Beyond the Stars & God’s Glory
Each star has its own unique beauty and a heavenly place in which we can observe and appreciate them. When you observe the night sky without any light interference, you can see thousands upon thousands of these mysterious, tiny, flickering luminaries lighting up the heavens. My wife and I can give testimony to this as we witnessed it at the bottom of Grand Canyon on a clear night as we were camping in the open air. There it was, an unexpected and amazing presentation. As we looked upon this dark night, we witnessed the most majestic display of heavenly objects covering every inch of the night skies. It was a remarkable experience that we will never forget. We had an experience like King David shared when he wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament shows his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
What a perfect way God declares His glory when we as humans observe the vast expanse of stars in the sky. The only way to even come close to determining the total number of stars is to estimate because it is so difficult to observe all of these bodies so numerous in space. They are counted by how they group together in galaxies and star clusters.
The Milky Way Galaxy is composed of approximately 200 billion stars. If one could count three stars per second, it would take 84,000 years to count the number of stars in our galaxy. The estimated number of galaxies in the universe has reached 200 billion.
Mario Livio, an astrophysicist from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland agrees with this estimate. The eXtreme Deep Field images made after ten years of photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope have been analyzed and produced this conclusion. The number of stars estimated in the universe has been increasing as more detailed information becomes available.
The article entitled How Many Galaxies Are There? written by Elizabeth Howell on March 20, 2018, stated that Livio believes the number is more than likely to increase to 200 billion galaxies. It would certainly increase the number of stars to over septillion stars in the universe. This number is equivalent to 1 followed by twenty-four zeros.
With increasing technological advances and more time with powerful optical instrumentation like the Hubble Space Telescope, the number of known stars and galaxies has increased. There are a significant number of astronomers who theorize that 200 billion galaxies is too conservative and they believe the estimate needs to be increased to 2 trillion galaxies. Of course, we will continue to count, and the number will continue to be too large for us to imagine as humans.
HOW DID THE STARS ORIGINATED?
Who created all these gas giants emitting their lights as tiny specks on earth? Who put them all in place so that we can witness this colossal wonder? We are constantly being brainwashed to believe that the only force that brought this magnificent creative cosmos together with all its order was the Big Bang. The theory of how the stars were proposed by evolutionary cosmologists is based on mere speculation. It supposedly only happened once and, therefore, is absent of any direct observation. There are huge scientific challenges with the idea that gases coalesce to make a functioning star that gives off energy in the form of heat and light, caused by fusing hydrogen atoms to helium faces. In reality, this theory is a nuclear reaction that needs energy equivalent to an atomic bomb to get it started. There are so many conditions for star formation that are overlooked by those held hostages to evolutionary dogma.
What we actually observe is the highest intellectual order that man can witness. Stars burn fuel most efficiently, which is evidenced by the fact that they can last for a long period of time. They come together in galaxies and clusters because of the laws of gravity. And how can we forget our sun that is the primary energy source for all life on earth? It has a massive amount of Hydrogen; 600 million tons of hydrogen fuses to helium every second. How did this system come together by a haphazard accident? Was it instead of a divine super-intellectual plan? Others see through this devastating materialistic lie and acknowledge that there is one greater than himself. It provokes humility and brings one to their knees full of worship to God, who bestows all beauty, grandeur, order, power, and love to share His glory with all. It is what brings us closer to the One who not only made the universe but also formed out of the dust of the earth, man in His image. The prophet Isaiah said it well,
The number of stars created on the fourth day of creation demonstrates how magnificently big and powerful our Creator is and as Isaiah reminds us, God is in control because “not one of them is missing.” The infinitesimal number of stars shows not only His wonderful power but also His amazing grace. These stars shine their own light in the total darkness, reminding us that there is an infinite amount of mercy that our Savior sheds for everyone on earth for all time.
HOW BIG ARE THE STARS?
But let us not forget how big these starry objects are, moving at speeds exemplified by our sun, a medium-sized star, approaching a half-million miles per hour. It is an average distance of 93 million miles away.
The star Betelgeuse, a giant red star, is 700 times bigger than the sun and 14,000 times brighter. This giant star dwarfs the sun to a mere dot in comparison. The earth disappears and becomes a pixel, and humans become microscopic next to these giant objects created by our Creator and Savior.
