Thursday, February 2, 2012


8 Shvat, 5772
February 1st 2012

It’s hard to comprehend the vastness of the universe.
Think about this: We inhabit one of the outer spiral arms of our galaxy, the Milky Way. We’re not quite in the boondocks – more like the galactic Akron, Ohio.

We are roughly 27,000 light years from our galactic center. The Milky Way itself contains about 300 billion stars. 

The Milky Way itself is one of 54 galaxies of the Local Group. The Group has a 10 million light year diameter.

The Local Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster – 100 groups of galaxies and 110 million light years across.

There are about 10 million superclusters in the visible universe.

What’s crazy is that our technology – the Hubble telescope in particular – allows our reach to obliterate our grasp. We can see with clarity objects over 13 billion light years away. It takes so long for their light to reach us that anything we see is a glimpse into the early history of the universe, within 400 million years of the Big Bang itself.

That’s just cool.

I find it interesting that the realization of the universe’s size has not had more effect upon contemporary religious belief. To believe in our God is to believe God created literally everything. How do we account for the fact that we are, in universal terms, of miniscule account? How do we understand our relationship with a God who created reality on a scale so large that we are not built to comprehend it?

 300 words cannot do the topic justice, but I can tell you that the vastness of the universe makes most of our local religious conflicts look pretty silly. The doctrinal differences that have actually led human beings to kill each other just can’t be that important to a God so large. The enormity of the universe injects some much needed perspective into religious affairs.

So the next time someone worries that too much English in the service is going bring the End of Days, I’ll simply think of the Virgo Supercluster…

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