Our Awesome Universe Potential

 

Chapter 1: The Perfect Seat for Viewing the Cosmos

Hundreds of miles above the surface of our planet, the Hubble Space Telescope orbits the Earth every 97 minutes. This 11-ton, 43-foot-long instrument has made more than 100,000 trips around our planet, covering 2.5 billion miles.

As it flies through space at 17,500 mph, it is taking some of the most captivating photos ever seen.

The gases of Earth’s atmosphere distort and block wavelengths of light from space, so the Hubble’s position 353 miles above the ground enables its 8-foot-diameter mirror and its four cameras to capture more and purer light. The data is transmitted to a relay satellite, then a ground station in New Mexico, and then it is sent to Maryland, where it is decoded.

The results are spectacular.

We see breathtaking images of purple- and blue-hued nebulae, and sparkling, diamond-like fields of galaxies where we thought there was nothing but empty space. We see awe-inspiring, brilliant pictures of stars and galaxies and clusters in whites, golds, oranges, blues and greens. We see infrared, luminous, ultra-luminous, radiant views of objects so far away, so gigantic, so dazzling our minds can’t even process them.

From the Hubble, we have seen supernovas, galaxies in their early stages, and massive stars collapsing. We have seen comets striking planets, and births of stars; we can recognize black holes. These images give us spectacular views of our expanding universe.

Some scientists believe that the greatest development of the past century was the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble makes about 20,000 observations per year. It has recorded more than half a million pictures over the past two decades, which nasa has released to astronomers all over the world to study—and to us, to marvel at. Every month, Hubble produces 70 gigabytes of data, which is enough to fill 70 complete sets of encyclopedias.

These dazzling images inspire some penetrating questions. Where does it end? Where did it all come from? Is there any meaning behind it all? Why is it here? Why, for that matter, am I here?

This telescope is the most impressive of an array of tools that are helping us coax the cosmos into revealing its secrets and mysteries. And the more we study, and the more we learn, the stronger the evidence becomes of an absolutely remarkable truth:

There is an Author of the cosmos. And He intended for us to be able to study the stars—to help us come to know Him!

Beautiful Darkness

Walk outside and look up on a clear night. You will see several hundred stars—perhaps a few thousand if it is dark enough and your view is unobstructed.

Do you realize how unusual and special that view really is?

How motivated would you be to contemplate the night sky if all you saw was a canopy of impenetrably thick clouds of particles and gases? Happy for us, Earth’s atmosphere is transparent. Not only is our oxygen-rich air necessary for life, its invisibility also happens to make gazing up at the stars a whole lot more interesting and informative than would be the case on most planets.

Some would say we are lucky.

Actually, this is only one of several unique physical conditions that make our study of the heavens possible, and so richly rewarding.

Another favorable circumstance: our position within our galaxy. The Milky Way is an incomprehensible 100,000 light years across, and we sit in its slim “galactic habitable zone” (ghz)—just far enough from the center that we’re not killed by radiation, but just close enough that sufficient heavy elements needed for life are present. At the same time, our position is a perfect seat for viewing the rest of the cosmos.

Why? Many reasons. For one, it is so beautifully dark here. Light can be the enemy of astronomical discovery—for basically the same reason that you want the lights off in the theater while watching a movie. Conveniently, our solar system is in the darkest part of the galaxy’s ghz, far from all the Milky Way’s brightest lights. We live almost exactly halfway between two of the Milky Way’s spiral arms, which are crowded with radiant stars and thick dust clouds that would obscure our view. Our vision is also free of any nearby gaseous nebulae. We likewise live thousands of light years away from the galaxy’s many blinding star clusters.

Making matters even more favorable, the Milky Way happens to be in the darkest habitable area of its galaxy cluster. While a typical galaxy cluster has over 10,000 tightly packed galaxies, ours has only about 40, all but two of which (one being the Milky Way) are small or dwarf galaxies. On top of that, our galaxy cluster, called the Local Group, is in the darkest habitable part of its supercluster of galaxies, the Virgo supercluster.

Thus, there is virtually nothing in the way of our peering deep into the outer reaches of the cosmos.

Another wonderful factor that improves our understanding of the heavens is the presence of perfect solar eclipses. It’s extraordinary that our gargantuan sun—864,300 miles in diameter, 332,840 times the Earth’s mass—can be visually obscured by the moon, which is a tiny two tenths of 1 percent of its size. But the relative distances of these two heavenly bodies from Earth, coupled with their unusually exquisite roundness, make the perfect solar eclipse possible.

This has proven quite helpful to scientists who are trying to unriddle the mysteries of the universe. Hundreds of years ago, a perfect eclipse helped observers confirm that stars are composed of gas. More recently, an eclipse helped verify the theory of relativity, showing that light is bent by the sun’s gravity. That we see a perfect eclipse (rather than a “super-eclipse,” in which our moon would completely obscure the sun) gave us our first glimpses of the sun’s gaseous chromosphere, which has yielded additional insights about stars.

Another convenient feature of our cosmic vantage point is how protected Earth is from collisions. The four gas-giant planets in our solar system—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune—do us a big favor by shielding Earth from dangerous space projectiles like asteroids and comets. Their gravitational pull tends to absorb or deflect the most dangerous of these colliders. Yet they’re not too efficient: The few smaller asteroids that have made it through and hit Earth have actually aided in scientific discovery. (It’s also worth noting that these huge planets are not so close as to block or wash out our view of space. If gigantic Jupiter resided where Mars currently sits, it would be 1,550 times brighter to us than it is now.)

Not Just Luck

The more scientists learn about the universe, the more of these outstandingly helpful conditions they identify. “For some reason our earthly location is extraordinarily well suited to allow us to peer into the heavens and discover its secrets,” wrote the grateful authors of The Privileged Planet. A host of finely tuned factors “are not only necessary for Earth’s habitability; they also have been surprisingly crucial for scientists to measure and make discoveries about the universe. Mankind is unusually well positioned to decipher the cosmos.”

It appears that several factors make even this period in the history of Earth and the universe uniquely suited to studying the cosmos. For example, the fact that the universe is expanding suggests that earlier in its history, all the bright matter would have been too close together for decent visibility. Today, everything is spread apart enough that we can see everything with remarkable clarity.

Is this all the result of a series of fortunate coincidences?

Scientists have come to refer to Earth as a “Goldilocks planet.” That is, in every conceivable way, conditions aren’t too hot or too cold, too large or too small, too close or too far—too anything. No matter what is measured, it is “just right” (inset, “Our ‘Goldilocks Planet,’” page 12). Not only for the existence of life, but also for discovery. And to a mind-boggling level of precision. Even the minutest deviation would make cosmic observation difficult or impossible—or would wipe out all prospect of life.

Maybe it’s not luck after all.

A growing number of astronomers are acknowledging the possibility not only that the precise conditions for life on Earth were specifically, painstakingly established by a creative mind of extraordinary intelligence—but also that this Power ensured we would be able to follow the signs back to their source. The multiplicity and exactitude of these signs reflect engineering advanced infinitely beyond human capability.

The superintelligent Engineer behind this project not only wanted us to breathe—He also wanted us to see. Think about that the next time you look up at the stars. A superintelligent Creator went to a lot of trouble to make that view possible for you.

Think about this too when you study the images produced by the Hubble telescope (inset, “A Stunning Look at a Young Universe,” page 36). We can’t give all the credit to the scientists. We have to acknowledge the superpowerful, deliberate hand that opened these magnificent cosmic vistas to us.

Do that, and then you have to ask yourself, just why did He go to such lengths to ensure we could see all that?

God clearly wanted us to make these cosmic discoveries. Romans 1:20 says, “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Revised Standard Version). In other words, as we study that handiwork, we will gain appreciation for God’s eternal power, and will even learn things about His divinity! It is there for everyone to see—and more and more as our technology improves. All we need to do is open our eyes and acknowledge its Author.

“Clearly, Someone wanted human beings to exist and thrive. Just as clearly, Someone wanted us to see all He had done in the universe,” Dr. Hugh Ross wrote. “His purposes for human existence must be highly valuable” (Why the Universe Is the Way It Is; emphasis ours).

Indeed.

A Message of Hope

Today we live in dangerous times. Biblical prophecy shows that we are about to plunge into the blackest, darkest period in human history. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction casts the survival of our race in doubt. In fact, Jesus Christ prophesied that if not for His Second Coming, no flesh on this planet would survive (Matthew 24:21-22).

As conditions worsen and get nearer to their violent climax, people’s hearts will be failing them for fear (Luke 21:26).

This is a time when the world needs hope.

We don’t believe it is mere coincidence that right now, amid these dire global threats, our view of and appreciation for the cosmos is undergoing such a spectacular revolution. The Hubble Space Telescope surely is one of the greatest developments of modern science. Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, are probing deeply into the universe as never before—observing the Creator’s handiwork. You can be sure God is paying close attention. He is very interested in this program and what people are saying about it. We believe it is reasonable to speculate that He has likely blessed that program in order to ensure its success.

Here is an inspiring truth: Those Hubble pictures should give this whole world a great deal more hope. Do you know why? It’s not only because those countless awesome galaxies point us to their Creator and His limitless power. It is also because, when understood according to the revelation in the Bible, they expand our understanding of the incredible human potential God has given us!

Truly, His purposes for human existence are highly valuable! And the understanding of the universe, explained by the revelatory truth of Scripture, expands our minds to better grasp just what those inspiring purposes are.

Do you know why this vast, sparkling, shimmering, powerful universe exists? The Bible gives us some absolutely stunning answers—answers we will reveal in this booklet.

If you believe the Bible, you know that the same God who created the universe also founded a Church that He promised would never die (Matthew 16:18). That Church is alive today—and actively guided by the God of the heavens.

The Philadelphia Church of God began proclaiming its message in January 1990. The pcg’s founding was specifically prophesied in several biblical passages (request a free copy of Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today for proof).

It was just four months later that the Hubble Space Telescope was carried into Earth’s orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

In our view, the alignment of these events suggests that we bear a certain responsibility. The heavens are communicating a message to us—but how many people understand what they are saying? That is something mankind needs to know. God wants all people to better understand what is out there—and, more importantly, why it is out there. He wants His Church to use the revelations from Hubble to give the world true, living hope.

The Philadelphia Church of God is all about hope. We proclaim the Bible’s message about how to live a life of hope.

The images from the Hubble Space Telescope are crying out for us to explain them to you! They are crying out for us to show the remarkable hope they offer. The understanding of the cosmos we are gaining as a result of this marvelous technological wonder should be inspiring the whole world!

It is our hope that you will enjoy your interstellar journey in the chapters to come.

