Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

Over in another world in this other world called the internet I have been writing of the beauties of space as now being shown by the latest astronomical equipment. Just one example will suffice, and this one has been known for a long time, perhaps the most famous of all nebulae: the Horse's Head Nebula in Orion.


To be told that this is an effect produced by interstellar dust and gas glowing with radiation and the light from myriads of stars takes nothing away from the incredible beauty of the photograph. It stands alone without explanation, not as a work of art, unless we include God in our definition of art as a means of communicating that which cannot be communicated in words, producing a response in us that might include such thoughts as "Wow, what is that thing?", "That is totally awesome, man," and "Now I know why it's called the Horse's Head Nebula".

Once we begin to learn a few things about the nebula and nebulae in general, therefore, our awe and wonder are only increased. Often we are told that the distance to the nearest star is so great that we would be long dead before we could possibly reach it, even if traveling at close to the speed of light. Yet here we have a picture of thousands of stars and a cloud of gas that stretches beyond the edge of the camera's view and encompasses unimagineable distances. It is one more piece of evidence that brings home to us how truly insignificant we are in the context of the universe.

And it is just possible that we might go from that thought to consider why God would go to all the trouble of creating such an apparently infinite home for us when it is quite clear that we can never set foot on anything beyond the solar system. Every day that extra-terrestrial life is not discovered adds weight to the idea that we are the only intelligent life in the universe. I will not argue that point, since it matters not to the main thrust of what I am saying whether it is true or not; I just happen to think it so - it makes sense to me. Stick with me a little longer and let the matter rest for the moment as neither of us can prove anything either way.

If we are indeed the sole representatives of intelligence (or "self awareness" might be a better way to describe what we are) in this universe, it becomes even more obvious that God was unbelievably extravagant when He created the universe for us. What possible reason could He have for making something so immense that we will never see its most remote regions? This question holds good even if we think there are other intelligent beings out there somewhere; the universe remains as an amazingly bountiful creation made just for us (which we do know - Genesis says so).

I am quite sure that God had many more reasons than I can think of but I can offer three possibilities. To begin with, God knew that the wonder of His creation of Earth would be dimmed by familiarity as we progressed from childhood to adulthood. It takes a fresh perspective, as in my beloved photos of credit cards, to remind us of just how beautiful a world we live in. But God did not leave us dependent upon the photography skills of those who retained some measure of childlike wonder in ordinary things; no, He wanted to leave us an endless world of discoveries so that our vision might forever be refreshed and confronted with His infinite power and artistry.

And, in that last sentence, we have the seeds of a second reason. As He promised through Paul's letter to the Romans (For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20), He set us in such a universe as a demonstration of Himself. We cannot look at such wonders as the Horse's Head Nebula and not be filled with awe and a knowledge of our inability to comprehend the magnitude of it all. In such sights is the fear of God born, something that we are told is a good thing.

But there is one more reason that I extract purely from my own experience and knowledge of God. He made the universe as it is because He is Himself without end, infinitely bountiful, generous and merciful, beyond anything that we can understand or appreciate. In those vast reaches of space, dotted with sights so beautiful as to make us ponder again the mysteries of Creation, He is showing a generosity that can belong only to Him.

He is like that, you see.

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It is beautiful, at a Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman concert they had a show with some photos of space. Inspiring stuff.
Date Added: 30/11/2006

Gone Away
The photographs of space being produced by the astronomers these days are truly amazing, Janus. They are inspiring indeed.
Date Added: 30/11/2006

I was given a guided-tour of the solar system (as seen from UK) one night when working with a keen Astronomer. He painted pictures in the sky and I now look forward to each winter to greet Orion as he rides ever higher in the sky. He awoke that feeling of awe that you mentioned. Itis a good word and the only word that will adequately describe what one feels when gazing skyward. For THE most awsome pictures of the Cosmos, see the pictures of David Malin (for I believe the picture you show is indeed one of his)... http://www.davidmalin.com/ Disappointment will not be on the menu. Good writing, good words, good thinking.
Date Added: 30/11/2006

Gone Away
Thank you, Fractal. I agree that David Malin has some wonderful photos - I went and had a look. But the photo used did not actually come from him; like most of the photos I use, it is one of Hubble's. I prefer to use Hubble or NASA because they are so keen to let people see what they are finding that there is no restriction on reproduction of most of their shots. And they are incredibly beautiful too... :)
Date Added: 30/11/2006

Does it come in blue?
Date Added: 05/12/2006

Gone Away
I guess that depends what colour specs you're wearing, Keef. ;)
Date Added: 06/12/2006

"Does it come in blue?" - What a question! I love blue as well as does anybody that is not blinded by green. Blue is such a mix of colors that cannot be imitated by yellow and red. BUT!!!! - Blue is in another galaxy! - - (quote from prying1 that he is considering of trademarking. BUT as of this point in time he says, "Sounds spiffy but will it sell?" - - Trust Me Keeef - Been there and done that - Photoshoping pics like this does not work. It looks phony and touched up after changes are made. Buy the red one like the Good Lord intended for us to purchase. $29.95 (frame not included) at the local "Upsacale" dollar store or $.99 in closeout calendar section of what used to be called a five and dime. OR!!!! Download it for free with directions on where to go from our own English born replacement for Will Rogers. The inimitable (unless you are Harpo Marx) Mr. Clive Allen! (How is that for an intro Clive? I dare you to show your face at the church I attend!) Thanks Mr. Gone Away - You have been missed. Will you please direct your readers to the site where more pics like this (with wonderful diatribe) can be found or or will I have to post it as a comment. Personally I've been thrilled with what you have done and wish to share my happiness filled emotions with others that know and love you.
Date Added: 11/12/2006

Gone Away
Thank you kindly, Paul - you are too kind. The colors in these photographs are sometimes the result of infrared photography or color enhancement, or so I am led to believe. To me, it matters not as, whether the color is true to life or enhanced to bring out the details, the result is still beautiful! Such is the reaction of the artist in me, I suppose.

As for where to obtain the photos, try the Hubble site. Be prepared to gasp in wonder, however!
Date Added: 11/12/2006

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