The Stars of Heaven


Man has always been intrigued and fascinated by the heavens. The scholars of antiquity, whether in Sumeria, Egypt, China, Mexico or any of the other early civilizations were well versed in the locations and orbits of all the visible stars. They had counted and catalogued and grouped them all and had pronounced the total number to be almost two thousand stars!

But the Holy Scriptures were far ahead of these ancient scientists. According to the Bible, the stars were as great in number as the sands of the seashore (Genesis 22:17) and simply could not be numbered! The vast reaches of the heavenly spaces were—and are—utterly incomprehensible to man. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).

The giant telescopes of the present day have only begun to reveal the immense numbers and fantastic variety of the stars. With literally billions of galaxies, and billions of stars in every galaxy, the number of the stars seems to increase almost without limit. The variety is equally amazing—red giants, white dwarfs, Cepheid variables, neutron stars, pulsars, and on and on! As the Bible says in an incisive foregleam of modern astronomy: "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory" (I Corinthians 15:41).

Origin and Purpose of the Universe

The origin and purpose of the stars was no more perplexing to the ancient stargazers than to our modern astronomers. There is no shortage of theories, of course, and new theories are developed rather frequently purporting to explain the origin and evolution of the universe.

But, one after another, each new theory eventually seems to encounter such problems and difficulties that it falls by the wayside and is eventually abandoned. In a recent review of modern cosmology, a leading astronomer has said:

"Is it not possible, indeed probable, that our present cosmological ideas on the structure and evolution of the universe as a whole (whatever that may mean) will appear hopelessly premature and primitive to astronomers of the 21st century? Less than 50 years after the birth of what we are pleased to call 'modern cosmology,' when so few empirical facts are passably well established, when so many different, over-simplified models of the universe are still competing for attention, is it, we may ask, really credible to claim, or even reasonable to hope, that we are presently close to a definitive solution of the cosmological problem?"1

The author concludes his survey of cosmology by stating:

"It seems safe to conclude that a unique solution of the cosmological problem may still elude us for quite sometime!"2

The two leading types of cosmological theories currently are the "steady-state" and "big bang" theories. Both of these are evolutionary theories and each includes the "expanding universe" concept, according to which the galaxies are all rapidly receding from one another. The "steady-state" theory has also been called the "continuous creation" theory, attempting to explain the decay and disappearance of matter and energy by the continual evolution (not "creation") of new matter out of nothing. The "big bang" theory is usually also known as the "oscillating universe" theory, supposing that the universe continuously alternates between processes of expansion and contraction and that its present expansion began with a super-dense state following its most recent contraction about twenty billion or so years ago.

Within the framework of either type of cosmology, numerous subsidiary theories of galactic and stellar evolution have been published, dealing with the supposed development of particular types of stars or galaxies or clusters of galaxies from other types. The very variety of stars and galaxies tends to encourage such evolutionary speculation.

Stability of the Heavens

Nevertheless, it should be quite obvious that such evolutionary processes cannot actually be observed. No astronomer has ever observed a "red giant" evolving into a "white dwarf," or a "spiral nebula" into a "globular cluster," or any other such change. Within the time of human observation, no such evolutionary changes have ever been seen to occur at all.

This being the case, there is nothing whatever to prevent us from proposing the theory that they don't take place! This is by far the most reasonable theory, since it is supported by all the actual astronomic measurements that have ever been collected since man first began making such observations. If we limit ourselves to real, observational science, rather than indulging in philosophical speculation, we would have to say that the stars and galaxies have always been just as they are now since the time they were created.

Is the Universe Expanding?

Someone may object to such a suggestion by contending that the universe is expanding and therefore evolving. This deduction is not necessary, however. In the first place, whether or not the universe is actually expanding is still an unsettled question. The famous "Doppler effect"—the red shift in the light spectra from distant galaxies—is the only observational basis for such expansion, and this interpretation has been challenged by various cosmologists, especially in view of the anomalous red shifts recently noted in quasars.

