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I find it amazing that the majority of people are not permanently amazed at the constant expansion of our unimaginably astronomical Universe.  They never think about it, never talk about it; they may fill in time distractedly viewing a video graphically portraying it in realistic animation, but remain totally underwhelmed by this astounding cosmic phenomenon that no one even suspected up to a few years before I was born.  Edwin Hubble published in the early 1930s proof that the Universe was not only expanding but that what we now know to be, thanks to the space telescope that bears his name, 100 billion galaxies, are not only rushing madly away from each other, but are doing so more quickly the further away they are.  When Hubble began his study of the cosmos, people were convinced that there was only one galaxy, our own Milky Way.  We know its dimensions : 100,000 light-years in diameter (that’s 900,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers : almost one billion billion kms) and 2000 light-years thick (18,000,000,000,000,000 or 18 million billion kms).  We know too that it contains some 400 billion stars.  There are about 4 trillion planets in our galaxy alone.  As there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, that means that the Universe contains no less than 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (4 hundred billion trillion) planets more or less comparable to our own little blue planet Earth (though only a small percentage, apparently, would be capable of sustaining life).

Is all this believeable ?  If you had given those figures to my Dad, he would, like us, not only have failed to grasp their reality and significance, but probably would have dismissed them as absurd.  His vision of reality was never challenged by such figures, discovered by Science when he was in his thirties.  But neither is the vision of most people today who are totally unaware of, or who prefer to ignore, them : they have zero impact on what they are interested in, concerned about or convinced of.  Their faith in a Divine Superbeing is untroubled by the patent pointlessness of a Universe ballooning beyond imagination.  Their myopia is such that they are not moved even to wonder why the God they believe in would have created such a meaningless collection of spheres hurtling aimlessly through space.

We KNOW – we do not just believe – that the statistics of the Universe which we have recalled are factual, real, not fictional or the result of wild imagination.  The existence of such a Universe (a beautiful but Mad, Mad, Mad World) renders literally incredible the purely imaginary belief that Someone, some Supreme Intelligence, created it and us (not to say FOR us !).  As rational beings we may or we may not be alone in the Universe.  Even if we are not alone, as logic would suggest, it is highly unlikely that we will ever meet an extraterrestrial.  ET will remain a charming character on the movie screen.  But it is just too much to believe that the chaotic expansion of our Universe is part of some divine plan which includes  eternal life in a celestial Paradise for the puny inhabitants of a tiny, insignificant planet among the four hundred billion trillion out there.

Many people see the Universe as somehow evidence that God exists.  On the contrary its very size, its endless expansion, the absence of any finality of its countless galaxies and planets, are for me strong evidence or at least indicators that He doesn’t.

RIDENDA  RELIGIO

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