Friday, December 11, 2009

Vista telescope reveals the heart of the Milky Way

This is the image of the Flame Nebula, the centre of the Milky Way and the Fornax Galaxy Cluster. It is a star-forming cloud of gas and dust in the constellation Orion. When observed with visible light, the Nebula’s core is hidden by dust, but infrared light has revealed the cluster of hot young stars at its heart.

It was taken by Vista (the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy), which was designed by British scientists (clearly, a world-class success story).

The eye of man has never before seen this. Is it not wonderful, beautiful and awesome? Does it not inspire, affirm and humble? Does it not put into perspective the trivial politicking and ephemeral religiosity of man?


Anonymous Stuart said...


11 December 2009 at 15:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

What is man?

Earlier, in December 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 had drawn legal fire from atheist groups for reading from Genesis 1 while they orbited the moon on Christmas Eve. Broadcasting a reading from a religious book during a government-sponsored space mission seemed to some Americans to compromise the separation of religion and state. To avoid more legal problems over the issue, NASA asked the Apollo 11 crew not to recite any scriptures. (On a humorous note, one judge eventually threw out a legal challenge filed against Apollo 8 by claiming that the event "was out of his jurisdiction.")

An Episcopalian, Buzz Aldrin had somehow wedged into his stowage pouch a plastic bag. In it were a small flask of wine, a chalice and some wafers. About 5:57 p.m. Houston time, he set the elements on the fold-down guidance-computer table. He spoke into his microphone: "This is the LM [Lunar Module] pilot speaking. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."

Aldrin’s way of giving thanks was to gently pour the wine into the chalice. He then recited—silently, as NASA had requested—John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches…. Without me you can do nothing."

Taking Communion on the moon!

Back to God

This remarkable story is relayed in Andrew Chaikin’s history, A Man on the Moon: The Voyage of the Apollo Astronauts. Back on earth, Aldrin’s wife Joan marveled—Buzz had not forgotten the deeper significance of what was happening on July 20, 1969. On his return to earth, Aldrin reflected aloud on the meaning of Psalm 8:3-4, words written some 2,800 years earlier by another gazer into the starry night: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, what you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?"

Ironically, humanity’s most stunning technological feat took some of its key participants back—if only for a few moments—to their own humble place in the cosmos. As the apostle Paul told a group of advanced thinkers back in Athens, Greece, in the first century, God is not far from every one of us (Acts 17:27).

The world has all but forgotten Buzz Aldrin’s call to thanksgiving and his Communion service, standing as they do in the shadow of Neil Armstrong’s famous words, "That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." But that humble acknowledgment from space of our dependence on the Creator of all things and our union with Jesus Christ speaks to the quality of human life in ways that will forever transcend even our most amazing technological achievements.

11 December 2009 at 15:57  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Nonsense once more Mr Singh.

We have absolutely no dependence on the Creator, we even have absolutely no evidence there is a Creator.

Back on the subject at hand though, certainly is a beautiful and awe inspring sight. Just makes you think what else we haven't seen or discovered yet. Only disapointing thing to me is that we are unlikely to really get out there in my life time (if ever of course, since so much time is spent bickering between ourselve over things that really don't matter).

11 December 2009 at 16:13  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Thanks for sharing this with us all.

'Fret not thyself because of evildoers...'

Psalm 37:1

11 December 2009 at 16:36  
OpenID yokel said...

When God does a job, he does it well. Very well. That picture is wonderful beyond words.

11 December 2009 at 16:53  
Blogger Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

The picture is wonderful.

Mr Singh, Armstrong said the words:

"That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"

but he did mean to say what you put in your post.

11 December 2009 at 16:59  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

A beautiful sight, your Grace. I would also say that the English countryside, is in its own special way, just as beautiful.

11 December 2009 at 17:22  
Anonymous len said...

Existence of God

“The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books - a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.”

11 December 2009 at 17:25  
Anonymous len said...

Len 17:25
Albert Einstein quote

11 December 2009 at 17:26  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Old South and Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs

Thank you.

11 December 2009 at 17:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the English countryside is a lot more beautiful!

11 December 2009 at 18:28  
Anonymous ukipwebmaster said...

Is God trying to send a message?

The forecast for Copenhagen:

11 December 2009 at 18:46  
Anonymous non mouse said...

The shadow of the Majesty on High, then!

"For the invisible things of him are clearly seen from the attributes of the world, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity, so that they are inexcusable."
(St. Paul. Rom.1:20)

11 December 2009 at 19:34  
Blogger JPT said...

Yes it does.

11 December 2009 at 19:58  
Blogger ZZMike said...

I'm reminded of the tourist, who upon visiting Victora Falls for the first time, said, "Hmmm. Nice falls." and moved on.

Glovner: "we are unlikely to really get out there in my life time ..."
Given that it's about 1000 light-years away, we've got as much chance of getting there as does the Tories and Liberal Democrats getting together.

Has nobody thought of Psalm 19:

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

One of our poet chaps wrote:

When I Heard the learn'd astronomer

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

11 December 2009 at 20:40  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

It is a beautiful sight, Your Grace, only bettered by the following:

I only wonder that our majestic creator made this spectacle in the heavenlies to reflect himself.

11 December 2009 at 21:28  
Anonymous not a machine said...

"no eye has seen nor mind conceived what the lord god has in heaven"

This may seem like request from David icke , but would be interested to hear if anyone has suffered headaches , when Hadron conducts its experiments . there is theory that it produces and extensive magnetic field .

Odd I know but there you are !

12 December 2009 at 00:01  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Yes,it does.Thankyou!

12 December 2009 at 03:20  
Blogger srizals said...

With your kind permission,

Blessed is He Who has placed in the heaven constellations and has placed in it a lamp and a shining moon.

Just to share with the others. Can anyone share with me verses regarding constellation in their book of faith. Thanks. Inspiring your grace. As always.

12 December 2009 at 04:23  
Anonymous Shakespeare said...

See how the floor of heaven is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold.

12 December 2009 at 08:44  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Thank you, Shakespeare.
Thank you, Your Grace.
Thank you, God.

12 December 2009 at 09:48  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Given that it's about 1000 light-years away, we've got as much chance of getting there as does the Tories and Liberal Democrats getting together.

When I say "out there" I just mean generally exploring past the confines of our own planet/solar system.

But I agree, it's unlikely science will get there anytime soon since most of various countries research seems to be spent finding new and bigger more efficent ways to kill each other.

12 December 2009 at 11:00  
Anonymous Hereward said...

"But I agree, it's unlikely science will get there anytime soon since most of various countries research seems to be spent finding new and bigger more efficent ways to kill each other."

Where do you think rocket technology came from?

12 December 2009 at 11:12  
Anonymous len said...

Modern man views the awesome universe, not as a hymn to the Creator, but as patterns of matter blindly shaped by chance. Man is taught that mankind is but part of the vast evolutionary process, but is the summit of the process. So, Man is his own “god.” There is nothing above Man which can decree “Thou shalt . . .” or “Thou shalt not . . .” You may love your neighbor or you may mug your neighbor. What’s the difference? Both of you are merely assemblages of atoms—and atoms have no conscience or rights. So much for the world outside. What of the Church? Lucifer is clever. He knows that by dislodging one stone (Original Sin) he can collapse the Christian structure. But, to dislodge Original Sin he must get rid of Adam. Adam must go; and the ape-men take his place. The great channels of information tirelessly proclaim that everything evolved, and that apelike animals turned into men, but not into one splendid first man and one superb first woman. They tirelessly proclaim the reverse, namely, that evolution would have produced many first humans, groups of them, populations of brutish first humans who were little better than their animal parents.

12 December 2009 at 11:16  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Oh give it up.

There is no true right and wrong, only our individual subjective sense of right and wrong.

But evolution and thousands of years of history and learning have allowed us to experience what benefits us and what harms us and this has led to an overall subjective morality that is viewed by some to be objective.

Morality has never, isn't now and will never have an absolute objective right and wrong to test itself by.

People with faith have no greater sense of morality than people without. All we have is a subjective morality that is right for us indivdually. It just so happens that most of our indivdual subjective morality agrees for the most part with each other.

And existence of all things in this universe is not proof of the existence of any god. It is only proof of existence itself. It may appear that there are many rules that work together to make all this possible, but that only proves that if the rules that make it all possible were not in effect then there would not be any existence. Therefore the only thing existence proves is existence itself. No god and no need for one either.

