Questions From Readers
▪ Scientists hold that some stars burn out or explode, so why does Isaiah 40:26 say that “not one of [the stars] is missing”?
Jehovah is not here discussing whether he permits stars to disappear. He is emphasizing the extent of his wisdom and ability.
To King Hezekiah the prophet Isaiah relayed God’s warning that the Babylonians would take the Jews into captivity. (Isaiah 39:5-7) Would the Babylonians be able to keep God’s people indefinitely? No. Jehovah not only purposed to free them after 70 years but would do it. Nothing would hinder the One who can ‘measure the waters in his hand and take the proportions of the heavens with a mere span.’ He would not have to consult with anyone, for “the nations are as a drop from a bucket” to him. (Isaiah 40:12-17) To stress his astounding capacity, Jehovah called attention to his ability manifest in creation, which Hezekiah had previously acknowledged. (Isaiah 37:16, 17) God declared:
“‘To whom can you people liken me so that I should be made his equal?’ says the Holy One. ‘Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.’”—Isaiah 40:25, 26.
Scientists estimate that there are thousands of millions of stars in our Milky Way galaxy, and there are some one hundred thousand million galaxies. Yet, God knows each star by name, either an individual name or a namelike designation, perhaps in divine language. He is in command of their situation. Like a general able to muster the troops, Jehovah could call the stars to muster. If he did so, none would be “missing.” Knowing the situation of each star, even if some of them do come to a natural end, it is no surprise to the One who knows all that is occurring.—Compare Isaiah 34:16.
Astronomers and physicists think that stars burn out or explode. In Red Giants and White Dwarfs, Robert Jastrow theorizes how this might happen: “Within the . . . star a series of nuclear reactions set in, in which all the other elements of the universe were manufactured out of the basic ingredient, hydrogen. Eventually these nuclear reactions died out, and the star’s life came to an end. Deprived of its resources of nuclear energy, it collapsed under its own weight, and in the aftermath of the collapse an explosion occurred, spraying out to space all the materials that had been created within the star during its lifetime.”
Supposedly some stars, consuming their hydrogen, change into red giants and then develop into white dwarfs or supernovas, some finally ending up as neutron stars or, theoretically, black holes.
While such explanations are widely accepted, the final word may not have been heard; more may be learned. Consider, for example, points made in The New York Times of January 24, 1989: “Scientists believe they are on the verge of major discoveries about the ‘dark ages’ of the universe, the critical period from three minutes after the explosive moment of creation until the appearance of enormous galaxies. . . . With so little direct evidence, the genesis of structure has scientists thoroughly baffled. James S. Trefil, a physicist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., has written: ‘The problem with explaining the existence of galaxies has proved to be one of the thorniest in cosmology. By all rights, they just shouldn’t be there, yet there they sit.’”
The article discussed what may have happened during “the first three minutes,” as explained by Dr. John Mather, astrophysicist. Yet, we read: “Dr. Mather, sensing an interviewer’s growing confusion, interrupted his recital of the generally accepted creation scenario to say, ‘Of course, we’re making this all up,’ meaning that it is an elaboration of theories based on inferences.”
Yes, human scientists are very limited as to what they really know and can know. How different it is, though, with the Creator. His knowledge and dynamic energy certainly merit our awe. The psalmist rightfully said: “He is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names. Our Lord is great and is abundant in power; his understanding is beyond recounting. . . . Praise Jah, you people!”—Psalm 147:4, 5, 20.
[Picture Credit Line on page 31]