Everything’s Bigger Than You Can Imagine (or, Why I Love Astronomy)

Back in my college days, when I first had access to the internet and started poking around on NASA’s then-new collection of freely available Hubble Satellite photos, my interest was first piqued in science. What I saw started a love affair with astronomy in particular, and science in general. The kinds of pictures I saw, and the numbers they were quoting for the size of some of these stars and galaxies and distances between them just blew my mind.

Several years have passed, and I’d like to think my appreciation of those images, facts, and figures has matured even further. And it’s in that spirit that I’d love to show you some things that I think will blow your mind.

First up is a video I swiped from a DVD I got a few years back called The Privileged Planet (I got permission to repost it here). After watching the DVD, I found this little segment buried in the bonus features: almost a throwaway. But as soon as I saw it, I thought it was the most amazing thing on the program. You can watch it below, but promise me you won’t keep reading until you watch it. It’s important.

Once you’re finished watching that video, click here.

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…
Psalm 103:11

Kind of puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it? I imagine size like that sets the mind of a person who doesn’t know God reeling. All that space. And what am I? Nothing. Less than nothing.

But to a believer, all that space was given to us as—at least partially—a divine illustration of how much God loves us. It’s like, when He made the universe, He said “Let me create a vastness so large that the human mind can measure it just enough to perceive something of how immeasurable it is. And then I’ll tell them that vastness is weak illustration of how much I love them.” What an extravagant gesture!

God has also said that His wisdom is higher than the heavens above the earth, and that His ways are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth. Which should put at least a few arc seconds more perspective on how much wiser God is than us. We can trust Him in whatever He’s up to, whether it looks good or bad to us.

Time to do some more mind blowing. Back in 1995, Hubble did the first “Hubble Deep Field.” They aimed the Hubble camera at the darkest patch of space they could find and decided to let the camera expose a photograph for several minutes over several months. All told, it exposed a picture for over a week. And the patch of sky they focused on was (please try to get this size in your head) the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. The idea was to see if maybe, just maybe they could see a star or two not visible to our powerful telescopes. Here’s what they saw.

Click this once you’ve seen that picture.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
Psalm 147:4-5

It’s a joy to “use your mind to blow your mind,” as John Piper once said. So I want to help you use your brain and sense of wonder to praise God for His marvelous works. I would encourage you to listen to “When Morning Gilds the Skies” as you take a look at some more pictures and see how “the heavens are telling the glory of God.”

the cats eye nebulathe star Eta Carinae surrounded by the Homunculus Nebulaeta carinae nebulacollision of two galaxiespillars of creation in the eagle nebulasize comparison of the planets in our solar systemsize comparison of the sun with VV Cephei Asize comparison of the sun with VV Cephei A

If you enjoy these pictures and would love to see more God-glorifying visions of our universe, bookmark the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day or subscribe to its RSS feed.

“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” —Psalm 19:1

52 Thoughts.

  1. Jeff: Thanks for this multi-media blessing.

    The video segment reminded me of a nine-minute film called Powers of Ten that Charles and Ray Eames made for IBM in 1977. A google search will bring up links to where you can view it.

  2. i think how ironic it is that the same infinite expanse that somehow enforced the view in your mind that all of this is here ‘for us’ shook me out of what i saw as arrogance that all of this stillhas the earth as its center! i can step outside, look up, and stomp my feet on the ground, and see how someone six thousand years ago could say, ‘in the beginning God created the heavens (looking up) and the earth (under his feet),’ without really comprehending where we were in the whole scheme of things. what would your perspective be if, for example, your telescope is not earth-bound or earth-centric, looking out, but a billion light years away, looking back at the earth? i cannot see how your view is, in practice, any different than the view of the catholic church that anathema’d galileo and copernicus for daring to say that the sun didn’t revolve around the earth. i mean, is it really?

    it’s a fine line between saying, wow, just see how this speaks of the glory and majesty of God, and, wow, all of this was created just for me. i wonder what tips the scale one direction or another? interesting. life is full of paradoxes (paradoxii?).

    thanks for the links and the post. it certainly is mind-boggling. and i am one who has a hard time questioning that something isn’t behind all of this of great power and creativity. i just no longer believe that wrath and judgment have to be part of the same picture, nor do i believe we are alone in the great expanse of the cosmos.

    mike rucker
    fairburn, georgia, usa
    mikerucker.wordpress.com

  3. Hey Mike! Welcome to RootsRain!

    When my wife read the statement that “all that space was given to us as—at least partially—a divine illustration of how much God loves us”, she said “Oh, come on…” Then she looked back at the verse and said, “Well, okay. I think I see your point.” I guess it’s a hard idea to accept. Or maybe I just didn’t say it very clearly.

