The first time I ever seriously considered the stars was when a group of youth and parents from our church decided to go to the local planetarium to see some of the best photos of the stars ever taken. Leaning back in my chair in the darkened room in order to better view the reproduction that shone against the domed ceiling, I was awed by the magnitude and beauty of the universe.
At the end of the program, the announcer said what we had just seen was proof that we human beings as well as the heavens were simply part of an ongoing evolutionary process.
"How could he say that?" I wondered to myself. Even though the universe is expanding, that doesn't prove that people came about by blind chance. I knew that Jesus had created all things "that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible" (Colossians 1:16) and that the heavens declared the glory of God (Psalm 19:1; 97:6)—not mindless evolution.
So I found it puzzling that people could view our magnificent universe and think that it all came about by mere chance—that we and all we can observe are simply a cosmic accident.
In pondering this experience, I came to realize that one's view is greatly influenced by whether one believes in God and, subsequently, by one's ability to recognize the evidence of God's involvement in everything that we see.
Since the vast majority of our readers already know that God exists (see our article "Let Me Introduce You to God" in the January-March 2009 issue), in this article we'll consider the biblical story of the stars and why this knowledge is so important.
What the heavens are telling
The Bible explains that "since the creation of the world god's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made" (Romans 1:20, New International Version). So what can we learn from what we see?
In fashioning the earth for mankind, God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth" (Genesis 1:14-15).
From the beginning of human history, people have easily confirmed these basic purposes for the sun and moon. But after Adam and Eve (and later their descendants) rejected God as the source of education, human beings soon came up with the mistaken idea that the heavenly bodies—instead of God and how we respond to our Creator—determine our destiny.
Many ancient peoples made the mistake of worshipping the sun, moon and stars (Deuteronomy 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16) and living by astrology (Jeremiah 8:2; 10:2). Of course, the problem wasn't mankind's fascination with the heavens. The problem was that by rejecting God, they lost the ability to properly understand what they were seeing.
Today astronomers and cosmologists—those who study objects and matter outside the earth's atmosphere and those who study the nature of the universe—tell us that the evidence around us reveals the beginning of our universe, how the planets and stars may have developed, and the eventual end of our universe.
Extrapolating from careful observation points to the eventual end of our planet and life as we know it. The continual expansion of the universe and the laws of physics tell us that our universe is headed toward heat death—a time when everything would be at the same temperature, near absolute zero, and energy transference would cease.
Designed for discovery
Scientists are also discovering that our world is stamped with signs of intelligence behind its formation and that markers were apparently left behind inviting us to discover what transpired.
Dr. Stephen Meyer, a multi-credentialed academic and one of the leading voices in the intelligent design movement, put this in perspective, stating that "across a wide range of sciences, evidence has come to light in the last fifty years which, taken together, provides a robust case for theism [belief in an intervening God]. Only theism can provide an intellectually satisfying causal explanation for all of this evidence" (quoted byLee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 2004, p. 89).
Asked to identify and explain some of this evidence, Dr. Meyer responded: "For instance, if it's true there's a beginning to the universe, as modern cosmologists now agree, then this implies a cause that transcends the universe. If the laws of physics are fine-tuned to permit life, as contemporary physicists are discovering, then perhaps there's a designer who fine-tuned them.
"If there's information in the cell, as molecular biology shows, then this suggests intelligent design. To get life going in the first place would have required biological information; the implications point beyond the material realm to a prior intelligent cause. Those are just three examples. And that's just the beginning" (ibid., pp. 89-90).
Benefits of the biblical explanation
Having considered some of the evidence for a Creator, let's make a few comparisons between Darwinism—the theory advocated by Charles Darwin that man evolved by chance—and the Bible.
The existence of the stars and the ongoing expansion of the universe indicates that there was indeed a beginning to all that we see. In contrast to Darwinism, which has no explanation for how matter came into existence, the Bible explains that God Himself created the heavens and earth. Isaiah 45 quotes God as saying, "I have made the earth, and created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded" (verse 12).
Darwinism offers no purpose for mankind. It teaches that human beings are just a lucky accident. In contrast to this meaninglessness, the Bible explains that God created people for the purpose of becoming part of His family (John 1:12).
With Darwinism, there is no hope for the future; this life is all there is. With God, people have the opportunity to live forever (1 John 2:17). And the Bible even reveals that God already has plans for "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1), where those who become part of His family will reside with Him after planet earth undergoes a fiery transformation (2 Peter 3:7).
The biblical story of the stars and the purpose for man makes far more sense than mindless evolution. Furthermore, this story offers the best life now and the opportunity to be part of a future world.
If you go to a planetarium and hear the same pro evolutionary conclusion I did, now you'll have had a chance to think it through in advance and understand the real story. To further prove God's existence and to understand more about the purpose for your life, request or read online our free booklets Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and What Is Your Destiny? VT
God Knows the Names of How Many Stars?
Psalm 147:4 tells us that God "counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name." Trying to understand the magnitude of God's ability through these acts is difficult for us to comprehend because, until recently, no one knew how many stars existed.
In the last few months of 2003 and part of January 2004, however, astronomers got their best look to date at the heavens. From that look, they came to a reasonable estimate of the number of stars. In a million-second (278-hour) exposure of a specified percentage of the starry sky called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, astronomers counted slightly more than 10,000 galaxies (hubblesite.org).
Multiplying this result by the whole area of the sky, there are approximately 200 billion galaxies in the universe. According to astronomer Hugh Ross in his book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is: "These 200 billion galaxies contain, on average, about 200 billion stars each. So the total number of stars in these galaxies adds up to about 40 billion trillion—and that's without the estimated 10 billion trillion stars contained in the unobserved dwarf galaxies. Somewhere around 50 billion trillion stars make their home in the observable universe" (2008, p. 31).
No wonder the psalmist followed his comment about God counting the stars and calling them all by name with, "Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite" (verse 5)