(photo obtained from
A Beautiful Mind Poster – Wikipedia)
A Beautiful Mind starring Russel Crowe is a 2001 American biographical drama film based on Sylvia Nasar’s 1998 biography of mathematician John Nash, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994. The narrative begins with Nash’s days at Princeton University as an exceptional but aloof mathematics graduate student. His life takes an unnerving turn however after accepting a covert assignment from the Pentagon to study and decipher encrypted messages believed to be a Soviet plot to attack the United States.
Take a look at this scene (courtesy of YouTube) centering on a rendezvous between John Nash and his love interest Alicia, played by Jennifer Connelly.
I’ve always been a city guy but sometimes, even I enjoy escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, at least until the escape becomes a little too uhm…quiet, leaving me longing for the sounds of the city. Yet in those quiet places where the air feels crisper and life seems to move at a slower pace, I am always reminded of something that I tend to forget at home in the city –
– Nature is beautiful, especially the sight of a night sky littered with stars.
I remember once being in my native Jamaica, with my wife (then fiancée). We once retreated from the busyness of the capital Kingston to the quieter, more rural parish of St. Thomas, for a one-night escape. The magnificence of the sky that night is forever etched in my memory. I was totally blown away for I had never seen so many stars in my life! The sight of the heavens on that night was so spectacular that we spent what had to be about an hour simply stargazing in amazement without even uttering a word to each other. I wish I could say that I did the cool thing and held her close, passionately kissing her under the canopy of the heavens. But nah, that didn’t happen. What did happen though is a feeling of being so incredibly insignificant in comparison to the marvel I was beholding.
I couldn’t wrap my head around the enormity of it and I remember trying to guess the number of stars. I recently thought about the same question while stargazing at home with my telescope (Thanks Dara for such a great gift😊). How many stars are there in the vastness of the sky? My curiosity prompted me to do some research and here’s what I discovered:
Using telescopes (waaaaaaaaaaaay bigger and more powerful than mine), astronomers have identified clusters of massive stars and numerous galaxies, which in contrast make the Earth look like a mote of dust. Consider this:
- There are approximately 400 billion stars in the galaxy and as many as 500 billion galaxies in the universe. That’s ALOT!
- The sun is a star and despite its apparent size, the sun is the smallest star and is known as a G2 yellow dwarf star. There are stars that are a hundred times the size and have a million times the energy of the sun.
- The sun is approximately 93 million miles away from Earth, or one astronomical unit (AU), and is more visible to us than any other star because of its proximity. Proxima Centauri is the next closets star and is 4.2 light-years (20 trillion miles) from Earth. A spaceship would take 70,000 years to reach it.
- Only roughly 5,000 stars can be viewed with the naked eye, and not all of them are visible at all times and in all places. (In the movie clip, the fact that Alicia was able to see and count 4,348 stars is quite a feat😊).
- The light from a star takes billions of years to reach Earth. When you gaze up into the sky and see a star, you are in fact seeing its radiance from the past.
Given such knowledge, it’s no wonder I was overwhelmed with a sense of utter insignificance. But beyond that, stars often inspire us to contemplate our place in the world, and many people throughout history have seen the stars as a reflection of something or someone greater. But is it something or someone? Therein lies the debate, because ultimately our belief is tied to one of two premises:
Either something came from nothing or something came from someone!
The first premise, like the Big Bang Theory for example, opines that the universe as we know it began as an unimaginably hot and dense single point that expanded and inflated over the course of 13.7 billion years, initially at unfathomable speeds and later at a more palpable rate, to become the still-expanding universe we see today. Forgive my ignorance but honestly, I have no idea what that even means. And furthermore, where did that hot and dense single point come from? Perhaps I don’t have the mental and intellectual aptitude to understand the laws of quantum theory pertaining to the vacuum that has neither matter or energy, but it does include fluctuations, or transitions between something and nothing. Perhaps it’s easier for me (and less of a headache) to reconcile the notion that something came from someone. Or perhaps it makes perfect sense to me that someone who cannot be confined or defined by time, space and human comprehension is the creator of all such things.
The thing with science is that scientists often acknowledge natural order but fail to contemplate the source of it. In my opinion, only omnipotence could have created such a marvel and only omniscience can know their number and their names, both attributes of God. So I believe it is that same God that spoke creation into existence at the utterance of a mere three simple words:
LET THERE BE!God
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. - Genesis 1:14-17
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. - Isaiah 40:26
From the constellations that have guided sailors for centuries to the exploding supernovas that light up the cosmos – it all points to a divine creator. We begin to comprehend God the Creator via His creation; nature bears witness to Him; His imprints are everywhere. The entirety of creation proclaims that God sits exalted above the universe He created, and has confirmed for me that God is the primary source, and the fundamental rules of science are secondary.
At home in the city, I see only a few stars in the night sky, but that doesn’t mean they are not there. I know the heavens are littered with them, but the bright city lights get in the way. The magnitude and awesomeness of God is on constant display, but sometimes the lights of our life are so bright, that we barely recognize the brilliance of God. We get so blinded by our jobs, our education, our pursuit of various goals, our family, even our areas of ministry that we often fail to see how amazing God is. God is awesome! Pause for a moment, dim the lights and you’ll see. It’s no wonder that He sometimes leads us into the desert places, for it is there that we tend to see His magnificence.