It is not difficult to understand that we cannot even agree on how our universe and existence came to be. When you take the time to look into the evening sky and gaze upon the plethora of stars and realize that every one of those stars is another galaxy, like ours, of planets and moons circulating its sun, you may understand how insignificant we are. We are very parochial to think that we are “it .” We are the only life form on the only planet that can sustain us, and we are the most intellectual level in the creation by God or otherwise. Just that thought alone may prove our lack of intellect and imagination.
We have a difficult time understanding concepts like finite and infinite. And to look at those stars and know that they are billions of light years away stretches our imagination and understanding. Over the years, we have created instruments to explore the depths of our universe, and as these tools have become more sophisticated, our universe has grown. We have gone into space and explored our piece of the universe. Even to call it our universe may be presumptuous. But in reality, those ventures into the darkness are like a trip to the corner store when you comprehend the magnitude of our universe.
The James Webb Space Telescope had its origin over twenty-five years ago. It is the latest tool for us to gaze into the infinity of the universe. It has supplanted the Hubble as man’s most powerful telescope, and to steal a play on words, has humbled us. It has proven once more how tiny we are in the scheme of the universe. It is appropriate that the Webb was launched on Christmas Day, December 25, 2021. It began transmitting images to Earth nearly a year later, and the clarity and beauty of these images contribute to the mystery of the universe and our existence.
The images we are receiving do not prove the existence of life elsewhere in the universe but make foolish the possibility that other life does not exist beyond Earth. I think the purpose of The Webb, beyond the beautiful images and scientific proof of faraway galaxies, is to humble us as beings. To get us to step back and put ourselves into perspective. We are far less important than we imagine, and our time here is less than a pebble of sand in the hourglass of time. We are insignificant, and if we could grasp that thought, maybe we could co-exist far better.
We may never travel to the galaxies that The Webb is bringing to us, but that is not to say that beings from there are not coming to visit us. I am pretty sure there are more intelligent beings out there. There has to be with how we have been performing lately. We do not have the quest for space like Kennedy and the Space Race with the Russians instilled in the 60s. We have not returned to the moon in years, and Mars may still be years away.
Billionaires are taking over the government’s role in space travel, which may be suitable for many reasons. No tax dollars spent, competition, and their egos will drive them to succeed. The Space Force will eventually require us back into space, but hopefully, space will always be a place of mystery and exploration, not a field of battle. Our future is short, and finding new places for conflict should not have a spot on anyone’s priority list.
May the constellations constantly challenge us to reflect on who we are, what we have done, and to do better. Let us always look to the stars for inspiration and wonder. God bless you on this Sunday and every day.