Below is a video that purports to show a 3D model of a small portion of the entire Universe.
Now, I don’t know enough about astronomy to know how well this jives with the current data, and I know enough about the history of science to suspect that this is largely speculative, since I highly doubt we actually have the ability to compile something like this with strict accuracy or, what’s more, to even test it for accuracy. That being said, I think it unlikely that the real universe, if you could see it in this fashion, would be any less intricate, enormous, and spectacular than what you see here. To put it another way, if this model is off, it’s probably too simple.
(watch it in full-screen)
Now, some people (and you know who you are) might look at this and say “well, that pretty much puts paid to the idea that God has any special interest in us, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s pretty obvious how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.”
Such people misunderstand Christianity. In the first place, it’s not like our size is what interests God; it’s the fact that He created us in His own image. Besides, the insignificance of man is not a new discovery. As the Psalmist said:
“What is Man that You should remember him? Or the son of man that You should care for him? Yet you have made him little less than the angels, crowning him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8: 5-6)
Likewise, the fact that God had concern for all His creatures, regardless of size has always been an aspect of our faith. “Not one sparrow falls to the ground but your Heavenly Father remembers it” (Matt. 10: 29).
Nor, by the way, am I much impressed by the idea that obviously this huge vastness could not have been created for our sake. Our Heavenly Father is generous in the extreme and tends to provide an over abundance of His gifts (if I were speaking of anyone else, I would have used the phrase ‘over do it’). Note how Our Lord produced gallons and gallons of miraculous wine at Cana, or overflowing baskets of miraculous bread. Note also in our own solar system: there are eight (nine?) planets, dozens of moons and dwarf planets, hundreds of asteroids, yet only one supports life. Of that life, ninety-nine percent has already died out, another ninety some percent is too small to be seen with the naked eye, another ninety percent or so is plant life (I’m guessing on that one, but I don’t think I’m far off), then the vast majority of the remainder are arthropods (there are at least half-a-million different kinds of beetles in the world), and so on. There is only one rational species on the planet. Then of that species (Man, in case you were unclear), only one culture (the Jews) received God’s revelation, and of that only one individual woman was chosen to be the means by which God entered history.
So, if it turns out that this mind-bendingly vast universe was indeed created for our sake, that would strike me as being completely in keeping with the Divine style. Though, I will say that I do think it’s possible, even probable, that there are other rational beings out there, but they’re not our concern. Besides, God’s care for them wouldn’t negate His care for us.
That’s my takeaway from this sort of thing: it doesn’t challenge my faith in God, it deepens it. Look at the video, with the billions of galaxies and countless stars spread throughout the unimaginably huge and still growing universe. Then consider the reverse: the vast abyss of atomic and subatomic activity going on all throughout that universe. Now realize that all of that, from below the subatomic to above the cosmic and everything in between, at every moment from the beginning to the end of its existence, is present to the mind of God. No lepton spins and no galaxy rotates but your Heavenly Father remembers it. The Lord God made it all, sees it all, and holds it all in His hand.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are dealing with. That is what we question and criticize and say “how could you allow this?” We very often presume to take it upon ourselves to stand in judgment of the decrees of He who maintains the galaxies. “As far as the Heavens are above the Earth, so far are My ways above your ways” says the Lord (Isaiah 55: 9). How far are the Heavens above the Earth? Well, the current estimate is that 2.4 billion light years is about 1.5% of the whole universe, so…pretty darn far.
This, I think, is what God was saying in His answer to Job: basically, “you can’t understand My purposes. I’m working in terms so vast and so intricate that you couldn’t possibly conceive of them. You can’t even approach them. My field is infinite and eternal; yours is finite and temporal. There is no answer I could give that you would understand as you are, except to tell you to trust that I love you.”
Of course, really, the proper response to the glory and majesty of the universe is the one modeled by Mr. Elvis Presley: