Hubble didn’t “kill God”


Stu Hasic argues that a photo from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) “killed God,” or at least the notion that God played a role in creation.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image Reveals Galaxies Galore

Where do bloggers get such fantastic, erroneous ideas? My educated guess is that most preachers looking at this photograph of hundreds of galaxies (no, not individual stars), deep in space and therefore deep back in time, would be awestruck — and were they to preach about it, they’d call this evidence of God’s hand in creation, making a leap in logic and faith about equal to that of Hasic, but in the opposite direction. Hasic’s post nicely encapsulates some of the knowledge we get from the photo, but then he leaps to an unwarranted conclusion.

Hasic argues that since the photo is a brilliant refutation of some of the less scientific claims of creationism, it disproves God.

If Man is the purpose of creation, why did it take so long to create Man? And what’s with all the over-the-top elaborate sky decorations? Surely some painted white dots on a big canvas hung around the Earth would have sufficed?

Thanks should go to Hubble for opening our eyes. If only some men would open theirs. Being a Christian or being a Muslim means being different. Being a Human means being the same.

I can’t speak for all Christians, of course, but I’d wager most Christians would agree with Hasic’s last sentence there: Being a human means being the same as other humans. That’s rather the point of much of scripture (see Ecclesiastes, for many examples). I would also note that most Christians like the Hubble photos as much as anyone else. Photos of “star incubators” (see end of the post for an example) are among the more popular images in religious publications in the last decade. Contrary to Hasic’s assertion, the photo offers no challenge at all to any belief of most Christians.

Hasic makes a leap without support of logic, that evidence of an old universe and many galaxies somehow challenges the role of God in creation, and somehow challenges the views of most Christians, or somehow challenges some major part of Christian theology — none of which is accurate.

I would wager that a careful survey of major Christian universities* would discover that all of them offer astronomy courses that teach the scientific view of the age of the universe — something more than 12 billion years old — and that most of them offer that very image from Hubble in the introductory astronomy courses. I would wager that students taking such courses don’t have their faith challenged seriously.

Hasic tagged his post with a tag that matches one I use, and so WordPress’s magic matching machines suggested I might want to read it. What got my attention was the 287 comments made on his post in two days. Hasic’s post suffers from a lack of evidentiary and logical links — what’s the big fuss?

* “Major Christian universities” would include those of mainstream and not-so-mainstream faiths that call themselves Christian, and which are recognizable as accredited institutions in the mainstream of U.S. higher education, including all the Jesuit colleges such as Georgetown, Canisius, University of Dallas, Marquette, etc., and other religiously-affiliated schools such as Texas Christian University (TCU), Southern Methodist University (SMU), Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Brigham Young University (BYU), Chapman, Drury, Transylvania, Baylor, and others of similar size, age and proven reputation.

Stellar spire in Eagle Nebula

Stellar spire in the Eagle Nebula — also from Hubble

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13 Responses to Hubble didn’t “kill God”

  1. […] the last time we visited this remarkable photograph, some people of faith look at it and see beauty, insted of seeing conflict between reality and […]

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  2. jack says:

    Wem know from Scripture that God created us to consist of both body and soul (1 Cor. 15). He did not intend us to be disembodied spirits forever. Also, death is an enemy (1 Cor. 15:26) that separates us from our bodies for a time. If we bypass death, there would seem to be nothing to kill our bodies, and therefore no curse of separation of body and soul. When we die, it is fair to speak of us “sleeping” insofar as we are no longer walking the earth, and insofar as our bodies are not active. In our sleep of death, however, we are conscious and active in the presence of Christ.
    If you look at our physical bodies, they were not made to last forever. It is a temporary thing in comparison to eternity. Basicly we are put on earth on temporary assignment. How we chose to live that life is up to us, which is where free will comes in to play. We were in the thoughts of God before we were even conceived. Even before time began. We were put here for specific purposes, and discovering that purpose is up to you. When it comes down to it, if I’m right and one day you stand in judgement, and you are asked what did you dod with the time I gave you, and you answer I wasted it in search of an answer i allready had. I am sad at your loss. But then again if I’m wrong then we take the dirt nap and it’s game over, nothing more.
    If you would like to further this commentary please by all means contact me via email, Have a good one, Jack.