Assuming, however, that the universe really is expanding, in accordance with the standard interpretation of the red shifts, there is still no proof that this phenomenon is part of some evolutionary process. The expansion could just as well have been initiated by an act of creation at any arbitrary position of the various galactic components of the universe.

Fiat Creation

Not only is the concept of special complete creation most logical and consistent in accord with God's character and ability, but it is surely the concept most in accord with Biblical revelation on this subject. "For in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:11). On the fourth of these days, "He made the stars" (Genesis 1:16). "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them" (Genesis 2:1). By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth; . . . For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33:6, 9).

The idea of a simple fiat creation of the entire universe in its present form may seem too naive to evolutionary astronomers and cosmologists. Nevertheless, it fits all the facts of observational astronomy more easily and directly than does any other theory. The objection that special creation is not scientific because it is non-observable is irrelevant, since exactly the same objection applies to any of the evolutionary models. Who has ever observed a star evolve, or a "big bang," or an evolution of matter out of nothing?

Comparison of Evolutionist and Creationist Models

Although no model of origins can be scientifically tested—since one cannot repeat history—any such model can be used to predict and correlate the observable data which result from that history. The model which most effectively does this is the one most likely to be correct.

Any evolutionary model of the universe must conflict with one of the most fundamental laws of science, namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law formalizes the observed fact that, within those regions of space and time which are accessible to observation, the universe is decreasing in complexity and in availability of energy. The evolutionary model must, however, postulate a universe that has instead evolved upwards toward higher states of order and availability. Since the Second Law always appears to hold true in observable space and time, an evolutionary model must include some component which negates the Second Law in non-observable space and time. The steady state theory supposes that energy or matter somehow came into existence out of nothing far out in non-observable space. The big bang theory supposes that energy or matter somehow came into existence out of nothing (or at least out of some state of things completely incommensurate with the present state of things) far back in non-observable time. There is, of course, no way of testing any process which operates in non-observable space or time!

The creation model, on the other hand, specifically predicts the conditions described by the two laws of thermodynamics. It postulates a primeval perfect and complete creation, preserved in quantity (First Law) but decaying in quality (Second Law). As a matter of fact, the two laws point directly back to a period of special creation. The Second Law says the universe must have had a beginning—otherwise it would already be completely disordered. The First Law (conservation of mass-energy) says it could not have begun itself. Thus, the Cause of its beginning must be greater than the universe and external to it. The omnipotent, omniscient, eternal God of the Bible is the only Cause adequate to produce the universe as we know it.

The Nature of the Universe

The creation model must attempt to explain the various aspects of the universe, not in terms of evolutionary development (for it assumes they did not evolve at all but were created) but rather in terms of creative purpose. This is no small task, in view of the infinite variety of stellar systems, but it is no more difficult, nor less susceptible to empirical test, than imaginary evolutionary explanations for the same things.

Why, for example, is the universe so big, and why are there so many different kinds of stars and galaxies and inter-stellar phenomena? Why are the moon and the other planets barren of life? What is the purpose of pulsars and quasars? And so on. It is obviously much easier to raise such questions than to answer them, whether in terms of evolutionary mechanisms or of creative purposes.

We can see a number of reasons for the visible stars at least. They are useful for light, for navigation and for chronology. They are a source of beauty and inspiration for mankind. Furthermore, every new discovery in the stellar heavens adds that much more to our amazement at the vastness of power and variety in the Creator. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). Surely the enlargement of our appreciation of Him is a worthwhile purpose for the stars to have.

The barrenness of the moon and planets, as well as the intense heat of the stars, emphasizes the Biblical teaching that "the heavens are the Lord's: but the earth hath He given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16). U.F.O. enthusiasts to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no evidence either in science or Scripture that biological life exists elsewhere in the universe. Life was created specifically for the earth, and the earth for life. Of all other bodies in the universe, the moon would be expected to have most nearly the same (evolutionary) origin as the earth, but the lunar explorations have eliminated such a notion.

