Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Space, the Final Frontier

The next space shuttle mission will be the final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope. STS 125 will be a mission to repair the device and install new equipment. Particularly interesting is the addition of a “cosmic origins spectrograph.” According to NASA’s web site, this instrument “is designed to study the large scale structure of the universe and how galaxies, stars and planets were formed and evolved. It will help determine how elements needed for life such as carbon and iron first formed and how their abundances have increased over the lifetime of the universe.” Now I am no scientist, nor am I a technician in any way, shape or form (although last evening I did fix my lawn mower. I have no idea what I did, but I took it apart, put it back together and now it runs), but this sounds like an enormous task. I cannot imagine the technology involved in the construction of such a device, nor do I understand how scientists interpret the data that is gathered.

I have seen the photographs that have been taken by Hubble and they are astounding. They remind us how small we are and how vast is the universe. In my own simple non-scientific mind, I am again brought back to the Scriptures that speak of the majesty of the God of our creation. I know that Psalm 8 is a Messianic Psalm, but I can’t help thinking that as David looked into the night sky over Jerusalem – with no “light pollution” like we have today – and saw into space, he was almost speechless as he considered “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him (Ps. 8:3-4).

When I see the pictures from Hubble, I realize that I don’t have enough faith (or sophistication, as some would say) to believe that this all began with a singularity, with a Big Bang from whence came life and all the laws of the physical universe. I have no problem believing the Genesis account that creation was spoken into existence by God.

This being said, note that David calls creation the work of God’s fingers. Yet, in Isaiah 53:1, when introducing the prophetic passage on the subsitutionary atonement, the prophet cries. “Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed.” I know this is all poetic language, but I can’t help but to be amazed at the comparison. The universe, with its vastness and mystery is called the “finger work” of God. Salvation is the work of His Mighty Arm. There is infinitely more involved in the salvation of the sinner than in the creation of the universe! In creation, God spoke the Word; in salvation, the Word became flesh.

It is probably not the intent of NASA scientists, but through Hubble the truth of Scripture is confirmed: the heavens declare the glory of God.

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