Our “Goldilocks Planet”

Is there life out there? Carl Sagan famously estimated in 1974 that the Milky Way may host as many as 1 million civilizations. Scientists have wised up a lot since then. They’re realizing that the factors required for a civilization to exist are almost impossibly complex—and must be exceedingly rare, even in a universe as incomprehensibly vast as ours. Consider just a few features that make our home in the cosmos “just right” for us to live and thrive here.

“Just Right” Earth

• It is the perfect distance from both sun and moon to have a stable, predictable orbit. Twenty-four-hour days ensure Earth’s entire surface is properly warmed and cooled every day.

• It is the perfect size and mass. If it were less dense, an atmosphere would not form and remain; if it were more dense, its atmosphere would be uninhabitable. As it is, our atmosphere allows just the right amount of radiation to keep us warm but not kill us.

• Earth’s metal core produces a magnetic field that protects the surface from radiation from space. Radioactive heat from the core, mantle and crust creates plate tectonics, necessary for life for several reasons.

• Humans need 27 elements, including carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, iron and copper, to live. Earth has just the right mix of them.

• Earth has just the right amount of water in the proper ratios of liquid, solid and gas. A little more, and the continents would be drowned. A little less, and the planet would probably be too hot to host life.

“Just Right” Moon

• Our moon is huge: Its mass ratio compared to Earth is 50 times greater than that of any other known moon-planet combination. Yet it is the perfect size to stabilize the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis. Without our moon, the tilt of our planet would vary from zero to 85 degrees, producing catastrophic climate changes.

• Its gravity creates tidal movement. Thus, ocean waters do not stagnate—they clean the waters on the coasts from toxins and enrich them with nutrients. Yet these massive ocean movements never spill over across the continents. The ocean currents also regulate climate by circulating enormous amounts of heat.

“Just Right” Sun

• Most stars (two thirds to three quarters of them) are found in groups of two, three, four or more. If we had more than one sun, it would make life far less stable on Earth because of erratic gravitational effects, and/or possible dangerous eruptions of tidal gas passing between the stars.

• Ninety-five percent of all stars are less massive than the sun. A smaller, less dense sun would mean we’d have to be much closer to it to stay warm. The tidal locking would create synchronous rotation—where the same side of the Earth always faced the sun. Thus, half the planet would freeze.

• It has the perfect luminosity. Because it is a yellow star, its energy lies mostly in the visible part of the light spectrum—not even 10 percent of its energy is ultraviolet. If it was much hotter, producing mostly ultraviolet light, life would be impossible. If it was a smaller red star, the supply of visible light would be inadequate.

• The sun’s size and distance from Earth creates stable temperature fluctuations that allow Earth’s water to remain in perfect balance among its three phases, liquid, solid and gas.

“Just Right” Solar System

• Giant planets act as “comet and asteroid catchers.” Their gravity cleans up our solar system of space junk that might otherwise collide with Earth. Cosmic collisions can cause mass extinctions.

• Our solar system is unusually rich in metal content, necessary for advanced life.

“Just Right” Cosmic Location

• Evidence suggests that elliptical galaxies lack enough elements heavier than helium to host advanced life. Spiral galaxies like ours have enough.

• Within the Milky Way, we sit in the “galactic habitable zone”—far enough from the center that we’re not killed by radiation, but close enough that sufficient heavy elements needed for life are present.

• We’re nowhere near dangerous star clusters, quasars, nebulae, neutron stars or supernovas.

• “Real-estate brokers often say the key to property value is location, location, location,” wrote Hugh Ross. “If this principle applies to the cosmic scene, Earth’s location would be considered way beyond ‘prime.’ … Earth appears to reside in the only neighborhood in the universe where humans can exist and thrive long enough to enjoy a global, high-tech civilization and to discover how rare they are.”

Chapter 2: The Heavens Declare God’s Glory

Scientists in recent years have accumulated evidence showing that specific features in creation—Earth, in particular—must be extremely fine-tuned in order to support life.

One well-known example is the Earth’s distance from the sun. It is just right to keep temperatures here hospitable—somewhere between 30 below zero and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If we were farther away, we would freeze; if we were closer to the sun, we would roast.

“The values of the physical constants (not to mention the laws of physics) seem to be spectacularly ‘fine tuned’ for life as we know it—indeed, almost ‘tailor made’ for humans,” wrote astronomers Jay Pasachoff and Alex Filippenko. “In many cases, if things were altered just a tiny amount, the results would be disastrous for life, and even for the production of heavy elements or molecules” (The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium; emphasis ours throughout).

Each year, we recognize more of these finely tuned features that allow for life here. In 1988, Dr. Hugh Ross’s team of astronomy researchers counted 15 features that had to be just so for any life to survive. By 1991, they had counted two more. By 1995, they had come to see yet nine more features that had to be exactly right. By 1998, the total number had risen to 34 features. Any significant change in any one of these conditions, and none of us would be here.

By 2001, this research team had found 41 features. By 2004, 77 features. By 2005, 93 features. By 2006, they’d come to recognize 140 features—all perfectly lined up so life can exist on this planet.

And all these features must align precisely for any physical life to survive, even just a single-celled organism. For an advanced human civilization to exist, the features that scientists have realized must be in place are far, far more numerous. In Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, Dr. Ross says it would take “at least 10700 times more fine-tuning precision” for a high-tech civilization like ours than for just single-cell life that survives 90 days or less. “To put this number (10700) into perspective, the total number of protons and neutrons in the entire observable universe amounts to 1079.”

Our planet is an incomprehensibly fine-tuned precision machine!

“Some people use these and other ’cosmic coincidences’ to argue for a divine Creator,” wrote Pasachoff and Filippenko. “But this theological conclusion is not testable by the methods of science. Therefore, here we will not consider it further, though perhaps it is true” (op. cit.).

It is true—infinitely more than perhaps. This is incontrovertible proof that there had to be a Designer!

As King David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament [or the expanse of heaven] sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1). David was celebrating the fact that God revealed Himself to us in the universe He created. Perhaps he knew more than today’s astronomers would give him credit for.

The Foundation of the Earth

Did you realize that the vast majority of the universe in its present form is uninhabitable? It is too hot or too cold—too dense or too vacuous—too dark or too bright. It has too much radiation, or too few of the heavy elements required for life. Gravitational forces are too intense—environments are too unstable.

Scientists have come to recognize just how remarkable and fortuitous our cosmic location is. We are far enough from the center of the Milky Way so we’re not bombarded by radiation. We are nowhere near dangerous star clusters or quasars or nebulae. We are right next to this very stable star called the sun. A whole host of factors make our planet’s position just perfect. “Earth is quite a charmed planet,” wrote Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee in Rare Earth.

And it is “charmed” in more than just its location. Earth is 7,913.1 miles in diameter, and even though it just “floats in space,” it weighs about 6,000 million, million, million tons. Scientists have learned several reasons why this is the ideal size and mass. For example, if it were less dense, it wouldn’t have enough gravity to retain an atmosphere, like the planet Mercury. If it were larger and more dense, we couldn’t live in its thick atmosphere—it would be like Jupiter’s.

Humans need almost 30 elements to live: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium and so on. Earth has just the right mix of all of them, with a rich abundance of rare but vital heavy elements in its core and sprinkled through its crust and mantle.

Earth’s distances from both the sun and the moon are also perfect to ensure it has a stable, predictable orbit with 24-hour days. Thus, the planet doesn’t get too hot or too cold; the entire surface of Earth is properly warmed and cooled every day. (If, for example, the sun were smaller and Earth had to be closer to it in order to prevent water on its surface from freezing over, the planet’s rotation would be dangerously affected by the sun’s gravity: Rotational synchronization could lock the same side of Earth into facing the sun at all times—as the moon is to Earth—thus baking half the planet and freezing the other.)

Thanks to our single large moon (its mass compared to the Earth is an incredible 50 times greater than any other moon-planet combination we know of), Earth is tilted at a nice, gentle 23.5-degree angle. Planets that have no moons or a relatively small moon have a rotation axis that tilts very chaotically. Without our moon, Earth would experience catastrophic climate changes. But as it is, that tilt gives us predictable, pleasant seasonal changes that provide variety and facilitate annual food production all over the planet.

These are extraordinary features. Recognizing this, scientists have concocted elaborate explanations of how they all came about through indiscriminate natural forces over billions of years. But the book of Job provides a more plausible explanation.

Job was a great builder. Historical evidence shows that he supervised construction of the Great Pyramid—and biblical evidence shows that he grew somewhat self-impressed. God helped correct his perspective.

In Job 38, God provided an extraordinary picture of a moment in the universe’s history: When He built the Earth. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:4). Our planet didn’t come to inhabit its perfect place in the cosmos haphazardly. God says in this verse that He actively set the Earth in this precise location.

“Who determined [Earth’s] measurements?” God asked Job. “Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” (verse 5, New King James Version). Our planet’s size and extraordinary elemental composition are not the product of arbitrary forces. They were measured and precisely surveyed—perfectly prepared to suit God’s purposes.

“Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof,” God continued (verse 6). The physical forces that anchor our planet and stabilize it, so crucial to its being able to host life, aren’t luck. Our Creator established them. In Isaiah 45:18, God says that He formed the Earth to be inhabited!

Everyone who sees that kind of meticulous and stunning handiwork should be shouting God’s praises! The heavens are declaring God’s glory!

After hearing God’s speech, Job was humbled. His appreciation for God’s creative genius and power had multiplied, and his perspective on himself had shrunk to far more realistic proportions.

Today’s scientific revelations are telling us the same basic truths, confirming the biblical record. Surely we should be similarly awed and inspired.

How the Sun Is a Prophecy

King David’s ode to the cosmos continues, “Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge” (Psalm 19:2; Revised Standard Version). The Hebrew word translated pours forth could also be translated prophesies.

The universe is prophesying! Do you know what it is saying? Verses 3 and 4 show that its wordless message is going out through all the Earth. The Hubble telescope and other modern scientific instruments are actually making it possible to discern that message more clearly.

What are the heavens communicating to us? They are speaking about the past. They are teaching us about what is and what should be happening right now. And as we will see, they are also prophesying about the majestic future.

Here is one of those prophecies.

“In [the heavens] hath [God] set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race” (verses 4-5). Our sun is like a strong man, or a powerful athlete.

A one-megaton nuclear bomb has the explosive power of 1 million tons of tnt. The sun produces the same amount of energy as a trillion of those bombs—every second! That’s 400 trillion trillion watts. In one second, the sun produces more energy than the entire human species has consumed throughout its entire history!

God positioned that furious nuclear furnace relative to our planet just perfectly to be our main source of energy. “[T]here is nothing hid from the heat thereof” (verse 6). We can enjoy sunny days outside, we can see by its light, we are warmed by its heat, plants can absorb its energy, and dozens of other processes can occur that make life not only possible, but extremely pleasant here.

But that star is also preaching a deeper message.

Malachi 4:2 tells us that “the Sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in his wings.” There the sun specifically points us to Jesus Christ. Though it is spelled s-u-n, it is capitalized because it is talking about the Son of God! (See also Psalm 84:11; Isaiah 60:19-20; John 1:9.) This verse is a prophecy of how, very soon, Christ is going to bring light and growth to the entire world!

When Jesus Christ returns, that will be the most glorious “sunrise” ever! Everyone will be touched by His presence, just as they are by the light of the physical sun today.

Yes, the sun itself is a prophecy! Its Creator designed it to illustrate a spiritual reality. When you look at the sun, you can think about the dawning of the day of Christ’s rule on Earth.

You can’t even look at the sun directly because it is too awesome and brilliant. It is so enormous that it accounts for 99.9 percent of all the visible matter in our solar system. You could fit 1 million planet Earths inside of it. It dominates our solar system—in the same way that God should dominate our lives.

It illustrates some wonderful attributes of the Son of righteousness! That is where we get our spiritual light and heat. Our lives should revolve around God the way our planet does that sun.

Our Obedient Universe

The entire material realm operates in accordance with physical laws. You can be thankful that is the case. The speed of light never changes. You know that each day will have 24 hours in it because of the predictable rotation of the Earth. You can trust that the sun will keep firing the equivalent of a trillion megaton nuclear explosions per second. Our planet—thanks to its motion within our solar system, galaxy and galaxy cluster—travels through space at a blazing 435 miles per second, over 1.5 million miles per hour. Yet we never go flying off into space because, thankfully, the law of gravity anchors us to this planet.

Astronomers and cosmologists recognize and accept this order and precision as an article of faith in their studies. In fact, the laws of physics form the basis of most of their hypotheses—certainly the ones that can be tested and verified. They observe how energy and matter behave—what makes a star burn—how things are born and how they decay—how gravity and other forces affect matter. And then they theorize and speculate about the details of the universe’s composition and activity—as well as its history and its future—based on their confidence that everything always has and always will operate in predictable accordance with those physical laws.

Even the circular reasoning used by evolutionists assumes the existence of certain laws. Gerald L. Schroeder, an mit-trained scientist, explained it this way: “Essentially all of scientific inquiry is based on fundamental ‘givens,’ values that just are what they are for no discernible reason, such as the electromagnetic charge. These facets of nature are observed as being intrinsic to the workings of nature, but arbitrarily set by the laws of our universe” (The Hidden Face of God).

But what established those “values” in the beginning? How did these “facets of nature”—laws—become “intrinsic to the workings of nature”? What is it that “arbitrarily set” these “values”? Where did “the laws of our universe” come from? Even evolutionary scientists believe in cause and effect. What caused the universe to come into effect?

Isn’t it astonishing that scientists can have such faith in those laws—and yet fail to recognize the Power that set them in motion?

The existence of unchangeable, absolute, yet unseen laws demands the existence of a supreme Lawgiver. God declares in His written Word that He is that Lawgiver (James 4:12). It is by those laws that He governs the entire material universe and makes everything orderly and reliable.

In the context of this sun prophecy is an important link. We are commanded to remember God’s law (Malachi 4:4). The same God who created the physical laws that regulate matter also gave the statutes and judgments to Moses. Everything God is involved in, He does according to law.

“The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is,” wrote author Dinesh D’Souza. “There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence” (Whats So Great About Christianity).

The whole material universe—everything out there—is perfectly submitted to God’s rule. This is another remarkable way in which the heavens declare God’s glory.

What an extraordinary message the heavens are preaching, if only we would listen.

The Harmony of the Heavens

Look at how King David made this point within Psalm 19. Verse 4 says that the heavens’ “line is gone out through all the earth.” The Hebrew word translated line refers to a measuring rule or cord; it is the same word used in Job 38:5, where God says He “stretched the line” upon the Earth to measure it. Metaphorically the word means a rule or law (as in Isaiah 28:10, which says we must come to understand God’s Word “precept upon precept; line upon line”). The universe complies beautifully with God’s rule, His measure, His law.

This word also refers to a musical string, or accord, or harmony. When the Apostle Paul quoted this verse in Romans 10:18, he actually used the word sound. He likened the harmony in the heavens to a musical sound.

These concepts are closely linked, because wherever you have God’s rule, you have accord, or harmony. Everything works together like an orchestra playing in harmony. If you find true harmony anywhere on Earth or in the heavens, that is no accident! And wherever you find disharmony and friction, you find the breaking of God’s law!

This psalm says that there is harmony in the glorious universe. Those heavenly bodies are like a great orchestra God is conducting. What produces that harmony? David continues, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8). That harmony comes from God and His law!

Some commentaries say Psalm 19 changes subjects here—but it doesn’t. The reason the heavens prophesy traces back to the law. And if we apply God’s law in our own lives, in our jobs and relationships and families, it will produce order and harmony that will rejoice our heart.

This is really a prophecy about what the law will do in your life. If you allow God to rule you—if you get in sync with the Creator and Conductor of the harmony of the universe and submit to His spiritual law in the same way that matter submits to His physical law—then that will bring you into harmony with God and other people. Just like the heavens themselves, your life will also begin to declare God’s glory. Your marriage and family will show His handiwork. You will make beautiful spiritual music—just as the sun does as it spreads its glorious light and warmth all over the Earth in perfect harmony with the laws of God.

You will be a prophecy about the harmonious music that this whole world will be producing very soon, when God’s law is implemented.

Hear what the heavens are saying. They are pouring forth evidence of a Designer and Sustainer. And, as we will see, they are also prophesying about the wonderful future God is offering to mankind.

Abraham the Astronomer

When you think of Abraham’s time, do you think of dusty tents, whistling wind and bleating sheep, uneducated men and hardscrabble living? If so, you might be surprised at the real history. Abraham’s was not a primitive, ignorant world. In fact, it possessed advanced astronomical knowledge that would take thousands of years to rediscover!

Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a city in Babylon at the heart of the civilized world. Archeological evidence reveals that the Babylonians “had detected the precision of the equinoxes. They knew the cause of the eclipses, and … could predict them. … They had correct views of the structure of the solar system, and knew the order of emplacement of the planets” (John William Draper, History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science). Other history books corroborate that when the Greeks conquered Babylon, they discovered advanced astronomical observations and even a map representing the world as round, with Babylon near the center. Babylonian priests knew where the sun, moon and planets were positioned, recognized their orbits and calculated where they would appear at any given time in the future.

But how did they know?

Berosus, a Babylonian historian, wrote, “In the 10th generation after the Flood, there was among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skillful in the celestial science.” This man was Abraham.

Not only was he a giant of faith and obedience, but he was also a wealthy and influential world leader and an intelligent, well-educated scientist, mathematician and astronomer. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus confirms that this great Chaldean was Abraham, and that the Greek Hecataeus wrote an entire book about his accomplishments. Other secular historians add that Abraham was a scholar renowned throughout Ur. Josephus tells us that he analyzed “phenomena that were visible both at land and sea, as well as those that happen to the sun and moon, and all the heavenly bodies.”

The Babylonians received their advanced understanding of the heavens from Abraham. Abraham taught them the nature of the sun, the moon, eclipses, the planets and their orbits inside our solar system, and the stars that lie beyond—far-flung heavenly lights that they and other pagan believers had thought were an assortment of gods. Abraham showed that these “gods” had no minds or power of their own and that he could predict exactly what they would do and where they would be ad infinitum because they had to obey specific laws.

Later, when Abraham left Ur, he traveled in Austria and Egypt, spreading the knowledge of arithmetic, astronomy and culture even beyond Babylon.

How could a man standing on the surface of the Earth without advanced scientific instruments understand that he was on a round planet orbiting the sun alongside other planets? How could he recognize a star versus a planet in the morning sky? Where did he learn the mathematical laws of how to predict eclipses and other astral events? How could he know these heavenly bodies were not gods?

He had been taught by the true God, the one who authored the laws of astronomy and physics that govern the heavens.

Abraham wasn’t the first astronomer. Josephus says the study of astronomy originated in the family line of Seth. He wrote that “God gave [those who lived before the Flood] such long life that they might perfect those things which they had invented in astronomy.” Job too had advanced astronomical knowledge, such as the understanding—unknown except by divine revelation for many centuries to come—that Earth hangs “upon nothing,” floating in space (Job 26:7). Ancient histories indicate that Noah had knowledge of maritime laws involving navigating by the stars. That ancient and elderly patriarch likely brought knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, agriculture and other sciences as well as the arts from one side of the Flood to the other, which passed down from generation to generation to Abraham.

What is most certain is that Abraham’s scientific knowledge came through his connection with the Creator God, the one source powerful enough to create stars and galaxies and suns and moons and planets, brilliant enough to set them all in order according to perfect laws—and loving enough to teach those laws.

The world traces its astronomical knowledge to Babylon. Babylon traces it back to Abraham, the servant of God.

So why did God teach a tiny human living on a tiny planet the undiscoverable systems and laws of the cosmos? Why did God teach Abraham astronomy? Several reasons. The Bible’s description of God’s creation says that He set up the lights of the sun, moon and stars “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14). True knowledge of astronomical laws preserved the measure of the week, the months and the years by which to measure time, as well as the day of the week that God set apart for worship. In addition, without that knowledge, today we would have no idea of the ages of the ancients who dwelled on Earth prior to Moses, nor duration of events such as the Flood. Yet Moses records detailed ages and histories in the Pentateuch.

In addition, God clearly used that revelation to inspire and motivate His servants. When He promised Abraham he would become a great patriarch, He compared his descendants to the stars (Genesis 15:5). He also revealed to Abraham the Holy City to come, which will serve as the headquarters of the universe (Revelation 21)—a vision that fueled Abraham his whole life (Hebrews 11:10).

God designed and created the universe for His purposes. We should hardly be surprised that, as Amos 3:7 says, He revealed its secrets to His servants.

Chapter 3: Did It All Start With a Big Bang?

Science has proven that the universe did not always exist. It had a beginning.

That might seem obvious, but what’s interesting is that scientists didn’t always believe that. Just a few generations ago, general

consensus was that the universe had no beginning and no end—it just always was. Evolutionists found this convenient, as it contradicted the biblical creation account.

Evidence began to refute this idea in the 1920s. Data showed that distant objects were drifting away from our galaxy. Edwin Hubble, by measuring the wavelengths of light coming from other galaxies, determined that the universe is expanding in all directions. This discovery set the scientific world on fire. After all, if the universe is moving apart, then at one time it must have been compressed in a single location. It must have had a beginning.

The big bang theory was born.

What Is the Big Bang Theory?

The big bang idea has undergone significant refinement and revision over its near-80-year lifespan; today, cosmologists are developing and testing a few dozen variations of it. But in essence the idea is that, somewhere between 10 and 15 billion years ago, the entire universe came to exist suddenly, dramatically, in an infinitesimally brief moment. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene describes the “inflationary” big bang model this way: “[T]he size of the universe increased by a factor larger than a million trillion trillion in less than a millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second” (The Fabric of the Cosmos).

Wow! Why would matter do that?

Scientists first rejected the big bang concept because it seemed too religious. Its echoes of “in the beginning” bothered them. (Their concern was no doubt heightened by the fact that the physicist who first advanced the theory, Georges Lemaître, was also a priest.) Somehow, though, atheists the world over eventually came to accept it as proof that the cosmos has no creator.

But is it?

There appears to be much solid evidence that the basics of the theory are correct. Reliable measurements have confirmed that the universe was far hotter in the past and is cooling as it expands. Faint background radiation still fills the cosmos at a highly uniform temperature; scientists believe this is a result of that rapid initial cooling. The universe’s galaxies all appear to have been formed during the window of time that the big bang model predicts. Photos show that the farther we look out into space (hence the further back in time, since light requires time to reach our telescopes), the more densely packed the galaxies are (inset, “Our Expanding Universe,” page 51). These are just a few of many proofs that the universe had a definite beginning.

But then big bang theorists hit a wall. Going backward in time from the universe’s current expansion, they say it must have been more and more compressed—that, in fact, at the start it must have existed within a single point. This “singularity” is supposed to have been an infinitely small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense something. Lemaître called it a “primeval atom.”

Now—if that is right, then where did this “cosmic seed” come from? Big bang theorists can’t explain it. In fact, they don’t even try: The origin of matter is not part of the theory.

Why did it suddenly expand? This too is a mystery to cosmologists.

And there is another problem. In nature, things decay—they move from order toward disorder. Greene says this natural law suggests that the universe in its infancy began “in an extraordinarily special, highly ordered state of low entropy.” Extraordinarily special? Highly ordered? Well then, how did it start out in such a state? Once again, science is silent.

An Orderly Expansion

Astronomers recognize that the term “big bang” is misleading. According to the theory, the initial event wasn’t an explosion, but an orderly expansion—more like an inflating balloon. Dr. Hugh Ross explains, “The big bang is not a big ‘bang’ as most lay people would comprehend the term. This expression conjures up images of bomb blasts or exploding dynamite. Such a ‘bang’ would yield disorder and destruction. In truth, this ‘bang’ represents an immensely powerful yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time within the strict confines of very carefully finely tuned physical constraints and laws which govern their behavior and interactions. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human potential for design by multiple orders of magnitude” (www.reasons.org; emphasis ours).

Cosmologists are intently studying the beginning of time. They are staring at the sudden appearance of energy, time and matter. They are recognizing unimaginable order and accuracy in the event. They can perceive physical laws controlling it. And these potent and precise forces become more impressive the more they are scrutinized and the more we learn. They are so complex, so incomprehensibly powerful, so potentially catastrophic, that an infinitesimal variation in any one of a number of factors would have yielded a cataclysm rather than the stunning cosmos that exists today.

Astoundingly, however, there are few who, like Dr. Ross, will admit to seeing deliberate planning, fine-tuning and design in it!

How can scientists blithely believe that this gorgeous, life-rich planet called Earth, which circles a beautiful, stable star called the sun, which is clustered together with several hundred billion other suns in a galaxy that is just one of trillions—all came from a primeval pinprick much, much smaller than an electron or even a quark—by random chance? How can astronomers accept the idea that an infinitely small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense singularity simply appeared and then exploded in a precise cosmic expansion to produce the entire universe—from the largest supernovas to the smallest subatomic particles, with all their physical properties perfectly governed by laws of physics and chemistry—all coming from nothing?

It takes more faith to believe that than it does to believe in an eternal, superintelligent, all-powerful God.

Never in human history has science treated the Creator with such contempt. Yet paradoxically, never has science discovered so much spectacular proof of His existence as in this past, most-godless century!

Open your eyes. The beautiful truth surrounds and envelops us. “Everything points with overwhelming force to a definite event, or series of events of creation at some time or times, not indefinitely remote,” English physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans said. “The universe cannot have arisen by chance out of its present ingredients, and neither can it have always been the same as now.”

“The real big bang was a well-planned, deliberately executed act of creation!” the Plain Truth magazine wrote in June 1984. “How would you expect a superpowerful divine Being to bring forth an entire universe? With a small fizzle, a limp thud or a weak whimper? Of course not! The creation of the universe was accomplished with a glorious display of light, heat, matter and energy—a display that still reverberates throughout space ….”

The Hubble Space Telescope has given us remarkable insight into the history of the universe. Cosmologists are continually having to rethink and revise their understanding based on new evidence that is pouring in. One of the purposes that nasa scientists say the telescope is serving is helping us to “discover our origins.”

But their understanding is certain to remain shrouded in darkness as long as they reject what God has revealed to us about those origins in the Bible! You simply cannot discover the full truth about our origins by looking exclusively at the material realm.

That is why God included so much revelation about this subject in Scripture: to provide the foundation for our observation—to help us understand what we cannot merely observe.

The reality is this: Science is proving the Bible true.

In the Beginning

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. … By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. … For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6, 9; New King James Version).

How did the galaxies and stars and planets and life come to exist? The great Astronomer, Designer, Architect, Mathematician and Physicist—Godcreated the universe.

It is important to understand that there is a chronological gap—of probably millions or billions of years—between the spectacular creation event described in Genesis 1:1 and the state of disorder and decay (Hebrew tohu and bohu) described in Genesis 1:2 (which preceded the rest of Genesis 1, in which God renewed the face of the Earth—Psalm 104:30). In Isaiah 45:18, God says He did not create the Earth in vain (Hebrew tohu). Other scriptural passages show the cause of this Genesis 1:2 desolation: the angelic rebellion led by Lucifer, which caused a violent war in heaven (see Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19). Request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages for a thorough scriptural explanation of this truth.

Science has proven that the universe and Earth are more than 6,000 years old. A true understanding of the biblical creation account confirms these observations.

When you study the biblical accounts of God creating the universe, the most common description is that God “stretched out” or “spreads out” the heavens. God “created the heavens, and stretched them out” (Isaiah 42:5). “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).

This is highly unusual terminology. What exactly does it mean? The phrase spreadeth out comes from the Hebrew natah, which means to stretch or spread; it can mean to extend in every direction. Scripture refers to the heavens in this way a total of 11 times, by the pen of five different biblical writers: Job, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah.

Based on observable evidence, scientists believe there was an initial rapid stretching out of cosmic material—and there has been an ongoing expansion ever since. God’s revelation in Scripture seems to corroborate that view. Four verses (Isaiah 45:12; 48:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15) use a form of natah that literally means the action was completed some time ago. Seven instances use a form of the verb natah that implies continual or ongoing stretching (Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 51:13; Zechariah 12:1). Both of these aspects of this stretching can be seen in Isaiah 40:22, which says that God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” Stretches out comes from natah and implies something continuing today, while spreadeth comes from the Hebrew mathach (this word’s only use in the Old Testament)—meaning to stretch out and implying something that God has already done and completed.

Intriguingly, “Not until the 20th century did any other book—whether science, theology or philosophy—even hint at the universe’s continuous expansion” (Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is).

Job 9:8 tells us that “[God] alone spreadeth out the heavens.” This is an ongoing process for which God claims sole responsibility. Interestingly, scientists really don’t fully understand the workings by which the universe is expanding. They do recognize that something is causing it—but it is invisible and cannot be specifically measured. Only its effects can be measured. It remains shrouded in a certain mystery (inset, “Our Expanding Universe,” page 51).

“Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created. … He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 148:4-5; 147:4). Our Milky Way galaxy alone is estimated to have 200 billion stars. If we could count them at a rate of about two stars a second, it would take 4,000 years without rest to complete the count. This is only one galaxy among billions of galaxies in this universe. God has every single star numbered and even named. This strongly indicates His ongoing, active involvement with His cosmic creation, not simply His setting the ball in motion and letting natural processes play out.

Seeing the Invisible

Scientists have absolutely no explanation of where the “primeval atom” came from that they suppose existed before the big bang. Whether or not such an “atom” existed, God reveals that the existence of spirit essence preceded His creation of physical matter.

Here, then, is the answer to a question eluding some of the brightest minds in science: How did it all begin? There was a moment when God used that invisible spirit energy to bring into being matter that didn’t exist before. “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen [physical matter] was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11:3, rsv). The physical universe is visible—we can see it and measure it. But it was made from the invisible: things we cannot see and cannot measure.

As this verse says, it does require faith to accept God’s revelation on these matters (though much less faith than humanly devised explanations which ignore God). But it is not blind faith. God challenges man to test Him—to prove whether He speaks the truth (e.g. Isaiah 44:6-8; 45:11; Malachi 3:10). That is what true science does. (Request free copies of our booklets Does God Exist? and The Proof of the Bible, both written by Herbert W. Armstrong.)

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things,” God says, “that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (Isaiah 40:26).

God says, I want you to behold who has created these things! Sadly, man wants to take God out of the picture and worship the creation. He clearly sees God’s handiwork, but fails to recognize God behind it!

Likewise, people throughout history saw His prophets, they saw His apostles, they even saw His Son! But they couldn’t see God—and they ended up persecuting and even killing His messengers. In the same way, very few people recognize God’s Work today.

God has not denied man access to the knowledge to make such powerful instruments which allow us to see into the deep secrets of the universe. But what has man done with this knowledge? Has it increased his faith in God?

Scientists who are speculating about origins and ignoring this revelation are concocting increasingly illogical and outrageous explanations for how such a spectacular creation could have come to exist on its own. They “resolve” the remote improbability of the universe’s extreme fine-tuning being an accident by suggesting that there are an infinite number of universes—or that this universe will expand and contract an infinite number of times, remaking itself each time. Thus, every possibility, no matter how statistically remote, becomes an “inevitability.” Of course, such hypotheses cannot be tested or verified. There is little to distinguish them from fiction.

Believing in those ideas truly does require blind faith.

Without Excuse

Consider all the inspiring truth we are learning from the observations of the Hubble Space Telescope. How can anyone talk about the phenomenal data it is capturing without ever mentioning God or the Bible? How can scientists never consider the possibility that God created all of this?

Jesus Christ answered that question in another of His statements that applies to them with deadly accuracy: “[T]heir eyes they have closed” (Matthew 13:15).

These scientists are studying God’s creation—and their eyes are closed! They choose to exalt the creation above the magnificent Creator.

Imagine if they really believed in the Creator of those majestic heavens!

