The Universe is Really Big… and Old!

 

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field

The image above is the “Hubble eXtreme Deep Field.”  In it we see approximately 10,000 galaxies.  Galaxies contain an average of 100 billion stars apiece.  The galaxies we see in this image are up to 13 billion light years away, meaning that the light we see in this image left that galaxy 13 billion years ago.  This image was intentionally taken of one of the darkest, emptiest parts of our night sky.  The Hubble Telescope was pointed away from the plane of our galaxy to avoid as many neighboring stars in the image as possible.  Most of what you see are galaxies, not stars.  Our own galaxy dominates our night sky.  To see such faint, distant galaxies as these, the shutter on the Hubble Space Telescope was left open for a total of 22 days in order to collect extremely dim light, much too dim to detect with ordinary telescopes.  Even more interesting is the fact that this image is impossible on just visible light.  This is because of red shift.  Sir Edwin Hubble, for whom the telescope is named, discovered that everywhere we look in space, we see the Doppler Effect.  The same physics that governs the pitch shift of a passing horn governs the color of light from moving stars and galxies.  There is some very “locked-in” physics on how we measure the velocity and direction of stars and galxies using the Doppler Shift.  Not only that, we can also identify and measure the quantities of the elements in a star by observing it’s light.  To learn more about this, click here.  The point is, there is indesputable science behind the conclusion that the universe is huge!  All you have to do is look up at night in the dark country skies.  It requires dismissing a whole lot of sound science and even naked eye observations to conclude that the universe is only a few thousand years old.

Now, as a Christian, I must address the dichotomy between this and the Young Earth belief that many derive from the Bible.  The belief that the Earth is only a few thousand years old is based on the genealogies and lifespans mentioned in the Bible, especially in the book of Genesis.  This generally arrives at a Creation occurring approximately 6,000 years ago, or around 4,000 B.C.  The problem with this approach is that it does not take into account the understanding that we have of ancient Jewish literature.  It is approaching ancient Jewish texts through the filter of modern western literature.  If the Bible was written as a textbook, with the intent of giving a chronological, complete chronology of Earth history, then this would be correct.  But that is not what the evidence supports.  Literary evidence supports the view that the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch or Torah, were written in a Jewish mode of  writing that was not meant to be used as a literal, chronological accounting of every day since the beginning of the universe.

I will write more on this soon but the following link is just some food for though on this topic:  “Literal Interpretation, Ancient Jewish Modes”

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