“The Pillars of Creation” – Dr. Vins Sutlive

November 27, 2017

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” – Psalm 8:3-4 (NRSV)

Like the psalmist, Devo - 11-20-17we still consider the moon and the stars, wondering about our place in and our stewardship of God’s creation. For thousands of years, we made those observations with the naked eye. In the early 1600’s, the invention of the telescope gave astronomers a new perspective on the features and movement of planets, and the relative position of stars.  Our understanding of our place in the universe changed. We are not at the center of God’s universe, but live on a planet revolving around the sun, one star among countless other stars.

In 1990, NASA launched the Hubble telescope, setting it in space away from the interference of city lights and earth’s own atmosphere. With an unobstructed view, the Hubble telescope sent back remarkable pictures of planets, stars, and galaxies never seen before. On April 1, 1995, Hubble captured an iconic image.  Titled the Pillars of Creation*, it features towers of interstellar gas and dust located within an area called the Eagle Nebula, a birthplace for new stars. It all takes place in earth’s own Milky Way galaxy, though far, far away. Ironically, astronomers and astro-physicists believe the Pillars of Creation are, in fact, no longer there. Since they are (or were) 6500 light years away, that image captured light emitted thousands of years ago. Scientists think it is likely that the gases have evaporated or that the very stars they gave birth to consumed them. The dust blew away with the interstellar winds. 

When we consider the moon and the stars, and the Pillars of Creation, we realize that God’s universe is not a static place. Changes occur in dimensions of time and space we cannot always fully comprehend. We catch glimpses of a changing universe, aspects of creation that God has known all along, but that we are gradually discovering.  Indeed, we live on a very small planet in a vast universe. Yet God has entrusted us with this small part of His creation. It should make us marvel, as the psalmist did, that God is mindful of us and cares for us.  

CORNERSTONE:  Stewardship

- Dr. Vins Sutlive, Chair of the Department of Science & Health

Image from “Astronomy Picture of the Day,” January 7, 2015 (apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150107.html)

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