It wasn’t always so unfashionable for a scientist to accept God as Creator. Believers and admirers of God’s handiwork have always existed at the heart of scientific development, humbled in the knowledge that all that exists in the physical world emanated from an intelligence far, far superior to theirs—a supreme intelligence that created their own far inferior human intelligence. Isaac Newton was one. Toward the end of his life he proclaimed, “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me” (L.T. Moore, Isaac Newton).

Exactly right. God intends His creation to teach us about Him and point us to Him! That is what the Apostle Paul told us in Romans 1:19-20: “[T]hat which may be known of God is manifest in them [people who disbelieve]; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Never have we been so “without excuse” as we are today!

The Hubble telescope has shown us “things that are made”—by God. We have never seen more that has been made than we have with that incredible instrument. Highly educated people are staring up at that marvelous creation, studying it, measuring it, trying to comprehend it. They ought to be seeing God out there, but they still arrive at the ludicrous conclusion that it all evolved out of nothing!

God says He’s angry when people deny the truth that they can plainly see. Romans 1 says scientists have no excuse because when God showed the truth to them, they suppressed it (that is what “hold” means in verse 18). How much truth are these individuals suppressing because it doesn’t fit their erroneous, anti-God ideas?

The Work of God’s Fingers

“If our retinas could register wavelengths, we would witness a firmament of such turbulence and incandescent splendor that it would make the Fourth of July fireworks look like a backyard sparkler,” wrote Newsweek in June 1991. “We would see black holes slurp up their neighbors and jets of plasma stream across the sky with the energy of 100 million suns. We would see stars—so small they would fit comfortably in Lake Tahoe—spin an astounding 643 times per second. We would see neutron stars so dense that a teaspoonful of their tiny bodies would weigh one billion tons and clouds bigger than our solar system collapse like a poorly timed soufflé.”

This article closed with an astounding admission: “Time and time again, astronomers have been humbled by the realization that nature’s imagination is much greater than their own.” Notice they just cannot say GOD! They use the word nature instead.

They can see the power. They can recognize the intelligence. They can perceive the craft. They can marvel at the elegance. But they won’t see God. They are missing the transcendental vision wrapped up in that mind-staggering creation. The invisible God can be seen through what He created!

King David studied astronomy. “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens,” he was inspired to write. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? …” (Psalm 8:1, 3-4). He knew that the universe wasn’t the result of chance, but a magnificent product of God’s creative handiwork—and one that placed a special importance on human beings.

It is only when we accept that truth, testified eloquently by both the Bible and the whole of creation, that we can begin to approach an answer to the far more intriguing and difficult—and inspiring—question:

Why the universe?

What Is Dark Matter?

Our telescopes show us a universe populated with brilliant balls of fiery gas, piercing quasars, shining stars, illuminated planets and vast galaxies. But, there is also something out there we cannot see.

Based on the gravity required to keep the great clusters of galaxies intact and the orbital speeds and distances of spiral galaxies, astronomers have concluded that the universe must have something else holding it all together that emits no electromagnetic radiation and is therefore invisible. They have termed this material “dark matter.” They believe that large clusters of galaxies are composed of over 90 percent of the stuff!

What is dark matter? No one knows. We can register its effects, but we cannot see it or measure it.

When God spoke to Job about the universe, He may have revealed the existence of dark matter. He asked Job, “Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?” (Job 38:19-20). The Living Bible renders this, “[T]ell me about the darkness. Where does it come from? Can you find its boundaries, or go to its source?”

Romans 1:20 says “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made ….” The visible universe shows that there must be this invisible matter or force holding it all together. We can see the invisible power of God by seeing the visible.

Perhaps “dark matter” is actually the invisible power of God holding the universe together. By the power of God “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all thing were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). “By him all things consist” or are held together. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus Christ is “upholding the universe by his word of power” (rsv). Upholding comes from a Greek word meaning to bear or carry. God says in Psalm 75:3 that “When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars” (rsv). God holds together and sustains the universe by His power.

Whatever “dark matter” actually is, we know that God created all things—both visible and invisible—and that He is the Sustainer of the universe.

A Stunning Look at a Young Universe

When astronomers only had access to surface-based telescopes, they saw a lot of empty black spaces out in the universe. Then, in April of 1990, they sent the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

While most Earth-based telescopes can peer into space 1 to 2 billion light years at best, the Hubble telescope is capable of reaching out many times farther than that. Its extended view would prove to revolutionize our understanding of the universe.

This telescope resembles a five-story cylindrical tower. During normal tracking operation, it locks onto three stars at a time, ensuring a precise fix on a distant star. One nasa engineer equated the precision to spotting a firefly in Sydney, Australia, from Washington. It’s equal to firing a laser beam from Washington at a dime 200 miles away in Manhattan and being able to hold the position for 24 hours (Richard Doherty, Technology).

Five years after Hubble launched, astronomers pointed it at an empty, black speck of sky, the size of a dime about 75 feet away. Over a period of 10 days in December 1995, they took 342 long exposures, capturing light emissions nearly 4 billion times fainter than the human eye can see—including objects as far away as what scientists estimate is 12 billion light years. That would mean it took light—traveling at over 186,000 miles per second—12 billion years to travel from its distant source all the way to the lens of our telescope.

Because the distances are so vast, we are literally looking back in time—seeing what the far distant galaxies looked like billions of years ago, when scientists believe the universe was near its infancy.

The resultant image showed that this black pinprick of “empty” outer space—one 2-millionth of the sky—actually contained about 3,000 galaxies, each with an average of 200 billion stars!

This was Hubble Deep Field, one of the most jaw-dropping pictures ever taken.

But wait—is the entire sky filled with galaxies like this, or did the Hubble scientists happen to capture a zone particularly dense with brilliant galaxies? In September and October of 1998, the telescope turned and pointed at a slice of sky near the celestial South Pole. Its target was one 2-millionth of the entire sky. Again, for 10 days it peered into the distance. What did it find? About 3,000 galaxies. Apparently no matter what part of the sky you look at, you will find literally thousands of galaxies glittering and shining back at you.

This revelation shocked and inspired the astronomers and all the rest of us. Scientists were forced to adjust their estimate of the number of galaxies in the observable universe up from about 10 billion to somewhere north of 80 billion.

The next major Hubble discovery came in late 2003. This time, Hubble focused above the Northern Hemisphere again into a pinprick of sky. If you were to cut a hole 1 millimeter square in a piece of paper and hold it up 3 feet away, you would be seeing slightly more “space” than what Hubble captured: one 12-millionth of the sky. To compose this view, Hubble made 400 orbits over 114 days, and took 800 exposures totaling 1 million seconds. The exposures ended on January 16, 2004.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field view shows a cosmic cross section of galaxies ranging in age from a few hundred million years old to over 13 billion light years. Again, each tiny dot in this image is a galaxy—a collection of millions to hundreds of billions of stars.

That miniscule patch of one 12-millionth of the sky shows a stunning 10,000 galaxies!

That means the observable universe must contain something near 120 billion galaxies.

If a medium-size galaxy contains 200 billion stars, that computes to about 24 sextillion visible stars. That’s a 24 with 21 zeros: 24,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. And if each galaxy houses 100 million planets, then here is how many planets the cosmos may hold: 12,000,000,000,000,000,000. Twelve quintillion!

But consider: The universe today is quite different from the one in these pictures. Science has demonstrated that the universe is expanding. As it expands, more stars form. Astronomers believe that the actual universe today must be at least 10 times larger than the universe they can see through their telescopes.

Why are these cosmic regions so vast? Who needs that much room? Why so many stars and planets? Science does not and cannot answer these questions. But the Bible can! Those answers lie in the chapters to follow.

Chapter 4: Why the Universe?

For what purpose did God create the vast universe?

“Our solar system is certainly a prerequisite for our existence,” wrote Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time. “But there does not seem to be any need for all these other galaxies.” That

encapsulates a lot of human reasoning about God’s creation: If it doesn’t make sense to us, there must be no sense to it.

A leading physicist and theoretical cosmologist at Princeton University named James Peebles has “compared scientists attempting to comprehend the universe with slightly befuddled kindergarten children, while nature is a patient teacher ‘who keeps presenting us with hints, we’re still not getting the point, but at least we’re working toward it’” (Modern Maturity, October/November 1988).

It is a fitting analogy. Let’s exercise a little humility. Clearly God took great pains to create the universe just so. He did so with deliberate intent and sound reasoning.

The material universe itself does not explain itself. We must consult God’s scriptural revelation to see the purpose for which He created the universe as He did.

Once we do so, an awesome and inspiring dimension to our understanding of the cosmos opens up. It is so magnificent, it strains the very limits of our imagination!

Incredible Human Potential

The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote extensively about the Bible’s answer to this question. One of his most thorough scriptural explanations is found in The Incredible Human Potential. We will send you a free copy of this extraordinary book upon request. Here is an excerpt that provides the basic scriptural outline.

In Psalm 8 King David looked at the universe and asked the Creator, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? … Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas” (verses 4, 6-8).

David marveled that God had given man this entire wonderful planet. “David here limits man’s dominion to the present—that which God gave mankind in the creation of man—the solid earth, the Earth’s atmosphere, and the waters and sea (as in Genesis 1:26-28),” Mr. Armstrong explained. “That is the dominion man has now. In the New Testament, written much later, far more is revealed.” It shows, in fact, that Earth isn’t even the start of it.

Mr. Armstrong then looked at a parallel passage in Hebrews 2:

In the book of Hebrews we read: “For unto the angels hath he [God] not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (Hebrews 2:5). The theme of the context here is “the world to come.”

There is but one Earth, but the Bible speaks of three worlds, ages, or civilizations on the Earth—the “world that then was” (the antediluvian world from Adam to Noah); this “present evil world” (from the Flood until Christ’s return, yet future); and “the world to come” (which starts when Christ comes and sets up the Kingdom of God). …

[B]ear in mind the general theme here, or context, is “the world to come, whereof we speak”—not this present age, now coming rapidly to its end! Continue on in verse 6: “But one in a certain place testified, saying ….” Then follows a quotation from the first six verses only of the eighth Psalm.

In this psalm, David continued showing specifically that God has now placed in subjection under man the solid earth, the Earth’s atmosphere or air, and the sea. But now the writer of the book of Hebrews is inspired to follow with something radically different—something to happen in the world to come!

This revealed knowledge of God’s purpose for mankind—of man’s incredible, awesome potential—staggers the imagination. Science knows nothing of it—no religion reveals it, so far as I know—and certainly higher education is in utter ignorance of it.

Nevertheless, it is what God says He has prepared for them that love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). …

[L]et’s see what is said in this passage in Hebrews, beginning where Hebrews leaves off quoting the eighth Psalm: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man’s] feet. For in that he [God] put all in subjection under him [man], he [God] left nothing that is not put under him” (Hebrews 2:8).

