Butterfly in space

Here is a beautiful, evocative picture taken by the Hubble telescope.
vast streams of gas racing at over 600,000mph from a dying star.

Butterfly in Space

This gossamer, delicate image is of streams of gas shooting out at 600,000 m.p.h. from a dying star. The beautiful and the sublime (including Burke’s sense of both the vast and the terrifying) come together.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    “Sometimes people stumble over this vastness in relation to the apparent insignificance of man. It does seem to make us infinitesimally small. But the meaning of this magnitude is not mainly about us. It’s about God… The reason for ‘wasting’ so much space on a universe to house a speck of humanity is to make a point about our maker, not us.”

    –John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    “Sometimes people stumble over this vastness in relation to the apparent insignificance of man. It does seem to make us infinitesimally small. But the meaning of this magnitude is not mainly about us. It’s about God… The reason for ‘wasting’ so much space on a universe to house a speck of humanity is to make a point about our maker, not us.”

    –John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.

  • fws

    i lose all sense of the enormity and vastness looking at this photo for some reason. it is beautiful but I guess beyond a certain point, my finite being cannot grasp size. I don´t have a clue what a million of anything in a pile would look like…

  • fws

    i lose all sense of the enormity and vastness looking at this photo for some reason. it is beautiful but I guess beyond a certain point, my finite being cannot grasp size. I don´t have a clue what a million of anything in a pile would look like…

  • WebMonk

    I LOVE pictures like this – it drives home again the incredible the universe is and how small we are.

    The gases are rocketing out at 600,000 mph, fast enough to get from Earth to the Moon in just 24 minutes, mind boggling. And yet as fast as that is, each wing is a light-year across, a distance so vast that it would take those gases ten million years to cross it, and the light that left it began traveling to us almost 4000 years ago.

    Just the little lumps of gas that show up are many times larger than our solar system.

    “What is man that you are mindful of him ….”

  • WebMonk

    I LOVE pictures like this – it drives home again the incredible the universe is and how small we are.

    The gases are rocketing out at 600,000 mph, fast enough to get from Earth to the Moon in just 24 minutes, mind boggling. And yet as fast as that is, each wing is a light-year across, a distance so vast that it would take those gases ten million years to cross it, and the light that left it began traveling to us almost 4000 years ago.

    Just the little lumps of gas that show up are many times larger than our solar system.

    “What is man that you are mindful of him ….”

  • womanofthehouse

    What I always think of when I see pictures from the far reaches of space is how until now, no one except God could see what was going on out there. There’s all this vast beauty that we had no inkling of. It makes me think that God made it all for himself and for his own pleasure, and we get to go along for the ride sometimes.

  • womanofthehouse

    What I always think of when I see pictures from the far reaches of space is how until now, no one except God could see what was going on out there. There’s all this vast beauty that we had no inkling of. It makes me think that God made it all for himself and for his own pleasure, and we get to go along for the ride sometimes.

  • Booklover

    Wow. After viewing splendors like this, then salvation-by-my-own-effort seems kind of funny.

  • Booklover

    Wow. After viewing splendors like this, then salvation-by-my-own-effort seems kind of funny.

  • Carl Vehse

    There are many such pictures in the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive.

    The July 1 image, “Three galaxies in Draco,” shows three galaxies, about 100 million light-years away, each with a different angle of view.

    NGC 5985 looks similar to our own Milky Way; one wonders if anyone on a planet orbiting around a star located near the outer arms of that galaxy, or the other galaxies, is looking back at us.

  • Carl Vehse

    There are many such pictures in the Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive.

    The July 1 image, “Three galaxies in Draco,” shows three galaxies, about 100 million light-years away, each with a different angle of view.

    NGC 5985 looks similar to our own Milky Way; one wonders if anyone on a planet orbiting around a star located near the outer arms of that galaxy, or the other galaxies, is looking back at us.

  • WebMonk

    If so, they’d be seeing our planet as it was 100 million years ago. I’m hoping for some people a bit closer, at least in our same galaxy, and preferably the same arm of the galaxy, and best yet – toward the outside like us.