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  3. Peter Bruce says:

    If god is all powerful, and did in fact create life, as the bible states, is he not responsible for the death of every individual? He who created life, also created death. In this world, which god supposedly created, you cannot have death without life and vise versa. To my knowledge, there is no part of the bible that states that satan created death. More importantly, god supposedly created everything, therefore he created atoms, which combined create molecules, which combined create compounds, which combined create both cells AND viruses. Cells give life, viruses take it away. therefore god is at least partially responsible for death. If you have a logical theory to refute my argument, please share it, I would like to consider it.

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  5. edarrell says:

    If we were created by evolutionary forces, then by definition, those things we do which improve the chances of the species to survive are, by definition, human. That is, as Darwin noted, altruism is human, and stabbing each other in the back is not.

    There’s a good spread of Christianity on display here in the comments, which I think highlights my point. Mr. Hasic’s post assumes a monolithic Christianity which is, instead, a minority view of Christians.

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  6. Neil says:

    P.S. Good post. Nothing authentically discovered by research can “kill” God, despite the great wishes of atheists. They should spend some time with Romans 1 (” . . . so that men are without excuse.”)

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  7. Neil says:

    The notion that Christians believe by blind faith, or faith despite the facts, is not to be found in the Bible. Check out the book of Acts, which chronicles the early church: There are thirteen accounts of the Gospel being shared to various audiences, and the emphasis is on fact and reasoning. In fact, reason is lauded and encouraged throughout the Bible (Acts 17:11, Romans 12:2, Luke 24:25-27,1 Peter 1:13, Matthew 22:37-40, among others).

    The “Why don’t we all treat each other as humans?” line is humorous for an atheist to make. If we’re just created by blind Darwinian evolutionary forces, then anything we do to each other is, by definition, human.

    So there is disunity in the church on issues like the age of the universe. Big deal. There is plenty of evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That’s a good place to start. If He really rose from the dead (hint: He did) then lots of important things fall into place.

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  8. DavidD says:

    One thing my science training taught me was to consider all possibilities. I’m not sure what it is about human nature that so often reduces all possibilities to just two, such as either Genesis is perfect or there is no God. I know the human brain can hold more than a duality like that, but maybe it takes training and some desire to hold the possibilities open instead of collapsing into just two.

    Whatever it is, people say so many things for the sake of rhetoric. I’ve heard this business before as stuhasic suggests that I as someone with a relationship with Jesus Christ am responsible for correcting all these wackos who find ways to deny science. Hey, I’ve done my share to fix them. They refuse to be fixed. They’ll die someday. That’ll fix them.

    Then there’s this business from Porlock Junior saying it’s a dumb question to ask God why in the world there are so many galaxies, if they’re even His creation? It’s not a dumb question. Have you tried asking Him that? It raises many possibilities. That’s a good thing.

    I prefer seeing the inside of me as brain and mind rather than the metaphor of the heart, since I understand the former two better, but I agree with elbogz that it makes much more sense to look for God within us, whether that’s something positive or to better understand our God-shaped void. There’s not much I can do to explore distant galaxies, but in exploring myself I can learn I am not all there is.

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  9. elbogz says:

    You looked through a preverbal telescope and microscope and did not see God. You picked up a rock and no where did the rock say “Made By God”. You built the tower of Babel only to find that heaven was not at the top. Science can not nor will not lead to God, for we know God by faith alone.

    Jesus said there is only one place that you will find God, and that is within your own heart. If I could look to heaven and see God, I would not require faith. But if I look into my own heart, my soul, my being, and find comfort and completeness that only comes from God, then I have found God.

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  10. John says:

    I think the target of the initial story are the creationist. This division of christianity is seen by many to be the illogical anti science core of the current social right wing of the republican party.

    I agree with you, rational christians can see the beauty and wonder of these shots and rejoyce, but for anyone who is a YEC or even OEC and biblical literialist, these photos, if they ever sat down and thought abouth it, would have to be very troubling.

