What’s Not to Wonder: Children of the Light

György Ligeti: Lux Aeterna

 

Consider the scientific testimony about light:

-The sunlight whereby you see everything this moment left the sun about 8.3 minutes ago. But there is more than meets the eye. That light is estimated to be between about 100,000 to 50 million years old by the time it reaches your window plants.

The light began as gamma rays in the sun’s nuclear core. The rays headed out and immediately began colliding with matter surrounding the sun’s core. These collisions (think pinball game) slow down and ‘convert’ the gamma rays into photons. When the photons finally make it to the surface of the sun they stream to the earth in no time flat:  8.3 minutes to travel one astronomical unit (see table below).

-Sunlight received is ancient.

-It is estimated that light from the Andromeda galaxy is 2.5 million years old

Andromeda

-After the explosion of the Big Bang space began to expand. “The early universe was opaque because it was so dense: radiation in the form of photons was constantly being absorbed and re-emitted. Only when the universe was about 300,00 years old did it become transparent enough so that photons could travel in straight lines…A billion years or so after the big bang, the first stars and galaxies began to form. Clusters and superclusters of galaxies emerged over time. The universe continued its expansion, eventually reaching its current size.” Dr. Amir D. Aczel, God’s Equation

-Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is the afterglow of creation. It is the oldest light we can see, approximately 14 billion years old.

cosmic microwave background dispersion of the universe after big bang

 

“The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is electromagnetic radiation left over from an early stage of the universe in Big Bang Cosmology. In older literature, the CMB is also variously known as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) or “relic radiation”. The CMB is a faint cosmic background radiation filling all space that is an important source of data on the early universe because it is the oldest electromagnetic radiation in the universe, dating to the epoch of recombination.” Source: Cosmic microwave background

-It took about 13.8 billion years for the universe to expand, cool down and then enable and support carbon-based life on earth.

 

In the light of science’s testimony about ancient light consider the testimony Scripture records:

 “There was a man called John, who was sent from God. He came as evidence, to give evidence about the light, so that everyone might believe in him…The true light, which gives light to every human being, was coming into the world.” John’s eyewitness & empirical gospel account 1: 6-7,9

“The light is among you a little while longer,” replied Jesus. “Keep walking while you have the light, in case the darkness overcomes you. People who walk in the dark don’t know where they are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may be children of the light.” John’s eyewitness & empirical gospel account 12: 35-36

 

 

Consider the ramifications of both testimonies:

Before anyone was born, before anyone began hoping for a “Like” on social media and before anyone decided that light should be overcome by darkness, light began streaming towards you. And that light has been continually streaming towards you.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you (Psalm 139:16-18).

“He chose us in him before the world was made, so as to be holy and irreproachable before him in love. He foreordained us for himself, to be adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus the King. That’s how he wanted it, and that’s what gave him delight…” Ephesians 1:4

 

It is time for us, like John the Baptist, to give evidence of the Light which has come into the world and to walk in that Ancient of Days light, reflecting “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus the Messiah.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

~~~

How fast does light travel from the Sun to each of the planets?

Light travels at a speed of 299,792 kilometers per second; 186,287 miles per second. It takes 499.0 seconds for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth, a distance called 1 Astronomical Unit. below I list the light travel times from the Sun to each planet:

Planet           Distance in AU            Travel time

…………………………………………………………..

Mercury              0.387        193.0 seconds   or    3.2 minutes

Venus                0.723        360.0 seconds   or    6.0 minutes

Earth                1.000        499.0 seconds   or    8.3 minutes

Mars                 1.523        759.9 seconds   or   12.6 minutes

Jupiter              5.203       2595.0 seconds   or   43.2 minutes

Saturn               9.538       4759.0 seconds   or   79.3 minutes

Uranus              19.819       9575.0 seconds   or  159.6 minutes

Neptune             30.058      14998.0 seconds   or    4.1 hours

Pluto               39.44       19680.0 seconds   or    5.5 hours

…………………………………………………………..

What’s Not to Wonder?

The Earth is the Lord’s- Horicon Marsh, WI ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

“…Cynicism and sentimentality are two ways in which things of value are demoted to things with a price.

“To understand this we need to make a distinction between fantasy and imagination. Both fantasy and imagination concern unrealities; but while the unrealities of fantasy penetrate and pollute the world, those of the imagination exist in a world of their own, in which we wander freely and in full knowledge of the really real…Fantasy covets the gross, the explicit, the no-holds-barred display of the unobtainable; and in the crisis of display the unobtainable is vicariously obtained.”

-Roger Scruton, Chapter 6, Fantasy, Imagination and the Salesman, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture

~~~

One aspect I derive out of the above quote is that there is a Wow! that is not wonder. Fantasy, I’ll label here as “the Wow! that is not wonder”, intrudes on our daily life. We allow it to. We do so, I believe, out of a boredom with life, a boredom sustained by a laziness which suppresses the exercise of curiosity that develops a healthy awe and wonder. In the place of applying oneself to reaching higher and beyond one’s self is down and dirty titillation’s instant gratification. Those in the thrall of fantasy, the “walkers”, need a constant diet of fresh fantasy to devour. Philosopher Scruton, in the same chapter as the above quote, provides an example of the “imaginary object which leaves nothing to the [ethical-life sustaining] imagination”. He offers a comparison, noting the queue outside Madams Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London and the queue outside the National Gallery:

 “No effort of the imagination is required to understand a wax work. It stands amid the wash of easy sentimentality, and is never eroded. It is the paradigm fantasy object; absolutely lifelike, and absolutely dead. Through the work of art, by contrast, we encounter a world of real, vulnerable and living people, which we can only enter by an effort of the imagination, where we, like they, are on trial.”

We are content to sit in front of a TV and to be mesmerized by Computer Generated Images. Comic book superheroes smash all sorts of bad guys and save the planet from other bizarre characters gone bad. Apocalypses of every kind, from earth-colliding meteorites to earthquakes to tsunamis to you-name-it-complete-devastation, is served up in order to rivet the audience to a we-are-in-this-together shared fantasy. The intruders we allow into our dumbed down subconscious also include impossible driving-on-the-edge-car chases, extreme violence, explicit pornography, perverse lewdness, vulgarity, cheapness and a host of other “for sale” excitations “walkers” must purchase to feed on.

As a follower of Christ in the Kingdom of God on earth, I fully expect unbelievers, the walking dead, to feed on Epicurean pleasures. What I don’t expect is that Christians, those alive in Christ, doing the same. When Christians purchase with Kingdom resources and live on food which does nourish the imagination, the world sees no difference between fantasy and imagination or, more importantly, between Christian and the walking dead.

This past year I have written posts attempting to prod those in the Kingdom of God towards awe and wonder. I see the Christian’s neglect in exercising his or her imagination and its required disciplined study of the surrounding cosmos as deplorable. There is so much in the universe that awaits our discovery, yet, we are content to feel something, be it raw excitement, instant righteous anger, CGI generated hope, blithe sentimentality and more, in our increasing moments of boredom

How can one be bored? God has given us two books: Nature and Scripture. There is so much to explore in both. There are mysteries that need discovery by you. And, if you think you know Scripture because you know the four spiritual laws and a few verses which look nice on pictures of cute animals, think again.

Almost daily, as I engage in Twitter, I come across those who question the existence of God. I debate them with a desire not to ‘win’ the argument but to impart knowledge which I hope and pray leads the atheist and the agnostic to question their position and to look further. To debate them I have to study aspects of Scripture, science, philosophy. I have to be well-read.

As I debate there are typically no other Christians who jump in to augment the case for Christ. If they do it is usually with Scripture which is tangential to and not on the point being discussed. In other words, where are the Christians? Vacationing on Fantasy Island? “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few..” I agree with St. Augustine regarding interpreting and positing Scripture to support things you do not understand. (see quote below).

As I see it, the church has been passive, reticent to go deep and to reach higher. Many sermons relate illustrations from current movies and not from scientific findings, philosophy or from works of art or music or literature. Beyond Christian colleges which offer scholarships are there any churches that are currently offering funding for scientific research or science scholarships for a congregant? To be sure church donations go to missionary work and to social causes. Yet the Kingdom of God, I believe, demands more of us than translating the four spiritual laws into another language. The Kingdom of God demands more of us than picking a political sideline.

In the U.S. and elsewhere Christianity is under attack. High culture is under attack. Culture is rooted in religion and high culture serves as a defense of Christianity. High Culture as depicted in the arts holds the ethical life above us as worthy of being desired. High culture needs to be maintained, as well as, science exploration by Christianity. Over the centuries the church has mainly been reactive and often antagonistic towards science. Let this be no more.

Looking up from the quotidian things of life, I find all kinds of things to marvel at. A sky that is blue, a sunset that is red, a night sky filled with diamonds in the works. Wonder and mystery fill our expanding and accelerating out-to-infinity cosmos. Einstein added the Cosmological Constant λ to his General Theory of Relativity because there was a factor at work in the cosmos which is still unknown. 

