Physical Heavens Declare God’s Glory
FILLED with profound reverence after viewing the vastness and celestial majesty of the starry expanse, King David of old was moved to exclaim: “O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is thy name. . . ! 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?” (Ps. 8:1, 3, 4, AS) David was deeply impressed with the Creator’s infinite greatness and his own smallness.
Today’s astronomers are well-equipped with mammoth telescopes capable of penetrating stellar space to a great depth. So if astronomer David could come to his wise conclusions more than 3,000 years ago without even a pair of opera glasses, how reprehensible this well-informed modern age is for its impudent refusal to recognize Jehovah God as the all-wise Creator of the physical heavens! Surely they are without excuse, for Jehovah’s “invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are understood by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they [of this “brainy” world] are inexcusable”.—Rom. 1:20, NW.
But just because today’s so-called scientists and “wise men” are so nearsighted and self-centered that they fail to appreciate that Jehovah God is the great First Cause and Creator of the universe, this is no reason why the rest of mankind need follow their blind course and stupidly stumble into the same pitfall of willful ignorance. Let the well-known scientific facts and figures speak for themselves, and as they show forth and tell of God’s omnipotence, let us consider their testimony with an open, reasoning and logical mind. Consider this earth and our solar system, and, beyond this, the wonders of the universe, its glory, beauty, unity and unlimited expanse. Consider all of this, and a person with a reasonable mind must admit that there is a Creator, and that His wisdom, knowledge, power and eternity are far superior to anyone and anything else in cosmic space.
First consider this globe upon which we live, man’s home among the stars and planets. To enumerate all the marvelous conditions that make life possible here would take many volumes. Hence, an epitome of some of these wonderful things must suffice. To quote a recent Watchtower publication, Evolution versus The New World, pages 35, 36:
“The earth is the only planet on which life as we know it could exist. If the earth rotated on its axis much faster or much slower, making days and nights much shorter or longer, all life would die either by freezing at night or by burning during the day. The sun is the earth’s furnace, and our globe is just far enough away to be properly warmed for life to exist. But if the earth traveled much faster or much slower in its orbit around the sun it would be too far from or too close to the sun for life. The sun’s surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit is just right for heating the earth. If the yearly average of temperature on earth rose or fell fifty degrees, life would roast or freeze. Of all the stars and suns in the universe with their wide variations in size and radiation, it is our sun that is right for earth’s inhabitants. If our moon were much nearer, the tides it causes would overflow the lowlands, erode the mountains, and with continents leveled water would cover the entire earth to a depth of a mile and a half. If the earth were not tilted twenty-three degrees on its axis we would have no seasons, the poles would lie in eternal twilight, water vapor from oceans would move north and south and pile up huge continents of snow and ice in the polar regions, leaving desert in between, and eventually the oceans would disappear and rainfall cease, and the accumulated weight of ice at the poles would cause the equator to bulge, with fearful results. The mixture of gases in the atmosphere is right, and if much different, if much lighter or heavier, life would cease. The mathematical odds that all of these and other essential conditions happened by chance are astronomical, are one in billions.”
EARTH’S SIZE AND IMPORTANCE
Manifestly, this wonderful globe, with such varied conditions in perfect balance, did not come about by mere chance or through the operation of blind force or spontaneous evolution. Rather, it was designed and prepared by a Creator of infinite intelligence for the express purpose of supporting human creatures. “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else.” (Isa. 45:18, AS; Isa 42:5; Ps. 115:16) He also made it to endure throughout eternity.—Eccl. 1:4.
“Jehovah by wisdom founded the earth” for man’s habitation, for had He chosen any other of the nine planets in our solar system, human life would have been impossible. (Prov. 3:19, AS) On Mercury, the planet nearest to the sun, the temperature is hundreds of degrees above zero on one side and at the same time hundreds of degrees below zero on the opposite side. Venus, the second-nearest to the sun, is enveloped in perpetual clouds so dense that sunlight never reaches it. Next comes the earth, just right in location. On Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, the average temperature is about zero, and beyond Mars, on the other planets, life is impossible. What about our moon? Without an atmosphere and with a temperature change from daytime to nighttime of more than 400 degrees, there is not the slightest possibility that man could live on the moon. So let us all give thanks and praise to Jehovah, who, for our life and comfort and by his infinite wisdom, “hangeth the earth upon nothing” at exactly the right distance from the sun.—Job 26:7.
Soldier boys that travel halfway around the world from home are impressed with the great size of the earth—25,000 miles around the equator. To little man the earth does seem very large, but compared with the sun and other heavenly bodies this globe is a mere grain of sand. If the sun were hollowed out and the earth placed in the center, our moon, which is 238,000 miles away from us, could continue in its orbit with 190,000 miles to spare. Little earth is less than 8,000 miles in diameter; majestic sun is 864,000 miles!
God “saw that it was good” to have the sun as a center hub about which our earth revolves, for it is earth’s powerhouse and the source of its light, heat and energy. (Gen. 1:14-19) And what a terrific ball of fire it is! Of the sun’s total radiated heat, only one part in 1,000 million parts ever reaches this globe, and yet this wee amount is so great that it taxes our comprehension. Estimates say that it would be necessary to burn 1,000 million tons of coal each and every second to generate the amount of heat received.
Men of science and invention boast of the supersonic speeds to which they have attained, and the distances they hope some day to travel in rocket “space ships”; but, considering cosmic distances and planetary speeds, the greatest accomplishments of science are extremely small. The sun, for example, is 93,000,000 miles away on the average. But how far is that, little man? Well, if you were to ride a nonstop streamline train traveling 93 miles an hour, day and night, it would take you over 114 years to make the one-way trip to the sun! To reach the same destination from Pluto, outermost planet in our solar system, it would take more than 4,200 years.