"To the surprise of scientists, the chemical makeup of the moon rocks is distinctly different from that of rocks on earth. This difference implies that the moon formed under different conditions, ... and means that any theory on the origin of the planets now will have to create the moon and earth in different ways." 3

The same situation apparently exists with respect to all the other planets in the solar system.

Thus the earth is unique in the solar system and, for all we know, the solar system is unique in the universe. So far as we can observe, there are not even any planets anywhere else, let alone a planet equipped to sustain biological life. And even if there were, with even the nearest star being four light-years distant, there is no rational possibility of our ever being able to communicate with such hypothetical space-people on such hypothetical planets.

Amazing though it may seem to evolutionary naturalists, the evidence favors the conclusion that man is unique in the universe and, furthermore, that he is the apex, not of the evolutionary process, but of God's creative purposes! Even the galaxies, therefore, are inferior to man. Isaac Asimov, certainly not a creationist, has nevertheless recognized this fact.

"In man is a three-pound brain which, as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe."4

The physical universe of space and time and all the phenomena of energy and matter and life that occur in space and time must somehow be related to man and to God's purpose for man. In the present economy of things, however, man is inescapably confined to only a tiny corner of the vast universe. The fulfillment of the Creator's purposes for man in the universe (and they will be fulfilled, since an omnipotent and omniscient God, by definition, cannot fail in His purposes) must therefore await the establishment of a new economy of things, in an age to come.

The Heavenly Host

In the meantime, there is still another "host of heaven," described in the Bible as an "innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22). The frequent identification of angels with stars in the Bible (note Job 38:7; Revelation 12:4; and many others) is most intriguing, especially in view of the fact that there is no similarity between them whatsoever. The same mysterious correlations are found everywhere in ancient mythology, the gods and goddesses (Jupiter, Venus, Orion, etc.) being identified with various stars, planets and constellations. The age-long influence of astrology, even on people of intelligence and culture, is another strange phenomenon. And now, in an almost unbelievable return to these ancient pagan mysteries, modern scientific speculations about the evolution of life in other worlds have been transmuted into a weird celestial drama of ancient astronauts, flying saucers, little green men and "chariots of the gods."

The reality behind all these "fearful sights and great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:11) can only be that there really is life in outer space! But these living inhabitants of the heavenly bodies are neither super-men in space ships nor blobs of protoplasm in various stages of evolution. They are, rather, "angels that excel in strength" (Psalm 103:20), "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14), none other than God's holy angels. There exists also in the heavens a vast horde of rebel angels, following "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).

These are all real beings, living a real existence in this real physical cosmos. However, they are spiritual beings, not physical, and thus are not restrained by the gravitational and electro-magnetic forces which control bodies formed of chemical elements. On occasion, however, the faithful angels have been known to have power to "materialize" themselves in human form (Hebrews 13:2), and the fallen angels, or demons, to "possess" human or animal bodies (Matthew 8:28-32).

Thus there is a host of stars without number in the heavens and also an innumerable angelic host of heaven. The latter apparently inhabit the former and are thus, in both Scripture and mythology, intimately inter-related.

But if only angels can ever reach the stars, why has God placed such a strange fascination and yearning for the heavens in the heart of man? Jesus answers: "For in the resurrection they ... are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). To the prophet Daniel, the angel said: "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:2, 3).

In resurrection bodies, unfettered by gravity, the redeemed of the Lord will thus have an eternity of time to explore the infinitude of space. Though the earth will still be his home, man will finally reach the stars.

References

1. G. de Vancouleurs: "The Case for a Hierarchical Cosmology, Science, Vol. 167, February 27, 1970, p. 1203.
2. Ibid: p. 1212.
3. Jerry E. Bishop: "New Theories of Creation," Science Digest, Vol. 72, October 1972, p. 42.
4. Isaac Asimov: "In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics You Can't Even Break Even," Smithsonian Institute Journal, June 1970, p. 10.