    I certainly don’t mean to imply that a demonstration of God’s love for us is the only reason God created such a massive expanse (how pathetically those words describe it!). But since He has revealed in His word that space is something He uses as an illustration, I take Him at His word. He compares His love to that space, and I understand that in His infinite wisdom He destined His love and space to be cognates. He planned things this way.

    If the objection is raised that I shouldn’t take those cognates to mean the universe was made for me, I would say of course it wasn’t. The universe was made for the glory of God. But I more reflect the glory of God when I understand who He is. And in His word He has said that He is like space in a number of ways. So I look at space and I see Him in the comparisons to His faithfulness, His power, His wisdom, etc. Another of those illustrations is His relationship to me. He describes the distance between the earth and the highest heavens as a comparison of the depth of His love toward me. And His wisdom planned that metaphor. For humans. Which means me, too.

    The scale is in balance. God accomplishes many things with one thing. And it’s right to examine one accomplishment closely while understanding it’s just one of the things He accomplished. The cross is very much like that. He satisfied His justice. He brought more glory to His name. He doubled His ownership of His people. But He also demonstrated His love for us. Which means me, too.

    As far as the earth being at the center of things, according to Genesis (which I believe to be a literal account of a 6-day creation), the earth is, in some sense, the center. Maybe not the exact spatial center, but the center in the way a stage is the center of a theater (even though it may or may not be in the exact center of the theater building itself). (Although white hole cosmology, if true, may even demonstrate a certain proximity of earth to the center of the universe.) It’s the center in the way New York may be a “cultural center” in the U.S. while it’s way off in the northeast of the country. It’s the center in the way man was created as the crown of creation and was given authority over it even though he was not the most numerous, powerful, beautiful, or long-lived species. He was given authority because God’s image was placed in him. “The center” may have many different ways it is measured, but the most important one must be in the sense of “where God puts/reveals His presence” (understanding that God is omnipresent, but puts/reveals Himself in all places unequally). E.g., the center of God’s presence was in Israel during the Old Testament. In relation to the wider scope of the universe, the center is Earth.

    Am I making things more clear, or muddying the waters?

    I was intrigued by your statement about wrath and judgment… are you saying that, to a Christian, “there is therefore now no condemnation”? Or are you saying that God is not a wrathful God? Or…?

  4. I wept, and wept. Hail to the almighty! Unto Him be all power and glory forever and ever, and ever. He is outside our time domain and came to us through a virgin to allow His own creatures to crucify Him in order to satisfy his own justice.

    Thank you for this site.

  5. Mike,

    I too, even as a Christian, do wonder if we (the world and creation as we know it) are the only ones in the universe. But in the end, even if we’re not, this wouldn’t in itself nullify the love and mercy or the wrath and judgement of God. Perhaps God, in his goodness and wisdom, has chosen to create other galaxies with living beings etc. But that doesn’t mean the revelation he provides of himself in Jesus and his Word is less true. It merely means that he has chosen to express his goodness to others too, perhaps by giving them their own created worlds.

    In the end, I just don’t know. What I do know is that doesn’t make me any less or more important or loved by God. Neither does it make him irrelevant to me or you.

    Anyway, thanks for the video etc.

  6. I was so blessed by watching! Thanks for this and for the additional info on getting the pic of the day from NASA.

    I was thinking about the criticism about this being for us. I appreciated your response and just wanted to add a thought. It’s that little “for” word that gets in the way. It would be right to say that it’s not for us in the sense of having us as the end goal of it. It is for us to get to the end goal of all…God. It is for our understanding, for our wisdom, for our security, for our comprehension of that which is incomprehensible! In that sense, I’m grateful to have it for me today.

  7. Jeff, I would like to be able to take the video from today’s blog and include it in a presentation. Where could I get it to do that? Or, give me some direction as to the how as well!

    Marvelous!

    David

  8. David,

    If you want the large, full-quality clip (plus the full 60+ minute presentation of the remarkable design of our planet), you can purchase the DVD from a seller like Amazon or from the Illustra Media themselves.

