More About Stars

One of the kids last night at youth group brought up “the possibility of another earth somewhere in the universe” and we all started geeking out about aliens and how big space really is. Comparatively, we are specks of dust next to the sheer size of the earth. And we get smaller than that in relation to the earth in its place in the solar system; and then there’s that whole galaxy deal of which we are in just one arm of its spiral. Oh, and somewhere in the vastness of space are more galaxies even larger than our beloved Milky Way.

Who cares about how many eggs would fit in a line between the earth and the sun… and the sun and the nearest star. Space is huge. Massive. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say that stupid word: Ginormous.

Big. Really, really, really big. The fact that things work on a stellar and galactic scale all the way down to the microscopic and subatomic levels and we all don’t just come apart and dissipate into fragments of nothingness is a miracle.

So… I was getting ready for bed last night and actually almost went to bed, but I looked up, out of our star-gazing window and saw some stars gazing down at me. And it hit me. Again. That glimpse into forever that lasts about as long as it takes light to travel from one side of a room to the other. If the universe was finite and had an end — a known end of the universe — humans would die of boredom and cabin fever. Nothing would satisfy the passions we all have to explore and hope and colors would fade into pointless shades of who cares, and life would be nothing more than the event horizon between what we could have been and the inevitable. Our dependence on God would be impotent. Imagine knowing the full extent of the universe and, then imagine having found that there are, in fact, zero planets like earth and the possibility of life out there somewhere is actually a non-possiblity. Hope that we are not alone is gone. Hope becomes a relic from the ancient times when we used to wonder about the night sky.

The mystery and possibility and massivity of space and all its massively mysterious contents is possibly the closest thing to incomprehensible as it gets. Which, in a way facilitates on some level the ability to comprehend God’s incomprehensibleness. Side note: the center of the universe does not exist. That which has no end, has no center. The universe is not expanding, our ability to take it in is.

We are not here accidentally, or by some very specific, chemically orchestrated mindless set of conditions and coincidences. The stars and all their glory are not just natural, hot, conglomerations of space dust and gases. No. Stars are so much more than that. They have a purpose. Everything does. They were made so we could wonder. So we could speculate and theorize and show ourselves that we have the capacity to think about what we think we see, or don’t see. They were made so we would have the freedom to try to make sense out of the world around us; to help us help humanity as a single entity take into account the economies of scale when we attempt to construct the rules by which we live and consume and re-create and believe… for what we believe… about everything from combustion engines and cereal bowls to hand-carved canoes and circuit boards to multi-grain snack bars and little rubber grommets that keep stuff from making annoying sounds. Stars were, once again, made for us. Their very existence grants us permission to ask God questions about his ways and creations and everything. Permission to seek truth and unity in the way things are. Freedom to hypothesize and propose and test and challenge a baseline for how things work.

If we knew where the possibility for wonder and the pursuit of knowledge absolutely stopped, we’d be better off as rocks colliding into one another as we aimlessly hurl towards super-masive black holes.

Is there another earth? Are there aliens? I don’t know. The universe is really big. Ask God, he made it. Do those questions hold your sensibilities captive so that you can’t really experience the freedoms of being loved or the permission for your life to have meaning or the right even ask those questions?

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