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God Sits High, Yet Looks Low A Meditation on Just How Small We Really Are (based on NASA footage)
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 6/5/2014 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 06/06/2014 1:17:48 AM PDT by markomalley

There is a rather humorous aspect of the story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis. You likely know the basic story, which begins with the men of that early time saying, Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves (Gen 11:4). It was an image of pride, of grandiosity.

The humor is that when the great tower, with its top reaching to the heavens, is finally built, it is actually so puny that God has to come down from Heaven in order to see it! The text says, And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built (Gen 11:5).

Now of course God, as omniscient,  clearly sees everything, and the humor in the text is not in some primitive notion of God. Rather the humor is for our benefit. In effect it says that our greatest, tallest, most prominent and glorious work—a tower that we saw as reaching Heaven itself—is in fact so small that God has to stoop to “see” it. He has to descend to get even a glimpse of it. What ultimately DOES alarm God is how colossal our pride is, and thus he has to humble us by confusing our language and scattering us about the planet.

I recalled this story as I viewed the video below. It is wonderful footage of Earth, taken from the Space Shuttle. There is audio commentary by a NASA scientist explaining some of the features we are seeing and where on the globe we are looking as the images pass by. The view is truly remarkable. But what is even more remarkable is what we do NOT see: us!

It is an astonishing thing that even though the shuttle is passing over highly populated areas there is no visual evidence that we even exist. No cities or buildings are visible; no planes streak through the skies; even large scale agricultural features seem lacking. There is only one mention of a color difference across the Great Salt Lake, and that is due to a railroad bridge preventing circulation. But the bridge is in no way visible, only its effect.

We think of ourselves as so big, so impressive. And yet even in low Earth orbit, we cannot be seen. It is true that at night our cities light the view, but during the day next to nothing says we are here. Even the magnified picture on my 30? iMac screen shows no evidence of us below.

And having viewed the video, I think of Psalm 8:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens … 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, the son of man that you care for him? Yet, You made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Yes, we are so powerful (by God’s gift) and yet so tiny as to be nearly invisible from a short distance into space. Our mighty buildings rise, but they rise on a speck of space dust called Earth, which revolves around a fiery point of light called the Sun. And our huge sun is but one point of light in the Milky Way galaxy of over 100 billion stars. And the Milky Way galaxy, so huge to us as to be nearly incomprehensible, is but one of an estimated 200 billion galaxies.

What is man O Lord that you are mindful of him? Jesus says of us, And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matt 10:30). Yes God, who knows the numbers of the stars and calls them by name, also knows the number of the hairs on each of our heads. Nothing escapes him.

And old preacher’s saying goes, “We serve a God who sits high, yet looks low!” Indeed, never forget how tiny you and I are, yet never cease to marvel that God knit you together in your mother’s womb and sustains every fiber of your being. We cannot even be seen from low Earth orbit, but God, who sees all, looks into our very heart. Do not cease to marvel that, though tiny, you and I are wonderfully, fearfully made (Psalm 139), and He has put all things under our feet.


TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: msgrcharlespope

1 posted on 06/06/2014 1:17:48 AM PDT by markomalley
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To: AllAmericanGirl44; Biggirl; Carpe Cerevisi; ConorMacNessa; Faith65; GreyFriar; Heart-Rest; ...

Msgr Pope ping


2 posted on 06/06/2014 1:19:09 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4G2RlBKbrM


3 posted on 06/06/2014 1:28:09 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: markomalley

We ARE big, compared to an electron. I read somewhere that the size of the human body compared to a proton, neutron, or electron, is about midway between the size of the human body and the size of the universe.


4 posted on 06/06/2014 2:03:15 AM PDT by HerrBlucher (Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of Creation)
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To: markomalley
This shows the entire (known) universe from a vantage that is zooming outward from earth at ever-increasing speed and then back again, showing what a minor part of it we are. What's amazing is that it already starts on the scale of the very large (the Himalaya mountains). The scale of things on the very small is also just as great, and everything we experience is somewhere in the middle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U
5 posted on 06/06/2014 2:16:52 AM PDT by Telepathic Intruder (The only thing the Left has learned from the failures of socialism is not to call it that)
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To: markomalley

That is quite good.


6 posted on 06/06/2014 3:48:57 AM PDT by Gamecock (#BringTheAdultsBackToDC)
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To: markomalley

That is quite good.


