The View From 336 Miles Up
If you have never had the opportunity to view the Milky Way as it drifts across a brilliantly clear night sky, you should. Due to hazy, humid air and the amount of ambient light prevalent in the Ozarks, it is difficult to really “see” the Milky Way here locally. To get a vividly great view of its 400 billion stars, you may want to go out into the dry, clear atmosphere of the American West, high on a mountain on a moonless night and far from the lights of the city. Then, when the stars are so numerous and bright they actually illuminate the ground a bit, you get a feeling for just how immense and awesome God’s universe is. And, just how small we are.
One of the more interesting items in the world of science is the Hubble Telescope. Since its placement in orbit in 1990 (and its subsequent installation of “corrective lenses”), Hubble has been sending back not only some of the most beautiful images ever captured, but significant scientific data, as well. What from Earth appears as a pin-prick of light from a distant star, Hubble can see is actually a far more distant galaxy, like our Milky Way, containing billions and billions more stars. Hubble has shown us that there are perhaps as many galaxies in the universe as there are stars in the Milky Way, each containing hundreds of billions of stars, for an estimated total number of 100 octillion stars, or a 1 followed by 29 zeros. From Hubble, we have learned that the universe is still growing and ever expanding, with new galaxies continually forming. Scientists had long suspected that the universe would be showing signs of devolving, collapsing in on itself. That is the perceived natural process known as entropy, the devolution of matter, life, and systems into disorder, randomness, chaos, and death and destruction.
As fascinating as are the images of our incredible universe received from Hubble, I sometimes wish we could turn the instruments around and examine our earth. From its orbit 336 miles above, we could get a clear view from space of things down here on the planet. Here, in our imperfect world, Hubble’s cameras and sensors would capture the process of entropic devolution always at work, ever transforming that which is imperfect and making it more so. We have our sin to thank for that. Prior to man’s sin, death and decay were unknown. From here on earth, surrounded and overwhelmed by the constant sin-induced entropy, we find it to be, at times, slow and insidious, like a slow growing cancer. At other times, entropy is hurled at us, jarring and jolting like a massive earthquake. From Hubble’s perspective, we could view the trees from above the obscuring forest, free from any blurring seismic vibrations.
Since the Garden of Eden, sin has been a part of our lives, and a part of our world. Since that time, we have been witnesses and victims of entropy. Much of the existence of religion and of government is owed to combatting entropy. Indeed, through most of the course of human history, religion and government have been intertwined – a one in the same theocracy where religion is the government and government is provided by the religion. It could be argued that, but for sin and the resultant entropy, there would be no need for organized religion or government.
Alas, the process of entropy affects these vary institutions and systems intended to curtail it, as whole religions or once vital subsets of them die away, and once mighty nations crumble and return to the dust. At various times in history, it would have seemed unthinkable that powerful and vast empires as the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottoman Turks, or the British could devolve into mere shadows of their former selves. The same might be said of the present day United States.
Our founding fathers rightly understood that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, as stated within the Declaration of Independence. Additionally, in order to further those rights, they revised our form of government with a new constitution intended to “form a more perfect union”. This is what has made America different from every nation that preceded it, and placed us in a position to stand as a light unto the world in opposition to the forces of entropy.
I do not want to get into politics, but I believe I am on safe ground to say the United States has not always stood against entropy in recent years, leaving an opening for nations, such as Russia, China, and India, that are disinclined or ill prepared to fight devolution. Even worse, there are nations such as Iran and North Korea that might actively promote disorder, chaos, and death.
Jesus taught His followers in the Sermon on the Mount that we should serve as a model for others to emulate, not hiding our lamp under a bushel basket where it does no good. In Matthew 5:16, He says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This is sound teaching for each of us as individuals. As a community that welcomes several millions of visitors each year, Branson also needs to be able to set its light high on a lampstand to promote the values we profess. And, as the promoter of the unalienable rights given to man by God as having been created in His image, it falls to us as Americans to lead in this world in a manner that promotes the best opportunity for all to enjoy those rights, and to shine our light against the entropic forces of the devil and his minions. But for the lies and deception of Satan and the sin he introduced into the world, there might be no reason for the word entropy to even exist.
336 miles above and away from the sin in this world, Hubble is showing us just that.
Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek in Branson, Missouri, An Imperfect Church for Imperfect People