Is it possible God could mean what He says (“all things”)? Nothing excluded?

In the first chapter, the Moffatt translation of the Bible renders the Greek word translated “all things” as “the universe.”

In other words, for those willing to believe what God says, He says that He has decreed the entire universe—with all its galaxies, its countless suns and planets—everything—will be put under man’s subjection.

That’s not just Mr. Armstrong saying that. Your Bible says God has put mankind over the universe!

Not Yet

Mr. Armstrong continued:

But wait a moment! Before you disbelieve, read the next words in the same eighth verse: “But now we see not yet all things [the endless universe] put under him [man].” Remember (verse 5), this is speaking of the “world to come”—not today’s world. But what do we see now, today? “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels [or, “for a little while lower”] for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour.” Man, other than Christ, is not yet “crowned with glory and honour.”

But see how Christ is already crowned with glory and honor. Continue: “For it became him, for whom are all things [the entire universe] and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings … for which cause he [Christ] is not ashamed to call them brethren” (verses 10-11).

In other words, Christians having God’s Spirit are joint-heirs with Christ to inherit all that Christ already has inherited. He is now in glory! He has already inherited the entire universe. He sustains it by His power. Man, if he is converted, having God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), is now only an heir—not yet a possessor.

But see now how Christ already has been crowned with glory and honor—and is already in possession—has already inherited. Begin with Hebrews, chapter 1:

“God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things [the entire universe], by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding [sustaining] all things [the entire universe] by the word of his power …” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The living Christ already sustains the entire universe by His limitless divine power. The passage continues to show His superiority over the angels: He is the begotten and born Son of God—angels are merely individually created beings. Angels are now administering spirits (invisible to us), ministering to us—to us who are now in lower status than angels, but who are heirs of salvation, when we, like Christ, shall become born sons of God (Hebrews 1:4-14).

Do you see why God stretched out that vast—and presently unused—universe?

What Creation Is Waiting For

Mr. Armstrong’s explanation continued:

Now put this together with what is revealed in the eighth chapter of Romans.

Here it speaks of Christ as God’s Son: “… that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Humans having God’s Holy Spirit are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ—who, alone of all humans, has already been born as God’s Son by a resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4). He is the first of the human family to be born into the Family of God—the Kingdom of God. He is our pioneer who has gone on before. We shall follow at the resurrection of the just at Christ’s return to Earth in supreme power and glory.

This eighth chapter of Romans, verse 9, says if we have within us the Holy Spirit of God we are His begotten sons, but if we do not have His Spirit we are none of His—not Christians at all. But verse 11 says that if we have God’s Holy Spirit growing within and leading us we shall be raised from the dead by His Spirit (or if living when Christ comes we shall be changed from mortal to immortal).

Now continue: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God …. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we [in this life] suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us …” (Romans 8:14-18).

Continue, Revised Standard Version: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation [all the suns, planets, stars, moons] was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation [stars, suns and moons now in decay and futility] has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation but we ourselves [we Spirit-begotten humans], who have the first fruits of the Spirit [the very few now being called to salvation—the “firstfruits”] groan inwardly as we wait for the [birth] as sons” (verses 19-23).

What an amazing marvelous revelation of knowledge!

No more amazing, awesome, eye-opening passage could be written!

It is so astonishingly revealing, one doesn’t fully grasp it just reading quickly through.

First I quoted from verse 29 of Romans 8 stating Christ was the firstborn of many brethren.

In Hebrews 1, we see that Christ, the first human to be born by a resurrection from the dead, has been glorified and now sustains the entire universe. He is our pioneer who has gone on ahead. At His return to Earth in power and glory those who have been converted and received God’s Holy Spirit shall be born into the God Family by a resurrection. Then the entire universe will be put into subjection under them!

Then, from Romans 8, if we have and are led by the Holy Spirit of God, we shall be raised to Spirit composition and immortality in the God Family even as Christ was in a.d. 31 upon His resurrection.

Now once again from verse 19, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (rsv). This shall happen at the time of the resurrection, when those who are human actually become—by a resurrection or instantaneous change from mortal flesh to spirit immortality—sons of God.

Now understand please. Why should the whole universe—the creation—be waiting with eager longing for the actual birth and appearing of all these sons of God, to be born into the Family of God? The following verses portray a universe filled with planets in decay and futility—yet as if subjected now to this dead state in hope! “Because the creation itself [the universe not now capable of sustaining life] will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Look at the Hubble Space Telescope images. What do you see? Wonder and beauty, yes. But also coldness and fire and lifelessness. Mr. Armstrong concluded:

Could the whole universe have been created capable of sustaining life? We are not told specifically by revelation in God’s Word whether it was or not, but what we are told throws additional light on why God decided to create man! …

This passage indicates precisely what all astronomers and scientific evidence indicates—the suns are as balls of fire, giving out light and heat; but the planets, except for this Earth, are in a state of death, decay and futility—but not forever—waiting until converted humans are born the children of God; born into the very divine Family of God, forming the Kingdom of God. …

Put together all these scriptures I have used in this chapter, and you begin to grasp the incredible human potential. Our potential is to be born into the God Family, receiving total power! We are to be given jurisdiction over the entire universe!

What are we going to do then? These scriptures indicate we shall impart life to billions and billions of dead planets, as life has been imparted to this Earth. We shall create, as God directs and instructs. We shall rule through all eternity! Revelation 21 and 22 show there will then be no pain, no suffering, no evil, because we shall have learned to choose God’s way of good. It will be an eternal life of accomplishment, constantly looking forward in super-joyous anticipation to new creative projects, and still looking back also on accomplishments with happiness and joy over what shall have been already accomplished.

We shall never grow tired and weary. Always alive—full of joyous energy, vitality, exuberant life and strength and power!

What a potential!

Mr. Armstrong wrote those stirring words back in 1978.

In light of the Hubble telescope’s discoveries since then, they are now more inspiring than ever.

To be given jurisdiction over the entire universe becomes a bigger and more awesome job with each new revelation of just what is out there!

“That I May Plant the Heavens”

One of the most inspiring verses in the Bible is Isaiah 45:18. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.”

Will you believe God? Put this verse together with Hebrews 1 and Romans 8. God says that the universe—not just the Earth—was designed to be inhabited. It wasn’t created in vain, to be simply an ornament. It was created for a purpose.

The purpose for the vast, incredible universe is to be inhabited! God created it, like Earth, for mankind. Man’s ultimate destiny lies out in the stars.

In Isaiah 51:16, God says, “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”

God intends to “plant the heavens.” Think about what that is saying. When you plant something, that means you are laying down seeds that you expect to grow into a crop. This Hebrew word, nata, is the same word used in Genesis 2:8 to say that God planted a garden in Eden. Noah planted a vineyard in Genesis 9:20. Abraham planted a tree in Genesis 21:33. Isaiah 51:16 tells us that God is going to plant the heavens—the abode of the stars—the universe! He is going to seed it with life, expecting that it will grow into a greater, more impressive harvest in time!

This represents God’s ultimate plan. He is using this Earth to prepare us for that future. Then, once we are ready, He will plant the heavens. That is what He created them for!

And this verse shows us—astoundingly—that God is going to use human beings to help accomplish this majestic purpose. In the next chapter, we will explore how.

The universe is waiting for you.

Why Not Yet?

If God plans to give us the whole universe some day, why not now?

For the answer, just look around. How do people treat each other? How do we treat this Earth? Violence, selfishness, depression, arguing, greed, corruption, pollution—these evils define our world today. If we colonized the moon, we would bring our evil human nature right along with us. Before you know it, various groups would be warring over lunar real estate.

God knows we’re not ready!

That is why He made us physical, mortal beings.

The angels are immortal—they cannot die. Those who failed at their responsibility are forever doomed to unhappiness.

Unlike the angels, if we fail, we will simply die and return to the dust of the ground, from which we came (Genesis 3:19). But if, after a life of test and trial, we prove ourselves, and God knows He can depend on us to obey Him—then He will give us the gift of eternal life!

At that point, the training ground of our physical lives will have served its purpose, and we will be made into spirit beings. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed … the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). We will actually have the same glorious spirit body that God has (Philippians 3:21).

Why did God create us after His likeness—to look like Himself? (Genesis 1:26). Because He is actually fashioning us into Spirit-born sons of God!

Those who are transformed into spirit essence will look like Christ. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49).

A description of Jesus Christ in His glorified form is given in Revelation 1:14-16. To be joint-heirs along with Jesus Christ and to actually look as He does, with our faces shining as bright as the sun, is difficult to comprehend. But this is exactly what God has promised to give His sons who overcome! (Revelation 21:7). And God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

God wants us to be in His Family—to have the same powers of thinking, planning, designing, creating and traveling through the universe that He Himself has! “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

It is when we have grown to possess the same perfect character God has, and are trustworthy enough to begin expanding out into space with a constructive, peaceful, law-abiding lifestyle of productivity and love, that God’s ambitious plans for populating the universe can be realized.

Chapter 5: Forever and Infinity

If humans are to venture out from Earth and colonize the cosmos, we need a space-travel revolution—and that is putting it mildly. The distances involved are simply impossible to even begin to bridge using present transportation technology.

Earth isn’t quite 8,000 miles wide. The sun is 864,300 miles wide—and it is 93 million miles away. If the sun were an 8-inch bowling ball, the Earth would be a peppercorn 26 yards away. Pluto would be the head of a pin over half a mile away.

In a spacecraft, man can only go as far as the moon; humans cannot store vitamin D long enough to get to Mars. We are simply too finite, and our solar system too vast. Its voluminous depths contain pinpoint planets and deep, drastic distances. Set a random heading, hit light speed, and you’ll still rarely encounter a particle of matter at all. This is especially true after you leave our solar system.

Make an even smaller scale model—where the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun is just under a quarter of an inch. At that scale, the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars would fit on a dime. Neptune, the outermost large planet in our solar system, would have an orbit 14 inches across. Keep in mind, the Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in 1977, traveled 12 years before it passed Neptune.

On this model, the next nearest star would be located one mile away. That star is called Proxima Centauri, Proxima meaning “close” (by astronomical standards). It would take Voyager more than 60,000 years to fly there. That’s 10 times longer than the entire history of man. Even traveling at light speed—670 million miles an hour—the journey would take more than four years and two months.

Yet reaching Proxima Centauri doesn’t even get us out of our celestial front door. Our sun and Proxima Centauri are just two of over 200 billion stars in our galaxy. To grasp the size of the universe beyond our sun, we have to try first to wrap our minds around just how immense the Milky Way truly is.

Our Galactic Neighborhood

Stretching out in great glowing swaths from the Milky Way’s bright, hot, bulbous pinwheel center are spinning trailing arms, sparkling with stars of all types and stages, many of them forming the cores of other solar systems.