7 posted on 06/06/2014 3:49:36 AM PDT by Gamecock (#BringTheAdultsBackToDC)
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To: markomalley

And the Milky Way galaxy, so huge to us as to be nearly incomprehensible, is but one of an estimated 200 billion galaxies.


And even that is nothing compared to God.


8 posted on 06/06/2014 5:57:17 AM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: markomalley

This makes me recall an interview I heard years ago with Goldie Hawn, don’t ask! In it, she stated that what her Dad taught her was when she felt ‘too big for her britches’ to go stand at the ocean and realize how small she really is.

The funny part is my Dad heard it as well and his reaction;
‘why wouldn’t her tell her to just look UP!’
Never ever forgot that :)


9 posted on 06/06/2014 6:17:40 AM PDT by AllAmericanGirl44
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To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...

Ping!


10 posted on 06/06/2014 6:33:38 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: markomalley
I recalled this story as I viewed the video below. It is wonderful footage of Earth, taken from the Space Shuttle. There is audio commentary by a NASA scientist explaining some of the features we are seeing and where on the globe we are looking as the images pass by. The view is truly remarkable. But what is even more remarkable is what we do NOT see: us!

It is an astonishing thing that even though the shuttle is passing over highly populated areas there is no visual evidence that we even exist. No cities or buildings are visible; no planes streak through the skies; even large scale agricultural features seem lacking. There is only one mention of a color difference across the Great Salt Lake, and that is due to a railroad bridge preventing circulation. But the bridge is in no way visible, only its effect.

We think of ourselves as so big, so impressive. And yet even in low Earth orbit, we cannot be seen. It is true that at night our cities light the view, but during the day next to nothing says we are here. Even the magnified picture on my 30? iMac screen shows no evidence of us below.

And having viewed the video, I think of Psalm 8.

Astronomers tell us that our galaxy, the Milky Way, has over three billion stars, that it is one thousand light years deep, that it is one hundred thousand light years across. One light year is the speed of light (one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per second) multiplied by every second in one year. They also say that there are one hundred billion galaxies in our universe. These figures are incomprehensible to us, but they proclaim a God of immeasurable glory and immensity, One who fills up every inch of his creation with his omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience....

....The grand declaration, that God created all things out of nothing (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, Acts 17:24, Romans 1:20, Hebrews 11:3) is the most profound and far reaching statement in all of Scripture. It says volumes about God. It tells us that he is self-existent (Isaiah 45:5ff), incomprehensible (Romans 11:33), and sovereign (Psalm 115:3). He does not need us. He was not lonely. He was perfectly content and fulfilled by his Triune fellowship. He does not enhance his being by condescending to our helplessness. We are unable ever to mine the depths of his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, or truth. He does as he pleases. He foreordains everything that comes to pass. There are no mistakes, no accidents. Nothing catches him by surprise. Our problems stem from an inadequate view of God. Our thinking about God tends to be far too small.
-- from the thread Creatio Ex Nihilo

Here's a picture that I'd like to get fixed in everyone's mind.

First, I'd like to give everyone a sense of the overall size of the (known) universe. One quick way to do this is to look at National Geographic's map of the universe. You can get a really big version of it here, but here it is, small-sized:

Second, I'd like everyone to open their Bibles to Isaiah 40:12a. Here's how the NIV reads:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?"
Set your mind on that last part. The KJV and most modern translations use the term span, where the above says breadth. Either term works, but "span" is useful here because it can be defined as the distance across the outstretched hand, from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky. Take a look and see what that distance is across your own hand - around eight or nine inches, I'd guess. I've also seen "span" defined as the distance across the palm, or roughly four to five inches. Either measurement works for us here.

With the knowledge of the size of your hand still fresh in your head, go back and look at that National Geographic map again. And remember that the Bible equates the distance across the entire known universe with the distance across God's hand.


11 posted on 06/06/2014 7:12:21 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
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To: markomalley

Once you go up in a tall apt. or office bldg. and look down, you can see how small and insignificant we little carbon units, scurrying about, really are.


12 posted on 06/06/2014 6:12:15 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: markomalley; NYer; All
Here's an interesting youtube video clip along these same lines that you might want to check out:

   "The Pale Blue Dot" - Louie Giglio

13 posted on 06/07/2014 11:15:57 AM PDT by Heart-Rest ("Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee." - St. Augustine)
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