    Otherwise, we’re gonna have an awfully long flight. One where our great-X100 grandchildren will still be saying “Are we there yet?”
    :-D

    Of course, I’m also hoping for some superluminal technology breakthroughs. One of the things I would LOVE to do with that, is fly out about 2000 light years with a really good telescope and see some historic happenings, like the Crucifixion and Resurrection. (for that good of a telescope, we would probably need to incorporate gravitational lensing from stars, or something equally impressive)

  • WebMonk

    If so, they’d be seeing our planet as it was 100 million years ago. I’m hoping for some people a bit closer, at least in our same galaxy, and preferably the same arm of the galaxy, and best yet – toward the outside like us.

    Otherwise, we’re gonna have an awfully long flight. One where our great-X100 grandchildren will still be saying “Are we there yet?”
    :-D

    Of course, I’m also hoping for some superluminal technology breakthroughs. One of the things I would LOVE to do with that, is fly out about 2000 light years with a really good telescope and see some historic happenings, like the Crucifixion and Resurrection. (for that good of a telescope, we would probably need to incorporate gravitational lensing from stars, or something equally impressive)

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich RIch Shipe

    The heavens declare his glory!!

  • http://brbible.org/from-rich RIch Shipe

    The heavens declare his glory!!

  • Jonathan

    Wow, who knew you confessional guys were hip to the whole idea of Sagan’s “billions and billions” cosmology schtick? How do you square that with a 6-day creation age of earth-less-than-10K deal–or do you?

  • Jonathan

    Wow, who knew you confessional guys were hip to the whole idea of Sagan’s “billions and billions” cosmology schtick? How do you square that with a 6-day creation age of earth-less-than-10K deal–or do you?

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    Jonathan (#9)

    I view the young-Earth creationist model of Earth history as Biblically unnecessary and scientifically unworkable.

    The science against young-Earth creationism is a slam dunk, in my opinion.

    The Biblical case of the young-Earthers is based on three legs, each of which is actually quite weak:
    1. They say day (Heb. yom) must mean day (even though yom is used figuratively at least once in the initial creation account; see Gen 2:4, where yom refers to the entire creation period)
    2. They say animals did not die before Adam’s sin (even though none of the passages used by young-Earthers for this say anything whatsoever about animals — Gen 3, Rom 5, Rom 8, 1 Cor 15)
    3. They say that the flood had to be of planetary extent (even though there are plenty of indications in the text that would indicate otherwise. Read Gen 6-9 and replace “earth” with “land” (Heb. eretz and the passage takes on a totally different feel)

    I know there are many here who disagree with me, and I respect them.

    In any case, “The heavens declare the glory of God…”

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com/ Kevin N

    Jonathan (#9)

    I view the young-Earth creationist model of Earth history as Biblically unnecessary and scientifically unworkable.

    The science against young-Earth creationism is a slam dunk, in my opinion.

    The Biblical case of the young-Earthers is based on three legs, each of which is actually quite weak:
    1. They say day (Heb. yom) must mean day (even though yom is used figuratively at least once in the initial creation account; see Gen 2:4, where yom refers to the entire creation period)
    2. They say animals did not die before Adam’s sin (even though none of the passages used by young-Earthers for this say anything whatsoever about animals — Gen 3, Rom 5, Rom 8, 1 Cor 15)
    3. They say that the flood had to be of planetary extent (even though there are plenty of indications in the text that would indicate otherwise. Read Gen 6-9 and replace “earth” with “land” (Heb. eretz and the passage takes on a totally different feel)

    I know there are many here who disagree with me, and I respect them.

    In any case, “The heavens declare the glory of God…”

  • WebMonk

    Jonathan #9 – there are a few different views on Creation within Christianity. The YEC (Young Earth Creation) view you speak of takes a few different views within itself.

    One is that God made it all as it is with apparent age. In this case, God would have made the ejected gasses where they are and with their speeds to appear as if they had been spraying out for millions of years, and He would have made the light beams en-route to appear as if they have been traveling for billions of years. That’s a pretty small group, though. It’s impossible to disprove them, but there are lots of theological problems with God being deceptive like that. Like I said though, that’s a pretty small group, and I have yet to find a widely respected Christian promoting that view.