    The actual low-res source file in the video is located here. (Right-click>Save File As… to download)

  9. Thank you for all the hard work you obviously put into this post. It’s quite impressive and thought provoking.
    Sorina

  10. I loved your comment about the greatness of God is not seen merely in creation’s vastness. Here is a talk I give to Pastors I work with in Korogocho slum in Nairobi Kenya where I work as a missionary doctor under Nairobi Chapel, sent by CMS Australia.
    Please print / use any part of this.
    Yours in Christ,
    Joe
    In the Tumaini Clinic I have in Korogocho slum in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the ways I add the gospel into the clinic is by teaching the Bible. My aim is to help Christians, especially Pastors to know the gospel clearer than they do.
    One of the ways I do this is by getting them to play with modelling clay and have some fun. I get them to be creative.
    We have contests for the best model, and the winner each time gets a prize and everyone applauds them. Finally I get them to make a person out of their clay.
    Here are four questions I ask them:
    1. Whose clay person is it? Theirs, because they made it
    2. Who gets to decide how the person is to be used? They do, they made it
    3. Who deserves any prize or honour for this person? They do, they made it
    4. Who gets to decide what becomes of the clay person; to be kept as precious or to be tossed away? They do, they made it.
    If God made us, then;
    1. God is our owner: we should respect and reverence him.
    2. God is our ruler: we should obey him.
    3. He is glorious: deserves our honour and praise.
    4. And he is our judge: we should fear him.
    Because we are part of creation, these truths are part of the fibre of our being. To live is consistent with these truths is to live true to ourselves as created beings.
    But we don’t behave like this as we should.
    We would rather act against the very nature of the created universe.
    If you made such a malfunctioning thing, what would you do with it? You would throw it away!
    But. Imagine you decide to value it highly, far more highly than it deserves, even when it is no longer the good figure you first made. Can you imagine writing a will making your clay person your heir? This piece of clay will then inherit everything that is yours, even at the expense of your own kids!
    It doesn’t deserve it. It is only a creation of yours, and a malfunctioning one at that.
    To make the clay figure your beneficiary is to treat it as if it is your child because it is children who inherit.
    The Bible says that through his real son’s death, God shows amazing undeserved love toward us. It says “Behold what manner of love the father has given to us; we have the title ‘Children of God’, because that is what we are.”
    Somehow, we can be united to Jesus in such a profound way that we are changed from being mere creatures of God to being children of God. We will be treated by God as his children and heirs. I tell the pastors in Korogocho, that as Christians, they are the richest people in the world, though it doesn’t look like it yet. But one day, when Jesus returns, it will.
    The Pastors and I have fun having competitions for the best clay model, with lollies as prizes. Sometimes I give the prize to the wrong person and ask the group to applaud that person, and am told it is wrong, that it is not fair, that the one who made the best model should get the prize and honour.
    Oops! Imagine not giving the honour to the one who deserves it? How wrong is that!

  11. Hi, I just found this blog from Albert Mohler’s site. I thought the post was very informative, I have seen the video before, but the way it was applied, really did a great job of showing how truly small we are in the big picture.

    When people see those images, I just don’t understand how they can choose to serve the creation rather than the creator like Romans 1 tells us. It truly is mind boggling how immense and beautiful our universe is. I really liked the response of Joe Radkovic, what a great way to teach people the gospel, sounds like a great activity to bring to the west in our churches, I will be sure to pass the message on, and try to get my stubborn atheist and agnostic friends to pull their heads out of the sand and look up at the glory of God.

    It truly is sad that they would rather stick their heads in the sand and believe evolution, while it is clearly seen and known the invisible attributes of God so that no man is without excuse. I wish that everyone would desire to serve and submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, not just for the reward of Joy, but because he gave his life for us while we were still sinners, just amazes me.

    Even more so when we see from scripture the wonderful plan He has for our lives, of one day being with him for eternity with no death, disease, or suffering ever again also with new perfect bodies. Satan, Lucifer and all his demons will be brought to full justice, and we will spend eternity in forever bliss singing, praising and learning from Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Oh happy day when Jesus washed my sins away.

