Pillars of Creation: An Iconic Vision of God Consciousness in the 21st Century

Susan is an author with a long interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the online magazine of the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member of the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our bodies are ourselves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.

The Pillars of Creation were first captured with the Hubble Telescope in 1995, but our new and improved view from the James Webb Space Telescope offers an opportunity to reflect even more on our understanding of the universe.

The tallest pillar is believed to be four light-years long (24 trillion miles!) The stars are part of the Eagle Nebula, which is a “nearby” star-forming region about 6,500 light-years from the constellation Serpens, according to NASA. .

The pillars themselves are probably no more, given that they are about 7,000 light years from Earth. Scientists say this means the destruction of the pillars would be visible from Earth in about 1,000 years.

So, looking at the latest image of the pillars, NASA says the sharper view of the stars will help researchers revamp their star formation models by identifying a more precise number of newly formed stars, as well as amounts of gas. and dust in the area. Over time, the hope is for a clearer understanding of how stars form and erupt dust clouds like the pillars over millions of years.

So on for the name – which makes the image even more awe-inspiring – it is said to come from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon in 1857, “The Condescension of Christ”.

A full copy of the sermon can be found on the anti-evolution group Answers in Genesis website. But here is the passage: “And now marvel, you angels, the Infinite has become a child; he on whose shoulders the universe is suspended, is suspended within his mother; he who created all things and who carries the pillars of creation has now become so weak that he must be carried by a woman!

Now as a woman in the 21st century, I have many other comments on this text but alas that will be for another time! The point is that this passage was referring to God made flesh, the incarnation. And now we read this in connection with the question of knowing precisely the presence of God in the vastness of the fringes of the known universe that we will never see except through the mechanical engineering of a telescope – which I know at least one woman and probably others have worked for years!

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope interdisciplinary scientist Dr. Heidi Hammel actually led a discussionwhether the telescope would see God. There are nearly 5,000 planets around other stars. Scientists are looking for the origins of life and want to probe the atmospheres of planets to find out how stars and planets form.

His view is that Webb won’t find the “gateway to heaven,” which has made the rounds online, or an image of God in heaven, the question is really one for theologians to consider. Hammel, asked if an image of the cosmic landscape is how some may view God.

“These same patterns that we see here on earth in animals, plants, crystals, we see them throughout the cosmos,” she added.

She continued her speech just before the launch of the telescope last december“For you, if God manifests in the way people come together to achieve a dream, that’s something positive in the world that will only add joy, wonder and beauty to the world. If this is how you see a manifestation of God, then we are here,” she added. As for me, I continue to be amazed not only by the images that are captured and the why scientists explore the universe in this way, but also by the marvels of technology which, in turn, offer an even richer view of our own theological ideas from above the centuries.