    Another view in the YEC group is that while the earth is young, the method with which God made the universe had time passing much more quickly out in the cosmos compared to here on Earth. (general relativity time dilation) This seems to be the majority view within the YEC group. It’s got some support for it, but even more problems. I don’t hold that against it too much since it is very much a still-developing theory, and the issues are being ironed out. That is what happens with most scientific theories, and while I think the issues with that theory are too intractable to be ironed out, I give it the same sort of respect I give other theories that are being developed in the scientific world, but still have problems.

    The other Christian trains of thought have variations on how they thing the Creation happened, and with how God worked in it, but none of them have problems with a universe and Earth billions of years old. While the two groups have arguments that can get pretty acrimonious (accusations of heresy, stupidity, disbelief, dishonesty, and apostasy fly thickly), Christianity doesn’t really have a problem with a universe billions of years old.

    If there were some sort of evidence that truly NO ONE could deny that Earth and the universe were billions of years old (I’m thinking of something like time travel where we could go back and see the dinosaurs 60 mya), Christianity as a whole wouldn’t have a crisis, though the YEC group would.

  • WebMonk

    Jonathan #9 – there are a few different views on Creation within Christianity. The YEC (Young Earth Creation) view you speak of takes a few different views within itself.

    One is that God made it all as it is with apparent age. In this case, God would have made the ejected gasses where they are and with their speeds to appear as if they had been spraying out for millions of years, and He would have made the light beams en-route to appear as if they have been traveling for billions of years. That’s a pretty small group, though. It’s impossible to disprove them, but there are lots of theological problems with God being deceptive like that. Like I said though, that’s a pretty small group, and I have yet to find a widely respected Christian promoting that view.

    Another view in the YEC group is that while the earth is young, the method with which God made the universe had time passing much more quickly out in the cosmos compared to here on Earth. (general relativity time dilation) This seems to be the majority view within the YEC group. It’s got some support for it, but even more problems. I don’t hold that against it too much since it is very much a still-developing theory, and the issues are being ironed out. That is what happens with most scientific theories, and while I think the issues with that theory are too intractable to be ironed out, I give it the same sort of respect I give other theories that are being developed in the scientific world, but still have problems.

    The other Christian trains of thought have variations on how they thing the Creation happened, and with how God worked in it, but none of them have problems with a universe and Earth billions of years old. While the two groups have arguments that can get pretty acrimonious (accusations of heresy, stupidity, disbelief, dishonesty, and apostasy fly thickly), Christianity doesn’t really have a problem with a universe billions of years old.

    If there were some sort of evidence that truly NO ONE could deny that Earth and the universe were billions of years old (I’m thinking of something like time travel where we could go back and see the dinosaurs 60 mya), Christianity as a whole wouldn’t have a crisis, though the YEC group would.

  • WebMonk

    Here’s a humorous bit of commentary on the general topic of how Creationists vary within the general group. Todd Wood contributes to Answers In Genesis and is a YEC, and is also their best biologist, hands down IMHO. It’s a good post on the topic:

    From the Library: Rastus Agustus Explains Evolution

  • WebMonk

    Here’s a humorous bit of commentary on the general topic of how Creationists vary within the general group. Todd Wood contributes to Answers In Genesis and is a YEC, and is also their best biologist, hands down IMHO. It’s a good post on the topic:

    From the Library: Rastus Agustus Explains Evolution

  • WebMonk

    I had an off-site question about the “small group” statement in post # 11. I had in mind that I meant a very small group (if any) of young earth groups and leaders. I know the biggest groups (AiG, ICR, CRS, CSI, CSM, CSF) don’t. I do know of a couple smaller groups which do, though.

    That’s not to say the validity is based on majority report, merely that it’s an uncommon explanation among the larger leaders and groups in the YEC movement.

  • WebMonk

    I had an off-site question about the “small group” statement in post # 11. I had in mind that I meant a very small group (if any) of young earth groups and leaders. I know the biggest groups (AiG, ICR, CRS, CSI, CSM, CSF) don’t. I do know of a couple smaller groups which do, though.

    That’s not to say the validity is based on majority report, merely that it’s an uncommon explanation among the larger leaders and groups in the YEC movement.

  • Jonathan

    Comment #11 included: “If there were some sort of evidence that truly NO ONE could deny that Earth and the universe were billions of years old (I’m thinking of something like time travel where we could go back and see the dinosaurs 60 mya), Christianity as a whole wouldn’t have a crisis, though the YEC group would.”

