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…I have data overload

So, we are now in possession of the most detailed picture of the universe ever compiled. The statistics are mind-boggling:

  • It was shot on a 138 megapixel camera (the one usually used on this blog is 8 megapixel)
  • It took ten years to compile
  • The final image contains more than 1 trillion pixels
  • In order to view the whole image properly, you would require more than 1 million high-definition televisions

The latter is perhaps the most important point of all. We simply cannot take all this data in. Whilst the curiosity and skill to seek such data is a God-given gift, the ability to process it is beyond us, at least without some major cerebral upgrade! Scientists will study the data on this latest survey of the heavens (known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey) for years to come. Each little part will be looked at in immense detail, especially the “brightest million objects”.

Often the church has artificially set itself up in opposition to the sciences. We  have acted as if it were a competition between wonder and analysis. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Properly conceived, the one feeds the other, surely?

If David had had access to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey when he wrote Psalm 8, he would still have written it, I’m sure. Since yesterday we have the benefit both of his wonder and man’s analysis. Anyone set to preach on Psalm 8 this weekend?

Photo: Sloan Digital Sky Survey

When I consider your heavens

The work of your fingers

The moon and the stars,

Which you have set in place

What is man that you are mindful of him?

(Psalm 8 v. 3- 4)

Richard Littledale

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