To claim to know there is a god is to present a presupposition without any proof.

12 December 2009 at 12:13  
Anonymous pedant said...

Not the least miraculous thing about the universe, Your Grace, is that through we humans it has become actually and literally self-aware.

Current scientific opinion is that Life may well be widespread, even commonplace, throughout the dusty vastnesses of space; but intelligent life is vanishingly rare, and for sound statistical reasons possibly unique to this planet.

If this be true, we may justifiably regard ourselves with some wonder, for it means that we are nothing less than the eyes and ears of Creation.

12 December 2009 at 15:05  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, the face of creation is wondrous indeed. We are all made of stars...

12 December 2009 at 15:24  
Blogger Preacher said...

Beautiful beyond words Your Grace.
But it does make me sad for the obviously decieved & spiritually blind who can only grope in the dark because of their self imposed affliction.

12 December 2009 at 19:34  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Yes, Preacher!

As I understood it even when I was agnostic, the conventions of Christian society follow St. Paul, in this:

1 Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.(Rom 14)

Later, I saw that the metaphor is clearly predicated on the previous:
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5.14).

For the others:
8 According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day. (Rom 11.8)

And the reasons why we cannot judge them include:
13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law, written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. (Rom 2).

Of course, in doing the latter:
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. (Rom. 1).

12 December 2009 at 21:53  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

decieved? I think not. But what is the point of a discussion between someone who thinks for themselves and someone who lives by 1700 years of indoctrinated dogma.

13 December 2009 at 00:21  
Blogger ZZMike said...

not a machine: "there is theory that it produces and extensive magnetic field."

Not really. There is an incredibly strong magnetic field, but it is contained entirely within the machine.

The only thing we have to worry about is the black holes devouring the Earth.

Glovner: "There is no true right and wrong, only our individual subjective sense of right and wrong."

Ah yes, the old "moral relativism argument", from which we can deduce that a suicide bomber who blows up a school full of children is no worse than the chap who pinches an apple from the street vendor.

"... and someone who lives by 1700 years of indoctrinated dogma."

I would really like to meet this 1,700-year-old person.

13 December 2009 at 03:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall my days at nautical college. The unseen hand that had laid out the heavens, the regularities of the cosmos we count upon to navigate, the beauty of the night sky. All constructed a certainty of faith in God. A generation of technological observations [such as your photograph] later I am utterly dwarfed in my understanding. It's such a gap between finite and infinite. I read the scriptures which state 'the heavens shall roll away as a scroll'; 'behold a new heaven and a new earth' and all I can do is say I don't understand. I do worship, but I don't understand. The gap between man and God, creator and creation, is so great.

'What is man that thou art mindful of him?' I'm glad I'm not the first to put this question to paper.


13 December 2009 at 21:13  
Anonymous non mouse said...

I see it rather as Anon does, at 21:13.

In response to Len, I think that's why I have no problem reconciling a certain scientific theory to Christianity - never had, even as an agnostic - ever since they taught me the speed of Light. And we sang at Prayers "God is Light, God is Truth, God is Beauty: Praise Him."

So, methought: the twinkling of the furthest happened how long ago?
And how long has it taken to reach us?
So how long is a day or a year to God? Why assume that He operates according to the measurements mankind has developed from earthly perceptions?
So, when the Bible is packed full of symbolism anyway, why should I take the 'seven days' of Genesis literally?

In fact, the seventh day could have taken just as long as archaeology, ontogeny and phylogeny suggest! And also, if we accept that God is omnipresent, then his spirit (breath) infuses the universe anyway - it even resides in us, though our hubristic, fallen - and very uncommon - nature may blind us to it.

I haven't found that the Church Fathers contradict such interpretation. But I have seen what God said to Job!!
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind and said:
2 "Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskilful words? [...]
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if thou hast understanding.” [Job 38:1, 2, 4]

What is man, indeed.

14 December 2009 at 00:30  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Sorry - that was 'furthest star'...

14 December 2009 at 00:33  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Which is fine, but you are still using the evidence in a way to fit in with what you have already decided to be true.

Rather than just taking the evidence for what it is and accepting that it does not prove what you have already decided to be true.

14 December 2009 at 09:16  

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