  12. i’m going to leave another comment – if you choose to remove it, too, jeff so be it.

    this ‘creation’ vs ‘evolution’ argument has outlived it’s usefulness, and i personally am sick of it. if you don’t see that this wall street bailout has effectively made america a third-world country for the rest of this century – maybe longer – then perhaps realizing that the new supercollider was built in EUROPE because scientists here have allowed unqualified verse quoters here to determine educational content should make it quite plain.

    what is here around us and visible to us can plainly attest to the awesomeness of God. what is here can also give clues to the process without making it a religious minefield. those who look at creation and say it describes a mighty God should also be forced to explain how God would have created a spider that paralyzes its prey and keeps it alive for days while feeding on it. similarly, those who look at everything and say it came from nothing via an accident and then want to use terms like love, beauty, right and wrong should be shown the fallacy of their positions.

    everything was not created at once, in six days, six thousand years ago – science tells us that. two different, non-harmonizable accounts in genesis tell us that the bible was not meant to be a science book. every species alive today could not have fit on a boat and sailed the ocean blue for the better part of a year. the millions of varieties of insects did not magically appear after the waters receded over the last six millenia. all the fish didn’t drown in the flood except for a pair of everything giving Noah the ability to reach out of the ark’s door and pick up fresh fish daily from the surface of the waters.

    can we see God’s intelligence in creation without abandoning any shreds of our own that we may have?

    and, marla, i don’t know what you meant by making us ‘fear’ the lord more. for me, His perfect love, and Jesus’ description of Him as ‘Abba, Father’ removed the negative connotations i hear when i read that word. perhaps that’s not what you meant.

    mike rucker
    fairburn, georgia, usa
    mikerucker.wordpress.com

  13. Mike,

    I think you’re giving Genesis short-shrift. There are plenty of good, scientifically sound explanations for all the impossibilities you mentioned. For instance, the Bible speaks of “kinds” that were brought on the ark, not species. Two of the dog kind, two of the cat kind, etc. Since the gene pool is deeper further back, two of the cat kind 5,000 years ago could lead to the broad speciation we see around us in the feline family.

    But that speciation is variation within limits. That’s a key point of Creation Science. You don’t have dogs becoming fish. You have dogs becoming different species of dog. Adding millions of years to the equation will only deplete the gene pool and lead to the entire canine family dying out. It doesn’t lead to new genii, families, orders, classes, phyla, or kingdoms.

    I think you’re too quick to believe what a scientist says over what God said. No, Genesis wasn’t written to be a science textbook. But it is accurate in what it says about science. There are far better explanations for the geological layers, for fossils, for common descent/design, for uniformity, for precision, etc. in Genesis than in any evolutionary ideas.

    I think the key underlying assumption in your arguments, though, is the Kierkegaardian/postmodern idea that we can believe even though our beliefs don’t match reality. Even though the Bible says it’s true–it says that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days–we can know it’s false and still, somehow, believe in it. It’s the idea that spiritual truth is somehow independent of rationality, that belief trumps contradiction, rather than belief and reason resolving contradiction.

    I understand the Bible to be true on all counts. You don’t (as evidenced by your comments and posts on your blog). But if the Bible is not true on all counts, then we have no final, absolute word on reality. I say it means this, you say that. Who’s to decide? There’s no absolute reference to point back to. Science can’t tell you anything. Who’s to say your ideas aren’t just electrons pinging around in your brain and that no one else even exists? What can you believe about reality or the Bible that’s not simply an incommunicable quirk of your own brain? In an effort to free yourself of the truth claims of Genesis, you’ve trapped yourself into an infinitely small, completely inescapable box. And faith, at that point, isn’t a confident assurance in reality. It’s simply whistling in the dark.

  14. For instance, the Bible speaks of “kinds” that were brought on the ark, not species. Two of the dog kind, two of the cat kind, etc.i>

    fine. please give me a list of these ‘kinds’. from that, we can see if the ark could really have held them all. then please take that list and from it describe how the diversity we have today exists. and please don’t say, ‘well, i’m not a scientist’ because your statement indicates you believe you are qualified to make these comments.

    There are far better explanations for the geological layers, for fossils, for common descent/design, for uniformity, for precision, etc. in Genesis than in any evolutionary ideas.

    i’m all ears. as is science. science has a way of investigating and discarding ideas that are not true. the head of the human genome project, a brilliant scientist who is also a sincere Christian, firmly believes in evolutionary descent and regrets the narrowmindedmess of those who base their science in their misunderstandings of religious texts. he’s probably all ears, too.

