gave us the Scriptures, kindly described his exercise hundreds of years in the past in these comprehensible phrases (Isaiah 45:18):

Thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
     (he’s God!),
who shaped the earth and made it
      (he established it;
he didn’t create it empty,
     he shaped it to be inhabited!):
I’m the Lord, and there’s no different.


What Is Man?

Many individuals inform me that after they study in regards to the immense objects within the heavens or the virtually unimaginable distances to the celebs, they really feel extremely insignificant. One can hear the identical sentiment from King David in Psalm 8:34:

Once I take a look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
     the moon and the celebs, which you’ve got set in place,
what’s man that you’re conscious of him,
     and the son of man that you take care of him?

In contrast with the dimensions of the universe even one star in it its true: had been of little or no account. However stars and galaxies arent essentially the most spectacular merchandise of Gods artistic work. Genesis tells us clearly that the creation of Adam and Eve was the head of Gods exercise within the creation week. After every thing else was shaped, the triune God stated, Allow us to make man in our picture, after our likeness (Genesis 1:26). Genesis 1:27 goes on to say, God created man in his personal picture, within the picture of God he created him; female and male he created them.

As gorgeous as they’re, galaxies weren’t made within the picture of God. It’s women and men, girls and boys, who’re rational and ethical beings made like God himself. If he counts the trillion upon trillions of lifeless stars and has names for all of them, do you assume the eight billion or so human beings alive right now, who exist in his very picture, escape his moment-by-moment consideration? In Matthew 10:2930, Jesus says that our Father is aware of the whereabouts of each sparrow, and that even the hairs on our head are numbered (perhaps he has names for them too?!). We must always decide our significance to him within the gentle of those truths.

Hark! The Herald Heavens Communicate

Psalm 19:12 tells us merely however so profoundly, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Everyday pours out speech, and evening to nighttime reveals information. The complexity, dimension, energy, and grandeur of the universe are Gods intentional items to us. They’re meant to assist us perceive what he’s like to lovingly assist us apprehend our Maker because the unsearchable final actuality that he’s.

Certainly, the heavens are declaring at this very second that our God is magnificent past comprehension. Hearken to them. Hear how their numerous hosts try day after day and evening after evening to declare the least half, the smallest measure, of his nice glory. It’s by no means sufficient; it by no means might be; it by no means could be. He’s infinite. Have you ever heard their voices? Have you ever joined their refrain?

Dazzling phosphors within the evening,
     Silent orators, so brilliant,
How I marvel at your story
     And the Hand behind your glory.

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