On our scale model, traveling to the center of our galaxy would require a trip of 6,000 miles—the distance from Los Angeles to London. At the speed of light, the trip would take you 26,000 years.

The entire galaxy would be 12½ Earths wide. Try to comprehend it—and remember, within that vastness, our sun and its four closest planets fit on a dime.

To fly from one edge of our galaxy to the other at light speed non-stop would take you 100,000 years. It would take the 35,000-mph Voyager more than 660 million years.

Still, with respect to the universe, we’re still in our front yard. The Milky Way, with its billions of stars and trillions of planets, is just one of billions of other galaxies discovered so far. And it is just above average in size. Some galaxies are far bigger. Can you wrap your mind around that? A 200-billion-star galaxy is just run-of-the-mill.

Now let’s use a different scale. Picture the Milky Way as a softball. Our solar system is now more like a molecule. Move 15 and 17 inches away to the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two of our closest neighboring galaxies. Now move 15 feet away to our nearest large galaxy—Andromeda. Astronomers think Andromeda contains 1 trillion stars. On this scale, it would be about the size of a beach ball.

Andromeda is considered to be in our neighborhood, yet is over 2 million light years away!

The closest cluster of galaxies is the Virgo cluster. Virgo has over 1,000 galaxies. By our scale, we would find this super cluster 150 feet away from our softball.

Thankfully, the properties and laws of light enable us to see places we could never go. Scientists can see far, far beyond Virgo and its hundreds of trillions of stars, its thousands of trillions of planets and its virtually innumerable moons, comets and asteroids. They have uncovered, for example, the existence of the Great Wall—a huge conglomeration of galaxies that stretches across the universe for 500 million light years. This wall is also 200 million light years wide and 15 million light years thick. Wow! A wall of galaxies that would take 500 million years to travel from one end to the other—if we could move 186,000 miles per second.

If you were to carry the softball to the edge of the visible universe, you would have to walk for 31 miles! Remember: As you walk that road, every 3.8 inches (the diameter of a softball), you are covering the distance light travels in 100,000 years.

And that is just the edge of the known universe. Astronomers have no idea how much more is beyond.

Jeremiah 31:37 and other scriptures imply that the heavens cannot be measured. So perhaps we should take scientists’ estimates of the size and age of the universe with a grain of salt.

Nevertheless, the incomprehensible vastness of the universe fills us with awe as we say, like King David before us, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

The Father of Lights

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

The “lights” to which James refers are those of the universe. God is the Father of that vast material creation. He created all those lights—every bit of everything we see in those Hubble pictures, so dazzling in their brilliance—through Jesus Christ (e.g. Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16).

The expression “with whom” in James 1:17 should read “in whom.” In God is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” This is referring to our Father’s perfect character. He cannot sin. There isn’t even a speck of a shadow of evil in His nature. God is 100 percent love (1 John 4:8, 16). His love toward us is perfect and absolute. Everything He does is for our ultimate good. His goal is for us to become perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). He is totally focused on giving to us and opening up a wonderful future for all mankind.

Every good and perfect gift comes from that illustrious God. Look at what He created! Clearly, He has all kinds of gifts to give!

Hebrews 2:8 talks about God giving us the whole universe. When the Apostle Paul wrote that, before modern telescopes, people could not see very much in the night sky. Their view of the heavens, impressive as it was, was quite limited.

The penetrating views of the cosmos given to us by the Hubble telescope help us understand more deeply how meaningful and inspiring Hebrews 2:8 really is! We have a much more complete understanding of just what is out there. And God says, Im going to give it all to YOU! Nothing will be withheld!

But how is that possible? The very nature of human beings, with our physical limitations, prevents us from even being able to reach most places in the depths of space, let alone populate them.

Remember the expression in Isaiah 51:16: God is going to “plant the heavens.” That implies a seeding with life.

We can only see how this would be possible when we understand the “mystery” revealed in Scripture: that God is actually recreating Himself in man. He is transforming human beings into spirit-composed God beings.

God Himself is not bound by the limitations imposed by the laws of physics. He “inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). The vastness of the cosmos and the limits of time impose absolutely no constraints on Him whatsoever, as evidenced by His having named every star and His sustaining the universe with His power.

Those physical constraints will no longer bind us, either, once we “bear the image of the heavenly” and “put on incorruption” and “put on immortality”! (1 Corinthians 15:49, 53).

Thus, God will be able to plant the heavens—seed the cosmos with life—using human beings who have been transformed into Spirit-born members of His Family.

Try to wrap your mind around that future. God wants to continue to extend His building program forever. He wants to make the entire universe exquisite—beautiful beyond what our imaginations can conceive!

The Bible says God left nothing not put under man. He is going to give it all to mankind! That means everything we can see—all the Hubble telescope has photographed and a lot more. God is going to just give it to man. Of course, as Hebrews 2:8 tells us, God also says, “not yet.” There is something we have to learn and understand before God can let us inherit the universe (inset, “Why Not Yet?”, page 45). And there are many, many people today that God hasn’t reached yet; however, the Bible explicitly describes a time in the near future, in His own time frame, when He will reach them, and teach them (request a free copy of The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like).

Can you even begin to imagine how much real estate is out there? If someone were to tell you he had 100,000 acres of prime real estate and he was going to give it to you, you would probably faint. But 100,000 acres is a mere postage stamp compared to what God is offering.

Hebrews 2:8 ought to set our imaginations ablaze! Soon it will set the imagination of the whole world on fire, when all people will begin to realize that God is offering them the whole sparkling universe. Then they will begin to see the size of the cosmos, and their hope will grow and expand—just like that universe.

Infinite Increase

God simply wouldn’t have made the universe so great, so expansive, if He didn’t have astronomical plans for expanding His Family. Note this electrifying prophecy: “Of the increase of his [God’s] government and peace there shall be NO END, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

There will be no end to the expansion of the government and peace of God. It will flow out from the Earth to the whole universe and never end!

What does that mean? The implications are tremendous.

First, doesn’t that imply there is endless space out there? Perhaps the Creator is in the process of making an endless universe. Perhaps He already has. Only God knows for certain. But we do know that He has something in mind for us that goes on forever!

But how could there be “no end” to the increase of God’s government and peace? Spirit beings do not reproduce in the way human beings do. Angels cannot have children. And God can only have real sons through the process we are undergoing now: living life as a human being and choosing God’s way through the exercise of free will, before being given the gift of eternal life and being born into His Family.

Consider: Would there ever come a point in the future when all human beings will be gone, either burned to ash or converted into spirit? If so, wouldn’t that mean an end to the expansion of God’s government? How could God’s government continually expand if there were a constant, finite number of God Family beings?

Consider further: God also says that there will be no end to the increase of His peace. You don’t need to bring peace to empty planets. Nor do you need to bring peace to a Family of perfectly righteous God beings.

An endless increase in God’s government and peace seems to require the existence of a race of beings made in God’s image and likeness that can reproduce and populate the way human beings do.

Though the Bible doesn’t specifically reveal it, it appears God might populate the universe—including a number of the untold quadrillions or quintillions of planets it contains—with more human beings! People who are made in the image and likeness of God—people who have the potential to be born into the God Family!

Obviously there would have to be direct supernatural intervention to transport or create such beings in areas of space so remotely distant from our home here on Earth. That is hardly impossible, considering God did it once before.

The idea of using humans to seed the vast universe with life almost sounds unbelievable. Yet consider: Why would God have created such an enormous, empty physical universe and physical matter if there will not be more physical beings? Some people estimate that, throughout its history, Earth has been home to some 110 billion humans—yet that’s not even one person for each galaxy.

All Men

The Apostle Paul seemed to be thinking along these lines when he said that he wanted “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9). The word fellowship really should be translated dispensation. This “mystery” is the truth that God is re-creating Himself in mankind in order to expand His eternal Family. God wants this truth dispensed to all men. Even more, this verse says all men need to take on that desire to dispense that wonderful truth even further! If all men are dispensing God’s wonderful truth, who are they dispensing it to? (For more explanation of this truth, request our free booklet The God Family Vision.)

“Ephesians 3:9 says that all men must see that the mystery of God needs to be declared,” Gerald Flurry wrote in his booklet Prophesy Again. “Think about that statement. God will give all the people of this world a vision like they have never, ever seen before! Perhaps He wants to show them that they are going to have to get that mystery out to the universe—and perhaps to other men and women that God will create on other planets. Ephesians 3:9 certainly does allow for that. Is God’s mystery going to be dispensed on and on and on—where men elsewhere in the universe will have this mystery revealed to them after they go through some experience like we have on Earth? I don’t know exactly what God has in mind. But the word dispensation has mind-staggering implications! The mystery must be dispensed, or declared, to every son who enters God’s Family.” (Request a free copy of Prophesy Again.)

It’s possible the whole purpose of God’s plan for humans—“Operation Earth”—is not only to create an immediate Family of God. Maybe it is also designed so God can use mankind to spread an even greater, never-ending, always growing, God Family throughout the whole universe—to perhaps trillions of galaxies.

God’s family government will be established on the whole Earth—and from there eventually transferred throughout the universe. Operation Venus and Operation Mars could be the beginnings of the most amazing and wonderful plan ever: an infinite cycle of births into the Family of God!

Universe Headquarters

The last glimpses the Bible gives us into the future are absolutely spectacular.

There is coming a time when our beloved planet will be purified with fire. “[T]he elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). All the incorrigibly wicked who refused to submit to God’s law will be completely consumed—reduced to ash—in this “lake of fire” (Malachi 4:1, 3; Revelation 20:13-15). The Earth as we know it today will be passed away (Revelation 21:1).

At that point, something extraordinary and breathtaking will occur. A new Earth and a new heaven will take the place of this present Earth.

God the Father will descend to make this new Earth His home (verses 2-3). This will become His seat of government over the entire cosmos. Universe headquarters.

God’s headquarters city, new Jerusalem, will be a cube or perhaps a pyramid of something like 1,500 miles square at the base—and 1,500 miles high! (verse 16). This is a city utterly unlike anything that exists on our planet today.

That spirit-composed city will have “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God [the Father] did lighten it, and the Lamb [Jesus Christ] is the light thereof” (verse 23). Science tells us that if our sun fulfilled its normal lifespan as a star, it would get hotter and hotter until boiling away our oceans and incinerating life; eventually it would become a red giant—growing so enormously large and hot as to roast the Earth completely if not actually envelop it—before flaming out. But this scripture tells us that we need not fear such fatalistic scenarios. God will ensure that nothing ever disturbs His eternal headquarters dwellingplace.

In this remarkable city, we see total union between these two God Family members and those human beings who have been born into that Family: “[T]he throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3). From that place, God will direct His Family in an expanding array of beautification and population projects throughout the universe.

