A couple of years ago I traveled to a reservoir deep within the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and far away from any cities or towns. I was to meet a friend there for a day of bass fishing. Arriving well before daylight I had nothing to do but wait for my fishing partner. Alone in the parking lot, I suddenly became aware of glistenings above me. I looked up into the night sky and the sight almost took my breath away. Above me was a literal blanket of stars silently twinkling in all their brilliant grandeur! Having lived in the city all my adult life, I forgot how light pollution robs the night skies of this spectacular sight.
I was raised in the country, and many of my published humor articles were about those times. But even as a child I remember laying in my sleeping bag and looking up into the star-studded sky and wondering, “What is really out there, and how far does it go?” I mean the human mind has no choice but to set limits. The universe can’t go on forever. There has to be an outer edge where there are no more stars, no more universes, only empty space. And how far does the empty space go? There has to be an end to that. And what is beyond empty space? And so on and so on. Does anyone out there find this as mind boggling as I do? Okay, let’s try to find something to we can wrap our minds around.
To simplify things, astronomers have divided distances down to what is called, “light years.” Light travels at 186, 282 miles per second. Because there are 31, 556, 926 seconds in a year, if you could travel at the speed of light for one year you would have covered 5.88 trillion miles of distance. But you would still have another 3.37 light years, or 19.82 trillion miles to travel before you arrived at even the nearest star in our galaxy; a star that is one of a loosely estimated 100 billion stars that make up our galaxy, not to mention just as many planets such as our solar system that circle these stars. And the nearest galaxy to our galaxy? 2.5 million light years away. And yet in space distance, this is just a short walk to the store.
A recent computer analyses put the total number of galaxies within the range of our Hubble telescope at a very rough estimate of 500 billion. Speaking of the Hubble telescope, scientists speculated that because their new telescope was orbiting our earth and not hindered by our earth’s atmosphere, they might finally see the outer edge of the known universe. But much to their disappointment/amazement, using both sight and micro waves signals, the galaxies still continued to go on and on and on, far beyond our capabilities of detection. Speaking of that, the picture above shows the most distant galaxy found to date; a mind-boggling 13 billion light years away…and, as I said, that is obviously not the edge of our universe. But it all has to end somewhere…doesn’t it?
And what about black holes, which are gigantic space whirlpools. Their gravitational pulls are so strong that they not only suck in stars and their planets, they suck in light itself. Where’s the other end all of these whirlpools where trapped victims are eventually spit out? To this day our most learned scholars don’t have a clue. One guess which is just as good as anything else thrown out there is, “everything goes into another time demention.” Wow!
Following along the same lines comes the next question. If an Almighty God created us, and this wonderous universe that we are a minute part of…where did God come from? Because of a personal experience, I know beyond a doubt that God does exists. So for me the answer to this question is meaningless. But the question refuses to be ignored. The problem is that we begin thinking rationally if we ponder the subject too long. And a rational mind seldom has room for an invisible God. So I choose to believe in what I can’t see or understand. It’s called faith. The Bible says, “Faith is that which is not seen, but that which is hoped for.” and “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” I think I will continue trusting in those words, and simply live in the awe of His creation. And if there is an end to all of it? Maybe someday God will take us on a field trip.