It causes us to meditate upon the question: who are we to defy the Creator? Who are we to question His plan? When the prophet, Job, was brought to his knees he said,
“I know that You can do everything And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:2-3
HOW VAST IS THE UNIVERSE?
As we meditate on the number of stars, what about the space they occupy? Our neighbor, the closest star to the sun, is Alpha Centauri, which is 4.3 light-years away (about 25.2 trillion miles). As humans, we are limited to think in thousands of miles, not trillions. For us to take a trip around the earth, it would total about 25,000 miles; the International Space Station is orbiting at an average of only 250 miles above the earth, and Mount Everest, one of the highest mountains on earth measures only 2.5 miles. Our sun, which the earth revolves around every year is an average 93 million miles away. The fastest jet clocked speeds at over 2,000 miles per hour, and for it to travel to the sun, it would take 5.3 years. As we move from our solar system to our Milky Way Galaxy, it is estimated that our widest part of our Milky Way Galaxy measures 100,000 light-years or 580,000 trillion miles. Of course, we have to use estimates to determine the observable diameter of the universe. If the stars were equally spaced apart, this number would be 116 million septillions, but the stars along the Milky Way Galaxy seem to bunch up, moving closer together, so it becomes harder to estimate.
Another challenging factor is that stars can warp space and time when they cluster together as in a galaxy. According to Einstein’s Laws of General Relativity, massive bodies like stars can distort space by creating holes in space. Time is also affected because as you approach the center, time slows down. And when you move away, time speeds up. Distorting both space and time is difficult to imagine, but the math works with what we observe. For example, our GPS systems have to be adjusted for Einstein’s relativity because there is a correction factor as great as two minutes in navigation. The satellite clocks are electronically corrected to prevent this error. Of course, this complicates matters when attempting to measure the radius of the universe. The figure used in popular literature is 93 billion light-years (one light-year = 5.9 trillion miles), which is a conservative estimate.
The cosmos is also expanding and spreading out at incredible rates much faster than the objects moving within. The Bible addresses this phenomenon, stating that the heavens are spreading out, as shown in the following example:
“The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him:” Zechariah 12:1
“He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.” Jeremiah 10:12
When we consider the size of the universe, there is another factor that has to be determined from an evolutionist worldview, which centers on the idea that everything came from the Big Bang. Big Bang theory is described as a point in which everything began from a very dense and very high-energy super force. It is described as a singularity that happened when there were no fundamental particles like atoms, planets, stars, etc. Evolutionists have concluded that about 95% of the universe is missing in the forms identified as dark matter and dark energy. We can only see less than 5% of the universe in the forms of stars, planets, asteroids, comets, and all other visible matter. The universe is expanding at a high rate of speed, and this provokes the question: where does the energy to produce this expansion originate? It is missing and defined as dark energy, calculated at 68% of the universe.
Galaxies are extremely large, numbering thousands to billions of stars. The gravitational forces needed to attract all these stars and large masses together in galaxies are absent. This missing matter is dark matter estimated at 27%. There are many theories proposed about antimatter and invisible particles, but as NASA scientists and other scientists attempt to solve this problem, it remains a mystery.
For those who believe in a supernatural Creator, we know that He shares His glory with us by revealing Himself for us to discover. He is the first cause–not the Big Bang–for our existence and hope. We also believe He made clear with His Word in Genesis 1 how the universe came to be as He spoke everything into existence. It states in Genesis 1:14, “Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.”
With all the factors mentioned above, it becomes a real challenge to determine the size of the universe. There is one conclusion that both Creationists and Evolutionists would agree upon: the dynamic universe with all its heavenly bodies is too large to measure because it is expanding continuously. The testimony of the vastness of the universe filled with twinkling lights of various stars with colors all across the spectrum gives us an awareness that our Creator is unique, huge, and in command. The Psalmist proclaimed,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, who cover yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.” Psalm 104:1-2
As we are reminded in Isaiah 40:22, there is so much to discuss about the universe and the stars if God took the care to number, name, and account that no star is missing. God expresses His glory and power in the heavenly places so much that we are forced to continue this discussion in our next CSI Director’s Letter. He, in so many ways, has revealed Himself so that we can see His awesomeness in design. He also gave the genius of Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and so many others, which gives us a contagious inspiration to probe the universe, making discoveries that challenge man to think higher. God desires to make us look up and see through all He created and realize how much He loves us.