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  11. The “two cranks” immediately remind me of the old nonsense about Columbus, who had to fight the religious guys’ insistence that the Earth was flat. Contrary to Aristotle! But it seems there were two Christian writers of profound obscurity who actually maintained that the Earth was flat, so that proves it.

    As to asking why God would take all that trouble with the Universe, and why he’d take so long to get around to making human beings — the crown of all creation, of course — Well, isn’t that kind of a dumb question? Does anyone reallly think that if an all-powerful transcendent (and immanent) God existed, he’d have to fall within our notions of what’s a reasonable amount of effort?

    How much harder is it for an infinite being to make something big (as we call it) than something small (as we call it)? Does “infinity” mean anything to anyone?

    Actually, I can tell you why he did it this way. A stupid little world with a painted backdrop would be good enough for some shepherds living in the semi-desert a few thousand years ago; they’d never know the difference. But the people who eventually found it was all a sham, a stage set, and there was no more to learn about it — what an awful disappointment for them.

    In fact, God took the trouble (effectively zero effort for him, so maybe it doesn’t merit much credit for effort) in order to please scientists.

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  12. edarrell says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Mr. Hasic.

    I have no doubt that the Hubble photos would cause some angst among creationists, were they to think about the photos much. My experience is that dedicated creationists reject such photos with absolutely no logical basis for doing so.

    But creationists aren’t representative of Christianity (despite their claims that they are), and their illogical leaps are not actions that most Christians would follow.

    In short, I think it’s a bit of a straw-man exercise to find a couple of cranks, like the two citations you offer, and suggest that the Hubble photos pose problems for faith. You’re assuming, without warrant, that the cranks represent Christianity (they don’t), and that logical thinking about the photos would lead creationists to question their faith.

    Hey, they’ve resisted logic and evidence this long — why change now?

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  13. stuhasic says:

    Hi Millard,

    Thanks for the reference. I’m pleased you found the article worth writing about. People can make up their own minds by reading various points of view on the same topic, so it’s good to see it in a sensible and measured post rather than an off-the-cuff comment posted at the site.

    People keep harping on about the headline of the article. It’s talking about the “concept of God”, as explained in the first sentence. The title is just there to bring a readership because otherwise it would be ignored like most blog entries, including my other ones. And it’s hardly the first time this notion has ever been raised: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_is_dead

    In my original article that so many seemed to skim through, (already incensed by the title), it contained a link labelled “proof that the Earth and Universe is only 6,000 years old”. I’m sure many of the people saying “the Bible never says the Earth is 6000 years old” did not click on that link. The link takes you here: http://tinyurl.com/y7xawu – it’s written by a Church. I did back up my statements with evidence.

    Then there’s the scientist with the PhD (another of your guys) that says the same thing: http://www.creation-science-prophecy.com/ – If you disagree with them, then surely you should disagree with them at their sites because they are making your religion seem confused to others.

    Instead of blindly waving their sword around in defence of their religion from outsiders, they should try fixing the disunity that’s already in their church.

    Faith is a very personal thing. You can have faith without religion. Man-made religion is what’s screwing up faith.

    I have no idea what caused the first matter and what caused the first life. I am prepared to accept that there could be a supernatural being that started it all, but my article was designed to raise questions – questions of logic and of reason. If the only answer to things we don’t yet know is, “it must be God”, then we might just give up looking for the answers for ourselves – and that would be sad indeed. Fundamentalists are pushing us down that path and fundamentalism in any religion is a curse humanity must shun.

    From way out in the furthest galaxy in that Hubble image, we are totally insignificant, yet for some reason, Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs and Sinhalese are fighting and killing themselves in the name of their religion. Religions that all supposedly are meant to represent peace.

    The one thing we all have in common is that we are human. Why don’t we all treat each other as humans?

    Did you have a chance to read the sister article?:

    http://stuhasic.wordpress.com/2006/11/04/which-is-stronger-manfluence-or-godfluence/

    I hope you see fit to post my comment.

    Thanks,

    Stu Hasic.

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