    …the Kierkegaardian/postmodern idea that we can believe even though our beliefs don’t match reality.

    that’s NOT what i’m doing, jeff. that’s what YOU’RE doing. YOU’RE saying that, all evidence to the contrary, it happened THIS way, as you point at Genesis. not only that, it happened THIS way even if, over time, my interpretation of what this even MEANS has to change to try to fit it, ie creationism cum intelligent design.

    Even though the Bible says it’s true–it says that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days–we can know it’s false and still, somehow, believe in it. It’s the idea that spiritual truth is somehow independent of rationality, that belief trumps contradiction, rather than belief and reason resolving contradiction.

    and if you can read that and not see how it’s descriptive of your position, then ‘truth’ has no absolute dimension in your world.

    your last paragraph is the lie that many allow themselves to believe – that if we don’t hold up ONE thing as the final answer on ALL things, then we cannot have ANY answers. none of that logically follows. in a weird way, the only absolute truth is that absolute truths have exceptions. we don’t run from the grey and insist everything be black and white because we don’t know how to handle grey. we mature, and deal with grey the best we can, using all our sources of knowledge. we don’t decide to NOT ask a question because it has an answer we don’t like, or perhaps TWO valid answers.

    life ain’t easy. problems aren’t simple. and the answers aren’t all in one place. because if all the answers were in one place, we’d THEN conclude we knew all the questions, too.

    and we don’t have all of them, yet, either. our kids, and their kids, need something to keep them busy after we’e gone…

    thanks for posting my previous comment. hope this one makes it past the censors, too. 🙂

    mike rucker

  15. please give me a list of these ‘kinds’. from that, we can see if the ark could really have held them all.

    I can’t give you a list of kinds any more than a scientist can give you a list of the number of species. Any list is bound to be hopelessly incorrect. The Bible doesn’t describe how it limits “kinds.” But I would dare say any child understands the difference between a cat and a mouse. There’s a certain everyday imprecision which will never satisfy someone wanting to put the Bible under a microscope. In any case, you’re saying the Bible isn’t a scientific textbook, but then you’re wanting it to explain itself scientifically. My claim is that where it makes a plain assertion, it is correct.

    Of course, why not ask science to explain itself to the Bible? If we’re looking for a solid footing from which to make inquiry, what makes science a better footing than the Bible?

    i’m all ears. as is science. science has a way of investigating and discarding ideas that are not true.

    Not true. Science isn’t open to critique (on the whole) in this area any more than a mother is open to being told her children are ugly. You’re putting blind faith in the scientific establishment, despite numerous organizations publishing very, very reasonable counter-statements. (Read this book for starters; then go on to this, and this.) To “science’s” shame, they do not allow these sorts of things to be published in their journals. To do so means the publisher will be fired, or lose readership on a massive scale, or be denied tenure, and a host of other persecutions. My uncle (who actually worked on the human genome project and several NSF-funded research projects), stated the case bluntly: “Science students are starting to see how things are… Evolution is a really weak explanation, but looking for any other explanation means you’ll never get a job.”

    The entire debate about evolution vs. creation is a philosophical debate. Both groups are dealing with the same set of data. Evolutionists say that God could not have created, therefore X, Y, Z. Creationists say God did create, therefore X, Y, Z. To a creationist, geological layers are primarily the result of the Flood (grab a bunch of layers of sediment and put them in a jar with water… shake it up and let it settle and you’ll have a geologic column). To an evolutionist, the layers are the result of millions of years of soil deposits. Who’s right? The evolutionist would say that a divinely-appointed Flood is nonsense and not science–even if it actually DID happen. Despite the fact that almost every culture has a worldwide flood “myth.” Despite the fact that, the world-over, fossils of fish are found on the highest mountains (a fact known since Aristotle). Despite the fact that entire trees are upside down through entire columns of geologic strata. Despite the fact that index fossils like the trilobite (supposedly extinct for millions of years) have been found crushed by shod human feet.

    YOU’RE saying that, all evidence to the contrary, it happened THIS way, as you point at Genesis.

    Nope. I’m saying that the evidence points to Genesis. Evolution is a philosophical presupposition (as is creationism) that doesn’t make sense of the world. God’s account does. The evidence points to Genesis. I would love to know of one piece of scientific data which contradicts God’s account.

