Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
May 27, 2011
If Earth were the size of a pea
Today we’ll close our series on science and faith issues by taking one more look at the universe we inhabit. What does its design say about a Designer?
Consider first the microscopic objects which make up our observable world. They are so tiny as to be nearly beyond description. For instance, take a look at the dot on a printed “i.” It can hold something in the neighborhood of 500 billion protons. That’s more than the number of seconds in half a million years.
For the universe to exist as it does requires that hydrogen be converted to helium in a way that converts seven one-thousandths of its mass to energy. Lower that value from 0.007% to 0.006% and the universe would consist of hydrogen and nothing else. Raise it from 0.007% to 0.008% and hydrogen would long ago have been exhausted.
Remember the shoebox solar system models we helped our children make? None is remotely close to scale. Depicted accurately, if Earth were the size of a pea, Jupiter would be a thousand feet away and Pluto would be a mile and a half distant.
Picture a comet. Its vapor trail can be more than 10,000 miles long. But capture and bottle that “tail,” and you discover that the amount of vapor actually present in your bottle is less than one cubic inch of space.
Traveling at the speed of light, you would need 14 billion years to reach the edge of the observable universe. Yet Isaiah 40:12 says that God measures all of that with the palm of his hand. Now, what’s your problem today?
Albert Einstein noted, “The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. . . His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
President Theodore Roosevelt and his good friend, the naturalist William Beebe, would on occasion stay at Roosevelt’s family home. They would go out on its lawn at night. They would search the skies until they found the faint spot of light behind the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. They would remember together the words: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.”
Then President Roosevelt would grin at Mr. Beebe and say, “Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.” Are we small enough to go to God?