All around us, throughout the cosmos, are places made to be governed, to be nourished and to abound with life! Those shining cosmic places are groaning for their future opportunity to be beautified and governed—by none other than the little human beings presently treading this tiny speck in this vast place.

Yes, today, there are people being taught to qualify for that potential. They are doing so in the only way possible: by starting small. But after they qualify, they will hear those words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21). Their future is as big as the universe itself.

Our human minds, no matter how impressive, can’t comprehend that truth. It’s too big for the mind of man. The only way we can comprehend it is to let God give us another Spirit—the Holy Spirit—to work with our human spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). Scientists, physicists, astronomers and the inhabitants of the world cannot even imagine it today—but soon they will. Some day these very scientists who study the universe and puzzle over untold unanswered questions will qualify and become members of the Family of God. They will then be able to travel to the outer edges of this vast universe and observe the answers firsthand!

We need to awaken ourselves to our potential. Our future is truly something to get stirred up about! It should fill us with joy—so much so that we want to live by every word of the Creator God, who is literally opening up the universe to us.

Our Expanding
Universe

Born in 1889 in Marshfield, Missouri, Edwin Hubble came of age in a golden era of physical scientific discovery. This was the age of Albert Einstein, Maxwell Planck, Alfred Wegener, Richard Feynman and Harlow Shapley. Mankind’s understanding and explanation of the world was rapidly transforming; new instruments were being designed that would build the foundation of physical science today.

Hubble was able to join the prestigious staff of astronomers at the Mount Wilson Observatory. It was an astronomer’s dream: Here was the world’s largest telescope—the 100-inch Hooker Telescope. There Hubble worked with one of his senior colleagues, Harlow Shapley, whose work focused on estimating the dimension of the Milky Way. Using bright stars, Shapley estimated the galaxy was 300,000 light years wide. His findings were astounding—the universe now had dimension well beyond previous estimates. Further, Shapley’s observations supported Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Though Hubble assisted Shapley with his work, he was far more interested in the “hazy blobs” he saw, known as nebulae. These were thought to be gas clouds within the Milky Way. It was only after Shapley’s departure to the Harvard College Observatory that Hubble could finally focus on the hazy blobs. What he was to discover changed our understanding of the universe.

In working to determine the distance between Earth and the hazy blobs, using the technique developed by Shapley, Hubble found that each blob was colored red. Though he wasn’t the first to note the red color of distant stars, Hubble was the first to suggest a provable explanation.

You know that the pitch of a police car’s siren changes as it passes you. This is called the Doppler effect. Sound and light travel in wave motion, like ripples in water. As a wave moves toward you, its wavelength gets shorter, so the frequency increases—raising the pitch. When the siren passes and moves away, the pitch drops because the wavelength increases and the frequency drops.

Light waves behave the same way. If a light source is moving toward you, the color shifts more toward blue (shorter wavelength, higher frequency). But as the light source passes and moves away, the color of the light shifts toward red. In astronomy, this is known as redshift.

Coupling the Doppler effect with his observations, Edwin Hubble theorized the stars were traveling away from us because their light appeared red through the telescope. Hubble was right; every distant star he observed outside of the Milky Way was red.

The implications were astounding. By 1929, Hubble had proved the universe was expanding into the unknown reaches of space. This idea revolutionized the way physicists and astronomers explained the world around us.

The launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 has resulted in discoveries that answer some long-standing questions—and raise many new questions. Not only did it confirm that the universe is expanding, its findings suggested that it is accelerating in its expansion! This discovery has since been confirmed using other telescopes.

According to Hubble’s law, the farther away a galaxy is from the Earth, the faster it is racing into the depths of space. The expanding universe concept is now the foundation for the field of modern cosmology.

Scientists’ understanding of why this is happening remains foggy. Known, observable, measurable laws of physics would suggest the universal expansion should be slowing because of gravity. Clearly, some other force is in play to produce the opposite effect.

It is likely God is using a type of physical energy that functions according to a predictable law that He Himself established in order to accomplish universal expansion—perhaps dark energy or something very like it. We should certainly view an accelerating expansion of the universe as evidence both of God’s power as Sustainer and of God’s ambition for the endless expansion of His government and peace.

Edwin Hubble never received the Nobel Prize for his research because astronomy was not recognized as a field of physics until after his death. Yet nasa honored Hubble by naming its greatest telescope after him. Surely, Hubble would be honored by this distinction more than any other prize. Born in 1889 in Marshfield, Missouri, Edwin Hubble came of age in a golden era of physical scientific discovery. This was the age of Albert Einstein, Maxwell Planck, Alfred Wegener, Richard Feynman and Harlow Shapley. Mankind’s understanding and explanation of the world was rapidly transforming; new instruments were being designed that would build the foundation of physical science today.

Hubble was able to join the prestigious staff of astronomers at the Mount Wilson Observatory. It was an astronomer’s dream: Here was the world’s largest telescope—the 100-inch Hooker Telescope. There Hubble worked with one of his senior colleagues, Harlow Shapley, whose work focused on estimating the dimension of the Milky Way. Using bright stars, Shapley estimated the galaxy was 300,000 light years wide. His findings were astounding—the universe now had dimension well beyond previous estimates. Further, Shapley’s observations supported Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Though Hubble assisted Shapley with his work, he was far more interested in the “hazy blobs” he saw, known as nebulae. These were thought to be gas clouds within the Milky Way. It was only after Shapley’s departure to the Harvard College Observatory that Hubble could finally focus on the hazy blobs. What he was to discover changed our understanding of the universe.

In working to determine the distance between Earth and the hazy blobs, using the technique developed by Shapley, Hubble found that each blob was colored red. Though he wasn’t the first to note the red color of distant stars, Hubble was the first to suggest a provable explanation.

You know that the pitch of a police car’s siren changes as it passes you. This is called the Doppler effect. Sound and light travel in wave motion, like ripples in water. As a wave moves toward you, its wavelength gets shorter, so the frequency increases—raising the pitch. When the siren passes and moves away, the pitch drops because the wavelength increases and the frequency drops.

Light waves behave the same way. If a light source is moving toward you, the color shifts more toward blue (shorter wavelength, higher frequency). But as the light source passes and moves away, the color of the light shifts toward red. In astronomy, this is known as redshift.

Coupling the Doppler effect with his observations, Edwin Hubble theorized the stars were traveling away from us because their light appeared red through the telescope. Hubble was right; every distant star he observed outside of the Milky Way was red.

The implications were astounding. By 1929, Hubble had proved the universe was expanding into the unknown reaches of space. This idea revolutionized the way physicists and astronomers explained the world around us.

The launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 has resulted in discoveries that answer some long-standing questions—and raise many new questions. Not only did it confirm that the universe is expanding, its findings suggested that it is accelerating in its expansion! This discovery has since been confirmed using other telescopes.

According to Hubble’s law, the farther away a galaxy is from the Earth, the faster it is racing into the depths of space. The expanding universe concept is now the foundation for the field of modern cosmology.

Scientists’ understanding of why this is happening remains foggy. Known, observable, measurable laws of physics would suggest the universal expansion should be slowing because of gravity. Clearly, some other force is in play to produce the opposite effect.

It is likely God is using a type of physical energy that functions according to a predictable law that He Himself established in order to accomplish universal expansion—perhaps dark energy or something very like it. We should certainly view an accelerating expansion of the universe as evidence both of God’s power as Sustainer and of God’s ambition for the endless expansion of His government and peace.

Edwin Hubble never received the Nobel Prize for his research because astronomy was not recognized as a field of physics until after his death. Yet nasa honored Hubble by naming its greatest telescope after him. Surely, Hubble would be honored by this distinction more than any other prize.

A Zillion Times More Impressive

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

The “lights” to which James refers are those of the universe. God is the Father of that vast material creation. He created all those lights through Jesus Christ. All of those heavenly lights inspire God. They represent incredible promise and potential, just waiting to be realized!

This is an inspiring verse. But we can’t get distracted by that massive universe because James just uses it as an introduction to set up what he is really getting at! No matter how magnificent the universe may be, it is as nothing compared to what James is about to discuss. So let’s not be distracted by the universe.

Notice the very next verse: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (verse 18). Here is where James—the brother of Christ—puts the emphasis! Really work to comprehend what he is saying here!

The limitless stars are impressive to anyone—but all that is trivial compared to God begetting you! You have the potential to become God—God’s son—with the capacity to even create a universe and animals, perhaps even create more sons of God! Remember, God wants to recreate Himself in you!

That is what we must emphasize! That is where the real excitement is: your life!

We were begotten by the Father!

If He isn’t calling you or hasn’t begotten you with His Holy Spirit, you cannot truly understand this. If you do understand it, then you have received that unparalleled spiritual begettal from the Father of lights!

What is it worth to be begotten by that Father who created all those lights? That magnificent Creator God made you a firstfruit—the highest, most wonderful calling you could ever have! That calling is a zillion times more important than anything the Hubble telescope can show us.

Be in awe of the universe, but be a zillion times more in awe of your potential!

Consider it: What would all the universe out there be worth without God beings to rule over it? What if, as a worst-case scenario, God had the universe, but no sons? What would that be worth to Him? I don’t think God would put much value on it.

Sure the universe is magnificent and luminous—but it is just material stuff. It means nothing compared to a son of God! It’s not even worthy of comparison!

The universe becomes much more impressive to behold when you realize that God put it there in order for His sons to rule over it.

God’s supreme creation isn’t the universe—but His masterpiece of recreating Himself in man.

—Excerpted from The Epistle of James, by Gerald Flurry; request a free copy.

The Beginning

The last book Herbert W. Armstrong wrote before his death was Mystery of the Ages. This book clearly covers God’s plan for this universe and the destiny of man (we will send you a free copy of it upon request). Here are the words he used to close this inspiring book:

“How wonderful beyond the ability of words to express is the glory of God and His wonderful purpose actually now in progress. Praise, honor and glory be to God and to Jesus Christ forever and forever.

“With God’s great master plan of 7,000 years finally completed—the mystery of the ages finally revealed, and with the re-creating of the vast universe and eternity lying ahead, we come finally to … the beginning.”

As physical beings, we can only see this future as “through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12)—though new scientific discoveries are certainly adding light. The universe is filled with incredible mysteries waiting to be discovered. Is the universe really limitless? Does “dark matter” really exist? How does God’s spiritual power work? What lies beyond the edges of space?

These are fantastic, mind-boggling questions. Draw close to the Designer, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and one day soon, you will be able to answer those questions from firsthand experience. That is when the most exciting phase of God’s plan will begin!

What wonders await!

The heavens truly do declare the glory of God.

Lift up your eyes! Behold your future.