At the same time our globe daily rotates on its axis with a surface speed at the equator of more than 1,000 miles an hour, it hurls itself around the sun at a speed of 62,000 miles per hour, without varying so much as 1/1000 of a second in this yearly trip of 558,000,000 miles. But this is not all. The whole solar system—our sun, moon, earth and the other planets—while maintaining this perfect timing among themselves, are all together speeding through space in the general direction of the star Vega at 43,000 miles per hour, a speed 21 times the velocity of a cannon ball. No man-made electronic timing device could regulate these motions with such accuracy or precision.
OUT AND BEYOND OUR SOLAR SYSTEM
When the God-fearing man David beheld the beauty and grandeur of the night sky he was looking far beyond this little solar system in which we spin. To him it was as if he were on the inside of a tent beholding a huge enclosing curtain interwoven with glistening jewels, diamonds and precious stones. David knew that the same Jehovah God who made the earth had also fashioned the stars. All was His matchless handiwork. Isaiah the prophet, after looking into the same stellar vault of heaven, appreciated why Jehovah likened this mundane sphere to a lowly footstool.—Gen. 1:16; 2 Ki. 19:15; Ps. 102:25; 104:1, 2; Isa. 42:5; 44:24; 66:1, 2; Acts 7:48-50.
But what those men of old saw at one time was at the most only about 2,000 stars, a very small fraction of the celestial glory that makes up our galaxy, commonly called the Milky Way. The telescope has brought into view so many stars that man cannot even count them. In an area of the sky no larger than the Big Dipper’s bowl, there are 50,000,000 stars, and estimates based on actual photographs say there are at least 50,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way. Proved then that God’s Word is true: man can no more count the stars than he can count the grains of seashore sands.—Jer. 33:22, Mo.
Then how big is the Milky Way in which so many billions of stars are “crammed”? Man can measure it fairly accurately, but after doing so his brain is too small to comprehend really how great a space it occupies. You doubt this? Do you want to try, where all others fail, to imagine how big our galaxy is? Then here are the figures.
Recall how far it is from here to the sun and how long it would take you to get there on a high-speed train—114 years. Well, the next-nearest star is 300,000 times farther away than the sun. If, after reaching it, you returned to earth your round-trip excursion would have consumed 69,000,000 years. No human can imagine how long a time that is, so how can one comprehend how far it is across the equatorial diameter of the Milky Way when it equals 4,000 of such round trips? Why, for a beam of light, streaking along at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, it would take it 33,000 years to cross from one side of the Milky Way to the other!
Man’s imagination staggers to think that the sun is more than 108 times as great in diameter as the earth, and yet there is a countless host of other stars many times as large as the sun. Aldebaran is 40 times as large as the sun and 90 times as bright. But this is nothing. The largest star known to man, Antares, is 14,000 times as big as our sun. Think of that, a molten ball of fire 360,000,000 miles in diameter, and 90,000,000 times as bright as our sun! Only its great distance away makes it appear small.
YET GREATER THAN ALL THIS IS JEHOVAH
Like all of God’s creation, there is endless variety among the stars. Each has its own astral beauty. “One star differeth from another star in glory.” (1 Cor. 15:41) Some are white, some yellow, some blue, and others are red. Each travels at its own particular speed. The fastest-moving bright star is Arcturus, with a speed of 75 miles a second (about 270,000 miles per hour). Reason enough why God might use it to illustrate how small and powerless man is. “Canst thou guide Arcturus?” the Almighty asked Job. (Job 38:32) Some stars are cooler than our sun, others are twice, three times and even five times as hot. Some are brighter; others are extremely faint. A comet’s tail is practically a vacuum, weighing only one four-sextillionth (1/4000000000000000000000) as much as a similar volume of air, whereas a dwarf star is so unbelievably heavy that a cubic inch of it weighs as much as 1,000 tons! Wonders indeed! showing forth the glory and majesty of their Creator.
Dwarfing man and exalting Jehovah even more, the giant telescopes disclose that this galaxy to which our earth belongs is only an island universe in the sea of space. Out and beyond our Milky Way there are more than 100,000,000,000 other Milky Ways called nebulae, each containing billions of suns, stars and planets. The 200-inch Palomar telescope is able to reach out 1,100,000,000 light-years (one light-year equals six trillion miles), and still no end to the stars. This means that these stars are so far away that the light that left them 1,100,000,000 years ago is just now reaching our globe. So in view of such astronomical facts, such distances, how much greater than time and space and all that fill them must Jehovah God be! What powers of communication he must possess! For moment by moment he knows what is going on in the most distant corner of infinity. No, not even “the heaven and heaven of heavens” are able to contain Jehovah.—1 Ki. 8:27; 2 Chron. 2:6; 6:18.
Again the question: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” Again the only truthful answer: compared with God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, man is oh so very, very small! “Why, the nations are a mere drop in the bucket, no more to him than dust upon a balance! Before him all the nations are as nothing; to him they are but empty and inane. Then whom can you compare with God?” Jehovah God is he who “sits over the round earth, so high that its inhabitants look like grasshoppers; he spreads the skies out like a curtain, and stretches them like a tent. Lift high your eyes, look up; who made these stars? he who marshals them in order, summoning each one by name”. Puny man cannot even number the stars, much less summon or call them by name.—Isa. 40:15, 17, 18, 22, 26, Mo.
If all this inanimate creation praises Jehovah because of who and what he is, then “let all the earth fear Jehovah: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him”!—Ps. 33:8, AS; Ps 148:1-6.