As I read “God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe” by mathematician Amir D. Aczel this past week I was reminded of Einstein’s thought experiments or, as they have been called, “theoretical experiments-in-imagination”. Einstein imagined light traveling thought the cosmos. He also imagined what different observers would see when two trains passed each other. These deliberate intellectual speculations would later spur world-renowned theories, theories that were later proven true through astronomical observations. (Among other things, the church needs to operate observatories or at least buy telescopes! The Book of Nature needs to be read also!)

By coincidence, I read about Einstein’s train thought experiment while riding on a train. In that setting I soon made my own observation: If Einstein used thought experiments to create Special Relativity and did so without the distraction of fantasy, then maybe I should begin thought experiments conceptualizing the Kingdom of God in our expanding and accelerating universe!

Finally, is this how faith works, by giving us conviction about things we can’t see? When the Wow! that is wonder is exercised, the unobtainable becomes obtainable? If so, then it seems to me that prayer in the closet is the de-fantasied realm for a Christian’s thought experiments.

 

~~~

-Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) regarding interpreting Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge.

 

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.” [1 Timothy 1.7]

All Things Hold Together

 

“For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up, the Universe will end in ice.” Saul Perlmutter, astrophysicist

~~~

I find it interesting that light tells us where we have been. Astrophysicist and Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter and his team of astronomers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory focused the most advanced telescopes on 80 super luminous Type 1a supernova. Using red shift (a Doppler-like effect, the wave lengths of light rays increase towards the red end of the spectrum when the source recedes from the viewer) to determine the speed of recession of distant galaxies, Perlmutter concluded from the data that the universe was accelerating its expansion-the universe was expanding faster and faster. 

And since the known universe has only about 20% of the mass density needed to affect a slowdown and then a stop and a re-Bang, Perlmutter concluded that the universe must be infinite.

Guess who stands at each end of infinite?

Guess what Light has no red shift or shadow of turning?

Guess which Cosmological Constant is greater than the one once proposed and later rescinded by Einstein and is now back on the table after scientists learned about Perlmutter’s findings?

Sound trumpets. Now tympani. Start your crescendo all instruments of praise…

“I am the Alpha and the Omega…” Revelation 1:8

“I am the first and the last…” Revelation 1:17

“Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13

Guess Who will meet you at every level of your existence and at any time during your existence and at every question you have during your existence?

Guess Who you will meet when you study biology, chemistry, anthropology, origins, genetics, physics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine and engineering?

Guess Who you will meet when you think science and faith are acting incompatible and seem to be accelerating in opposite directions based on cultural shift readings?

See the above. The audacious claims that Jesus makes in Revelation mean that…at the beginning of any sequence and at the end of any sequence is the Person Jesus. In the middle of the sequence is the Person Jesus.

At every level of study, in every field of science, in every atom, quark, super-quark and boson, if you go to infinity and beyond…you will encounter Jesus. The Hound of Heaven is looking for you there.

Let’s get personal for a moment, as did the Psalm writer.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139: 7-12

Perfect love casts out fear, so start here:

“Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts” 139: 23

 

~~~

You wonder if God is silent. You watch a movie about God’s supposed Silence based on a novel written in 1966 by the same name. Like the main characters, you may even stand on the face of Jesus and commit apostasy because you think that God doesn’t hear and doesn’t see what is going on in your space and time. You behave as you think God should behave in that situation. Your perception of God, as observed through the prevalent Epicurean/Deist worldview, is reaffirmed: God must be off somewhere in the cosmos and not involved in man’s day to day life; God won’t save his own; we are our own salvation and other’s salvation; God is silent, therefore we must act.

You watch a sci-fi movie about the Arrival of aliens. The main character must learn the language of the aliens to gain the alien’s purpose for coming and to learn whether or not a threat to earth is imminent. Near the end of the movie the main character has a salvific vision. In the vision, time is shuffled as a language and an understanding barrier are overcome, vertically and horizontally. A world saving decision is made. Then, at the end of the movie, a personal choice is made, the ends of which are reconnected to the beginning of the movie.

 

Two movies. The one reveals a lack of personal knowledge about the Alpha and Omega. This accounts for a lack of faith and for actions done out of fear. The second movie attempts to show that a personal encounter with another that is completely other. The main character seeks to understand the other’s language. Full understanding comes from a personal encounter with the alien. The acquired personal knowledge brings about saving transformation for everyone involved.

Now imagine the personal knowledge that you would gain from this lesson: you are the bride at your wedding. Your head server tells you that you are out of wine just when the party is ready to get on the floor and dance. At that moment the Beginning and the End does a work of transubstantiation: Jesus turns the physical properties of water into wine.

For your personal knowledge, here is a poem about the centrality and supremacy of Jesus, from Paul’s letter to the Colossian church:

 

He is the image of God, the invisible one,

The first born of all creation

For in him all things were created,

In the heavens and here on earth.

Things which we can see and things we cannot-

Thrones and lordships and rulers and powers-

All things were created both through him and for him.

 

And he is ahead, prior to all else,

And in him all things hold together;

And he himself is supreme, the head

Over the body, the church.

 

He is the start of it all,

First born from the realms of the dead;

So in in all things he might be the chief.

For in him all the Fullness was glad to dwell

And through him to reconcile all to himself,

Making peace though the blood of his cross,

Through him-yes, things on earth,

And also the things in heaven.

Colossians 1: 15-20

Now, one may read this and say, “this passage is all about Jesus and not about me and my worries”. I say to them, “Read the passage again, but this time see that “all things” includes you and your worries.”  ”And in him all things hold together…”. Wherever you are broken, confused or lost Jesus is there to heal and make whole.

 

Fear often paralyzes us. Then, as we sit in the dark unknown biting our nails and thinking that God is uncommunicative, we act. In so doing, we deny the Alpha and the Omega an encounter with the beginning and the end of our fears. We also deny ourselves a personal knowledge that will sustain going forward. Consider Peter walking on the water until fear kicks his legs out from under him.

Perhaps your universe is expanding faster than you can keep up with it. When there is change and accelerating change, remember that God was there when it began and God is there when it ends.  If God can hold all things together in the cosmos, why not hold onto God-The Ultimate Theory of Everything– for the ride of your life?

 

Meditate on this:

Jesus said, “ἐγὼ τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω”

Gravity Is Waving. Wave Back.

“It is an easy thing to argue from precedent because it makes everything simple, but it is a risky thing to do. Give God “elbow room”; let Him come into His universe as He pleases. If we confine God in His working to religious people or to certain ways, we place ourselves on an equality with God.” Oswald Chambers, Baffled to Fight Better, 51 L

News Release • February 11, 2016:

Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction

“For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.”  Gravitationla waves a-Mideast-Israel-Einste_Mett

 

 

Fellow spacetime travelers, as mentioned last time, the game is afoot!

This week, another substantial mind boggling cosmological clue!

Be reminded:  Truth-seeking the not-so-obvious five-sigma answers to your questions takes…spacetime, “elbow room” and the right lab equipment (spectrograph, interferometer, Sola Scriptura, to name a few) 9-excigravitational-waves-discovery-image-1.gif

Gravitational waves, Einstein’s ripples in spacetime, spotted for first time (quotes follow)

“…for the first time, physicists detected the waves, fulfilling a 4-decade quest and opening new eyes on the heavens….”

“It is the prospect of the science that might be done with gravitational waves that really excites physicists. For example, says Kamionkowski, the theorist at Johns Hopkins, the first LIGO result shows the power of such radiation to reveal unseen astrophysical objects like the two ill-fated black holes. “This opens a new window on this vast population of stellar remnants that we know are out there but of which we have seen only a tiny fraction,” he says…

gravitational-waves.gif

With the black hole merger, general relativity has passed the first such test, says Rainer Weiss, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, who came up with the original idea for LIGO. “The things you calculate from Einstein’s theory look exactly like the signal,” he says. “To me, that’s a miracle.”” (emphasis added)

LIGO

LIGO my Eggo:  the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) measures waffling gravitational fields created by black holes merging into a dancing embrace.  gravitational waves pass through LIGO

 

 

 

“LIGO watches for a minuscule stretching of space with what amounts to ultraprecise rulers: two L-shaped contraptions called interferometers with arms 4 kilometers long. Mirrors at the ends of each arm form a long “resonant cavity,” in which laser light of a precise wavelength bounces back and forth, resonating just as sound of a specific pitch rings in an organ pipe.”

gravitaional waves black stars.gif

 

The alpha omega a priori LIGO, the dancing embrace of the Trinity, is aware of every ripple in your spacetime, your prayers, your knocking on His door in the middle of the night, your pinging. Become a “resonant cavity” and you will hear the Trinity moving the universe to answer you.  Like Paul…

“I am persuaded, you see, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor the present, nor the future, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in King Jesus our Lord.” The apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.