Galaxy cluster LCDCS-0829, as observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy cluster is speeding away from us, and in only a few billion years will become unreachable, even at the speed of light. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA.
“Science cannot tell theology how to construct a doctrine of creation, but you can’t construct a doctrine of creation without taking account of the age of the universe and the evolutionary character of cosmic history.” -John Polkinghorne
What is the Universe? What are those points of light in the night sky? Are there other Suns like our own? Do they have worlds around them? What of the larger structures; what are the spirals and ellipticals out there? How far away are they? And how old is the Universe? And finally, how did it all come to be the way it is today, and how do we know?
A standard cosmic timeline of our Universe’s history. Image credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss.
These used to be questions for philosophers, poets, and theologians, but for thousands of years, all we got were stories, not answers. Yet in the past 200 years, the enterprise of science has brought us not only the answers to these, but has brought up new questions to ponder, many of which we’re on the verge of answering as well. For those of you who aren’t in the pacific northwest and can’t come to one of my talks, this article is the next best thing to hearing me speak!