Thoughts on the Hubble Telescope

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” Ps 19:1

Recently, one of the segments on the weekly television show 60 Minutes was about the amazing discoveries that the Hubble telescope has provided in its many years in space.  Several astronomers were interviewed and tried to put the telescope’s impact into perspective.  It has revealed that the universe is much larger and more amazing than previously thought.  One particular exchange in the interview was especially noteworthy.  The astronomer indicated that there are many more galaxies in the universe than previously known; 10 trillion to be exact, with about 100 billion stars per galaxy.

Think about that.  On a clear night when we look up into the sky we see the countless stars of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  The Hubble telescope has shown us that there are 10 trillion more galaxies out there besides ours.  In fact, there may be more.  To put it in perspective, another astronomer said that there are literally more stars than there are grains of sand on all the seashores of planet Earth.

Often when discussing this amazing topic, the reaction is similar; something to the effect that we humans on our little planet are pretty insignificant.  However, the opposite is true.  For us who believe in a Creator God who can bring things into existence out of nothing, the universe can be as big as He wills it to be.  It is not at all far-fetched to believe that it is all for His glory and our amazement—a type of “sacrament” if you will, for us to realize how great, good and beautiful God is, and how important we are to Him.

After all, if we truly believe that the same God, through Whom “all things were made” both in heaven and on earth (as we say in the Creed each week), came into our world, taking a human nature in order to reveal Himself to us, and then to die and rise in order to save us, then the immensity of the universe pales in comparison.

Judaism and then Christianity reinforce the great dignity of the human person, made in the image and likeness of God.  That too is amazing, and something we can easily lose sight of because of the blindness caused by sin.  This blindness also leads to great indignities and atrocities.  Human beings can be thought of as just another kind of thing to be used, or worse, regarded as problems.  Pope Francis just recently decried the “eugenic tendency” to eradicate those who are deemed defective or with disabilities.  People can be considered burdens or obstacles, as in the unborn, the elderly, the poor, or those in prison.

During this month of October, the Church places before us the duty to respect and defend human life at all stages—from the womb to the tomb.  For, as amazing as the universe in all its immensity and array is, the human person, redeemed by the blood of Christ, is much more precious as the crown of God’s creation.

+ Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.

Catholic Key, October 27, 2017 issue

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