The Transcendent Non-Theology of Black Holes (LSP #185)

The Transcendent Non-Theology of Black Holes (LSP #185) March 29, 2021

Hi and welcome back! The science world took a long, long time go generate the first picture humans have ever made of black holes. But just a couple years later, we’ve made an even better one — and this one tells us a lot about how things work in the immediate vicinity of these terrifying cosmic dealiebobs. Today, Lord Snow Presides over the awesomely transcendent non-theology of black holes.

black hole sun, won't you come and wash the rain away
The 2019 image. We’ve gotten a bit further since then. (CC Wikipedia.)

The Evolution of Our Understanding of Black Holes.

Man alive! When I was a kid, we barely knew anything about black holes. It should speak volumes to today’s readers to know that a movie like 1979’s The Black Hole could even exist as a thing at the time.


Trailer for The Black Hole, 1979.

And this was that Disney movie’s take (yes, it was produced by the House of Mouse) on what happens if humans ever entered a black hole:


Seriously. This was the grand ending. 

The fusion of the bad guy human with the bad guy robot, then the fused demon-bot guarding a hellscape forever in the heart of the black hole, probably gave a generation of Gen X kids nightmares. But don’t worry! The good guys got a celestial cathedral ending and survived the black hole! (Of course, the reality might be even weirder.)

Then, a couple of years ago, we got our very first real picture of a black hole. That picture required scientific collaboration from just about the whole world. When I saw it, I just reeled back in wonderment. We’d finally seen that amazing cosmic thing that we’d theorized about for a century — and only known for sure existed for about the last 50 years.

Things began moving quickly after 2016, which is when we first detected the gravitational waves around a black hole. In 2019, we got our first picture — a blurry orange disc in space. And now, we have an excellent view of how magnetic waves behave right around black holes. It’s the first time we’ve seen them in this kind of detail.

The Heart of Black Holes.

When I saw this video, it blew my mind. I had no idea how to even begin to comprehend the vast chthonic screech of scope involved in any of this stuff.


“Zooming-in to the heart of M87 to see a new view of its black hole,” uploaded March 24, 2021 by European Southern Observatory. They may now shut up and take my subscribe.

Just look at the sheer amount of space (and time, in the cosmic sense) required to get to that black hole. It’s 55 million light years away, according to Britannica. Its official name is Virgo A (or NGC 4486, or Messier 87/M87); it is a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo, one boasting trillions of stars. And at the center of this galaxy, we find this supermassive black hole doing its thing.

And now, just imagine how big the galaxy itself must be. We’re talking about trillions of stars! TRILLIONS!

And finally, just imagine the unthinkable amount of destruction that must be taking place all around the black hole itself as it gobbles all nearby matter nonstop.

A(nother) Bad Week to Be a Creationist.

Creationists have had to make peace with black holes. Some of them manage it by not dealing with them at all, like this guy does.


“Do Black Holes Exist,” uploaded March 24, 2017 by Biblical Creation Ministries. Features Institute for Creation Research (ICR) dude Jason Lisle, who is billed as an astrophysicist.

Seriously, Jason Lisle’s evasion is downright hilarious, and I wonder how many fundagelicals got fooled by it. He says he absolutely believes black holes exist. Not only that, “but they show us something about the mind of God. They’re mind-blowing.”

However, he never tells us what black holes reveal about his god, unless of course he’s referring to the fact that, as he puts it, once “you” get too close to these objects, “you can’t escape. You’re going to die.”

Then, Lisle chuckles about how nice it is that there aren’t any black holes close to Earth. That opinion is, by wild coincidence, exactly how I feel as well about his imaginary friend.

So do black holes confirm for Jason Lisle that his imaginary friend murders anyone who gets too close? The mind boggles to understand Creationists far more than it does to understand black holes themselves, and that is saying something.

Black Holes Actually Destroy Christianity’s Claims.

Another Creationist outfit, Creation.com (run by the very similarly-named Creation Ministries International), quotes a 1989 Creationist book written by someone who is at best a physicist, Don DeYoung, on the matter of black holes. His book insists that if black holes exist at all, then they 100% did not and could not support evolution. In fact, all black holes demonstrated was that the universe could only decay! And that was totes fine for Creationists!

(Acceptance of black holes, incidentally, was kinda a done deal by 1989. Scientists had positively identified one in 1971. But really, no reasonable person expects Creationists to keep up with anything scientific. It’s a good day for them when they’re only 20 years behind the curve.)

But in reality, I don’t see how black holes do anything but absolutely ravage Christians’ claims.

They want us to buy into this idea of a god of love and justice. But all black holes do is wreak mindless destruction on everything that gets close. What of star-systems containing sentient life, even just plant or animal life? What of the unthinkable losses such star-systems would represent?

A God of Love and Justice vs. Black Holes.

And would any gods lift a finger to save Earth if we ever did wander into the path of one of these monstrous things? In particular, would Christians’ imaginary friend even lift his gaze from binge-watching child abuse in church schools to do anything to save us? No, he would not. That is clear.

It’s already impossible enough to accept this kind of deity when we consider the unthinkable deaths of millions of humans and animals as we toddled our evolutionary way to our current state. But to consider such an idea in light of what we know about black holes? Oh, that is a bridge way, way too far.

Today, Lord Snow Presides over the majestic horror of black holes — and what they do to Christian claims.

NEXT UP: We’re gonna grade Christian claims about their religion with Jessica Walter gifs! See you tomorrow.


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About Lord Snow Presides (LSP)

Lord Snow Presides is our off-topic weekly chat series. Lord Snow was my very sweet white cat. He actually knew quite a bit. Though he’s passed on, he now presides over a suggested topic for the day. Of course, please feel free to chime in with anything on your mind: there’s no official topic on these days. We especially welcome pet pictures!

So dignified, my handsome boycat. LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIMOUS EARS. LOOK AT THEM. RIP, Lord Snow, Bearer of the Nose Dot Forever.
About Captain Cassidy
Captain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even volunteered in church (choir, Sunday School) and married an aspiring preacher! But then--record scratch!--she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more--and where they all intersect with religion. She lives with an adored and adoring husband named Mr. Captain and a sweet, squawky orange tabby cat named Princess Bother Pretty Toes. At any given time, she's running out of bookcase space. You can read more about the author here.
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