God and the Huge- LQG
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 19-Jan-13; Sermon #1139c; 12 minutes
I think we humans think that we are really something. But when we step back and we compare ourselves to all that is, we are forced to admit that we are flat out insignificant. The sooner we figure this out, the more successful were likely to be in our relationships with each other and especially with God.
What brings this to mind was a recent news item about an astronomical discovery that threatens to upend a long held "truth" about the universe. It seems that a group of astronomers based in the United Kingdom, specifically at the University of Central Lancashire, discovered in the constellation Leo the single largest object in the known universe, one that dwarfs any other heretofore documented formation.
This newly-discovered heavenly body is actually a structure made up of 73 quasars, and it is up to four billion lightyears long. Quasar is the matter that surrounds a blackhole, normally. So, this would be 73 blackholes and all the matter that is around them, all working in one large structure.
That's difficult to imagine. We do not think in terms of four billion lightyears, or even 73 quasars. But just trust me, it is a gigantic object. It is even difficult to come up with an analogy to explain it. But if I can, I'm going to try several on you here. It is like a biologist examining the structure of a strand of hair and then suddenly realizing that behind the hair is an entire elephant, of which he had been unaware up to that point.
Here is another one: It is like believing that everything that swims in the sea is as large or small as what is on a coral reef—everything from a clown fish to a shark, let's say, swimming on a coral reef—and then suddenly becoming aware that there is such a thing as a blue whale that you had never seen before.
A similar analogy: You thought all flying things were like midges and flies and gnats and maybe an occasional dragonfly or a bird—maybe even a bird as big as a condor—and then discovering that there is such a thing as an A380 that flies in the sky. How does it stay up there? But it is huge. It dwarfs everything else.
Here's another one: Maybe you do not get all that nature stuff, and you could just think in terms of the continental United States and everything in it, whether people, houses, skyscrapers, cities as a structure, even megalopolis' that are grouped together like the L.A. Basin and the Boston-Washington corridor. And then you discover that there is a building that you were not aware of that is the size of the state of Iowa. That is huge. That is what we are talking about here.
So while the astronomers were aware that galaxy groups could be 2-3 megaparsecs across, this Huge Large Quasar Group (huge LQG)—remember, I said that the galaxy groups are 2-3 megaparsecs across—this huge LQG is one 1240 megaparsecs long. That's 2-3 versus 1240. But that's just its length. It is also 640 megaparsecs wide and 370 megaparsecs deep. It is easily the largest structure yet discovered in the universe.
Like I said, we do not know what all that means. Those numbers just flash at us, and we do not know. But to astronomers, this means it is huge. It is just gigantic.
This is simply astounding and reveals the vast power and mind of God. Puny man designs a watch or an engine or a computer, and then he steps back and stands in awe of his own genius. And then we notice that God has designed and set in motion systems and structures that work together, from the most minute particles of matter within atoms and things like that, to the most massive intergalactic structures that we have ever seen. Our watches, our engines, our computers all break down on a regular basis. You should see my computer at home. But God's systems work, and they keep on going and going and going, like the Energizer Bunny.
Astronomers and physicists are now scratching their heads because this finding of this huge LQG makes a mockery of what is known as the cosmological principle. This cosmological principle states that at a sufficiently large scale—and I would say this is a sufficiently large scale—the universe is essentially uniform. That is, it is kind of like astronomers and physicists have made it easy on themselves because they believe through this cosmological principle that properties and structures and appearances are pretty much similar all over the universe. So wherever you happen to be, or wherever you would happen to look, if you did a 360 or a spherical thing where you were just looking everywhere around the universe, you would see essentially the same thing. From this principal, then, they have come up, mathematically, with the idea that the maximum size of a structure can be only about 370 megaparsecs large.
Well, this huge LQG is four times that. So it blows this theory to smithereens, because it is not only so much larger, nothing like it has yet been found in other parts of the universe. So you look at this huge LQG and say, "Oh, well, that is part of the universe." And then you look all around, and there is nothing else like it.
With this discovery, astronomers have metaphorically taken a step back from their detailed work and realized a whole new perspective of the entire universe. The scale of the universe is bigger and more complex than they can comprehend.
Now, we should not jump to the conclusion that scientists will suddenly decide that only God could design and create such a marvelous and massive structure. Knowing how little they like to retain God in their knowledge, they will ignore the true implications of this discovery. What they will do is they will get together in these places of higher education, and in their conferences, and their little work groups and whatever they do, or maybe their little garrets with their telescopes, looking up into the heavens, and they will construct another theory about how this could be, apart from God. They would rather worship nature and physical laws than nature's Creator.
But how should it affect us, hearing that something like this has been discovered? I hope that it puts us in awe of God: that He can think on such a grand and huge scale; that He can design and engineer laws and bodies of matter from the gargantuan to the minute; that He can set it spinning and moving in concert with everything else, and it works; and that, most of all, His truly awesome mind has set a plan in motion to glorify us as His children, and give us the opportunity to play in His sandbox, as it were.
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 11:33,
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
We do not have a clue when it comes to the true breadth of His mind. But He has called us to learn and grow in developing the mind of Christ through His spirit. It's like He is teasing us right now with the knowledge and the wisdom and the glories that await us if we continue through and successfully complete His plan. It should make us extremely grateful for His grace and love for us, that He chose us for this singular honor. And it should also make us ask, with David, as he writes,
Psalm 8:3-5 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.