    But I would still assert that you’re taking a postmodern position with Scripture. You’re saying that Genesis isn’t true, but that–despite that–it’s still true (somehow). That’s meaningless. You went on to say:

    in a weird way, the only absolute truth is that absolute truths have exceptions

    That’s also meaningless. How do you know that’s the only absolute truth? For you to say that you know that the only absolute truth is that absolutes have exceptions means you have to be God. You have to have investigated every absolute and every situation it can be used in and determined that absolutes are bunk.

    It’s like the story of the five blind men feeling the elephant. Each blind man thought he knew what the elephant was like. But the only person in that situation who knew what was really going on was the sighted observer watching the five blind men. Saying there are no absolutes (except the one that they all have exceptions) is, in an attempt to be agnostically humble, almost the most blatantly arrogant statement you could say. You’re saying you’re the sighted observer. But you’re not God, right? You can’t know anything finally empirically.

    And since you can’t prove the lack of absolutes empirically, you’re taking that idea as an article of faith. It’s a non-testable, -observable, or -demonstrable presupposition.

    the answers aren’t all in one place. because if all the answers were in one place, we’d THEN conclude we knew all the questions, too. and we don’t have all of them, yet, either.

    In the same vein: how do you know the answers aren’t all in one place? Prove it. Show me an empirical proof demonstrating that the answers aren’t all in one place.

    You even hinted at the impossibility of the proof: we don’t even know what all the questions are. It’s at this point–where we’re both saying “Okay, since we don’t know all the questions, where do we look for answers?”–that we diverge courses. You say “I’ll presuppose that I live in an understandable universe, that my brain will act in an orderly fashion and will figure this out; so I’ll follow my reasoning powers and try to collect enough data to make sense of things.” I say “God has revealed himself in His word. He knows all the questions and He has all the answers. I’ll trust what He says. And since He is a God of order and Truth, His creation reflects him and I can discover true things about creation in an orderly way.” Neither of us can prove the validity of the presuppositions we started with.

    My defense is that the system flowing from a trust in Scripture makes more sense of the world we live in. It’s internally consistent (unlike believing in rationality but saying the Bible is both false and true on the same point). It makes more sense of science, it makes more sense of art, it makes more sense of psychology, sociology, history, spirituality, philosophy, etc.

    I’m getting way to long-winded and I think it’s not helping, so I’ll shut up.

  16. jeff, good thoughts. i’d like to respond to them today. off to church now to sing sweet hour of prayer to a loud spiked-hair worship band…my life is full of dichotomies. 🙂

  17. JC,

    The music is actually from a live recording at my alma mater: Bob Jones University. I’ve checked around on their website(s) and can’t find any record of the recording. When I was working there, I got the music from the master CD that had been made for SoundForth (BJU’s music publishing arm) to consider for publication. They turned it down so it never went to publication, apparently.

    So… I’m not actually sure what the legal situation is here. There’s nowhere to buy the actual CD unless you write to the BJU Campus Store and have them dig the master CD out of the archives and make a dup. They may or may not be able to do that…

    The live recording is from the “Hymn Festival” and it was done in 1999. I think most of the arrangements are by Dwight Gustafson with the BJU Orchestra playing. There are several other really good songs on that CD.

    For instance, this one.

    -Jeff

  18. WOW! I’m showing this during my Bible Study tonight. My guys are going to be amazed, thank you so much, and praise God!

  19. I would say it puts life into perspective, but honestly (and more importantly), it puts God into perspective. What a gracious, loving Creator God we have.

    Thank you!

  20. Hello Jeff. Enjoyed so very much the pictures and words that glorified our awesome God. I also read the comments that followed, and was particularly drawn to the conversation between you and Mike R. I am a person with a “slower” mind than either of you; maybe I’m one of those folk the bible describes as “common”. But I take comfort in the fact, “the common people recieved him gladly”. Slow minds may be weak, but God gives strength to the weak with His word, and this brings me to a point I believe believers need to keep in mind. To believe the scriptures one must be given faith, and this is quite apparent in you, Jeff.

    As for Mike, if he is a believer in God, the truth will only profit him if it is mixed with faith. Remember the devils believe also, and tremble. Ja 2:19.

    I believe faith is the key to anything beneficial here, for without it, it is impossible to please God. We should labor and be patient with all men, but there comes a time when our labor can be in vain. If Mike belongs to the Father, if He was bought with the Lord’s blood, I trust it (scripture) will speak to him. If not, he will find yet another “endless genealogy” to pursue. Scripture can say it much better than I.

    Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

    1Ti 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

    1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 1Ti 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.

    2Th 3:2 … that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

    Please understand, I am not judging Mike’s heart. Only the Lord can see there, but these “dichotomies” that he confesses remind me of other scripture which says:

    Jas 1:5-8 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask and it shall be given him of God, who gives to all men liberally, with graciousness. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

    Mike, I truly hope if your desire is to please God, you will examine your heart and recognize your mind is unstable. Mine was very unstable at a time in my life, but as I began to trust and seek God for the wisdom only He can give; He began to enlighten (give knowledge) as well as peace and rest. He truly calmed my troubled sea. He can do the same for you, if you have the faith to recieve it.

  21. Tears welled in my eyes at the thought that God loves us more than the universe is vast…so much that it cannot be measured! How GREAT is our God!

  22. I’ve watched this video several times, and I’m impressed with it each and every time. What a magnificent God we have. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I learned of this video several months back and I have to tell you I regularly come back and watch this, it is amazing.

  23. Hi Jeff! This is Great! But i was going to ask you a question. Ok so do you think God could be larger or create something bigger than infinity? And when people say “God cannot be measured” does that mean He is bigger than infinity? Since He can’t be measured?

  24. Rachel,

    You ask a difficult question… because infinity is a concept that itself is not measurable. Infinity is a value which exists beyond the possibility of measurement. Or you could define it as “the number of beyondness”. It’s not just that we don’t have the time to count that high… or that we could conceivably just say “infinity plus one”. Infinity includes infinity plus one, plus two—plus other infinities, in fact. (One set of infinities may contain twice as many numbers, but both are the same size.) It’s a bizarre concept. I actually posted about the concept of infinity a while back.

    So my short answer is that God is the infinite set of infinite infinities. God can be larger than infinity in the sense that there are infinities which are demonstrably larger than others (say, the set of positive and negative integers is larger than the set of positive integers). But in the end, all infinities are the same size, because the concept of infinity dictates that every infinite is the simply specifying something which has gone beyond number. (“Beyond” in the sense of quantity and quality.)

  25. I think that’s what I’m saying. In other words, I think I would agree with that statement provided the terms are clear.

    I was thinking the other night that the term “infinity” could be best reduced to the single defining term “further.” It’s an expression of never reaching an end. Of always having more. God is like that. And, by definition, there can be nothing beyond “further.” Because what is further now will still be further when you reach it.

    Infinity is a bizarre construct…

  26. Ok that really helps a lot. Thanks! Ok well you know how people say that God is outside of time, well does the same thing apply here? Like is God “outside” of infinity? Or not? And also you know how you said infinity plus 1 and infinity plus 2 is all included in infinity, well then if God made a concept of something bigger than infinity then would infinity still include that concept?

  27. Let me try to sort out some things in my own mind here.

    One infinity might not contain everything that another infinity does. For instance, the infinite set of positive integers is an entirely different set than the infinite set of negative integers. Both are the same size (infinite) but are exclusive of each other.
    One infinity may contain other infinities. So, in the example just given, the set of positive and negative integers includes those two infinities. Yet the total set is still infinite, no larger or smaller than the two infinite sets inside of it. Because infinity is, essentially, no longer a quantity. It’s “beyond amount,” or simply expressing a continual, eternal “further.”

    While God is infinite, He is infinite in more ways than the set of positive integers is infinite. So while it may be theoretically accurate to say that both God and the set of positive integers are infinite, it would be a mistake to assume that they have the same extensivity or intensivity. If infinity just means that something has gone beyond finite limitations of number, then God certainly fits that definition, but calling Him infinite in the way a number is infinite is a very reductionistic view of Him.

    So, reoriented with those ideas, let me go back to your questions.

    Time is finite. It’s even malleable (as in the case of warping space-time anywhere near a massive object [like a black hole or large star]). So in some sense time is an easy idea to place God outside of. It’s as much of a construct as the space through which we move. (It’s part of the space through which we move, as the name “space-time” indicates.)

    So is God outside of infinity? Well, the best I could say is that He is the Infinite (capital I) containing every infinity. Even using those terms, though, things start to fall apart. Because we think of infinity as a quantity. It’s a really big number. But God is certainly more than number. He’s infinite love, infinite knowledge, infinite holiness… He has, probably, an infinite number of characteristics that each have infinite qualities to them.

