A consideration of the vastness of space.
Over in another world in this other world called the internet I have been writing of the beauties of space as now being shown by the latest astronomical equipment. Just one example will suffice, and this one has been known for a long time, perhaps the most famous of all nebulae: the Horse's Head Nebula in Orion.
To be told that this is an effect produced by interstellar dust and gas glowing with radiation and the light from myriads of stars takes nothing away from the incredible beauty of the nebula. It stands alone without explanation, producing a response in us that might include such thoughts as "Wow, what is that thing?", "That is totally awesome, man," and "Now I know why it's called the Horse's Head Nebula".
Once we begin to learn a few things about the nebula and nebulae in general, therefore, our awe and wonder are only increased. Often we are told that the distance to the nearest star is so great that we would be long dead before we could possibly reach it, even if traveling at close to the speed of light. Yet here we have a picture of thousands of stars and a cloud of gas that stretches beyond the edge of the camera's view and encompasses unimaginable distances. It is one more piece of evidence that brings home to us how truly insignificant we are in the context of the universe.
And it is just possible that we might go from that thought to consider why God would go to all the trouble of creating such an apparently infinite home for us when it is quite clear that we can never set foot on anything beyond the solar system. Every day that extra-terrestrial life is not discovered adds weight to the idea that we are the only intelligent life in the universe. I will not argue that point, since it matters not to the main thrust of what I am saying whether it is true or not; I just happen to think it so - it makes sense to me. Stick with me a little longer and let the matter rest for the moment as neither of us can prove anything either way.
If we are indeed the sole representatives of intelligence (or "self awareness" might be a better way to describe what we are) in this universe, it becomes even more obvious that God was unbelievably extravagant when He created the universe for us. What possible reason could He have for making something so immense that we will never see its most remote regions? This question holds good even if we think there are other intelligent beings out there somewhere; the universe remains as an amazingly bountiful creation made just for us (which we do know - Genesis says so).
I am quite sure that God had many more reasons than I can think of but I can offer three possibilities. To begin with, God knew that the wonder of His creation of Earth would be dimmed by familiarity as we progressed from childhood to adulthood. It takes a fresh perspective to remind us of just how beautiful a world we live in. But God did not leave us dependent upon the photography skills of those who retained some measure of childlike wonder in ordinary things; no, He wanted to leave us an endless world of discoveries so that our vision might forever be refreshed and confronted with His infinite power and artistry.
And, in that last sentence, we have the seeds of a second reason. As He promised through Paul's letter to the Romans (For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20), He set us in such a universe as a demonstration of Himself. We cannot look at such wonders as the Horse's Head Nebula and not be filled with awe and a knowledge of our inability to comprehend the magnitude of it all. In such sights is the fear of God born, something that we are told is a good thing.
But there is one more reason that I extract purely from my own experience and knowledge of God. He made the universe as it is because He is Himself without end, infinitely bountiful, generous and merciful, beyond anything that we can understand or appreciate. In those vast reaches of space, dotted with sights so beautiful as to make us ponder again the mysteries of Creation, He is showing a generosity that can belong only to Him.
He is like that, you see.
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