    So, I guess you’ve bought wholesale into the “millions/billions” of years, old-age theory of the dinos. 60mya for dinos, really? Where does that figure come from? It’s not scientifically empirically proven; it’s simply a theory couched in idea of macroevolution which posits that large time spans are necessary, and also from geology theory which itself leans heavily on an old-age hypothesis that’s tied to macroevolution and fossil “record.”)

    When it comes to the means and method of my eternal salvation, why should I also trust a God who is so weak as to be limited to “creating” through billions of years of random chance, especially when His Word declares otherwise? If you are somehow able to square the two ideas and have it edify your faith, then you are truly blessed. I, for one, prefer to remain a skeptic of the old-age hermeneutic that dominates the popular scientific approach.

  • Jonathan

    Comment #11 included: “If there were some sort of evidence that truly NO ONE could deny that Earth and the universe were billions of years old (I’m thinking of something like time travel where we could go back and see the dinosaurs 60 mya), Christianity as a whole wouldn’t have a crisis, though the YEC group would.”

    So, I guess you’ve bought wholesale into the “millions/billions” of years, old-age theory of the dinos. 60mya for dinos, really? Where does that figure come from? It’s not scientifically empirically proven; it’s simply a theory couched in idea of macroevolution which posits that large time spans are necessary, and also from geology theory which itself leans heavily on an old-age hypothesis that’s tied to macroevolution and fossil “record.”)

    When it comes to the means and method of my eternal salvation, why should I also trust a God who is so weak as to be limited to “creating” through billions of years of random chance, especially when His Word declares otherwise? If you are somehow able to square the two ideas and have it edify your faith, then you are truly blessed. I, for one, prefer to remain a skeptic of the old-age hermeneutic that dominates the popular scientific approach.

  • WebMonk

    Jonathan, when it comes to the means and method of my eternal salvation, why should I also trust a God who is so weak as to be limited to “creating” through mere fiat, especially when His Word declares otherwise?

    That’s not an argument for the development of the universe over billions of years and of life through evolution, it’s merely a point to show how much of your statement is based on preference. Frankly, that’s most of the reason for people’s variations of belief, so it’s not a condemnation for another preference, but just a reminder to look at oneself.

    That 60mya figure comes from a great deal of very solid and very basic science. It is not countered by anything in Scripture, though AiG may say otherwise. Like I said, a truthful and clear study of scripture does not bring Christianity into any sort of conflict with a universe XX billion years old, and life which developed through evolution.

    AiG has moved to admitting that the stars and galaxies are billions of years old, but they still stick to the young earth. They have moved toward a description of Earth’s history which looks old, but really isn’t because of a series of accelerated radioactive decay miracles. Give them another 40 or 50 years and they’ll might finally accept what both accurate science and a good study of Scripture shows – science showing billions of years and the Bible not trying nor intending to speak on the matter with scientific accuracy.

    Christianity will still be going strong without the contortions of a young earth interpretation.

  • WebMonk

    Jonathan, when it comes to the means and method of my eternal salvation, why should I also trust a God who is so weak as to be limited to “creating” through mere fiat, especially when His Word declares otherwise?

    That’s not an argument for the development of the universe over billions of years and of life through evolution, it’s merely a point to show how much of your statement is based on preference. Frankly, that’s most of the reason for people’s variations of belief, so it’s not a condemnation for another preference, but just a reminder to look at oneself.

    That 60mya figure comes from a great deal of very solid and very basic science. It is not countered by anything in Scripture, though AiG may say otherwise. Like I said, a truthful and clear study of scripture does not bring Christianity into any sort of conflict with a universe XX billion years old, and life which developed through evolution.

    AiG has moved to admitting that the stars and galaxies are billions of years old, but they still stick to the young earth. They have moved toward a description of Earth’s history which looks old, but really isn’t because of a series of accelerated radioactive decay miracles. Give them another 40 or 50 years and they’ll might finally accept what both accurate science and a good study of Scripture shows – science showing billions of years and the Bible not trying nor intending to speak on the matter with scientific accuracy.

    Christianity will still be going strong without the contortions of a young earth interpretation.


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