    Infinity, in essence, is just a way to describe the beyondness of trying to measure those qualities. So infinity is a blanket term describing our inability—as finite beings—to adequately encompass and define something. So the term “infinity” doesn’t describe a solid concept so much as a vacuity. It’s basically the line on the map where we say “Beyond here there be dragons.” It’s why infinity is so bizarre. We’re trying to get our minds around it as a known quantity, a definable concept, a solid object… But it’s like defining “the unknown.” We just say “it’s everything that we don’t know.” Infinity is everything that we can’t count. It’s just what’s “further.”

    I don’t know if I’m muddying the waters more or clearing things up. It’s helpful for me to think through this, in any case.

  28. So if God did create something bigger than infinity, that concept would already be included in Infinity? Since you said that everything is included in infinity..

  29. Yes, God is outside of time (time is not infinite).

    But if I also say God is not outside of infinity, that starts to conflict with the definition of infinity. If infinity is what has gone beyond measurement, then wondering if God is inside or outside of that is… almost a category error. If we know that God is beyond measurement, we know that He is infinite. But whether He is beyond infinity is a meaningless idea. In a sense, saying “there is nothing beyond infinity” is like saying “there is nothing unknown that is not unknown.” Well, of course. But I can’t see that that helps us.

    So I’m also not sure how to answer your idea that God could create something bigger than infinity. I do think it would be included in Infinity. Otherwise, it would be like saying that God could create something “more limitless” or “more unknown.”

  30. Yes I understand what you are saying. But what I’m thinking now is if God existed before anything then He would have to be larger than His Creation. So if God’s creation is infinity, then God has to be greater than that concept.(He can still be infinite but He is also at the same time greater than infinity because He created that concept). Tell me what you think this…

  31. God would always be more extensive and deeper than His creation, yes. I’m not sure I’d call His creation infinite, though. I don’t think the universe is infinite, for instance. Numbers can be infinite, but they’re, in some sense, not real. They’re abstracts. It’s an unhelpful argument to say that since the set of positive integers is infinite, and God’s love is infinite, therefore the set of positive integers and God’s love are the same size. That doesn’t tell me much about either one except they’ve both gone beyond measurement.

    I’ve got to come back to the concept that infinity means what has gone beyond measurement. Infinity is a finite person’s construct to delineate things which are actually, finally, unknowable in a complete sense to a finite person. It is possible for a finite person to know everything in the entire universe, since the universe is finite. But it is not possible for a finite person to know the highest number (you could always add one) so we call number infinite. It goes beyond finite abilities to know in any complete sense. God is also infinite. He is beyond finite abilities to know in any complete sense. So when we call God infinite and number infinite, we’re not saying they have anything like equal existence. We’re saying that they are equally impossible for finite beings to fully know. Which is a weak concept for describing the limitless, but it’s the best finite beings can do. In a very real sense, God is more limitless than number, but words begin to fall apart when we try to describe how. We’ve made the mistake of trying to measure what has gone beyond measurement. We end up moving into the realm of poetry to describe impressions of limitlessness or of our intense smallness in the face of limitlessness. Our finite ideas just aren’t strong enough to move those concepts around.

  32. Well just because we can’t say if there is something bigger than infinity, doesn’t mean God can’t. That’s what makes Him God. I read on the internet that God could be bigger than infinity but He could also be a tiny speck. Is that true?

  33. Again, I think the idea that God could make something bigger than infinity is a category error. We’re going beyond the bounds of what we can talk about. It’d be like saying “God can make a square circle.” If words keep their meanings, then the thing is impossible or irrelevant.

    The Bible talks about God’s being everywhere present. So He’s infinite. “Beyond infinite” is a category error. God could be a tiny speck, but He would also, at the same time, be infinitely large. He can be present everywhere while also being present in one place in a different way than He is in another place. So He could localize some manifestation of Himself (like when He appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai) while also being present on the Moon or Eta Carinae. But He was not visibly displaying Himself (that we know of) on the Moon while He was visibly displaying Himself on a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula.

    Is that making sense? We can talk about God being infinitely small while simultaneously being infinitely large. He is all infinities.

  34. So while some infinities might be larger than others, God is the biggest Infinite of all?.. And there can’t be anything bigger than infinity because infinity means no limit. And saying infinity is bigger than infinity makes no sense.

  35. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

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